Posted in excerpt, mystery, Spotlight, Young Adult on October 31, 2015

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that I like mysteries. You also might notice that I like to promote authors and their books. This book is perfect for today since it is tied to Halloween! So give this young author a shot, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

rexwood murders

Synopsis

​The first novel of the new series “The Rexwood Murders” A devastating event fifteen years ago will catch up with the present and will affect eight teenagers’ lives forever. Brandon Jones hates Halloween and wishes it to end, but when his house is voted to be the place for a Halloween bash, he decides to spend a night in an old abandoned mansion in his neighborhood. Unbeknownst to him, other teenagers in his neighborhood have joined in the overnight sleepover at the creepy mansion. However, the teenagers soon realize that they are not the only ones walking around in the mansion. As other teenagers begin to go missing and bodies start to pile up, the eight teenagers must band together to stop the killer while also unveiling the dark secrets in the neighborhood.

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Excerpt

The Big Fire

October 31, 1998

In the town of Rexwood, the aromatic fall smell flows through the Halloween night air as leaves rustle the ground. The streets are filled with playful, costumed children and talkative, costumed teenagers.  In a large neighborhood called Meadow-Way, nothing is different.

As Halloween decorations hang on trees and orange bowl-sized pumpkins sit near the mailboxes of houses, the loud sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” plays in a crowded black-colored house.

Inside of the house, there are tons of drunken adults walking around with cups full of beer and liquor. There are only a few adults who are not drinking and one of them is a dark-skinned, brunette woman holding a smiling dark-skinned baby covered in a blue blanket.

The woman looks down at her smiling baby and says “Hi Brandon. How’s my handsome baby doing?”

Brandon simply giggles at his mother, Tonya, who smiles back to her baby. Just as she begins laughing at her baby, the woman next to her interrupts her with a smile.

“Hello, Tonya. How are you?”

Tonya looks at the woman with disbelief and annoyance.

“What do you think, Gretchen,” sarcastically asks Tonya. “You did this to me.”

Gretchen rubs her straight golden-blonde hair down her shoulders as she simply smiles at Tonya.

Gretchen says “I didn’t do anything, Tonya.”

Tonya rolls her eyes and responds “Whatever.”

Gretchen releases a deep sigh and stands up with defeat evident on her face. She walks towards the stairs and makes her way up the steps.

Tonya watches the drunken men and women laugh as well as the sober men and women talk. Just as she begins to get into one of their conversations, something makes her whip her head around in shock.

She looks away in terror to see her husband, Kirk Jones, throwing a drink at another man. The man dodges the alcohol and it lands into the fireplace behind the man, causing the fire to flare up and setting flames to part of the floor.

“Ronald,” calls Kirk. “You’re a damn liar! You know what you did!”

Everyone looks at the two bickering man and look back at the flames approaching them all.

Another woman, Sharon, yells “Kirk! It’s a fire!”

Kirk and Ronald look to the fire and back away in fear. Tonya stands up with her baby in her arms and shouts “We have to get out of here!”

The adults scramble away towards the garage door as the flames begin to set fire to not only the floor, but the staircase. The drunken and sober adults run through the door and into the garage. As they make their way outside, they back away as they see flames slowly engulfing the house. Something alerts the other adults and they turn around in shock.

A yelling Ronald runs back towards the garage shouting “My family’s in there!”

As panicked and determined Ronald runs back into the house, something shocks the other adults. They manage to drop down to the ground as dust and debris flies over their heads. Fortunately, Tonya lands on her back, shielding Brandon with her arms. The adults look up to see the damage of the explosion and witness as the entire house is engulfed in flames.

