Posted in Reviews

Review of Zero Days by Ruth Ware

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on June 20 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

As a fan of Ruth Ware, I was eager to read this advanced copy of her new book. I initially found it interesting because of the main character, Jack’s, short for Jacintha’s, profession. She’s a pen tester (penetration tester) for companies, which means she breaks into them to find weak spots in their security. She’s assisted by her husband, Gabe, a computer software coder. After a tricky night in which she’s caught entering a building and can’t reach anyone including Gabe to vouch for her, Jack is released by the police and goes home to find her husband dead with his neck slashed.

Reading the rest of the book, in which Jack searches for her husband’s killer, I was hoping for Ware’s usual twist. I felt that there was a scarcity of characters. Jack first suspects her ex-boyfriend who is a police officer. She confides in her sister and her husband’s best friend but then finds herself on the run as her alibi is seen as sketchy, and the police believe she murdered Gabe.

I didn’t find the revelation of the person responsible for Gabe’s death to be a surprise. The twist that does finally arrive at the book’s end is one I considered earlier but didn’t involve the killing and had only a minor impact on my overall impression of the story.

I would still recommend this book to Ruth Ware fans, even though I don’t feel it’s her best.

Posted in Blog Tour, Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for A Flicker of a Doubt, A Fairy Garden Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Flicker of a Doubt (A Fairy Garden Mystery)
by Daryl Wood Gerber

About A Flicker of a Doubt

A Flicker of a Doubt (A Fairy Garden Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – California
Kensington Cozies (March 28, 2023)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496741277
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496741271
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B6DBQ5CM

Fairies are trending hard, especially when it comes to fairy garden décor in Walmart and Target and on Amazon. The latest installment in the nationally bestselling Daryl Wood Gerber’s Fairy Garden mysteries is a perfect read for Laura Childs readers and all fans of whimsy and charm.

With a theater foundation tea and an art show planned at Violet Vickers’s estate, Courtney is hired to create charming fairy gardens for the event. It’s not so charming, however, when her best friend Meaghan’s ex-boyfriend turns out to be Violet’s latest artistic protégé. Even worse, not long after Meaghan locks horns with him, his body is found in her yard, bludgeoned with an objet d’murder.

There’s a gallery of suspects, from an unstable former flame to an arts and crafts teacher with a sketchy past. But when the cops focus on Meaghan’s business partner, who’s like a protective older brother to her, and discover he also has a secret financial motive, Courtney decides to draw her own conclusions. Fearing they’re missing the forest for the trees, and with some help from Fiona the sleuthing fairy, she hopes to make them see the light . . .

About Daryl Wood Gerber

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hitch-hike around Ireland alone. You can learn more on her website: httsp://

Author Links


Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboBookshop


March 21 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 21 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – The Plain-Spoken Pen – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 22 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

March 22 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, RECIPE

March 23 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

March 24 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT & PODCAST

March 24 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 24 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

March 24 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW

March 24 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT


March 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 25 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 26 – Jane Reads – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 26 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 27 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 27 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 27 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Authors, Blog Tour, Interview

Interviews with Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell, Authors of Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder

Today, I’m pleased to welcome authors Brenda Whiteside from Arizona and Joyce Proell from Minnesota to talk about themselves and their new release, Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder: A Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery. Hello, ladies. Glad to have you on Ruff Drafts.

How long have you both been published?

What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?

Brenda: 14 years. I published one 5-book series (Love and Murder) with The Wild Rose Press. I also published single titles with them: Sleeping with the Lights On, The Morning After, Post-War Dreams, Amanda in the Summer. Have you self-published any titles? Please give details. I acquired the rights back to the 5-book series and have self-published under the series name Wild Horse Peaks. I have self-published another series, The MacKenzie Chronicles. It is a 3-book series. Both of these series are romantic suspense. My current project is the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. This is self-published with a co-author, Joyce Proell. The first of three books released March 7, 2023. The second book will release in September, 2023.

Joyce: Ten years. The books are in this order: Eliza (Champagne Books), A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth (The Cady Delafield, Champagne Books) Amaryllis (Wild Rose Press) and Candy, Cigarettes and Murder (self-pubbed).

Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.

