December 10, 2016

Literally Dead by Lois Winston - Spotlight, Character Guest Post and Giveaway

Published: September 30, 2016
Number of pages: 218
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Empty Nest Mystery #2

After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

About The Author
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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My Midlife Crisis 
By Gracie Elliott 

Have you ever lost a job? I suppose most people have at one time or another, but for me it was a new—and totally shocking—experience. I had worked for the same company my entire adult life until the morning I arrived at the office to find my career had been outsourced to a Third World nation.

I don’t work in customer service, billing, or tech support. I’m a textile designer. How could this happen? Who ever heard of outsourcing creativity? Did the Pope outsource The Sistine Chapel to a call center in India, handing them a paint-by-numbers cheat sheet from which to work? No, he hired one of Italy’s premier artists to create one of the world’s great masterpieces.

Then, as if losing my job weren’t enough, to add insult to injury, I learned I was also losing my pension, thanks to some underhanded financial skullduggery. Talk about a double-whammy!

What do you do when you’re middle-aged, out of work, and have two kids in college? After going through the five stages of grief—and also wondering why I had to fall in love with a college professor instead of a trust fund baby—I pulled up my big girl pants and set out to look for another job, only to learn no one was interested in hiring a forty-something fabric designer.

The only solution was to turn entrepreneurial and create a new career for myself. My first foray (documented in Definitely Dead by Lois Winston), was Relatively Speaking, a matchmaking service for senior citizens. What I really wanted to do was write romance novels. Relatively Speaking afforded me plenty of time to pen my future bestsellers because my clients needed several hours each morning to find their teeth, lube their creaky joints, and deal with GI necessities. They also always turned in shortly after the early bird specials each evening. What I didn’t anticipate was someone murdering Client Number Thirteen—and almost murdering me. So much for my fledgling business!

However, during the short time that Relatively Speaking existed, I was able to work on my novel and eventually finished it. I entered a writing competition and took first place, winning the prestigious Cream of the Crop Award. Maybe I didn’t need to find another business venture after all. My dream of becoming a bestselling romance author was about to come true. So I set off for the Society of American Romance Writers’ annual conference, fully expecting a bevy of editors to vie for my book. I had visions of them lining up to toss offers at my feet.

Unfortunately, something other than book contracts landed at my feet—literally. Another dead body. And not just any dead body but the body of Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance. Find out how I deal with this new crisis in my life in Literally Dead, the second book in the Empty Nest Mystery series

Tour Participants

December 1 – A Date with a Book – REVIEW
December 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW
December 3 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 4 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW 
December 5 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
December 6 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
December 7 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
December 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 9 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 10 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

What Fresh Smell by Jeffrey Marks - Spotlight, Guest Post and Giveaway

Published: August 9, 2016
Number of pages: 164
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Marissa Scott Mystery #3

There’s Murder in River City – Daycare that is.

When Marissa learns that a teacher at the daycare center has been murdered, she comes to the realization that she really didn’t know much about the people who worked there, especially the murdered woman. She’ll now have to manage her son, her mother, her mother’s Scottish terrier, and an ex-boyfriend as she tries to hunt down the people behind a robbery ring and the person who killed a daycare teacher. If she’s not careful, she might meet the same fate.

About the author:
Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer. After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony. He won a Malice Domestic Grant for The Scent of Murder, which has spurred the Marissa Scott series. What Fresh Smell is the third novel in the series.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his spouse and three dogs.

Website: (blog is a link from the site),

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Guest Post:
My early thirties were not a good time. I’d been very ill with pneumonia, and I’d recently gotten a divorce. I’ve often read about those mystery writers (like Ellery Queen and Margaret Millar) who read mysteries while they were ill and decided that they could do better. At that juncture, I decided that I would be one as well.

Despite my illness, I had the idea for a mystery series about a divorced woman who works at a department store and gets involved in a murder at the department store. In the matter of six weeks, I wrote an entire first draft of the first book in the series, The Scent of Murder. The main character worked in the same profession as my sister, so the research was just a phone call away.