About the Author

I am a young adult author from the suburbs of Georgia. Growing up with a comedic and often-times crazy family, I developing a passion for funny wits and outrageous solutions to problems. As I became a teenager, I started viewing other aspects of life besides comedy such as drama, crime, and poverty. I began watching shows such as Law and Order and Lincoln Heights. When I started to actually go through aspects in life that at first I only witnessed on television, I realized that people need to read and see things as they really are in the world. There needs to be people who will not only entertain people in life but also inform them of the hardships people cope with. After this realization, I developed a plan to excite, entertain, and inform readers. I started writing with the thought of just coming up with a good mystery dealing with teenagers. After further development, I added real life and comedic aspects to my work. And that’s when The Rexwood Murders series finally started. As you can likely tell, writing is my passion and I love YA fiction and mysteries! I’m the type of author that puts good messages throughout their fiction book so people can not only enjoy a book but also receive teachable messages from it. Through my writing, I hope to entertain and encourage readers to do their best to enjoy life, despite the problems they will face and solve the problems the best way they know how.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on October 31, 2015

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A Stitch to Die For-ebook

A Stitch to Die For (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) (Volume 5)
5th in Series
Cozy Mystery
• Paperback: 240 pages
• Publisher: Lois Winston (July 7, 2015)
• ISBN-13: 978-1940795300

Synopsis

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

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About The Author

lois-winstonUSA 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. newsletter at

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on October 30, 2015

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DANGEROUSLY DARK

Dangerously Dark (A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Kensington (September 29, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1617733475
E-Book ASIN: B00RRT323O

Synopsis

“Chocoholics and food cozy fans rejoice! With prose as smooth and delicious as its theme, this quality debut cozy introduces a smart protagonist with an unusual and tasty profession.”—Library Journal (starred) on Criminal Confections

Chocolate-whisperer Hayden Mundy Moore has just arrived in Portland, Oregon, where she’s about to scarf soufflés and sip cacao-based cocktails at her friend’s engagement party. Fresh from nabbing her first candy-covered killer, the last thing Hayden wants to do is mix her love of chocolate with criminal mischief again. But then the groom-to-be turns up dead before beginning his renowned Chocolate-After-Dark tour. .

Hayden’s friends insist that Declan’s death was a freak accident, but she knows there’s no mistaking the bitter aftertaste of homicide. In the midst of habañero hot chocolate and mocha-chunk gelato, a choco-crazed killer waits to strike again. Hayden will need to use more than her extraordinarily gifted taste buds to bring this murderer to justice, but she just might have bitten off more than she can chew in the process. . .

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Recipe

Can’t Miss Hot Fudge Sauce

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup or golden syrup
¼ teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Get ready

Place chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Have a lid or plastic wrap ready to fit the bowl.

Making the sauce

In a microwave-safe medium container, combine heavy cream, corn syrup or golden syrup, and salt. Microwave until just simmering, about 3–4 minutes.

Carefully pour hot cream mixture over chopped chocolate. Immediately cover and let stand 5 minutes. Add vanilla extract, then stir until hot-fudge sauce is smooth. Enjoy!

Notes from Hayden

Everyone needs a go-to hot-fudge sauce, and this is mine. You can use any kind of good-quality chocolate for this: bittersweet, semisweet, even milk chocolate. Or be a rebel and try very good quality white chocolate for a blond version! (In that case, look for cocoa butter listed first among the ingredients, to be sure you’re getting an excellent product.)

This hot-fudge sauce will last for up to a week if kept carefully covered in your refrigerator. Your mileage may vary, however—mine never lasts that long!

This sauce will thicken when cold; just rewarm it gently to restore its silky, luxurious texture.

Review

I like my chocolate dark – dangerously dark.  The darker the better. – Hayden Mundy Moore

I read the above line and felt like Hayden and I were kindred spirits when it comes to chocolate!  I love dark chocolate the best and think that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate.

I thought it was interesting by the author to have this story begin just days after Criminal Confections ended.  Hayden is still a newbie “investigator” and when her BFF Carissa’s fiance, Declan, is found dead in her food truck, Hayden believes it is not an accident and there is a killer on the loose.  And of course there is Travis – Hayden’s financial advisor that we have no idea what he looks like but she does like to flirt with him, in fact each call begins with “what are you wearing”.  There was a funny dialogue between the two talking about his fish and what he was feeding them – fish meal and other things.  Hayden is devastated to learn that they are cannibals and of course referenced Finding Nemo.  Without getting into the whole conversation, my favorite line here was – “Hey, eat lunch or be lunch”.

