BLOG TOUR – The Gemini Connection – REVIEW, EXCERPT

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Welcome! Today I’m pleased to bring you a stop on the Reads & Reels Book Tour for The Gemini Connection by Teri Polen.  This book was phenomenal!

About the Book

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The Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7, 2018

Genre: YA Dystopian / YA Science-Fiction

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NPublisher

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Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.


Review – 5 out of 5 stars.

This book was absolutely phenomenal! In fact, I actually read the book twice because I was so deep into the story, I was afraid I’d missed little details. I hadn’t, but still enjoyed the book just as much the 2nd time around.

I’m not a huge dystopian fiction fan, but the synopsis of this one pulled me right in and the book itself did not disappoint. The characters are well-rounded, complex characters. Evan is the epitome of someone who has suffered a huge loss that they believe is their fault. Syd is exactly what he needs and sticks by him even when he’s a complete asshole.

The setting was interesting. I’m usually one for less description of settings but in this case, I feel like there could’ve been a little more. I kept forgetting that Tage had a water shortage and was arid.

The plot line had you jumping right in from the beginning and it never slowed down! It was wonderfully complex. It had a lot of great twists and turns in the plot. It keeps you guessing at times and pulls at your heartstrings at others.

All in all, you should not walk, but run to your nearest bookstore (or Amazon) and purchase this book!

Evan and Syd Battling a Nightmare

About the Author


Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Author Links









Thanks for joining me today! I hope you enjoyed my review. Have a great week! Click on the button below to go to the main tour page if you wish to visit any other stops on the tour!


BLOG TOUR – A Soufflé of Suspicion – GUEST POST & REVIEW


Welcome! Today I’m hosting one of the last stops on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Soufflé of Suspicion, the second in the French Bistro Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber. This was a fun book to read and I really enjoyed it.  Daryl Wood Gerber has generously provided a guest post with recipe for today’s post. My review and information about the book – including purchase links and a rafflecopter giveaway – will be below the guest post! Enjoy!

Guest Post from Daryl Wood Gerber

I have to tell you that I am a huge fan of caramel. I like it as a candy. I love it on ice cream. And now, this soufflé might be my favorite dessert. It’s decadent. It’s creamy. It’s packed with caramel flavor. And the pinch of sea salt gives it a delicious kick.  Soufflé is easy to make, but it does sink quickly. Do not despair. Simply enjoy the flavor of whatever result turns out for you. This is an insider trick of a chef.



(Makes 2)

Ingredients for caramel:

  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Ingredients for soufflé:

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Ingredients for salted caramel sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. First, make the caramel. In a sauté pan, over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil.  Stir until it is a dark golden color, about 5-7 minutes, then add the crème fraiche and stir on low heat until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush two 3-inch ceramic dishes with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Dust each with 1 teaspoon sugar. Shake off the excess.
  3. In a medium saucepan (off the heat), whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch, then slowly add the warm milk.  * I heated the milk in a microwave for 1 minute on high. Whisk to incorporate. Cook the mixture on medium, whisking constantly, until thick.  Then stir in the caramel, which will be sticky. Set the mixture aside and allow to cool slightly, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with the vinegar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the caramel-egg mixture. Pour mixture into the two prepared baking dishes and tap each on a level surface to remove air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden. There will be a slight wobble in the center. Remove from the oven. Let cool 15 minutes. They might sink a bit.
  6. Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce.  Put the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let bubble for 1-2 minutes until glossy, stirring constantly.
  7. Serve the soufflé with a side of the salted caramel sauce.

PS  The salted caramel sauce is terrific over vanilla ice cream!


About the Book

A Soufflé of Suspicion: A French Bistro Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (July 10, 2018)
Hardcover 296 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683315865
Digital ASIN: B075QMR44B

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway


The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters.

Crush Week in Nouvelle Vie is a madhouse—in a good way. Tourists pour into town for the pressing of the Napa Valley’s world-renowned grapes and all the town’s businesses get a nice lift, including Bistro and Maison Rousseau. Mimi is raising the ante this year with a Sweet Treats Festival, a wonderland of croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés crafted with expert care by the area’s top talents.

Chef Camille’s sister Renee is managing the festival with a cast-iron fist, upsetting everyone, including her sister. Which is bad for Camille when Renee turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen. Mimi is still building her business, so her first course of action is to whip up answers and catch the unsavory perpetrator before Camille takes a dusting and gets burned.



