A Day in The Life with Grace Russell by Julie Mulhern

send-in-the-clownsLife is so unfair.

Mom acts like this is all my fault. It’s not. Really. Peggy and I had an argument (David Cassidy isn’t that cute) and I decided to catch a ride home with Debbie. How was I to know she’d already left?

So there I was. Alone. No ride. I suppose I could have called Mom, but it seemed easier to call a cab. It took FOREVER for the cab to come. FOREVER. I missed curfew.

When I got home, Mom wasn’t even there. For a little while, I thought I was in the clear.

But, no. Mom had called Peggy and Debbie, realized I’d been left behind, and gone to get me. Mom and the Gates of Hell. Two things that don’t go together. Just thinking about her walking through a haunted house makes my head hurt.

It’s not my fault she witnessed a murder. It’s not my fault the murderer was a clown.

I can’t control who murders who. I can’t be held responsible for Mom’s fear of clowns.

You think Mom will listen to reason?

No. She keep insisting I missed curfew. She doesn’t seem to care that it wasn’t my fault.

She grounded me. Do you have any idea how many Halloween parties I am going to miss?

Send In The Clowns is the fourth book in the Country Club Murders mystery series, published by Henery Press, October 2016.

Haunted houses are scary enough without knife-wielding clowns. Especially murderous knife-wielding clowns. So thinks Ellison Russell, single mother, artist, and reluctant sleuth.

Now death wears a red nose and Ellison is up to the blood-stained collar of her new trench coat in costumes, caffeine, and possible killers. Who stabbed Brooks Harney? And why? Money? Jealousy? Drugs?

With Mother meddling, her father furious, and her date dragged downtown for questioning, turns out Ellison’s only confidante is Mr. Coffee.

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About the author
Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders.

She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean–and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is–she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Five people selected at random will receive a kindle edition of The Deep End. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends October 29, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

Prequel: The Cousins by Lea Wait

dangling-by-a-thread“Got everything we need, Jesse?” The heavyset older man, his ragged gray beard looking as though he’d trimmed it himself with scissors, looked down from the dock into the re-conditioned lobster boat at the skinny kid checking their supplies.

“Everything you said,” Jesse assured him eagerly. “Tent and sleeping bags and two coolers, one with water and one with food. And extra sweatshirts and a change of clothes and a slicker, in case it rains.” He grinned. “Weather report says sunny, though.”

“And life jackets? Fishing poles and buckets? Matches and flashlights?”

The boy nodded, grinning. “And a knife and bait, and your binoculars.”

“Hope that cooler has sandwiches in it,” said a taller boy, still standing on the dock, said. “Last year we didn’t catch any fish and we practically starved.”

“We didn’t,” Jesse started, but his grandfather shushed him.

“Spending three days out on that boring island is the worst part of coming to Maine,” Simon declared. “Some vacation. No television, no phones, no bathrooms. I brought a book.” He held up a thick biography of George Washington. “At least it’s interesting. And I‘ve got extra batteries for the flashlights.”

“I brought a book, too,” Jesse said, defensively. “Grampa’s book that tells all about Maine birds. It’s got pictures of cormorants and herons and black backed gulls and eider ducks, and all sorts of others.”

“Birds!” Simon wrinkled his nose as he stepped carefully into the boat. “Who cares about birds!”

“Lots of people,” said their grandfather, casting off. “Maybe you could learn something from them, Simon. They’re all different. Just like people.”

“I’ll pay attention to birds when they’re on tests in school. No one ever got smarter or richer looking at birds.”

“Maybe not,” said his Grampa. “But maybe they got happier. Leave Jesse alone and enjoy the beautiful weather and the scent of the sea. You won’t smell anything like this back in Chicago.”

“Thank goodness,” Simon muttered. He sat on the low bench in the stern and opened his book.

Their grandfather sighed. “Let’s get going, then. Jesse, you pilot. Tell me when you see buoys. I’ll let you take the wheel once we’re out of Haven Harbor. It’ll take us a while to get to King’s Island.”

Dangling By A Thread is the fourth book in the Mainely Needlepoint mystery series, published by Kensington, October 2016.