Brenda: I’ve been concentrating on romantic suspense for years. Both of those series are set in Arizona. I enjoy writing from several points of view. Most of the books have three points of view: the heroine, the hero, and the villain. My current series is a cozy mystery. I’m having great fun with this more light-hearted genre. The first book in the series, Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder released March 7. What makes writing this series so much fun is my co-author. The idea came from a twice a year ritual I have with my sister. We have a chocolate martini at an historical inn and saloon on our birthdays. We laughingly called ourselves the Chocolate Martini Sisters. The name conjured the story idea, and I presented it to Joyce. It’s been great fun creating the sisters and the mystery.

Joyce: Amaryllis and Eliza are historical romances. The Cady Delafield books are romantic suspense set in the late 1880’s. Candy, Cigarettes and Murder is the first in a series of cozy mysteries.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

Brenda: I want to continue on the cozy mystery path for at least another three books beyond the three Joyce and I have planned. Having a writing partner helps keep me on track. We have different styles in both writing and life so we balance each other. In fact, she has a much calmer approach, so she’s good therapy for me.

Joyce: I aim to challenge my mind, continue to perfect my craft, and deliver a product readers will love and enjoy, and hopefully, continue to read. My current energies focus on completing the next two books in the Chocolate Martini Sisters series.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Brenda: The current series, Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries, should have wide appeal. Mystery entertains regardless of age or gender. Since it’s cozy, a reader can expect to not have graphic violence or sexual situations. It’s a good whodunnit read.

Joyce: With the Chocolate Martini Sisters, any reader who loves a light-hearted mystery will do.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Brenda: Practice and keep at it. Every paragraph you write will be better than the last. Never give up. I’ve been lucky to have a group of critique partners who have helped me improve my craft over the years. I highly recommend finding a group to share your stories. And please, if you plan to self-publish, get yourself an editor.

J0yce: Keep your butt planted in the chair and write. Don’t fret with making it perfect. Revisions will soothe out the snags, add the pizzazz, and make it pretty.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

Brenda: I wanted an agent and I had a stack of rejections. But I didn’t lose faith. That’s important. I gave up on the agent route and started submitting directly to small publishers. I was working fulltime at an outside job so just finding the time to write was a challenge. I wrote one of my books almost entirely in fifteen-minute sessions before work every morning. When a publisher accepted my first book, I was ecstatic.

Joyce: I worked in a vacuum, days alone typing. I believed once a writer finished their manuscript and sent if off to a publisher, an immediate contract for publication would appear. Nah. Such success stories happen only to the storied few. Most writers receive countless rejections. Many never find a publisher. For most writers, myself included, getting published is a long, frustrating slog.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Brenda: I have my critique partners. I belong to Arizona Professional Writers and Central Arizona Writers.

Joyce: Not at the moment. For years, I was in a critique group with fellow authors, and wear I met Brenda Whiteside, my co-author on the cozy series.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Brenda: I adore time with my granddaughter. I try to spend several days every few weeks with my mom who is 92. I have a fairy garden that takes up way too much time, but I love to play in the dirt (as my husband FDW calls it).

Joyce: I’m an avid reader of mysteries, thrillers and general literary fiction. I swim early in the morning. I love walking, and now that I have a puppy, I can’t wait for the snow to melt and long walks with my little buddy. I tend my flower garden in the summer. Baking is very relaxing, and testing the cookies when they’re still warm from the oven is a sacrifice I make to ensure a good result.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

Brenda: I really am not fond of promo. But in this day and age, with the competition so fierce, an author has to put herself out there. My toughest challenge is allowing myself some personal time outside of writing.

Joyce: Analyzing a sentence and tweaking the words until the statement is bright, vivid and packs emotion is great fun. The toughest challenge is promoting me, and my work. I’m an introvert and naturally reserved and private.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Brenda: F U N! My partner is a mystery weaver extraordinaire. It’s great fun working with her. I have a good time with dialogue and the repartee between the sister I writer (Nic) and Joyce’s sister she writes (Em). I love setting the scene. Making it real for the reader.

Joyce: Cozies are essentially fun, upbeat adventures with a puzzle to solve. The stories often occur in bucolic settings with a cast of characters that are charmingly quirky, and who are always on hand to offer support and kindness when needed.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

Brenda: Yes. I chose this one because it is from the point of view of Nic, who is my character to write. It says a little about the two sisters’ different personalities.

Nic stood in front of the dresser mirror. One last burst of warm air to her mane, and she switched off the hair dryer. After a quick brushing, she gave her head a shake and left her locks to hang loose on her shoulders. “I don’t know how you can’t jump to that conclusion,” she shouted at Em in the shower. “Jillian’s personality and motivations make her the prime suspect.” Her sister, always the cautious one, still had doubts about the hotel owner’s guilt in the murder. She held dangly yellow and silver earrings from her jewelry pouch toward the sunlight pouring in from the hotel room window. Glancing at her blouse on the bed, she liked the color combination. Inclining close to the mirror, she hooked them in her ears.