For someone who wrote biographies and historical fiction that took years to research and write, a contemporary mystery held a particular charm. Instead of years, I could finish a book in less than two months. Whatever could I do with that free time?

After a solid edit, I submitted my book to the Malice Domestic Grant competition. I’ve come to learn that editing is always the worst part of the process for me. I tend to do several drafts and the sheer magnitude of reading and rereading the same pages 7-10 times can overwhelm me at times.

For those of you who are not familiar with Malice Domestic, it’s a conference and program established to focus on cozier mysteries and their authors. It was a new grant program back then, and lo and behold, I won. I was shocked to hear it, but I was thrilled. I accepted the grant at the Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, MD and waited for the offers to roll in.

Of course, publishing is never that easy. I did get a contract from Grace Abrams Publishing. Sadly, the publisher went out of business, and then it was picked up by Delphi Books, the same publisher that had released my biography of Craig Rice. The book remained in print for many years there, until the owner started scaling back.

So now the book is independently published. It’s a rather circuitous way to stay in print, but it works well for me. Since then, two more novels and a short story have appeared in the series, and I’m currently working on a fourth book as well as another short story, which I’ll talk about in a later post.

I haven’t given up on my other works either. I am still write biographies about some of my favorite mystery authors, and I occasionally write a short story in my historical series.


Tour Participants

December 7 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
December 8 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
December 8 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT
December 9 – T’s Stuff – GUEST POST
December 9 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
December 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
December 12 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf -INTERVIEW
December 12 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
December 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
December 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 15 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – GUEST POST
December 16 – The Power of Words – SPOTLIGHT
December 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 18 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

December 8, 2016

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright - Review

Published: October 4, 2005
Number of pages: 128
Genre: Fiction

Rising newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the secret behind the "Christmas Jars" glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously given to people in need. But Hope discovers much more than she bargained for when some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness and brings above a Christmas Eve wish come true."

My thoughts:
Watch a touching story. This book will pull at your heart strings from the very first page. The whole idea behind the Christmas jars was so touching and thought provoking. After reading this book you will want to start your own Christmas jar. Hope was such a determined person from the time she was little and knew what she wanted. Then along the way she kind of got served a piece of humble pie. Don't get me wrong she was a good person all the way to the end of the book but in her own mind she did something wrong. You will find a lump in your throat as I did while reading this. I just found out there is a sequel to this book which I have to have. This is the second book I have read by this author and he does a great job of making you really stop and think while enjoying a touching story. 

About the author:
Jason Wright is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author.

Jason is a weekly columnist for the Deseret News and Northern Virginia Daily and articles by Jason have appeared in over 50 newspapers and magazines across the United States including The Washington Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. He is the author of The James Miracle (2004); Christmas Jars (2005); The Wednesday Letters (2007); Recovering Charles (2008), Christmas Jars Reunion (2009); Penny’s Christmas Jar Miracle (2009); The Cross Gardener (2010); The Seventeen Second Miracle (2010); The Wedding Letters (2011); and, The 13th Day of Christmas (2012).

Jason is also a popular speaker who speaks on faith, the Christmas Jars movement, the Joy of Service, the lost art of letter writing and many other topics. He has been seen on CNN, FoxNews, C-SPAN, and on local television affiliates around the country.

Jason is from Charlottesville, Virginia, but has also lived in Germany, Illinois, Brazil, Oregon and Utah. In 2007, while researching Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley for his novel The Wednesday Letters, Jason fell so in love with the area that he moved his family westward from northern Virginia to the Valley.

Jason is married to Kodi Erekson Wright. They have two girls and two boys.

Jason is originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, but has also lived in Germany, Illinois, Brazil, Oregon and Utah. In 2007, while researching Virginia's Shenandoah Valley for his novel The Wednesday Letters, Jason fell so in love with the area that he moved his family westward from northern Virginia to Woodstock. They've lived in the Valley ever since.