The Mainely Needlepointers are about to learn that no man is an island—especially when greedy developers want his land . . .

Hermit Jesse Lockhart lives alone on King’s Island, three miles east of Haven Harbor, Maine, where he’s created a private sanctuary for the endangered Great Cormorants. But when a wealthy family wants to buy the island and Jesse’s cousin Simon petitions for power of attorney to force him to sell, Jesse is the one who becomes endangered.

Mainely Needlepointer Dave Perry, who befriended Jesse in the VA hospital, rallies the group to his defense. Angie Curtis and the ravelers stitch “Save the King’s Island Cormorants” pillows and sell T-shirts to pay for Jesse’s legal counsel. But tragically, on a visit to the island, Angie finds Jesse dead. Now the search is on for a common thread that can tie the murdered man to his killer . . .

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About the author
This is a prequel to Dangling by A Thread, the fourth in Lea Wait’s USA Today best-selling Mainely lea-on-wiscasset-town-pierNeedlepoint mystery series. Lea also writes the Shadows Antique Print mystery series, the most recent of which is Shadows On A Morning In Maine, published last month, and historical novels for ages eight and up. She invites everyone to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads and to check her website, www.leawait.com, for more information about her and her books.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Marlee Jacob by Sharon Farrow

Dying For StrawberriesGreetings from the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m Marlee Jacob, and you may have noticed the Dickensian twist to my name. That was no accident. My mom is an English professor who happened to be reading A Christmas Carol when she went into labor. It was also Christmas Eve. With a last name of ‘Jacob’, no one should have been surprised she chose ‘Marlee’ as my first name. Luckily, only fans of the Dickens’s story guess my namesake was Ebenezer Scrooge’s miserly business partner.

I find it ironic I chose to become a business owner, but only after a turbulent career as producer at the Gourmet Living Network in NYC. After one half of a celebrity chef duo poisoned her husband with an arsenic filled cake, I left behind my career in television to return to Oriole Point, my beautiful hometown in west Michigan. A longtime artists’ colony, this village of four thousand people is nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan. Due to the coastline’s sandy beaches, vineyards, lighthouses, and gorgeous lake views, our economy rests on tourism. And it is a favorite vacation spot for residents of Chicago, only a two-hour drive away.

My shop, The Berry Basket, is one of many downtown businesses which caters to these visitors. As the name suggests, everything in my store is berry related: berry jams, jellies, wines, juices, soaps, lotions, granola, teas, coffees, and lots more. Even berry jerky. Thanks to my baker, Theo Foster, I also sell six different berry pastries each day. Except for the berry pies, which are delivered each morning from Zellar Orchards. I get this extra perk because I’m engaged to Ryan Zellar, whose family is one of the biggest fruit growers in the region. With a January wedding on the horizon, I should devote more time to all things bridal. However, summer is high season in Oriole Point and The Berry Basket needs to take precedence. And this season promises to be busier than most.

As though the summer wasn’t already filled with a dizzying number of activities, Piper Lyall-Pierce, our indefatigable head of the visitor’s bureau, has launched a new event: the Strawberry Moon Bash. Because of the berry theme, there was no way Piper wasn’t going to involve me. And I already had enough on my plate after my friend Natasha disappears on the same day that her malicious husband decides to shut down my business. When this is followed by a murder, you’ll understand how I had no time to plan a wedding. Although I did manage to fit in my daily beach yoga classes amid the turmoil. I needed to find some way to relax after I learned a killer was on the loose and far too many people in the village harbored secrets. Including my fiancé. And I haven’t even mentioned the vengeful person from my past who arrives in town. Small wonder I needed to spend time in Downward Facing Dog. Namasté indeed.

Dying For Strawberries is the first book in the NEW Berry Basket mystery series, published by Kensington, October 2016.

With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.

Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan two years ago. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.

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About the author
Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuts October 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, caterer’s assistant, and dancing in a giant dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town very similar to the one she is lucky to live in.