Em, now out of the shower, poked her wet head from the bathroom doorway. “I do think she’s a strong possibility, but we need more substantial facts. Throw me my robe, would you? And you might think about wearing one considering the curtains are wide open.”

She glanced down at mostly skin. “I had a two-piece bathing suit twenty years ago that covered less than my underwear.” To appease her sister, she lifted the green and yellow blouse from the bed and slipped it on.

Robed, Em drifted into the room toweling her brown hair, the highlights of auburn and gold not yet shining with the dampness. “I’m jelly after that massage.” She lifted the hair dryer, and leveled her with a big, green-eyed there-you-go-again face. “You were all set on Chef Payne being the murderer earlier. Remember?”

She zipped her stone-washed, skinny jeans, and held her comment until Em shut off the dryer. “Yes, I admit he seemed a likely candidate. His abrasiveness, added to his drive to move to an exclusive restaurant in the valley, creates a volatile situation. The man appears to act out of angry passion in all manners of his life—under his chef hat anyway.”

“And you know this how?”

“I have my sources.” She grinned, feeling cocky. “At any rate, murdering won’t get him the review he wanted. More important though, I’m not feeling it anymore.” And she always trusted her gut over her sister’s analytical reasoning.


“What the hell?”

The painful howl jabbed at the very core of Emma’s center. It hurt her ears. “Sounds like a wounded dog or a coyote.” She exited the car and quietly closed the door, afraid any noise would further frighten the distraught beast. “Pathetic thing.” Images of the animal’s bloodied leg possibly snared in a jagged trap sickened her.

“Sounds like its coming from behind the house or the nearby woods.” Without hesitation, Nic pounded up the walkway to Joe’s front stoop, shoulders rigid in a no-nonsense manner.

She hung back a second checking her surroundings. The house had a vacant appearance as though no one lived there, though why she couldn’t say. They had the correct address and assumed the black truck belonged to Joe. The house, a one-story with stone on the bottom third and logs comprising the balance of the structure, sat a good shouting distance from the neighbors. A decorative A-frame in rustic wood crowned the front door. Next to it stood five side by side windows. A vacant carport sat off to the right.

She hurried after Nic, wincing at another volley of ear-piercing yowls. The tormented sound set her nerves on edge. Nic rang the doorbell, then cupped her hand against the door’s window and peered in. “I don’t see him. Wow! That is one honking big L-shaped couch.”

“We’re not here to critique furniture.” She squinted through the window. The open-concept design afforded a view through the living room to the dining area and a bit of the kitchen. Two windows at the back flooded the space with late afternoon light. Next to the massive television mounted on the wall, a hallway led off presumably to the bedrooms.

“Joe. You in there?” Her sister’s elevated tone raised another beastly cry.

“He could be out back, trying to help that tortured critter.”

“C’mon. Let’s take a look.” Nic shone with a “take no prisoners” expression as she hurried from the porch, her sandals smacking against the steps. Ogres. Hurricane winds. Vicious animals. Nothing would get in her way.

“Nic! Wait! Let’s take this slow. What if we spook it?” She envisioned a yet to be determined creature attacking. A scan of the area revealed no weapon they might use for protection should the animal, crazed with pain and fear, pounce on them. Dang!

“Hey. Don’t worry.” Her sister resumed her purposeful march. “Animals love me.”

“Uh-huh,” she replied with an eye roll. This could be one of those situations where optimism had its limitations. She prayed it wasn’t. They followed the cracked, sloping concrete walkway between the house and the carport, bypassing a banged-up dumpster. At the back, steps led to an elevated wooden deck. Without warning, Nic thrust up her arm and paused.

“Geez, Nic,” she hissed, almost tripping. “I about ran into you.”


How unlike her sister to show restraint when rushing in with great abandon was more Nic’s style. The added caution prickled the hairs on her neck. Evidently, the dangers of the wailing animal hadn’t gone amiss. After checking left and right—Nic’s idea of aerial recon—she proceeded up the steps.