Jason is married to Kodi Erekson Wright. They have two girls and two boys.

December 7, 2016

Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Childs - Review

Published: March 6, 2007
Number of pages: 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Tea Shop Mystery #7

When social darling Delaine Dish throws a lavish benefit for the restoration of a run-down Victorian home, Theodosia Browning donates tea and treats from her Indigo Tea Shop. But the grand unveiling of Theo's spread proves a gruesome scene when a beloved local politico falls dead with a jagged piece of metal in his neck. Anyone at the event could be the culprit, but the police have few leads -- and no suspects. Try as she might, Theodosia can't help but wonder who the murderer is. But her investigation will lead her into places darker than the blackest tea...

My thoughts:
This addition of the tea shop mysteries was a little more heart wrenching for me. It involves animals and that always touches a soft spot with me. In this story Delaine was not near as annoying to me. I think it is because she was busy and people were actually putting her in her place this time. She did have a big part in this book. Haley was still a person I could not like. She is rude and immature with the things she says and does. I am so glad that we got to see more of Parker in this one and I hope that he and Theo continue to get closer. We also got see a lot more of Earl Grey this time around which is a big plus. I thought I had the murder all figured out then one of the suspects I had ended up murdered so that left two more. Then at the end the author thew me for a loop and I realized I had it all wrong. Another great addition to a fun series. 

About the author:
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries - set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries - set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

December 5, 2016

Fatal Fiction by Kym Roberts - Guest Post and Giveaway

Published: December 6, 2016
Number of pages: 224
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Book Barn Mystery

When kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren hightailed it out of Hazel Rock, Texas, as a teen, she vowed to leave her hometown in the dust. A decade later, she’s braving the frontier of big hair and bigger gossip once again . . . but this time, she’s saddled with murder!

Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle her estranged dad’s debt—if only so she can ride into the sunset and cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are topping the most wanted list . . .

Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli’s intent on protecting what’s left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone killer who’s fixin’ to destroy her future . . .

About The Author
Three career paths resonated for Kym Roberts during her early childhood: detective, investigative reporter, and . . .nun. Being a nun, however, dropped by the wayside when she became aware of boys—they were the spice of life she couldn’t deny. In high school her path was forged when she took her first job at a dry cleaners and met every cop in town, especially the lone female police officer in patrol. From that point on there was no stopping Kym’s pursuit of a career in law enforcement. Kym followed her dream and became a detective who fulfilled her desire to be an investigative reporter, with one extra perk—a badge. Promoted to sergeant, Kym spent the majority of her career in SVU. She retired from the job reluctantly when her husband dragged her kicking and screaming to another state, but writing continued to call her name, at least in her head. Visit her on the web at

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Guest Post
An Old Family Favorite

During the holidays, my favorite food was my mom's pumpkin pie. It was the only time she made it, and I couldn't wait to dig in. I didn't think anyone could beat her recipe—boy, was I wrong.

While working my way through college, I waitressed for Pippins Restaurant, which changed its name to Tippin’s Restaurant when it expanded beyond Independence, Missouri. Have you heard of Tippin's Pies? Yum! The training was grueling, we had to try all the pies, (oh, the torture!) and suddenly, my mom's pumpkin pie fell off its pedestal. (Sorry, mom!)

But it did help her, because she no longer had to worry about baking dessert for family gatherings—I just ordered a couple pies from Tippin’s every time we got together—it was awesome! (Those are her words…and mine) Then Tippin’s Restaurants started closing their doors, and none were available where we lived. So many years ago, I decided to tackle the recipe and see if I couldn't make a pie just as good as Tippin’s--with my mom's recipe as the starting point. I did not try to tackle the crust, I leave that to the experts in the kitchen. I went for the meat of a pumpkin pie—the filling!