I enjoyed this book (for more than just the chocolate!) and of didn’t figure out the killer ahead of time.  I did get annoyed with Hayden because it seems like she is ADD and all over the place.  Or maybe it was just too much description?  We give this 4 paws up and look forward to the next book in this series

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About The Author

Colette London is the pseudonym of a best-selling novelist who’s published more than three dozen books worldwide. Her Chocolate Whisperer mystery series featuring globe-trotting chocolatier (and amateur sleuth!) Hayden Mundy Moore begins with Criminal Confections in February 2015. 

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Posted in New Adult, romance, Spotlight on October 29, 2015
·.·´¯`·.· ·.·´¯`·.·RELEASE DAY BLITZ·.·´¯`·.· ·.·´¯`·.·
TITLE: Love At First Glance
SERIES: Love At Firsts #1
COVER DESIGNER: S&M Design

 

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Blurb:
 
Haven HATES Mondays.
She loathes them.
Especially this Monday. 
This is the Monday that’ll change her life, but will it be for better or worse?
At first glance, it’s seems to be for the worst. Losing her job, boyfriend and supposed friend is not how Haven envisaged her week starting. Temporarily living with her best friend, Spencer, is not how she envisaged spending her week and a new job is not what she expected to look forward to the following week.
Things start to look up for Haven. Despite the nasty delivery, her life is taking a new turn that she embraces and loves. She finds a new job and a place to live that are perfect for her. Everything seems to be going well but little things creep up and destroy the one thing she cherished the most and can’t live without.
 
It was a shaky start but her professional life is going in the direction she’s always wanted. If only she could say the same about her love life. After a failed long-term relationship, a blind date who is just like any guy you’d meet in a bar and a manwhore of a neighbor, she’s left thinking that it’s time to open the crazy cat lady starter box. All she wants is to be content with her life, but she’s not. She’s missing the one thing she’s dreamed of since she was a little girl. To be loved.
But what if it was in front of her the entire time?
Will she be able to mend the broken bridges?
Will she realize it was Love at First Glance?

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Where to Buy

Amazon US

 

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About the author

Muriel Garcia was born and raised in Belgium. She started writing a little over a year ago and never thought she would ever publish; reading and writing weren’t her favorite things to do in high school.

After one of her friends gave her  a challenge – the next time they would attend a book signing, she would be a signing author (it did happen!) – she started to take writing a lot more seriously and never looked back. She’s enjoyed every second of it and the friends she’s made along the way.

She loves music, tattoos—especially on hot men, traveling, and cooking. She has always had an overly imaginative and creative mind but never thought of putting words to paper. Now she couldn’t imagine not writing stories that are near and dear to her heart.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Spotlight, suspense, Thriller on October 29, 2015
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Psychological Suspense / Thriller
Date Published: September 2015
A dramatic psychological suspense/thriller about the devastating consequences of drug addiction, Broken Flowers is a powerful story about brokenness, healing, and hope.
Dr. Mary Crawford is a fifty-year-old psychotherapist operating a successful practice in Los Angeles. Noted for her addiction assistance and suicide prevention techniques, she leads group therapy sessions with addicts in the throes of recovery.
During one particular session, she is called upon for a case involving an extremely depressed fifteen-year-old girl who was the victim of a violent rape and has survived a suicide attempt. The daughter of a noted brain surgeon, the troubled teen becomes the doctor’s private patient.
But on a day when the young girl spirals into a suicidal depression, she is unable to reach the doctor and successfully ends her own life. When the girl’s father discovers the circumstances of his daughter’s suicide—as well as the real truth behind the doctor’s mysterious absence—he vows to destroy the doctor at all costs. Now Dr. Crawford’s life hangs in the balance, and her only hope for survival is the broken people around her.
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Excerpt
Then Valarie handed the pipe and torch to Stu, who turned off the torch and put them down. The boys were watching Valarie, and were tripping out on the hit she had taken. Valarie held her breath for as long as she could. When she could not hold back anymore, she let the smoke out in a huge exhale. Jeff’s voice was filled with admiration as he told her, “That was one hell of a blast.” Suddenly, Valarie’s eyes went wide, and her body went absolutely stiff. A horrible sound was coming from her throat, like a constricted scream as she fell backwards. Even though this was happening in front of the two men, her fall was like she was thrown backward. They could not catch her, and she hit the floor hard.
 Jeff dropped to one knee beside her as he was starting to panic. “My God, Stu she’s overdosed. What do we do?”
Stu was on the floor next to Jeff. “Don’t panic man, don’t panic.”
 Jeff grabbed Valarie’s shoulders and shook her. Valarie’s legs were convulsing. There was drool coming from her mouth.
 Stu was screaming in her ear. “Valarie, Valarie! Do you hear me; do you hear me dam it? Stu, go get some ice water. A lot of it. Hurry man!”
As Jeff ran out the door Stu continued to shake the girl.  Her legs stopped shaking and her eyes were starting to close.
“Hurry, Jeff we’re losing her.”
 Stu slapped Valarie sharply across the face. There was a slight reaction. Her legs started to twitch as Jeff came running into the room with two buckets of ice water.
 “Quick, throw a bucket on her face.” Jeffery did so. The water drenched Valarie’s hair and shoulders. Her legs started to convulse again.
 Jeffery was crying, “Valarie don’t die. Please don’t die.”
About the Author