While much of her time is spent hunched over a laptop, Sharon does take breaks to enjoy the nearby lakeshore, usually while talking on her cell phone and sipping an iced coffee drink. Sharon’s reading and viewing pleasure spans everything from Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels to the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. And she is currently trying to maintain a stiff upper lip until the next seasons of GAME OF THRONES and OUTLANDER return in 2017. Connect with Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Dying For Strawberries. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 27, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day In The Life With Samantha Reynolds by Beth Prentice

deadly-wipeout“My name is Samantha Reynolds. Samantha Jane Reynolds,” I explained to the bored looking lady in front of me. “I’ve just flown into Aloha Lagoon from Sydney, Australia. Well, not directly from Sydney. It was supposed to be direct but I think the travel agent who booked my flight made a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to go to Seoul, just Sydney to Honolulu and then onto Aloha Lagoon. My luggage was tagged to come all the way through so that I didn’t need to worry about it, so I hadn’t. Until now, that is.” I stopped babbling and rubbed my eyes. It had been a long flight. I left Sydney at 10.30am yesterday morning. It was now exactly 11.15 am Hawaiian time and I’d been travelling or sitting in airports for 29 and a half hours.

I handed the lady my flight details. I’m sure it was just a small misunderstanding. Someone must have picked up my suitcase by mistake. I mean, why else couldn’t I find it on the conveyor belt? Maybe I was just too tired and didn’t see it and it was still going around and around all on its lonesome.

I caught my refection in a nearby window. My brown eyes were blood shot, my blond hair was frizzing, my clothes were crinkled, and I was hot. They really needed to turn up the air conditioning.

The bored looking woman slowly tapped her chubby fingers on her keyboard. I’d been warned that Aloha Lagoon worked on island time, so I took a deep breath and looked around me.

The airport was lovely, but what I could see of the outside, the scenery was breathtaking. The ocean was aqua blue and sparkling in the sun, and the gardens were green and lush. I took another deep calming breath as fatigue settled itself into my bones.

The bored lady looked up from her screen. “You may have made that journey, but your luggage didn’t.”

I stared at her, opened mouthed. “But. . .what. . .what do you mean?”

“Your luggage,” she repeated, even slower. “It’s not here. It was never put on your plane.”

“How? How does that happen?” I asked, my voice getting higher by the second. I thought of the contents of that suitcase and how pretty much all of my life’s possessions were in it. When I’d made the decision to leave Sydney it had been a permanent one.

“Well,” the lady said scratching her neck and looking back at the screen, “I guess someone put it on the wrong plane.” Her attitude was pretty casual and I wondered if she’d be this relaxed if it was her luggage that had been lost. “Don’t worry, I’ve emailed a request so it’ll be sent here on the next flight. Maybe. It could be the flight after that one. It really all depends on the load that they have onboard at the time.”

My heart missed a beat.

“Where exactly is it at the moment?”

“Right at this moment?”

I nodded.


“How did it get to Helsinki?” I asked, incredulous.

“Well, it went to Singapore, then to London and then to Helsinki.”

Geez, my luggage was better travelled than I was.

She shrugged, her dark brown bob bouncing off her shoulders as she moved.

“These things happen,” she said.

“They will send it won’t they?”

She nodded. “Sure.”

Okay that didn’t sound as reassuring as I’d hoped, but I’d take what I could get.

“In the meantime,” she continued, “I’d suggest you visit Coconut Closet Convenience Co-op. It’s in the main street. They’re having a two for one sale on underwear.”

I took a slow calming breath and stepped away from the counter, feeling slightly shell shocked and numb. My mum had told me to pack a spare set of underwear in my handbag, but did I listen? No. I was too embarrassed that the people x-raying my carry-on luggage would see them. And what would have happened if they’d made me pull everything out of it? I’d seen too many airport security shows to take that risk.

Now I really wished I’d done as I was told and listened to my mother. Just wait until I told her that I needed to stop at the shop before going home. I’d never hear the end of it.

The upside of losing my luggage was I didn’t need to declare anything as I made my way through Customs, and stepped out of the airport into the hot Hawaiian sun, my soul relaxing as the salt air filled my lungs.

Mum was standing on the sidewalk waving frantically. Smiling, I fell into her arms and held on tight. I’d never been to Kauai before today, but I felt like I was home.