Now, I do the same thing my mom did—my kids must wait for the holidays to get my pumpkin pie, which turns out to be their favorite;) I hope you enjoy Kym’s Pumpkin Pie as much as my kids do—and hopefully someday, they’ll take it and make it their own for the next generation. Happy Holidays!

Kym’s Pumpkin Pie
Serving: 2 pies
Time: 55-105 mins depending on your oven
Pre-heat Oven: 425º

1 30oz can Pumpkin
1 tsp salt
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
3 large eggs
2 cans Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (you can use low or no-fat)
2 frozen Pet-Ritz Pie shells

1. Mix salt, cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg in a small bowl.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl
3. Stir in pumpkin and spice mixture
4. Slowly stir in condensed milk
5. Pour into frozen pie shells
6. Bake in preheated oven at 425º for 15 minutes with the edges of the crust only covered
7. Reduce heat to 350º and take off crust covering. Bake for 40-50 minutes until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours or chill for 1 hour and serve
9. It’s not pumpkin pie without whip topping to me, so add on your favorite. I use CoolWhip.

If you’d like to try a fancier version, I’ve added a streusel on top, but my kids prefer it without the streusel.

Streusel Ingredients
¼ c. Flour
¼ c. Brown Sugar
2 Tblsp melted butter
¾ c. Pecans coarsely chopped
½ c. ground gingersnap cookies

1. Mix all ingredients and put on top of pie when it has 15 minutes left to bake.
2. Let cool 2 hrs on a wire rack, or chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.
3. Top with whip topping and serve.

Check your local grocery store in the frozen food sections. Tippin’s Pies have started showing up even in Texas, and their French Silk Pie will be on my holiday table!



Tour Participants

December 5 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
December 5 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
December 7 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW
December 8 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
December 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
December 9 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
December 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
December 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
December 11 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
December 11 – Dalene’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 12 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
December 14 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
December 15 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
December 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
December 16 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
December 17 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley - Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway

Published: November 29, 2016
Number of pages: 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Pacific Northwest Mystery #4

When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .

About the author:
Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

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Fort Vancouver National Park
Old Army Barracks

My feet squished inside my drenched kicks as I limped through the damp grass. I’d like to give Billy a swift kick in the shins, I thought cranking the volume on my phone to high. Maybe Dean Martin’s “King of the Road” would give me a final boost. Doubtful. I didn’t feel like the king or queen of the road. Quite the opposite.

The rest of my Mind Over Mudder teammates were nowhere in sight. Thank God. I checked behind me twice, just to make sure. I probably could have taken the shortcut straight to the barracks, but I didn’t want to risk being seen. That might have been a mistake. The historic grounds gave off an eerie aura, especially the dilapidated army hospital Building 614, to my left. It was rumored to be haunted. I understood why. Built in 1904 during an influenza outbreak, the three-story brick building had served hundreds of infantry men over the decades.

I shuddered to imagine the torture some of them must have endured. Was that a moan? A prickly feeling ran down my spine.

I think that’s a moan, I said aloud as I glanced up at the broken top story windows. Something ghoulish floated past.

Run, Meg!

I willed myself forward, ignoring the blisters on my heels or the chafing under my sports bra. It felt like I was breathing under water. I didn’t care. I crested the hill and turned onto Evergreen Boulevard.

Relax, Meg. It’s just your mind playing tricks on you. I had read one too many ghost stories when researching the history of Fort Vancouver and its surrounding grounds. The hospital had been abandoned for years, but people swore that things were amiss. Faucets were said to turn on in the middle of the night, bathroom doors banged shut for no reason, faces, like the one I’d just seen, appeared out of nowhere in the windows. The place was haunted. Definitely haunted.

You’re fine now, I told myself, slowing my pace.