Howard Finkelstein is 77 years old, who lives with his wife and dog in South Pasadena. He is a master dog trainer, and ASCAP lyrist. He is a former drug addict who has not used drugs in 27 years. Broken Flowers is his first novel.

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Posted in excerpt, Sports, Spotlight, Young Adult on October 28, 2015
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Young Adult – Family Saga – Sports Fiction
Date Published: August 2015

Synopsis

Cody’s worst day, was the day his brother – his best friend, left to join the Army. Boomer’s worst day was yet to come.
In high school, Cody followed his big brother’s blocks on the football field. Now, it is his time to lead. Cody and his girlfriend, Kim, embark on a journey to reveal the hero beneath the scars and bring Boomer home.
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Excerpt
Cody couldn’t breathe. After the vicious hit, the defensive end pinned him to the turf. He tried to push off the overpowering weight, but he didn’t have the strength. Suddenly, a huge hand grabbed the linesman’s shoulder pads and tossed him like a rag doll to the field.
“You OK, Little Bro?” Boomer asked.
Cody’s chest expanded as he sucked in a deep breath of air. Boomer leaned over him with his face partially concealed by his football helmet and hidden by the shadows cast by the overhead stadium lights. Cody could see his brother’s eyes filled with worry.
He didn’t answer. He extended his hand. Boomer pulled him to his feet. Jogging back to the huddle, Cody stole a quick glance at the scoreboard. He wasn’t worried about the points. They were down by five. A touchdown would still win the game, but they only had time for one more play. One more play against their archrival Panthers. Their season wasn’t built on how many games they won, the only thing that mattered was if they beat the Panthers. That, and the fact that this was the last high school football game he would play with his brother, made Cody want to take a time-out and make it last a lifetime.
The tight end ran the play in from the Coach. Cody called the play in the huddle, but he knew it didn’t matter. The real play would depend on how the defense set up. The goalposts seemed like miniature toothpicks across the field. He wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. His heart was pounding so hard that it hurt. He slid his hands under the center and surveyed the defense. He knew it was going to be a blitz. He stepped away from the center and motioned his running back to stay in and block. Back under the center, his voice broke as he tried to bark out the count. He gripped the football and started to back away. Rising up for the block, the center’s heel stepped on top of Cody’s foot. He stumbled. Falling, he managed to pivot and get his hand down to keep his knees from touching the turf. The running back blocked one of the blitzing linemen.
Cody scrambled. Time slowed down. He felt like he could see every player on the field. The wide receiver streaked down the sideline. Cody rolled with him.
He could hear the defensive end coming up on his blind side. Instinctively every muscle in his body tightened for the impact. Boomer charged in front of him. He heard the deafening collision of two mammoth bodies.
The wide receiver pulled away from the Panthers safety. Cody planted his back foot and threw the ball as hard as he could. He lost it in the stadium lights, then watched it spiral back to earth. The wide receiver and the Panthers safety together looked back over their shoulders. The Panthers safety slowed and the under thrown football drifted into his hands.
Cody collapsed to one knee. He wanted to scream to drown out the cheers from the Panthers bleachers that echoed in his football helmet.
Boomer grabbed his brother’s shoulder pads and yanked him to his feet.
“Come on, Little Bro.”
Cody tugged off his helmet. He couldn’t meet Boomer’s eyes. He felt like someone pulled a pin and all the air had left his body. He struggled to put one foot in front of the other. When he reached the sideline the flash from the camera blinded him. When his vision returned he saw Kim, the girl with the camera.
In the locker room shower, the steam was thick as fog. Cody let the cascading water mask his face and feelings. The disappointed and frustrated crash and smash of his teammates’ fists and helmets against lockers had stopped. What voices that were left were subdued and then finally silent. He dried off, then wrapped the towel around his waist. The locker room was empty except for boy-man giant sitting on the bench. Cody walked down the aisle and collapsed next to his brother.