I guess if losing my luggage was the worst thing that was going to happen in Aloha Lagoon, I couldn’t really complain.

Deadly Wipeout is the third book in the Aloha Lagoon mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, September 2016.

From bestselling cozy mystery author Beth Prentice comes an Aloha Lagoon mystery that will leave you gasping for more. . .

Samantha Reynolds had hoped that moving to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon would be the start of an exciting new life. Sure it may not be everything she had hoped for—she’s living with her mom, has no job, no income, and absolutely no idea what to do next. But it’s a start! Out of options, Samantha decides to take a job she’s just a little under-qualified for—a children’s surfing instructor at the Aloha Lagoon Resort. She can surf. . .she just doesn’t know how to teach surfing. But that soon becomes the least of her worries.

Throw in two dead bodies, two unexpected inheritances, and one hot bartender, and the heat in Aloha Lagoon has quickly turned up! Samantha just needs to figure out why her family is involved, control a group of preadolescent kids, keep her mom and brother out of jail, and get the hot bartender to notice her. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? With the help of her new friend Alani and some of the quirky residents of Aloha Lagoon, she just may be able to pull it all off. . .and still keep everybody alive!

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About the author
Beth was born in Manchester, England, but after moving backwards and forwards across the world 13 times in 14 years she decided that at the age of 18 that Australia was to be her home. She now lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia where every day is a good one. To date, she has three self-published titles as well as two novels published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

Her main wish is to write books you can sit back, relax with, and escape from your everyday life…and ones that you walk away from with a smile! When she’s not writing you will usually find her at the beach with a coffee in hand, pursuing her favorite pastime—people watching!

Connect with Beth at www.bethprentice.com

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed print copy of Deadly Wipeout. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 26, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

Cover Reveal ~ Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for the first book in the new Detective by Day mystery series, Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett.


Title: Hollywood Homicide
Series: Detective By Day #1
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Website: Kellye Garrett

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

Meet the author
Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People kellye-garrettwere always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, will be released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. It’s the first book in the Detective by Day series.

Connect with Kellye: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

You can pre-order the e-book and print edition on Amazon.


weekly update

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Coming up on dru’s book musings (10/24 – 10/30)
October 24: Samantha Reynolds by Beth Prentice (Aloha Lagoon)
October 25: Marlee Jacob by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket)
October 26: Jesse Lockhart by Lea Wait (Mainely Needlepoint)
October 27: Grace Russell by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Murders)
October 28: Margo Tamblyn by Diane Vallere (Costume Shop)
October 29: Alex Graham by Katherine Prairie (Alex Graham)
October 30: Cover Reveal
Continue reading

Cover Reveal ~ 15 Minutes by Larissa Reinhart

Thank you, Dru, for hosting another cover reveal. I’m always honored to be on dru’s book musing and particularly excited to be here today because this is the cover for 15 Minutes, the first in my new humorous mystery series, Maizie Albright Star Detective. Look for the preorder in about a month, but 15 Minutes launches January 24th!


It’s another Georgia setting, 15 Minutes in the mountain and lake resort town of Black Pine. However, this Georgia Peach’s imported from Hollywood. She’s brought her Gucci’s but is leaving her past behind for a detective do-over.

I reflect back on my twenties and think of all my big moves—moving to Japan, getting married, and leaving grad school to get my teaching degree are the big ones. Biologically, our mid-twenties are when our brains finish growing and developing. And though some people have begun a path at a younger age, mid-twenties are a time when many of us make big determining life decisions.

Except for those who haven’t left the parent’s basement nest at forty and still don’t want to commit to adulting. But that’s for another story.

I had this mind when I created my new character, Maizie Albright. She’s twenty-five and at a pivotal point in her life. Maizie had a strange childhood. With divorced parents, she grew up in Hollywood under the thumb of her manager/stage monster-mother, Vicki. She only saw her father—the owner of DeerNose, a popular scented hunting apparel brand—in Black Pine, Georgia during the summers when she was on hiatus. She doesn’t know much about life outside her LA bubble. And her LA life was corrupt at best, toxic at worst.