I followed the flour on the sidewalk that marked the route of our pre-dawn run. It took us past the Fort’s parade grounds complete with an old-fashioned bandstand and Officer’s Row—a row of stately Victorian officer’s houses. That’s when I saw the creepy old lady again. I’d seen her watching us from her ground floor apartment before. The twenty-two stately mansions that make up Officer’s Row were now used for a variety of purposes. The Grant House had become one of Vancouver’s premier restaurants and the Marshall House a favorite spot for weddings. The remaining properties had been converted into commercial and residential space.

Yesterday when I jogged past the creepy old lady’s apartment she peeled back one lace curtain and watched me and my teammates. It was unsettling to say the very least.

I stopped to tie my shoe under an ancient oak. Its leaves looked parched from summer’s endless sun. My throat commiserated with the tree. I could use an ice-cold glass of water right about now. Pushing myself to standing all the hairs on my arms stood at attention as a creaking sound came from the creepy old lady’s front door. She appeared out of nowhere on the wraparound porch.

Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Where had she come from? I jumped back in surprise. Her glassy eyes bore into me. She wore a faded pink bathrobe and appeared to have been old enough to be one of the original members of the Hudson Bay Company.

“Hi.” I offered a tentative wave.

She didn’t move.

I tried again. “Good morning.”

Her eyes remained locked on me, but she gave no indication that she’d heard my greeting.

Was she a ghost?

I had no intention of waiting around to find out. I plowed ahead, crossing Evergreen Boulevard, and practically hurdling the waist-high wooden fence that ran the length of the grassy parade grounds. My feet revolted as I stumbled down the hill. It felt like someone was sanding my heels with sandpaper.

Pick up the pace, Meg.

The only thing that kept me upright was the promise of a hot shower and the fact that a ghost might be in hot pursuit. I needed to get to the barracks and get out of these shoes. Mud and sweat oozed from every pore. Thankfully, I’d learned my lesson after the first day on the training course and ditched my cute pink tank top and capris for old raggedy sweats and a t-shirt. Everything ended up discolored from the mud. There was no point in trying to look cute while under Billy the Tank’s watchful eye and blaring bullhorn.

I cut through the grass, something Billy definitely frowned on. “Reed!” he bellowed in his bullhorn when he caught me sneaking around the back of the barracks last week. “When you take a shortcut you’re only cheating yourself.”

That was fine by me. I happily owned cheating on myself.

There was a single light on in the otherwise deserted collection of buildings down the hill. The reserve encompassed three hundred and sixty-six acres of land. It included Fort Vancouver, Pearson Airfield and Museum, the barracks, Army hospital, Red Cross building, Officer’s Row, an old chapel, stables, and non-commissioned officer’s houses. The grounds are considered the Pacific Northwest’s most important historical site. And this morning I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were whispers from the past surrounding me.

My target was the barracks’ building where the single light glowing golden yellow looked like a welcoming beacon. Billy and his business partner Dylan had leased the barracks to use as base camp for their three-week intensive training class Mind Over Mudder. They promised that by the end of the session (If you survived, which at the moment looked doubtful for me) that not only would you be in “fighting shape” to finish a mud run, but that you’d also drop pounds and pant sizes. So far the scale hadn’t budged when I stepped on it, and I was so exhausted at the end of the day that I felt like dropping dead.

Using the wooden railing, I placed one hand over the other and slowly hauled my body up the ramp. The rotting wooden slats buckled. Please hold, I said a silent prayer to the Universe. The last thing I needed was to crash through the ramp.

Compared with the other buildings the barracks were in great shape. Everything had sat empty since the army abandoned its post in Vancouver decades earlier. The National Park, along with a trust, had begun renovations on the massive site. The barracks were first on the list, and Mind Over Mudder the first and only tenant at the moment. A sharp splinter lodged itself in my palm. It protruded from my mud-chapped skin. I stopped and yanked it free. Ouch!

Yet another reason to love this training program, I sighed as I opened the front door and stumbled inside. Every muscle in my body quaked. Billy had promised us that muscle pain was a sign that our metabolism was revving up and we were replacing fat with muscles. “Embrace the quakes” was his motto. Easy for him to say. Billy aka “the Tank” was the fittest person I’d ever met. That was saying a lot given that I write for Northwest Extreme Magazine and am constantly surrounded by hard bodied adventure junkies.

