BLOG TOUR – A Vintage Death – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Welcome! Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Vintage Death, the second in the Keepsake Cove Mystery series by Mary Ellen Hughes. Following my review of the book will be an interview with the author!

About the Book


A Vintage Death (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2018)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 0738752274
ISBN-13: 978-0738752273
Digital
ASIN: B0795RTP2B

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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Synopsis

As the new music box store owner and resident of Keepsake Cove, a quaint town full of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Callie Reed is eager to get more involved in her community. She volunteers to plan the Fall street decorations and welcome a visiting author who’s come for a special book signing. But the celebratory mood is cut short when the local B&B owner is found dead, killed by a pair of vintage scissors.

Suspicion is cast on the victim’s estranged wife, Dorothy, who owns Keepsake Cove’s vintage sewing shop. Callie is sure Dorothy is innocent, and the visiting author agrees. Together, they begin their own investigation, only to discover that many people in Keepsake Cove have secrets. Secrets that are worth killing to keep quiet.

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Review – 4.5 out of 5 stars

This was a great new installment to the series! I really enjoyed it. I enjoy the characters anyway and I was happy to meet this new character and friend, the author Lyssa.  Although I will admit to wondering if she was the killer because she was so insistent on getting close to Callie and working with her on finding the killer.

This plot line was fun, though I didn’t like the deceased at all so I really wasn’t all that invested in seeing whomever killed him caught!  I did not figure it out before it was revealed either and then I was genuinely surprised about it. I’m rarely surprised by who the villain is which is why I gave this 4.5 stars.

All in all, it’s a great book and I highly recommend it. You can read it on its own and not be too lost with the interpersonal relationships, but I recommend starting with the first book in the series, A Fatal Collection.

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Author Interview

MARY ELLEN HUGHES

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?

No current day job. I was a Medical Technologist before and after being a stay-at-home mom. I enjoyed both, but I’m glad to be able to focus on writing.


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?

I like to keep to a routine, which is writing most mornings when my mind is freshest. I write slowly (compared to some writers) but steadily and am happy to just make progress – no set word count.

Music would be much too distracting for me. I don’t think of it as background but would listen to it. I prefer a nice, quiet place. Writing in a coffee shop would definitely not work for me.


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?

Once in a while a new character tries to hijack things. The suspense author who I brought in for A Vintage Death has a strong personality, and I had to keep her from taking over from my main character, Callie Reed.

I’ll sketch out an outline but it’s not too detailed. I like to fill in more as the story progresses.


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?

I broke in by having my first book published by a small publisher, who didn’t require submissions from an agent. (Getting an agent can sometimes be harder than getting a publisher.) After two books with this small pub, a good agent took me on. That led to a contract with a top publisher.

I lost count of all the rejections before that, but there were a lot. I never thought of quitting. I watched a couple of writer friends get published and that gave me hope.

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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 self-edit as I go along, which is part of the reason for that “slow writing” pace. I do get monthly feedback from my critique group, about three chapters at a time, which leads to more editing. After I send it to my editor, she’ll suggest further revisions, usually small changes, and catch typos and such.


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?

No real-life inspirations, thank goodness! Since I write cozy mysteries, my villains are generally normal-appearing people who’ve been hiding a dark side or who’ve been pushed over the edge by some perceived threat. That doesn’t seem so hard to imagine.


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

I’ve probably stolen traits from people I know, but I’ve mixed and matched to create someone totally new. I even avoid using names of people close to me, since I’d find that very hampering. I would keep picturing the real person, and he/she wouldn’t want to do all the things I’d want them to!


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

I’d love to write about Miss Marple. I’ve read so many of those Agatha Christie novels that I feel I know the woman. But Agatha must have left out some parts of her life, which would be fun to come up with.

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

I enjoyed Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.


Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Wow, so many, but in so many different ways that I couldn’t begin to start naming them. I’ve been an avid reader since probably age six, so that’s a lot of books!


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?

Since I’ve written a lot about my series protagonist, Callie, there’s probably few surprises in her left for me. So I’d choose the suspense author, Lyssa Hammond. She’s a little bit quirky but pretty smart, and since she’s a writer, we’d have a lot to talk about. I think it’d be a ball to spend a day with her in New York City, just wandering around, grabbing some food, and talk, talk, talking.


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?

 I do read my reviews, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to respond to them, good or bad other than occasionally sending thanks. I’ll definitely think about anything critical, but I can’t say they’ve caused me to make any big changes. Some things might have sunk into my subconscious, though, and triggered subtle shifts. Who knows?