She followed, uneasy at the scrape and dragging noise against the planks of the overhead deck.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

Brenda: I’ll toot my horn and say that my romantic suspense books have won awards. Also, if they would like to keep up to date on releases and bits and pieces of my life as well as be entered in quarterly gift drawings, an end of the year grand prize, and receive a free book just for joining, they can join BNG (Brenda’s Newsletter Group)

Joyce: Candy, Cigarettes and Murder is a story about two mystery-loving sisters on a fun weekend getaway. When a murder occurs, they are excited to apply their sleuthing skills to finding the killer, an experience making for a memorable trip. It’s a wild frolic you’re sure to enjoy.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.

Visit Brenda:

Or on FaceBook:


She blogs and has guests:

Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:



Join her Newsletter Group here:

Visit Joyce:

Author Joyce Proell

Joyce Proell/Author | Facebook

Joyce Proell (@jproell1) / Twitter

Joyce Proell (Author of Amaryllis) | Goodreads

Joyce Proell Books – BookBub

Thank y0u both for your great interviews. I’m sharing your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release.

Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery)
by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

About Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder

Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wyatt, Arizona
Independently Published (March 7, 2023)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 266 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BN96RS4G

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder.

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?

About the Authors

Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

Visit her website at:


Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.

Visit Brenda’s Website:



She blogs and has guests:

Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:



Join her Newsletter Group here:

Purchase Link – Amazon


March 15 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 16 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW

March 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – I’m Into Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 18 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 18 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT


March 22 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 22 – Literary Gold – REVIEW

March 23 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT


March 24 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT

March 25 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT

March 27 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

March 28 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

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Posted in retirement

Debbie’s Retirement Life (and St. Patrick’s Weekend special Book offers), Week 12: Day 85, 3/17/23

This is my March blog post about my post-retirement adventures. I’m also featuring two virtual events that I’ll be participating over St. Patrick’s Day weekend as well as a 99 cent offer for Kobo readers.

It’s been three months since I retired, but I’ve gone back to the library on a substitute librarian basis. I’ve been working some nights in Reference and will be working two Saturdays there this month. I’ll also be working a few days in the Children’s department in April.

On Friday, February 17, I had an echocardiogram because I’ve been having palpitations after exercising. This has been an off and on again condition that my doctor isn’t too concerned about, but he scheduled bloodwork and the echocardiogram to be safe. They both turned out normal. I had an eye exam on Friday, March 10. They gave me an ultrasound which I’d never had before. Everything seemed fine, and I have not changed my prescription. They have a retinalogist there now, too, so I was able to see him. He just thinks I need to be checked every six months because of my floaters and cataracts, although he said I don’t need any surgery at this point.

On Saturday. February 18, I went to Planting Fields Arboretum with my daughter and a friend for their Camelia Festival. We had a great time, and I painted a flower. Afterwards, we had lunch in Oyster Bay and took a chilly walk by the beach at Theodore Roosevelt Park. My daughter drove that day. It was her first long drive since getting her license a few weeks ago.

On Tuesday night, February 21, I read two excerpts from my Buttercup Bend series during a virtual Fastnacht Follies presented by my church. In this annual event, church members share their singing, dancing, and other talents. Check out the YouTube video below.

Besides my regular virtual workouts, I also attend webinars. An interesting one was held on Thursday, February 23 by Hillside Library with Northwell Health. The speakers were Executive Chef Manuel (Sonny) Rios, III and Juliet M. Monclova. It featured information about the importance of fiber in our diets and also included sample breakfasts, lunches, and dinners containing fiber-rich foods.

On Thursday, February 9, I attended a Long Island Library Resources (LILRC) webinar on Patrick Bringley’s book, All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me. This was a very interesting talk given by a previous guard at the Met.

On March 8, I participated in a book discussion about The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki at my library’s book club. (Read my review here:

I also read Kristin Loesch’s new, The Last Russian Doll. (Review: I compare this book to the Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah that I read and reviewed last month.

Speaking about books, I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my next Buttercup Bend mystery, The Case of the Llama Raising Librarian. I hope to finish it and submit it to my agent in April. My non-fiction cat book, Memories and Meows, is now on audio. For a free code to receive the audible copy (and to hear the narrator’s cute cat voices), comment below with your email and if you are a U.S. or UK citizen.

I had a manicure and my nails done a shiny green for St. Patrick’s Day and spring.