Billy instructed us to call him Tank on the first day of training. He looked like a tank. His stout body bulged with muscle mass. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on his body. Let’s just say that he was a bit intimidating when he sounded the whistle around his neck, wearing skin tight army shorts and a sleeveless shirt specifically designed to show off his enormous muscles.

I scanned the dimly lit hallway to make sure the Tank wasn’t there. By my estimate the rest of my teammates should be on the course for another thirty minutes. That should give me ample time to shower, soak my aching soles, and hightail it out of here before anyone was the wiser. I clicked off my music, tugged my earbuds out, and clutched my phone in the hand without the splinter.

The barracks have an ominous vibe even when they’re packed with my teammates and coaches. Shuffling down the long empty hallway made it feel even creepier. Like the army hospital the barracks are said to be haunted. The top floor was used for gun testing. There are still bullet holes in the walls upstairs, and it was said that you could hear phantom gun shots.

A loud thud sounded below.

I jumped and let out a scream.

My heart pounded in my chest. Relax, Meg. Maybe one of my teammates had the same idea.

I continued on, checking over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. The locker rooms were located in the basement. Not exactly where I wanted to be at the moment, but I hobbled down the hardwood stairs anyway.

When I was a few feet away from the locker room doors, they swung open nearly smacking me in the face.

I jumped again.

Was it the ghost? How were the doors opening? One of the rumors that I’d heard about the haunted buildings was that doors were known to open and close at will.

I backed up.

At that moment someone barreled through the doors and knocked me off my feet.

“Hey!” I caught myself on the wall.

The guy leaped over me and raced down the hallway before I could get a look at his face. I had a pretty good guess who it was. Tim Baxter, one of my fellow teammates. I recognized his bulk and black hooded sweatshirt. What was he doing in the locker room and why was he in such a hurry?

I pushed to standing. “Tim, where are you going?”

He paused at the front doors.

I noticed a package under his right arm. “Tim!” I called again. “What’s going on?”

He froze. I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. My contacts were thick with sludge. I don’t see distances very well even when my contacts are perfectly clear. Dirt had formed a thick filmy layer, making my vision blurry. I blinked twice.

The door slammed shut. Tim, or whoever had run into me, was gone


I brushed myself off and continued into the locker room. Steam enveloped the front area where three massage tables sat empty. Long mirrors stretching the length of the room were completely fogged over. It smelled like stale sweat, moldy wood, and eucalyptus. Someone, probably Tim, must have left the steam room doors open.

Using my hands as I shield to avoid tripping over a bench I made my way past the massage tables and into the shared steam, sauna, and whirlpool room. Doors on either side of the room lead to the men’s and women’s changing rooms and showers. Originally the barracks only housed men, so when Mind Over Mudder renovated the basement locker room they’d had to get creative with the design. The actual changing areas and showers were private and on opposite sides of each other, but the steam room and hot tub were coed, which meant that bathing suits were always required.

My cheeks burned with heat. Muddy sweat dripped onto the floor. The wet air filled my lungs, making me cough.

I fumbled through the dense layer of steam. My hands landed on the cedar steam room door, which was indeed wide open. Someone had propped it open with one of the locker room benches. Really weird. I pushed the bench away. It made a sound like nails on a chalkboard on the tile floor.

My feet slid across the wet floor. I landed on my tailbone as the steam room door swung shut. Awesome. Two falls in a matter of a few minutes. That had to be a new record for me. At least my phone was safely secured to my arm. I just got a new phone after a little accident with my old phone. Smart phones aren’t cheap, especially for a girl on a tight budget. I couldn’t risk damaging this one, so I undid the Velcro strap around my arm and placed my phone and earbuds on a bench nearby.