“You’re only a sophomore,” said Boomer. “Next year you’re going to be so frigging tough.”
“You won’t be here next year.” Cody rubbed his bruised ribs. “I wanted this game so bad. I wanted us to win.” Pain and frustration coated his words, “I screwed up. If only I let the ball go a second sooner.”
Boomer’s massive hand massaged the back of Cody’s neck.
“Whoa. Where’s this coming from? How many times have I told you, you never get down on yourself?” Boomer squeezed the back of Cody’s neck and gently shook his head. “You played a great game. That’s what I’ll remember.” Boomer groaned as he pushed up from the bench. “Get dressed. Let’s get out of here.”
They walked together across the deserted high school parking lot. The fire-engine-red Ford F-150 truck gleamed under the stadium lights. Cody tossed his bag in the back of the truck then sat in the passenger seat. Boomer pulled his towel from his bag. He wiped off gravel dust that settled on the truck, his face mirrored in the shiny hood.
Boomer got in and started the truck, then pulled out of the lot. His head was round like a pumpkin, his hair cropped short, his ears seemed too small for such a large head and his nose was slightly bent from being broken more than once. When at ease, his natural expression was a slightly tilted up smile with a boyish inquisitiveness reflected in his brown eyes. He wasn’t really a giant, but at 6 foot 5 and 260 pounds, he seemed that way when he walked the high school halls.
Cody powered down the window. The cool autumn breeze couldn’t blow away his feeling of despondency, nor could the tires humming on the two-lane asphalt country road as the high school lights retreated into the background. He could still see the football falling short into the Panthers safety’s hands and hear the cheers that weren’t for him and Boomer.
Cody shook his head and mumbled, “Shit.”
“Let it go.”
Cody stuck his head out the window. The wind blew tears from his eyes.
The truck’s headlights illuminated the stop sign. Instead of turning left for home, Boomer turned right.
“Where’re you going?” asked Cody.
“You need to chill.”
The country road followed the bends of the river that led to the small town of Grand Rapids. Most of the stores lining Main Street were closed, and tonight the town seemed as subdued as Cody’s feelings. A few cars were parked in front of O’Malley’s bar, and at the Dairy Queen at the end of the block. Boomer stopped at the flashing stoplight, then drove into the darkness at the edge of town.
Boomer slowed, then turned onto the gravel road leading down to the rapids. He turned off the headlights and drove by feel, pebbles crunching under the tires.
The harvest moon bathed the rapids with ashen hues. Boomer turned off the engine. “Come on.” He didn’t wait for Cody to follow.
Cody slipped going down the steep embankment. He dug the sides of his shoes into dirt, then jumped the final few feet to the riverbank.
Boomer was already in the river jumping from one rock to the next. A large granite outcropping rose up from the water a third of the way across the river. Boomer jumped and grabbed the edge, then hauled himself up to the flat surface. He sat on the edge, then looked back at his brother.
Cody strained to see the rocks beneath the surface of the rapidly flowing water. The first time he saw Boomer go out to Buffalo Rock, he really thought his brother could walk on water. In spring, when Walleyes run, the rocks are completely submerged by melting winter snow. But in summer and fall, when the water level falls, if you knew where to look, you could see the stepping stones. He jumped to the first rock and felt cold water seep into his gym shoe. He skipped to the next one. Now both shoes were wet. A cloud passed beneath the moon and suddenly it was like he was wearing dark sunglasses. He stood still waiting for moonlight to return while listening to the river.
Boomer reached out his hand. Cody locked his hand around his brother’s forearm and Boomer lifted him up to the boulder. They sat side by side with their legs dangling over the edge. Cody fell under the spell of rippling water. The riverbanks were lined with tall trees that stood like dark silent sentinels. Beyond the rapids were islands in the stream and the distant glow of a city where the river merged with the lake. A breeze stirred and trees rustled. Cody inhaled the river’s primeval scent of mud and decaying leaves. He rested back on the boulder, cupped his hands under his head and tried to see stars through moonlight.
About the Author