But that’s what therapists are for. And trainers, managers, and assistants.

Under Vicki, Maizie rose to stardom in several shows, but most famously in Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective. When puberty caught up with Maizie, her teen star status crashed and burned, relegating her to B-movies, reality shows, and rehab. But Maizie clung to her favorite childhood dream: becoming a real life detective. When a judge gave her a choice of jail or return to Georgia to get a non-show business job, Maizie saw her out.

But she has ten days to get a W-4 sent to the judge or serve time in a California prison.

Ten days to convince the only private investigator in town to mentor her, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Systems. But he’s got issues of his own, mainly an ex-wife who’s using his client to leverage him out of business. And no interest in mentoring a tabloid star.

Ten days to find a woman she lost on day two. The wife of the client trying to leverage her hopefully soon-to-be-boss out of business.

So actually, nine days to find a missing woman, clear Nash’s name, secure the job, stay out of prison. . .and not get killed.

Any major life changing decision you had to make in your mid-twenties? What do you think of the new cover? Leave me a comment to enter into a drawing for some Japanese tea and chocolates (I’m living in Japan)! The giveaway ends October 25, 2016 at 11: 59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

15 Minutes is the first book in the New Maizie Albright humorous mystery series, coming January 24, 2017.

When ex-teen star Maizie Albright returns to her Southern hometown of Black Pine, Georgia, she hoped to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid and reality show hell for a new career as a private investigator. Instead, Hollyweird follows her home. Maizie’s costar crushing, but now for her gumshoe boss. Her stage-monster mother still demands screen time. Her latest rival wants her kicked off the set, preferably back to a California prison.

By entangling herself in a missing person’s case, she must reprise her most famous role. The job will demand a performance of a lifetime. But this time, the stakes are real and may prove deadly.

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Excerpt from 15 Minutes.

I loved Julia Pinkerton: Teen Detective.

Not because the show gave me international exposure. I worked with some great actors, both my regular cast and the guest stars. Real nice people who genuinely seemed to like me. Excellent crew and sweet craft folks. Treated me like a princess. On a long running show, they say your colleagues become family. That’s true. But when a show ends, the family disperses.

And you don’t always get a new family. Especially when you’ve outgrown your cheer uniform, but everyone still thinks of you as a cheerleader. And you weren’t that great of an actress anyway.

Even in hindsight, I would have done the show all over again. But not for the reasons you might think. Julia was smart. Really clever, sometimes crafty, but still likable. The other characters underestimated her because she was a teenager, but Julia used it to her advantage. Her teenagerness was her disguise.

She began as a school narc in the first season, working with the local police department, but after falling in love with the high school basketball star/drug dealer—originally a redeemable character, but when his contract wasn’t renewed, the writers had to flip him and kill him off—Julia lost confidence in the police and decided to strike out on her own. When you’re a teen detective on TV, you can do that. It worked. For eight seasons.

That’s like two million in TV years.

Plus, I met real police officers and real security agents. Advisors to the show. They took me for ride-alongs, got me into the Kids Police Academy, and let me hang out with them on set so I could listen to their stories. My agent and Vicki encouraged it, thinking it would help me develop Julia into a more convincing character, even though the advisors were actually hired to assist the writers and director.

Quick-witted and sharp, Julia could make the experts laugh. She asked provocative questions. Detective Earl King—guy with a permanent scowl and no neck—took me for ice cream every Friday.

Detective King said he wished he had a daughter as bright as Julia.

I’ll tell you one thing. Julia Pinkerton would never have gotten socked in the nose by a nail esthetician.

I lay on the floor, holding my nose and tearing up. I was no Julia Pinkerton. I wasn’t even a very good Maizie Albright. But I had succeeded in flushing out Tiffany for Wyatt Nash. Maybe he would still give me the job.