This was a fun summer read.  I’m enjoying the characters in this series quite a bit. I’m one for character-driven series and books. If the characters aren’t interesting, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is, you lose me. Thankfully this series has some great characters. I really enjoy Mimi, Jo, Heather, and the rest of the gang. They’re tons of fun.

I love the setting in this series too. The inn that is made to look like Monet’s house at Giverny and the gardens designed like Monet’s garden. Fabulous. The focus of this book with the Sweet Treats Festival was fabulous. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bistro and all its nuances, but having another setting helped keep the story moving along.

I did not figure out the villain until it was revealed which is a plus. In fact, the villain in this one was a complete surprise to me. Well, maybe not a complete surprise as Mimi did speculate about them, but I didn’t really see it being this person until it was revealed.

All in all it was a fun read with some great recipes. 🙂 I look forward to #3 in the series!


About the Author

Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Author Links

Visit Daryl or Avery at

Daryl’s Blog Avery’s Blog Mystery Lover’s Kitchen Killer Characters

Facebook: Daryl Avery

Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber

Goodreads: Daryl Wood Gerber Avery Aames

©Cute Colors

BLOG TOUR – Airships, Crypts, & Chocolate Chips – REVIEW


Welcome!  Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Airships, Crypts, & Chocolate Chips, the sixth book in the Spells & Caramels series by Erin Johnson.  Erin has done it again and brought us a fantastic book!

About the Book

Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Self Published
Publication Date: June 23, 2018

Purchase Links: Amazon

Rafflecopter Giveaway


A bewitched prison. A brother with a deadly request. Can a magical baker launch a jailbreak and still keep her prince in the process?

Imogen’s magical bakery is thriving and she loves the company of the Water Kingdom’s dashing prince. But she’s not so enamored with the time she’s forced to spend with his awful Royal Family. She also can’t help but worry that the increased media scrutiny could reveal her secret contact with the Royal Family’s sworn enemy: her own brother.

When her sibling shows up and demands Imogen spring his cronies out of jail, she flat out refuses. But when he threatens to hurt the ones she loves the most, she balances her allegiance to the prince with her plan for a covert prison break. Can Imogen keep up family appearances and avoid betraying the kingdom or will her pie-in-the-sky scheme become a recipe for disaster?

Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips is the sixth standalone book in a clever paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like crafty witches, charming romances, and fabulous French settings, then you’ll love Erin Johnson’s enchanting adventure.

6 books

Review – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Erin Johnson has done it again! She’s brought us an absolutely amazing new story in the Spells & Caramels series! This one did not garner 5 stars from me though like the last two have.  The sole reason it’s a 4.5 instead of a 5 is that I feel as though the book was a little too suspenseful. Cozy mysteries don’t usually have the suspense that Ms. Johnson put in this book. It even ended on a cliff-hanger.  I felt as though that kind of detracted from the story line.  In fact, I’m going to have to read it a second time because I feel like there are nuances I missed because I was so into the action happening.

Outside of that fact, it’s a fantastic book. I adore the characters in this series and this book didn’t disappoint. The characters were as quirky and loveable as they usually are. Hank even goes above and beyond to prove his love to Imogen. Horace even becomes more loveable in this installment.

I’m excitedly awaiting the seventh installment which I hope will be out soon since this one ended on a cliff-hanger!  I do recommend that if you want to read the series, that you start with the first book in the series, Seashells, Spells, & Caramels. You’ll understand the interpersonal relationships a lot more if you start with the first book.

Read them and enjoy them – it’s a great series!

About the Author

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @EJohnsonWrites



Welcome! I apologize as this is very late going up, but I am hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Bamboozled, the second book in the Mah Jongg Mystery series by Barbara Barrett. I will have an author interview below the review for your reading pleasure as well.

About the Book

Bamboozled (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
Cozy Mysteries
2nd in Series
Self Published (April 3, 2018)
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1948532037
Digital ASIN: B07C9CLL4R

Purchase Links: AmazonB&N

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Essential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.

Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.

The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.

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Review – 4 out of 5 stars

This second book in the Mah Jongg Mystery series is a fun read!  I’m still enjoying the characters and the setting. The characters are quirky, well-developed and just fun!