Steam billowed from underneath the door. It reminded me of dry ice on Halloween. Whoever turned it on must have cranked the heat to full blast. I braced myself as I opened the door to shut it off.

I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, but I knew where the dials controlling the heat and steam were. The steam room and I had become besties over the past few days. Nothing soothed my training aches and pains like the moist warm air.

I found the thermostat and switched it off. I know I shouldn’t have, but I climbed onto the cedar slatted bottom bench and drank in the steam. Billy would be furious if he caught me wearing my muddy clothes in the hot humid room, but I couldn’t help it. I was freezing. Just five minutes, Meg, I told myself as my breathing steadied and I sunk onto warm bench. This is exactly what I needed, I could almost feel my muscles begin to relax.

Within minutes the steam began to evaporate and the air began to thin. I opened my eyes. My contacts were like glue. Blinking as hard as I could, I tried to loosen their grip. It didn’t work. They felt like sand. I might have to ditch them, I thought as I stood up.

The small cedar room came into soft focus. Someone else was in here with me. I blinked again. “Billy?”

Billy was laying on his back on the top bench with his eyes closed. Why hadn’t he said anything? He must be pissed that I snuck out early.

“Listen, Tank, I’m really sorry I took the shortcut. My feet are killing me this morning. I have like a thousand blisters.”

Billy didn’t respond.

“Tank, I’m a reporter, remember. I’m here for a story. It’s not like the rest of my teammates.” I stood. Spots danced in my vision.

Again Billy didn’t respond. I moved closer. Suddenly, I knew why he wasn’t responding. Billy wasn’t resting.

As I came closer, a horrific sense of dread came over my entire body. Billy was dead.


Tour Participants

November 28 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
November 28 – Grace. Gratitude. Life. by Marie McNary – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
November 28 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT
November 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
November 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
November 30 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
November 30 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW
December 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW
December 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
December 2 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
December 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
December 3 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 4 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW
December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
December 5 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

December 4, 2016

The Seven-Course Christmas Killer by Rosie Genova - Spotlight

Published: November 27, 2016
Number of pages: 77
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Italian Kitchen Mystery

On Christmas Eve, someone might be sleeping with the fishes . . .

It’s December at the Casa Lido, which means only one thing: the Rienzi family’s traditional Christmas Eve celebration, including wine, song, and seven Italian seafood courses. As Victoria and Tim prep scungilli and calamari, Nonna directs the cooking until all is in readiness for the big night.

But the holiday cheer is interrupted by the attempted murder of Mayor Anne McCrae, who asks Vic to investigate. Trouble is, there are as many suspects as there are fishes on the Christmas Eve menu . . .

“The tastiest item on the menu with colorful characters, a sharp plot, and a fabulous Jersey setting. I enjoyed every bite.” —New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay on Murder and Marinara

About the author:
A Jersey girl born and bred, national bestselling author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her appreciation for good food and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, was named a 2013 Best Pick by Suspense Magazine and was a finalist for a 2014 Daphne Award. The proud mama of three grown sons, Rosie still lives in her home state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy.

Find Rosie on the internet:


Tour Participants:

December 1 - Jane Reads
December 1 - Moonlight Rendezvous
December 2 - Turning the Pages
December 2 - Island Confidential
December 2 - Brooke Blogs
December 2 - T's Stuff
December 3- Melina's Book Blog
December 4 - A Holland Reads
December 4 - The Power of Words
December 5 - A Blue Million Books
December 5 - Celticlady's Reviews
December 6 - Classy Cheapskate
December 7 - Books,Dreams,Life
December 9 - Cozy Up With Kathy
December 9 - Valerie's Musings
December 10 - StoreyBook Reviews
December 10 - Mystery Playground
December 11 - Bibliophile Reviews
December 11 - Laura's Interests
December 12 - Socrates' Book Reviews
December 16 - Varietats
December 18 - Community Bookstop
December 23 - Pulp and Mystery Shelf