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About the author
A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and the Maizie Albright Star Detective series. The first in the Cherry Tucker series, Portrait Of A Dead Guy (2012), is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. The sixth mystery, A Composition In Murder, releases November 15, 2016. The debut in the Maizie Albright Star Detective series, 15 Minutes, releases January 24, 2017. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but still calls Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, find her chatting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads, or join her Facebook street team, The Mystery Minions.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross

Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross is an anthology celebrating Christmas in Maine. Publisher: Kensington, October 2016

Eggnog MurderWith the fireplace crackling, the tree twinkling, and the carols humming, few things in life are as picture perfect as Christmas in Maine—until murder dampens the holiday spirit. It must be something in the eggnog . . .

Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier
When a gift-wrapped bottle of eggnog—allegedly from the Real Beard Santa Club—proves to be a killer concoction for a Tinker’s Cove local, all Lucy Stone wants for Christmas is to find the murdering mixologist who’s stirring up trouble.

Death By Eggnog by Lee Hollis
Food and cocktails columnist Hayley Powell has never cared much for Bar Harbor’s grouchy town librarian, Agatha Farnsworth. But after the Scroogy senior has a fatal—and suspicious—allergic reaction to supposedly non-dairy eggnog, it’s up to Hayley to ladle out some justice.

Nogged Off by Barbara Ross
Julia Snowden’s tenant Imogen Geinkes seems to be jinxed. First, her poorly named “Killer Eggnog” gives all her co-workers food poisoning at the holiday party, then her boyfriend’s body shows up in Julia’s moving truck as she’s headed back to Busman’s Harbor. Now Julia has to get moving to catch the cold-hearted culprit.

Cozy up with a glass of eggnog and enjoy the spirit of murder and mystery in a Yuletide treat perfect for those winter holidays . . .

The favorite holiday beverage becomes the catalyst for this collection of Christmas in Maine short stories where eggnog takes center stage in these murder mysteries. The narrative for all three stories were quite fetching where the intrigue of what’s happening played a pivotal role in the telling of these delightfully engaging tales. And those twists. . .superb! I enjoyed them all, but give kudos to Ross as I follow her Maine Clambake series and this was a great interlude while waiting for Iced Under.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) book from one of the authors.

My Musing ~ Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow

Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow is the first book in the NEW “Berry Basket” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, October 2016

Dying For StrawberriesWith seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.

Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan, three years ago. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the twenty-nine-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Irina disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Irina, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.

This was a good read that was evenly paced with a comfortable tone that was easy to follow. The mystery was set-up nicely with subplots that augmented with the telling of this story. The narrative was very adept at moving this drama along in such a way that it kept me intrigued in all that was happening with the residents of Oriole Point. A good job was done with the pool of suspects and some strategically placed clues that included some twist and turns which added to my reading pleasure. I enjoyed this engaging whodunit that boasts a wonderful cast of characters and good dialogue and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Marlee’s world.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.

A Day in the Life with Calliope Costas by Jenny Kales

on-the-chopping-blockHi, I’m Calliope Costas, owner of “Callie’s Kitchen” in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. People call me “Callie,” except for my Dad, George. He was born in Greece and he prefers to use my full name, but most people find “Callie” a lot easier to pronounce.

George is. . .well, he’s complicated. First of all, he’s a great father, especially since we lost my mom at a young age. Let’s just say, he has opinions. Lots of them. This is especially tricky, now that my husband, Hugh, and I split up and I’m the single mom of George’s only grandchild, Olivia. She’s 10 and a smart cookie – sometimes too smart for her own good. For example, she’s not really sure about her new stepmom, Raine. Truth be told, neither am I. Luckily, my maternal grandmother, Viv, and my best friend Samantha, know how to make me look on the bright side. And if they can’t, then my loyal Yorkie, Koukla, (which means ‘little doll’ in Greek) can manage it.

Let me tell you about Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, where I live and work. It’s in the Southeast part of the state and a popular tourist destination – and for good reason. For one thing, my charming hometown is situated on the water, giving us great views, plus lots of opportunities for boating and swimming – though with winter here, we’re enjoying ice fishing and skating.

I figured that Garden Street – the main strip that’s filled with shops and eateries – would be the perfect place to open Callie’s Kitchen. My dad finally gave me his blessing, even though he did want me to eventually take over his small business, a diner called “The Olympia.”