I had a little difficulty getting into the storyline this time. I’m not sure why, but I did. Once I got into the book though, I couldn’t put it down!  Definitely as good as the first, maybe even a little better.

I do recommend starting with the first book in the series, Craks in a Marriage if you want to read the series, but all in all it’s a great book!

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Author Interview


Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: Although I started writing several years ago when I was employed full-time as a human resources analyst, I’m now retired, and my days are my own. When I was employed, I very much enjoyed my job.

Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: I am usually engaged in some way in my writing career from around ten in the morning to mid-evening, although I take many breaks and a good share of my writing time is devoted to promoting my books. I usually have no set number of pages to write per day, unless I’m nearing a self-imposed deadline. I don’t play music; instead, I have the television on as background noise. Terrible habit, but it began when I was in high school, and I’ve never broken it.

Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reins” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: On occasion my characters have seized the story for themselves. I never intended for one of the four characters in my Mah Jongg Mystery series, Katrina Faulkner, to be a blossoming lounge singer, but when I was drafting the first book, Craks in a Marriage, she seemed to grab the microphone from me and run with it. I found I loved the contrast of her introverted persona by day with her more flamboyant songstress personality by night.

I don’t start out by just writing, nor do I outline before I start a new story. Instead, I focus on what my characters want to accomplish, why that is important and what is keeping them from meeting their goals. I try to work out this framework before I write “Chapter One,” but sometimes I get impatient to try out my ideas. Once I’ve completed the first draft, I go through the story and do a scene-by-scene analysis. When it is finished, I review it for holes in the story or the logic. At that point, I might do a very rough outline of what yet needs to be done.

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Q4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: By the time I started writing (contemporary romance novels), there was so much competition at the large print publishing houses, an unpublished author needed an agent to get her work seen, or she had to final in a writing contest. I spent several years attempting to get an agent and to have my work seen by editors. I lost track of the rejections, because I thought keeping count would only frustrate me. My break came when digital publishing emerged. New digital publishers were seeking inventory, and I was lucky enough to attract their attention. Six years ago, I received my first offer. I published eight books (two stand-alones and two three-book series) with one publisher before I self-published three contemporary romances last summer. I recently added cozy mysteries to my repertoire. Since I was now familiar with indie publishing, they, too, are self-published.

Q5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

I generally go through at least three revisions: the first a thorough line-by-line read-through, the second checking for spelling, logic, and redoing phrasing to read better, and the third a sort of catch-all. I don’t have a beta team. Instead, my editor does content and line editing, and she does a second edit once I’ve addressed her comments. I set the draft aside while she’s editing and work on other projects, but she’s fast, so I don’t have much time for the manuscript to gel in my mind.

Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: In Bamboozled, the villain is the victim, so there wasn’t much time to develop her before I knocked her off. The more challenging task was to develop plausible reasons why each suspect wanted to kill her without revealing too much about the real killer.

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Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional? 

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: So far, I have used the names of two friends in my books although the characters aren’t based on them. I’ve been playing mah jongg for over nine years. In that time, I’ve played with numerous individuals who would make great characters in the mah jongg mystery series, but I’ve made a conscious effort not to base any character on a specific person, as I’d like to still keep playing with them and keep them as friends. My characters and the mah jongg scenes depicted in my books are an amalgamation of my experience and my imagination. A few fellow mah jongg players have read the books, anxious whether they have been portrayed; I think they may actually have been disappointed not to find themselves, although there might have been hell to pay if they did.

Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: Although I have a Master’s Degree in American History, I have deliberately steered clear of writing historical pieces because I haven’t been ready to do the research necessary to lend them the credibility I feel they’d need. But should the mood strike me at some point, I’d like to write about the women in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (later the WACs) who trained at Fort Des Moines in my home state of Iowa in 1942. I regret that the idea did not occur to me when I was doing original research for my thesis at Drake University.

Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: I’m in two book clubs. Most of the books I’ve read have been our monthly selections. So far this year, these have included The Woman in Cabin 10, Run, Hillbilly Elegy and Little Fires Everywhere. I liked them all but especially Run and Little Fires Everywhere. I am currently reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah about the wilds of Alaska, since we are taking an Alaskan cruise in June. After that, I want to get back to mysteries, starting with Glass Houses by Louise Penny. I met her recently at the Malice Domestic 30 conference in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: Years ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, M.D. The book focuses on the role self-image has in helping or hindering someone achieve their goals. I haven’t gone back to the book since, but some of those concepts still reside in my brain and influence my actions. In the seventies, I read Shana by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Until then, I dismissed romance novels as “those books” my mom read. But the emotional tug of this book got me interested in writing romance. (I debated whether to mention the Bible, because I thought everyone must mention it. But after I got this far, I realized I couldn’t finish without adding it to the list. It also has influenced my life.)

Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: It would probably be Micki Demetrius. She’s a former English teacher from a boarding school back east now turned freelance writer in her retirement. She’s the first one to see shopping as the panacea for any ailment or difficulty. She’s also much brighter than she realizes. She would keep me entertained.

Q12: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

Ms. Barrett’s Answer: I try not to but sometimes I can’t resist. Though it wasn’t all bad, one didn’t feel there was enough passion between my hero and heroine, that there wasn’t enough depth to their relationship. Though that goal is always on my mind when writing a romance, that opinion sticks with me and prompts me to go deeper with each new couple.

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Thanks for joining me today. I do apologize for how late I was in getting this up. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below and visit the main tour page.



BLOG TOUR – Shadow Dancing – GUEST POST


Welcome! Today, I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Shadow Dancing by Julie Mulhern.  Julie has been gracious to provide a guest post with an excerpt from the book, so all information about the book, including purchase links and a Rafflecopter giveaway will be below the guest post!


Guest Post by Julie Mulhern

What is funny?

To me, funny is Tim Conway with Harvey Korman in a dentist’s chair. Funny is physical and clever and the spectator at the US Open who yelled, “Dilly, dilly!” when Dustin Johnson teed off.

Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows funny. Given enough time, the disaster stories (chewed handbags and shoes, chewed drywall, chewed couches) turn into comedy. That time the dog flooded the guest bathroom? Hilarious. That time the dog had to go to the vet three times in one week? Funniest story ever.

For Ellison, Max the dastardly dog brings the funny.

An excerpt from Shadow Dancing:

Max slipped through the opening and stood in the driveway laughing at us. Ha! said his doggy smile. Just try and catch me.

I might—might—have been able to lure him inside with the promise of a dog biscuit, that or a turkey club sandwich with extra bacon, but Max spotted a squirrel.

Sadly, the squirrel did not spot Max.

Max’s jaws missed the squirrel’s tail by less than a quarter of an inch.

The panicked animal ran and Max followed.


Max ignored me.

The squirrel cut across my yard and ran into my neighbor’s lawn. My evil neighbor’s lawn. Margaret Hamilton was a witch of the flew-a-broomstick-at-midnight, stirred-a-cauldron, had-warts-on-her-chin (not really) variety. And she did not like my dog.


Intent on the chase, he didn’t even turn his head.

And the squirrel? Why was it ignoring a perfectly good oak tree?

It was unfortunate (but not surprising) that Margaret chose that moment to step outside. She possessed some kind of witchy internal radar that alerted her when any member of my household so much as touched a blade of her grass.

It was even more unfortunate that, having made the decision to scowl at me from her front steps, she didn’t close her door behind her.

Most unfortunate of all was the squirrel dashing between her legs and into her house.

No. That’s wrong. MOST unfortunate was the fact that my dog followed the squirrel—through Margaret’s legs and into her home.


About the Book

Shadow Dancing (The Country Club Murders)
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Henery Press (June 19, 2018)
Print Length: 210 pages
Digital ASIN: B07BMJM89K

Purchase Links: Amazon – B&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway


Visiting a psychic is outside the norm for Ellison Russell. Finding bodies is not. Unfortunately, the psychic’s crystal ball says she’ll soon be surrounded by death. Again. Drat.

Now there’s a corpse in the front drive, a witchy neighbor ready to turn Ellison and her (not so) little dog into toadstools, and a stripper named Starry Knight occupying the guest room.

How did 1975 go so wrong so quickly?

Ellison must handle Mother (who’s found a body of her own), make up with a certain handsome detective, and catch a killer, or the death surrounding her might be her own.


About the Author

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

Author Links

Website –

FB –

Twitter –

Goodreads –


Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click on the banner below to be taken to the main tour page!