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Thanks for joining me today! I’m sorry my computer didn’t want to cooperate so this is so late in the day. If you wish to visit other spots on the tour, click on the banner below to be taken to the main tour page!

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BLOG TOUR – The Harbinger – REVIEW

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Oh brother. First I thought this post was due tomorrow and then when I said I’d get it up ASAP, I forgot once I got to work. Please forgive me for the lateness of this post!

Today I’m hosting a spot on the Reads & Reels blog tour for The Harbinger by Candace Wondrak. It was awesome!

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The Harbinger (Book #1)

Genre: Reverse Harem/ Fantasy

Expected Publication Date: November 5th, 2018

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Synopsis:

The rules of the Second, a list by Faith Blackwell.

One: technology doesn’t work. The Second doesn’t need electricity when it has magic. Two: don’t trust anyone. The Second’s races—the Elven, the Malus, the Ulen and the Dracon—are way too pretty to trust. Three: when someone tells you you’re the new Harbinger, believe them. Bad things happen if you don’t.

Back in the sixties, the last Harbinger permanently opened the gateways between Earth and the Second. Humanity grew accordingly. Faith is in her fifth year at the Academy, with her sight set on joining the Division, the branch of government that enforces what most law enforcement can’t, like smuggling goods between worlds. Following her mother’s footsteps has always been the plan.

Of course, she doesn’t want to follow them to a T. Her mother had awful luck with men, as did her grandma. Faith wouldn’t mind finding out what’s so special about a man that it has her quirky grandma swearing at them constantly. A field trip to the Second is just what she needs.

Being the first female Harbinger in the Second’s history and having to face down the realm’s most dangerous Dracon, also known as the ridiculously-named Dread King? Not what she needs.

Faith isn’t a hero. That sort of responsibility is not what she wants. The perks that come with it—like a sexy but infuriating Elf, a flirty Malus, and a quiet and pensive Ulen—well, maybe for them she’ll make an exception to her grandma’s no-man rule.

Maybe she’ll have them all.

The Harbinger is the first in a slow-burn, reverse harem fantasy series. Expect eventual hot and steamy scenes, coupled with the Chosen One trope, and a heroine who will reluctantly try to save a world that isn’t hers.

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Review

This book was awesome! It started out on a high adventure and never slowed down! Faith is a fascinating character. Well-developed and complex and yet a typical impulsive teenager. I also love Cara, her best friend.

The settings are phenomenal. I loved all the details of The Second. It sounds lovely, even with its problems. After all, all worlds have problems but they’re still beautiful in their own ways!

I loved the fact that there was a slow-burn leading up to all the hot and steamy scenes. The author’s not kidding when she says “hot and steamy”. But they were all well done and not clichés.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading other books by this author!!

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About the Author

me

Hey guys! I’m a writer, an office worker, a wife, a mother to two dogs and two cats, and half of a strange pair of young adults who flip the houses they’re living in with the goal of having no mortgage (so that I can eventually focus on my writing career!). Needless to say, I’m busy.

Still, I somehow find time to write, to read, and to enjoy life. Wish there were more hours in the day, really!

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Thanks for joining me today and a sincere apology again for the lateness of my post today!  If you wish to visit other spots on the tour, please click the icon below and go to the main tour page!

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BLOG TOUR – House of Ashes – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Welcome!  Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for House of Ashes by Loretta Marion. I’ll have an interview with the author for you underneath the general book information. I hope you enjoy!

About the Book

House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Supernatural Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1683318439
ISBN-13: 978-1683318439
Digital Details Coming Soon

Purchase Links: AmazonB&N

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Synopsis

A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

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Interview with Loretta Marion

First of all, a huge “Thank you” to Loretta Marion for being willing to answer my questions!

PP300DPIcrop 2Q1: 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. Marion’s Answer: Writing is my current day job – and often times, nights and weekends too! My career background before I started writing straddled nutrition and marketing. Having an education in nutrition held personal benefits as well as satisfying my need to help others. Marketing opened up a whole new world for me, but I didn’t love business travel. Interestingly enough, it was always the writing aspects of my jobs that I enjoyed the most.


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. Marion’s Answer: I try to write every day, but not necessarily in the same time slot. Having a large chunk of time set aside for my writing works best for me. I do not have a daily writing goal, though I do set objective time-lines to help meet deadlines.