Terence O’Leary was born in Chicago, Illinois, but has spent his teenage and adult life in Northwest Ohio where the varied seasons and sports provide the background for his three ‘sports as therapy’ young adult novels. A graduate of the University of Toledo with a degree in Journalism, English and Psychology, O’Leary’s critically acclaimed realistic coming-of-age stories focus on teenagers facing a family crisis. He is the author of Penalty Kick and More Than A Game.
 
 
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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, mystery, Review on October 27, 2015

the misers dream

Synopsis

A casual glance out his apartment window turns Magician Eli Marks’ life upside down. After spotting a dead body in the projection booth of the movie theater next door, Eli is pulled into the hunt for the killer. As he attempts to puzzle out a solution to this classic locked room mystery, he must deal with a crisis of a more personal nature: the appearance of a rival magician who threatens not only Eli’s faith in himself as a performer, but his relationship with his girlfriend.

But the killer won’t wait and starts taking homicidal steps to bring Eli’s investigation to a quick and decisive end. Things get even worse when his magician rival offers his own plausible solution to the mystery. With all the oddball suspects gathered together, Eli must unveil the secrets to this movie-geek whodunit or find himself at the wrong end of the trick.

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Excerpt

­Chapter One

“I’m a hack.”

Holy crap, did I say that out loud? My intention had been to whisper those three words silently to myself, but apparently my brain hadn’t properly communicated that goal to my mouth. Consequently, I must have said it out loud, if the stern look from the lady in front of me was any indication. I put a hand over my mouth and cleared my throat, trying and failing to give the impression I had simply coughed. I turned to my right and recognized a puzzled look from Megan.

“Are you okay?” she whispered, effortlessly speaking at the appropriate volume.

I nodded without conviction and returned my attention to the performer who had inspired this brutal self-assessment.

His name was Quinton Moon and he was killing me.

Quinton was awesome, and not in the flawed and grossly overused current use of the expression. He inspired awe. I was in awe. He awed me, which is no small feat, particularly since we are both magicians. I’ve seen plenty of magicians in my lifetime. But not one like Quinton Moon.

I had resisted when my Uncle Harry had offered us the tickets because, as a magician, I can honestly say that I may have already seen enough magicians in my lifetime. But Harry had wisely made the offer in the presence of Megan. He had also suggested we dine at Christos in the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul as part of our evening out and before I knew it my fate was sealed. Parking was the usual downtown St. Paul nightmare scenario, but dinner was delightful, the hummus to die for and the wine and the conversation flowed. For a while I almost forgot that my primary goal this evening was to see, of all things, a magician.

Megan declared our walk from dinner to the St. Paul Hotel was a “winter wonderland romp,” but in reality it was a wet slog through yet another in a series of recent snowfalls. None of the merchants had shoveled and the snowplows had not effectively cleared the streets from the last dusting of snow, so crossing at each intersection became a high-tension thriller all its own. By the time we made it to the classic hotel’s ornate lobby, my shoes were soaking, my feet were freezing and my mood was grim. For her part, though, Megan couldn’t have been bubblier.

“This is going to be fun,” she gushed as we were directed to the single elevator which offered access to the top floor suite.

“You remember we’re seeing a magician, right?” I asked as the doors slid shut.

An hour later, my shoes were dry, my feet were warm and I had been transported to a Victorian drawing room and a performance of chamber magic that would, in many ways, change my life.

Quinton Moon appeared as if he had stepped directly out of the pages of a Jules Verne novel. Thick sideburns framed a ruggedly handsome face with piercing green eyes and a warm and inviting smile. It was hard not to like him immediately, but I will say I gave it a valiant effort. He greeted each guest as they arrived, ushering us to our seats while keeping up a steady patter about the room’s history, the night and the snow which continued to gather on the leaded glass windowsills.