I worked on Tuesday night, March 14, and monitored a library Zoom presentation about Female lighthouse keepers which I was interested in because of my mystery, Sea Scope, that featured information about lighthouses and lighthouse keepers. The presentation was given by Joann Tofu and included a Powerpoint presentation. She started off with information about various lighthouses and then discussed the female lighthouse keepers who, in most cases, took over after their husbands died. One of the most interesting woman was Ida Lewis, who I also featured in a note in my mystery. She was recognized for her bravery in saving many people whose boats had capsized in rough waters around Newport when she was a keeper there.

Yesterday, I attended the Hicks Nursery Garden Show with my daughter and her friend. This is an annual event. This year’s theme “A Novel Approach to Garden Design” features themed gardens based on book genres. I especially enjoyed the Mystery Garden for obvious reasons.

Today, I’ll be going on a Seal Walk at Jones Beach. More on that in my April retirement blog post.

Last, but not least, I have several book offers for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. My first Buttercup Bend cozy mystery, The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, will be on sale for only 99 cents through Monday, March 20 on Kobo. You can get this fun book for less than a dollar at

Also, on St. Patrick’s day, I’m giving away a free copy of A Stone’s Throw, my first Cobble Cove cozy mystery on Roche’s Ravenous Readers Facebook group’s St. Patrick’s Party. To be eligible to win  my giveaway or any others, you need to join the group at:

I’ll also be giving away two books at the Tattered Page Book Club’s third anniversary event over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I’ll be posting giveaways on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19. To participate, join the group at

Thanks for reading about my retirement adventures, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and good luck if you enter my giveaways. I’ll post another update in April.

Posted in Reviews

Review of Identity by Nora Roberts

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on May 23, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts and enjoy reading her standalones, trilogies, and the In Death series she writes as JD. Robb. However, I was disappointed by this forthcoming novel. The main reason is that I dislike mysteries that reveal the killer at the beginning of the book. I also found this too slow paced.

At the start, Morgan Albright, a young woman who moved around a lot during her childhood because her father was in the military, purchases a home with a friend and starts to set down roots for herself. She works at a construction company and also bartends at night to help save money to fix up and maintain the house. Just as things are going well, Morgan meets a man at the bar who she begins to date and invites him over for dinner with her roommate, Nina, and Nina’s boyfriend. During dinner, her date excuses himself to use her bathroom. A few days later, Nina comes down with a cold and stays home from her job. Morgan arrives home after bartending to find Nina dead. That’s just the beginning of the horror, as she also discovers her bank accounts have been compromised, her identity stolen, and the man she was attracted to is a serial killer.

As the book progresses, Morgan is forced to give up the house and her jobs in Maryland and move to Vermont with her mother and grandmother. She fears that Nina’s killer, who was after her and stole her identity, will find her and murder her, too.

There’s a long build up before Morgan’s fears are realized. Along the way, she learns important things about her mother and grandmother, gets a job at a family-owned bar, falls in love with a member of the family, and learns to protect herself by taking self-defense lessons.

I felt this book was more a romance than a mystery. It was well written, and I found the last few chapters exciting. Overall, I would recommend this to other readers of Roberts who don’t mind knowing the killer beforehand or a story that takes long to unwind.

Posted in Blog Tour, Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for Dearly Beloved Departed by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Dearly Beloved Departed: A PIP Inc. Mystery
by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

About Dearly Beloved Departed

Dearly Beloved Departed: A PIP Inc. Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – California
Good Read Mysteries, an imprint of Good Read Publishers
Number of Pages: 241

Pat is hired by attorney Jason Forman to “get some dirt” on his daughter’s fiancé. Before she gets very far in her investigation, the young man is murdered. Did his past catch up with him or is what Pat fears, that there’s a serial shooter going after Christmas Eve grooms, the reason he was killed? Pat and her fiancé, Detective Sergeant Tim Lindsey, are planning a Christmas Eve wedding which means, if she’s right, he’s on the shooter’s hit list.

About Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Nancy Lynn Jarvis left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. She’s enjoyed writing about Regan and her husband, Tom, but decided it was time to do a new series.

PIP Inc. introduces protagonist downsized law librarian and not-quite-licensed Private Investigator Pat Pirard. “The Funeral Murder” is the second book in the series.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Currently, she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Author Links




Purchase Link – This book’s release has been delayed. Follow Nancy Lynn Jarvis on Amazon so you are notified when the book is available.