If you ever visit Callie’s Kitchen, I hope you’ll understand why this is my dream business. Because I am a busy mom myself, I know that people sometimes just want a healthy, ready-made meal that is NOT fast food. So that’s what I sell — ready-to-eat homemade meals, baked goods and yummy desserts. Callie’s Kitchen is known for traditional Greek comfort foods I grew up eating – things like spanakopita, Greek chicken stew, loukoumades (delicious Greek doughnuts with honey and cinnamon) and more, plus a sprinkling of traditional Midwestern comfort foods. There’s something for everyone at Callie’s Kitchen.

Sweets are one of my favorite things to make. I serve everything from Greek yogurt coffee cake with crumb topping to breakfast breads and decadent cookies loaded with rich Wisconsin butter. Loukoumades are pretty much always on the menu since they’re George’s favorite. Now that Christmas is coming, I’m really having fun baking up my holiday specialties, including Greek biscotti aka “paxemathia” that are spiced with anise-flavored ouzo, and my spicy gingerbread loaves topped with a luscious white icing.

Customers tell me that when they walk by Callie’s Kitchen, the cinnamon, butter and sugar smells alone are enough to draw them in. Or, if it’s dinner time and they’re hungry, the smell of buttery, cheesy spanakopita is usually enough to get them to peek inside my shop.

Life has had its fair share of ups and downs. My new boyfriend, Drew was murdered and I was a prime suspect just a few months ago. Now, things are looking up, though my business still has a long way to go. I’ve got a really nice guy in my life (he just happens to be a detective with a British accent that I love). Callie’s Kitchen seems to have picked up a bit in business, thanks to my new part-time marketing expert – Piper, friend of my cooking assistant, Max.

Right now, I’m on my way to bring some of my famous kourabiethes, aka Greek snowball cookies, to a bridal shower for Lexy Dayton, a regular at Callie’s Kitchen.

Uh-oh. Just got a text from the party planner at the English Country Inn, the waterfront hotel and restaurant where the bridal shower is being held. Natalie Underwood, the party planner, is great to work with but she is a little stressed out about today’s event. I wonder why.

It’s snowing out today and the roads are sure to be treacherous – though Crystal Bay does look especially beautiful in December. The English Country Inn is known for its stunning Christmas décor – I’m looking forward to taking a look. I’d better get a move on!

Wish me luck today – and don’t forget to stop by Callie’s Kitchen when you have time. I’ll keep the loukamades warm for you!

On the Chopping Block is the first book in the NEW Callie’s Kitchen mystery series, May 2016.

Greek-American food business owner and single mom Calliope “Callie” Costas faces Greek tragedy when a murder shakes the picturesque waterfront community of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. Recipes included!

Building a small business has been murder, but Callie Costas didn’t expect to be confronted with an actual body. The 36-year-old Greek-American proprietor of “Callie’s Kitchen,” a meals-from-scratch business in an idyllic small town, has been busy creating a post-divorce life for herself, her young daughter and her pet Yorkie, Koukla. After a lot of hard work (including staving off her father’s continual advice), she’s got the locals and tourists clamoring for her delicious Mediterranean dishes and Midwest comfort food classics. Recently, she’s started a budding romance with a fellow foodie, the wealthy owner and chef of Crystal Bay’s most popular bistro.

However, success is as fleeting as one of Wisconsin’s glorious autumn days. As local businesses begin to shut down due to a slow economy, Callie is struggling not to become another statistic. A contest with a hefty cash prize seems like the perfect chance to fix her financial woes, until a shocking murder threatens not only her livelihood – but her life.

When she’s targeted as a prime suspect by an attractive expat British detective, Callie’s situation becomes more delicate than her Greek egg-lemon soup. She’s got to find the killer and fast if she wants to protect her daughter, save her business and stay alive.

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Meet the author
Jenny Kales is the author of On The Chopping Block, the first in The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series. Her marriage into a Greek-American Midwestern family inspired The Callie’s Kitchen mysteries, featuring Calliope Costas, food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes. Look for Book 2, Spiced And Iced, coming in November!

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier. Keep up with author news for Jenny Kales by following her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. Visit her website at jennykales.wordpress.com.

All comments are welcomed.