The living room of the suite was set with about thirty chairs, all facing the front of the room. The majority of the audience was better dressed than I was, with several gentlemen even sporting tuxes. For his part, Quinton wore a tailored coat, which he removed at the top of the show, revealing a tastefully colorful vest and cummerbund combination.

He was an effortless performer, but I understand enough about the trade to know you only get that relaxed on stage if you’ve really done your homework off-stage. The 70-minute show was an even mix of illusions I’d seen a thousand times before and tricks I was witnessing for the first time. But in Quinton’s hands, even the most clichéd illusions sported a brand new shimmer and shine. Hoary old chestnuts, like The Linking Rings and The Miser’s Dream–tricks which are staples of kids’ birthday parties, for God’s sake—took on an entirely new flavor in his hands and I watched them all as if for the first time.

The breaking point for me came when he did a seven-minute routine using thimbles. Thimbles! He actually did a routine with thimbles that not only held my attention but transported me. I was transfixed, and my amazement and self-loathing grew concurrently as the evening progressed until I finally uttered my inner monologue aloud.

“I’m a hack.”

The second time I said it (and every subsequent time, of which there were legion), I was able to keep the words inside my head, which I felt was a victory of sorts. But it didn’t change how I was feeling, with my primary emotion being one of complete impotence.

Megan, of course, was feeling none of this, but responded to each new miracle with the oohs and ahhs which are the lifeblood of magicians. She spent most of the performance literally sitting on the edge of her seat, leaning forward in anticipation of each new illusion. And she wasn’t alone; Quinton held the crowd confidently in the palm of his hand. His interactions with the audience members were real and genuine and he was never thrown, even when a trick seemed to go slightly awry. In fact, he got more out of the mistakes that occurred than I generally am able to get when my entire act goes right. Which is rare. Or hardly ever. Let’s call it never.

Speaking in an indefinable accent—was it British? German? Baltic? No, turns out he’s Swiss—Quinton was consistently charming and engaging, often seeming to enjoy the illusions as much or more than the audience. His delight was infectious and the act, which was brilliantly structured, built to a final climax that left the audience stunned. We sat in silence for several long moments before the small crowd burst into applause, giving him an instant and heartfelt standing ovation – a real one, not the obligatory ovations Minnesotans proffer to virtually any performance which safely reaches its conclusion.

As he had done at the beginning of the evening, Quinton spoke personally with each of us as we left, creating an immediate if affable traffic jam pile-up at the suite’s door. Due to the confined nature of the space, I was able to hear his answers to all the questions put to him while we moved closer and closer to the exit.

“Is this the first time you’ve done this show?”

“No, I’ve performed similar shows in London, Zurich, Berlin and Madrid.”

“Why do it in a hotel suite, couldn’t you make more money in a large theater?”

“Yes, but then I would miss the–how you say?–intimacy of interacting with each member of the audience, such as I am doing now.”

“How are you enjoying Minneapolis?”

“We’re in St. Paul.” (Laughter)

“What brings you to the Twin Cities?”

“I have a corporate engagement in town and thought this would be an ideal time to present this show as well. Murder a couple of birds, as it were.”

And then it was our turn.

“It was wonderful,” Megan gushed. “Truly wonderful.”

“Thank you,” Quinton replied, turning his thousand-watt smile on Megan, and then on me. Megan grabbed my arm and pulled me forward. “This is my friend Eli. He’s a magician too!”

I hadn’t thought it was possible to feel any worse about myself, but it turns out I was wrong. I suddenly felt about a foot tall. Quinton, however, seemed oddly delighted by the news.

“Not Eli Marks?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said tentatively.

“Brilliant. I had the very great pleasure of meeting your uncle, Harry Marks, at the show last night.”

“Really? He hadn’t mentioned it.”

“Charming gentleman. We had a wonderful conversation. He even talked me into doing a lecture at your magic store.”

“Odd. He didn’t mention that either.”

“He’s quite persuasive.”

“He is that.”

“I must tell you, it certainly was a thrill to finally meet Harry Marks. Something of a legend, isn’t he?”