March 1 – I’m Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 4 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 4 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 5 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT


March 6 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 10 – Baroness Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 11 – I’m Into Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 12 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 13 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Reviews

Review of the Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on March 14, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

I would’ve given this book 5 stars because it’s an excellent read. However, I had a problem following the large number of characters that were included during various time periods of the novel and how they went by different names and nicknames. The main story takes place in 1991. It centers around Rosie White, (Raisa), who attends a book signing by Alexy Invanov, a Russian author. Her interest in his book, “The Last Bolshevik,” is mainly because her mother and she escaped Russia after her father and sister were murdered there by an unknown man. Her mother has since referred to him as “That Man,” but has shared very little with Rosie about her past or why her husband and daughter may have been killed.

Rosie speaks with Alexy after his reading and learns that he needs an assistant to accompany him to Russia to work on another project. Considering it an opportunity to learn more about her past and find out who murdered her sister and father, Rosie applies for the job. Initially, Rosie’s mother, an alcoholic who only tells Rosie fairytales and keeps lifelike porcelain dolls, isn’t supportive of that decision but, on her deathbed, she asks Rosie to go to Russia and find “That Man.”

After her mother’s death, Rosie finds a key inside one of her dolls and a note indicating that it opens a drawer in their old house in Russia. When Rosie travels to Russia with Alexy, he takes her to a house where he leaves her with a man named Levy who is supposedly in charge of protecting her while Alexy is away.

The book then alternates between 1991 and the past, telling a love story that starts in 1916 between a woman named Tonya, married to Dmitry, a rich man who owns a factory in St. Petersburg, and Valentin, a factory worker and revolutionary. It also includes the fairytales told by Rosie’s mother that play a large part in the book. I compared it to Kristin Hannah’s novel, Winter Garden, that I recently read, which also included Russian history.

As Rosie investigates her mother’s background, she learns of a connection between Tonya and Valentin. She begins to suspect that Alexy has an ulterior motive for hiring her as his assistant. She wonders about his identity and starts to have visions of her dead sister, who seems to be giving her clues. She also develops feelings for Lev, even though she’s left her fiancee back in England.

This story is multi-layered. It involves a love story, Russian history, and much more. There are two big twists at the end that I didn’t see coming at all.

Posted in Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for A Deadly Combo by Karen A. Phillips

A Deadly Combo
by Karen A. Phillips

About A Deadly Combo

A Deadly Combo: A Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery
Traditional/Cozy Blend
1st in Series
Setting – California
River Rock Press (March 1, 2023)
Number of Pages: 270

What do boxing and vintage trailers have in common? Rocky Nelson.

Meet Raquel Nelson (AKA Rocky), a retired single woman with an attitude. In Rocky’s opinion, independent ruffians, relentless heat, wildfires, and unhealthy AQI are all part of living in the Sierra Foothills of California.

Sisters Rocky and Bridget are enjoying each other’s company at a vintage trailerfest until they stumble over a corpse. The dead guy is none other than the local trailer restorer and Bridget was overheard threatening to kill him. Mounting evidence leads police to focus on Bridget as a person of interest. Desperate to prove her sister innocent of murder, Rocky dons her own deerstalker cap and goes sleuthing. Rocky knows a little about the job requirements, having caught her sister’s last husband in an illicit affair. Detective Thompson is on the case and isn’t happy about Rocky poking around, and lets her know in no uncertain terms. But Rocky is tenacious if not stubborn. Combined with a 78-year-old father who insists on assisting, Rocky uses her courage and skills from boxing lessons to protect her family and keep from becoming the killer’s next victim.

This is the first book in The Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery Series – a perfect series for lovers of small town mysteries with a cozy-noir feel featuring boxing and an amateur sleuth who will stop at nothing to save the lives of those she loves.

About Karen A. Phillips

Author Karen A. Phillips lives in Northern California and writes humorous, fun, action-packed mysteries. She has several short stories published in various anthologies. Her characters are engaging and fearless. “A Deadly Combo” is her first full-length novel. In real life, Karen takes boxing lessons but would hesitate if she had to punch anyone in the face. Let’s face it. Karen wouldn’t last one round in the ring.

Author Links

Website: Facebook: KarenAPhillips/Author Instagram: kannphillips Twittter: @phillips_writes

Purchase Links – Coming Soon


March 1 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 1 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – Mythical Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 2 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST


March 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 7 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – ebook addicts – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 8 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 10 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Reviews

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Merriweather Post by Allison Pataki

*****5 stars

This historical fiction account of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s life is both an absorbing and fascinating read. I gave it an extra star because I attended Long Island University on the C.W. Post campus and am familiar with Hillwood Commons and the Hutton House lectures, all of which I now know the stories behind.