I prefer either quiet nature sounds (birds chirping, wind rustling leaves, ocean waves, falling rain) or classical music when I write. Noise does affect my ability to concentrate and that includes music with lyrics.


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. Marion’s Answer: I do need to start with an outline to have an idea of where I’m headed and to get the story I want to tell in some sort of order. But usually, the book I end up writing, is much different from the book I started out writing — and much better I hope! I think it’s important to be open to new thoughts and ideas that come to mind. It helps the story evolve.

As for the characters hijacking the story? It’s a great question and it gave me pause to consider. A lesser character might grow in importance, but I don’t recall ever having the sense of losing control of the story to a character. When I create my outline, I also develop bios for the characters to keep a clear picture of them and their motivations in my mind. But as the writing progresses, these aspects often change as well. Then I need to reimagine them.

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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. Marion’s Answer: There’s a long story here, but I’ll try to be brief.

I didn’t know I wanted to write a book until I was a hospice volunteer and as part of the training had to write my own obituary. It was both daunting and eye-opening. But through that exercise I discovered a buried desire to write a novel. And thus, I set out upon a journey for which I had no idea of the destination.

The first book I wrote received many rejections from agents, and with each rejection I continued to revise and edit. Finally, I had a manuscript that caught the attention of an agent who has been steadfast through the years. Our paths crossed just when I was ready to throw in that proverbial towel.

That first book did not get picked up, nor did the second one I wrote. But I loved writing, so I persisted while taking courses and attending conferences to hone the craft. I wrote two more books, and while my agent represented one, I decided to take the other out independently to see how my writing would be received. It was quite a learning experience and a tremendous amount of hard work. This brought me to another crossroads. About a year ago I found myself uncertain about independently publishing another book. Good fortune and timing were with me, because at that turning point my agent called with the great news of a publisher’s interest in my book.


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?

Ms. Marion’s Answer: Countless revisions. Honestly, I can’t quantify it. I do have beta readers and a critique partner, and I find their input invaluable. My agent is also a wonderful resource. Plus, I have a fabulous editor.

I find it very helpful to allow some time and space between edits, but sometimes deadlines don’t allow for that luxury.

 


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. Marion’s Answer: Creating a devious or disturbed character requires building a foundation for a persona that is unlike the writer, and that requires research to accomplish. I pay close attention to the traits of bad-guy or bad-girl characters I’ve read in literature or observed on the screen in television and film. There are real-life evil people to draw from as well. I also try to imagine what characteristics would most frighten or disturb me if I were facing the villain I might be writing.

It’s an interesting experience to slip into the skin of a character that is nothing like me, to live vicariously through them for a while, acting in ways and saying things I wouldn’t dare in real life.

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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. Marion’s Answer: My characters are mostly fictional with the occasional wink and a nod to someone in my life. If they have an awesome trait, quirk or even a great line I can borrow, why not?


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

Ms. Marion’s Answer: Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan. Though I’ve never written a biography, I’d find these two women to be fascinating subjects, especially in light of the current political environment in our country.


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

Ms. Marion’s Answer: 

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

I try to read or reread the classics and recently revisited Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

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Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Marion’s Answer: I read Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage at a life and career crossroads. I was seeking change but lacked the courage. I found the book’s themes to be influential and life-altering in that it inspired me to take those tentative steps toward a transformation.

In high school it was Black Like Me that influenced me more than any other book.  Though the book was published in 1961 and I read it in the 1970s, it opened my eyes to prejudices I was blind to in my sheltered, small-town midwestern world. I can’t recall if this was required reading or a book of my own choosing. Regardless, it made a lasting impression on me and how I viewed the world.


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? (PG-13 please)

Ms. Marion’s Answer: It would be police chief Brooks Kincaid because I have such a crush on him. I’d like to sit with him on his deck that overlooks Whale Rock Harbor and find out more about him, maybe play a game of backgammon, sip some wine. I’m happily married so that would be enough for me.


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. Marion’s Answer:  I’m glad you asked this question.

I do read all my reviews. Being a good writer has always been more important to me than being published. My desire has been to write stories that entertain and bring pleasure to others. I think a writer must always be learning and striving to be better, so certainly, I pay attention to what people say about my writing.

While I don’t expect everyone to like my books or react positively to my writing, I do feel that reviewers have an obligation to be respectful. Although it’s hurtful to read a bad critique, I always listen to thoughtful, constructive criticism delivered in a respectful way, even from someone who didn’t like my book. However, if the review is gratuitously mean spirited, I try not to give it much credence. I don’t respond to these negative reviews. Instead I visit the Goodreads page of some of my favorite authors where I’m able to see that even the best of the best rarely sail through unscathed. It’s good therapy to understand that few books appeal across the entire spectrum of readers.