This book was an eye opener about Marjorie Merriweather Post, the cereal magnet’s daughter, who married four times, built several homes across the country with her fortune, lived through two wars, traveled to Russia during Stalin’s reign, was friends with many famous people, and generously gave of her money and time by volunteering for different causes.

The story was told well, although I found it meandered in certain parts, but that might have been because I prefer other faster-moving genres such as mysteries. In any case, the author did a wonderful job bringing Ms. Post to life and the time in which she lived. If you’re a historical fiction fan or one who enjoys reading biographies, you’ll like this book. It’s also recommended for Post students and graduates who might want to learn more behind the woman who once lived at their school.

Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Series, Interview

Interview of Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Bakeries and Buffoonery, the Fourth Magical Mystery Book Club Cozy Mystery

Today, I’m interviewing one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, Elizabeth Pantley from Washington state.

Welcome, Elizabeth. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I’ve been writing parenting books for over twenty years with McGraw Hill, and am the author of twelve popular parenting books, available in twenty-seven languages, including the best-selling No-Cry Solution series. I began writing cozy mysteries when my youngest graduated from college and now have published ten mystery books in two different series: Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic, and the Magical Mystery Book Club.

Interesting. I haven’t read any of your parenting books, but I love both your cozy mystery series. Please tell us a little bit about them.

I have two magical cozy mystery series. The six-book collection for Destiny Falls, and the four available books for Magical Mystery Book Club. I’m now writing a novella for the book club series that will be part of an anthology – along with a dozen other prolific, well-known para-cozy authors! I’ll be sharing info about that soon in my newsletter.

 That sounds great. Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I’ve found my rhythm writing these books, and four new ones per year is a schedule I can work with. I set out to write two books per year, so I’m chugging along at twice my goal! These books are so much fun they almost write themselves!

Wow! That’s wonderful. I know that feeling with my own two cozy series, the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend mysteries. It’s amazing how plots seem to come together, almost like magic, and how characters can lead stories forward.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

I write for anyone who enjoys a lighthearted cozy mystery with main characters you’d love to be friends with. I would say my style is more along the lines of magical realism. The worlds in my books are ones you recognize and aren’t so different from yours – except that a vampire, shifter, or fairy lives in your town!

I love that. It makes your books so much fun.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

I think Stephen King said it best. He said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I suggest you read every day from the genre you wish to write in. Pick highly rated books with enthusiastic reviews. Then write, even if it’s not fantastic from page one, it will get better with practice.

 Excellent advice.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

My path has been different from most because I wrote non-fiction for over twenty years. When I switched to fiction, I found it to be a whole new ballgame! I had to learn so much, it was a major pivot in my writing career. I did it one step at a time. But I’m getting the hang of it!

I think you’re doing terrific.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I am a member of Sisters in Crime – which provides an amazing amount of support and camaraderie. I’m also a member of several Facebook writing groups so daily doses of friendship and support.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime. It’s a great group.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I enjoy the wide outdoors. Hiking in nature is my favorite non-work activity. My four adult kids are hikers, climbers, and mountaineers – so I’m always getting an invitation to try something new!


What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

What I love most is creating fun experience for my readers – taking them away to another world for a grand adventure. I love reading reviews!!! I’ve been lucky that the vast majority are very positive, and those bring me great joy. I have an entire Wall of Fame in my office with all my favorite reviews posted!

My toughest challenge is handling all the marketing and administration. It takes a lot of time away from writing, but it’s critical to getting my books out to the world, so it’s time that must be taken.

I think most writers feel the same way about the business side of writing. I really like your idea of a Wall of Fame. It sounds like a perfect way to keep inspired.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Oh, my gosh! Absolutely everything! Writing stories, reading reviews, meeting my readers! It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my work life.

It’s such a good thing to love what you do.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

Of course! I would be happy to! Here’s a snippet from Bakeries and Buffoonery!


A rhythmic tapping on the wall started somewhere near the front door. It moved down the hall toward us, and then Frank, our dashing Siamese library cat, burst into the room with the swagger he was so good at. The tapping continued, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor in a pulsating beat. He started to shimmy his shoulders and hum a tune. As if that wasn’t odd enough, he began to rap.

“Book club day is here.

Adventure, do you dare?

Tell me where we’re goin’

But I don’t really care.

Dead bodies they are waitin’

For some investigatin’

Lead the waaay—”

He looked up and stopped mid-rap, his extended claw in the air. He saw me and Glo sitting at the counter. His entire demeanor drooped.