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Thank you again to Loretta Marion for being willing to answer my questions!  Thank you also to you, my readers, for stopping by! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below to be taken to the main tour page. There you will find a list of tour participants!

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BLOG TOUR – Nanny Song – PROMO/SPOTLIGHT

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Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Reads & Reels book tour for The Nanny Song by Misty Mount. This sounds like a fascinating book and I have put it on my “to-read” list.

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Publication Date: May 10th, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Suspense/ Romance

Publisher: Willow River Press

Mallory Riscoe is no stranger to dysfunction. Despite her tumultuous childhood, at twenty-two, she has established herself as a fully functional, self-made woman. However the safe, mundane life she has created for herself is quickly turned upside-down when she’s falsely accused of theft and promptly fired.

Meanwhile, a dismal pall hangs over the Colt residence. Since the death of his wife, Brendan Colt has struggled to care for his children; Kason and Meela. Each is lost in their own deep grief, but there is more to this family than meets the eye.

Two worlds collide when Mallory accepts the job as nanny to the Colt children. Mallory begins to feel a connection, a whisper of trust between them, that could mean there is still hope for everyone involved to heal. But when an unspeakable secret is uncovered that bond, and possibly Mallory’s life itself is now at risk. Can Mallory unlock the mystery intertwined in this chaotic family or will all hope of closure be lost forever?

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Excerpt

A chilly breeze had picked up and it whispered all around her. She was hardly aware of the frigid temperature penetrating her thin pajamas as she stared at Brendan’s form in the darkened cemetery. His shadowy outline was so stoic and somber that Mallory had to fight against her desire to walk in alongside the man and place a comforting arm around his shoulders.

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About the Author

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist.

“I read because my grandmother showed me how to immerse myself in books for recreation, relaxation or even as a coping skill.

I write because my head is filled with daydreams and I like to choose the endings.”

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Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the link below to go to the main tour page!

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BLOG TOUR – Due East, Beasts, and Campfire Feasts – REVIEW

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Good morning! Today, I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Due East, Beasts, and Campfire Feasts, the 7th book in the Spells and Caramels mystery series by Erin Johnson. This was not my favorite in the series, but it was still really good and obviously leading up to something big in book 8!

About the Book

Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels)
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Self Published
Paperback: 278 pages
ISBN-10: 1727777034
ISBN-13: 978-1727777031
Digital ASIN: B07HWQ5J9J

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Synopsis

A hostile town. A mountaintop mission. Will their magic save the day or spoil the pudding?

Imogen thought escaping the king’s wrath would give her everything she wanted. But her relationship with Prince Hank is tougher than an overcooked flan and the welcome they get on Badlands Island is far less than friendly. Accused of kidnapping, Imogen proposes they prove their worth by traveling through a deadly forest to retrieve a magical herb at the top of a mountain…

Forced to take her baking skills on the road, Imogen and her friends must navigate monsters, secrets, and a possible traitor. And the little matter of the impending typhoon is seriously compressing their timeline…

With the storm and creatures closing in, can Imogen complete the quest or will her next meal be her last?

Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts in the seventh book in the Spells & Caramels series of paranormal cozy mysteries. If you like amateur witch sleuths, unbreakable friendships, and fascinating magical creatures, then you’ll love Erin Johnson’s page-turning adventure.

Review

As I said above, this is not my favorite book of the series, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. This book find our hero and heroine in totally unfamiliar territory in the Badlands.  Hank is trying to deal with all the emotional baggage of being disowned by his father and the fact that Imogen had lied to him about Horace, among other things. This puts a strain on his relationship with Imogen. While it’s always difficult to see a relationship struggle, I actually enjoyed this part of the series because it showed that relationships take work to keep going.

We met new friends in this book and managed to secure a place in the Badlands for our crew outside of Horace’s Army.  The settings and descriptions of people were done well. The subplot was entertaining and I didn’t know who the real villain was until he was revealed.

I’m looking forward to book 8 in the series!  If you wish to read the series, I highly recommend starting with the first book, Seashells, Spells, and Caramels and reading them in order. You’ll be lost as to how some relationships developed and who’s connected to whom otherwise.

 

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: www.erinjohnsonwrites.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/EJohnsonWrites. Twitter: @EJohnsonWrites

Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below to go to the main tour page where there is a list of participants.

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