“Seriously?” he grumbled. “That spectacular entrance and only two of you are here to witness it? What a complete and total waste of talent.”

“You could always go outside and wait. Come back when more of the group has gathered,” I suggested, taking a relaxed sip of my tea.

“Nah. The freshness is lost.” He jumped up onto the counter. “How about you make up for it by brewing me a pot of coffee?”

“What exactly are we making up for?” asked Glo, her brows lifted in question.

“Your lack of enthusiasm. Your inability to appreciate the art. Your failure to acknowledge the artist.”

“I won’t admit to any of that, but I can make you a pot of coffee,” I said.

“Thank you, Paige.” He took a deep breath, sat down, and settled in to begin grooming his tail.

“I’m happy to see that you’re so excited for book club day.” I took out a small bowl and a container of my favorite creamer, the one I knew he loved, too. I held up the bottle toward him. “You know this stuff isn’t good for you, right?”

“And yet it’s good for you?” His whiskers twitched. He walked across the counter, leaned over to look at the bottle and squinted at the label. “Corn syrup, mal-toe-dextrin, mono-digly-cerides, carra-gee-nan—”

“Yes, yes. I’m aware of the ingredients, but I don’t care to be reminded of them. I like the front label better: Caramel Cinnamon Cream.”

“But I don’t see caramel, cinnamon, or cream on this label, Miss Paige-o-paper. You told me you shouldn’t eat things you can’t pronounce.”

“And you could learn to keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself, because frankly I don’t give a—”

Glo snickered, then covered it with a cough.

“Do you want this delicious caramel cinnamon creamer in your coffee or not?” I asked the cat.

“Did I ever say I didn’t? Load me up, girl!”

What a great excerpt. Thanks for sharing. I just love Frank, the talking cat you created. He reminds me of my library cat, Sneaky who is also Siamese but only talks currently to the other pets in my book but has his own blog where he actually interviewed Frank. Their interview can be found here:

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

Every book in the Magical Mystery Book Club series can be read as a standalone, but it’s more fun to read them in order, so you can learn how the book club was created and meet the characters as they appear in the stories.

Excellent. That’s the same way with my two series. I try to include enough back story, so people aren’t lost, but it’s always better to read them in order if possible.

 Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.


Amazon US

Goodreads: Magical Mystery Book Club:

Goodreads: Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic

Newsletter Sign-up:


International Amazon Links:



Thanks so much for the interview, Elizabeth. I’m sharing your blog tour for Bakeries and Buffoonery.

Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club
by Elizabeth Pantley

About Bakeries and Buffoonery

Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Small Midwestern Town
Independently Published (February 15, 2023)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 310 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLLCTKCM

It’s a magical book club! When this group chooses a book, magic happens. The mystery comes to life, and they find themselves part of the story. To exit the book and get back home, they need to solve the mystery and reach The End.

This time, the club chooses a book called The Great Cake Rivalry, because, well … cake! They read the back cover and it’s unanimous. So off they go into another grand adventure into a town aptly named Frosting.

Frosting is a rural town in an idyllic setting. The people live quiet lives most of the year. But in the spring, things change. The Annual Cake Competition becomes the focus of every man, woman, and child. They take this competition seriously. The cakes are spectacular. The festival is fabulous. For a week there are contests featuring all kinds of cakes. The people of the community become official tasters and vote for the winning cakes in each category.

The grand finale is a display of finely decorated cakes, made by the town’s bakeries. The winner of the best design receives a prize package that would make any baker dizzy.

Sadly, this event has been tainted. Once a year, each one different, but all somehow related to this event, a person is murdered. The main investigator is stumped, but that could be because he’s an inept buffoon.

Can the book club help the people of this community figure out who is causing this disturbing pattern of deaths, and stop another murder from happening? Can they figure out why some of the citizens dress so oddly, and why they always wear those unique backpacks? All while they fill themselves to the brim with cake, of course.

About Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley is the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages.

She simultaneously writes the well-loved Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series and the new Magical Mystery Book Club series.

Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous inspiration for the setting in many of her books. Visit her and sign up for her newsletter at

Author Links

Newsletter Sign-up:

Purchase Link – Amazon

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February 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

February 21 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

February 22 – I’m Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

February 24 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

February 25 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 26 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 27 – Elza Reads – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

February 28 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 1 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT

March 2 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW

March 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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