“He likes to think he is.”

“Well thank you so much for coming tonight. I look forward to seeing you at your shop.”

“We can’t wait,” Megan said before I could respond.

Quinton smiled at her and then at me and then we were out the door.

The drive back to Minneapolis was a quiet one. I did my best to convince myself this was because the roads were treacherous and I needed to concentrate on my driving. But Megan sensed something was amiss.

“He was really good,” she ventured at one point.

“Yes. Yes he was.”

A few more moments of silence passed.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

“Sure.”

Another pause.

“It doesn’t feel like you enjoyed it.”

“Is this a psychic perception?”

“You don’t have to be psychic to sense you didn’t have much fun.”

She had a point. “It’s hard,” I ventured, “to watch something that good and not feel bad about it. I mean, if you’re in the same business. If that makes any sense.”

“But he’s not better than you,” she said. “Just different.”

“No, he’s better. A lot better.” I turned off the freeway and made a left on 46th Street, moving us as quickly toward Chicago Avenue as the traffic and the snow would allow.

“Do you want to hear a joke?”

I turned to look, her adorable face peeking out of a too-big parka, and couldn’t help but smile. “Sure. Tell me a joke.”

“Okay, let me remember how it goes,” she said, biting her lip while working out the joke in her head. “Okay, I got it. How do you climb off an elephant?”

“I don’t know. How do you climb off an elephant?”

“You don’t. You climb off a duck.”

I furrowed my brow and gave her a long look. At least, as long a look as I dared give as the car slipped and slid along the snowy roadway. “Honey, I think you told it wrong.”

She shook her head defiantly. “Nope, that’s the way I heard it.”

“I think the actual joke is, ‘How do you get down from an elephant? You don’t, you get down from a duck.’ ”

“That’s what I said.”

“I don’t think that’s what you said.”

“My way makes just as much sense as your way.”

“No,” I began and then stopped, glancing at her again. “Are you doing this to take my mind off the show we just saw and my completely understandable feelings of total and utter inadequacy?”

She shrugged. “Maybe.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks. It’s working. But you still got the joke wrong.” Before she could object, I pulled the car into a parking space in front of her duplex.

After a quick kiss goodnight and a final word from her on the subject (“You’re still my favorite magician”), I deposited Megan safely at the front door to her duplex and then crossed Chicago Avenue and began the short and slippery trip down the block to my place. The sidewalk in front of Megan’s building had been recently shoveled, but the owners of many of the apartment buildings across the street had apparently given up. Due to the frequency and amount of snow we’d received so far this year, it was hard to blame them, but even harder to navigate across their sidewalks.

The businesses on the block had done a far better job of keeping up with the various snowfalls than the apartment houses. Consequently, by the time I hit Pepito’s restaurant, I was feeling much steadier on my feet. It was still early enough that the restaurant was going strong, but The Parkway Theater next door was dark and apparently closed for the night.

I glanced up at the theater’s marquee and was amused to see it had changed since that afternoon, when it had read Séance on a Wet Dog Day Afternoon. Now the letters spelled out Big Trouble in Little Chinatown.

The theater had recently undergone a management change and the new manager delighted in putting together what she called Parkway Double Plays, but what my uncle Harry had come to call “Dopey Double Features.” These were pairings of movies which had no actual connection to each other except that the words in their titles could fit together in weird and wonderful ways. Other favorite past Dopey Double Features have included Murder By Death on the Nile, Dr. Strangelove and Death, Boyz in the Parenthood and The Citizen Kane Mutiny.

Chicago Magic was next door to the theater and I slipped quietly into the store and silently up to my third floor apartment. I stopped briefly on the second floor landing but saw no light under the door, which confirmed my suspicion that my uncle Harry had already gone to bed. I made a mental note to discuss Quinton Moon and this alleged, impending lecture in the morning, and then headed up the last flight to my apartment.

I was tired and ready for bed, but old habits die hard and before I knew it I found myself at my desk, scrolling through my new emails, sorting the cream from the spam. As I waited for one particularly large email to open, I glanced out my window and was surprised to see there was still one light burning at the Parkway Theater next door.

My apartment overlooks the projection booth in the theater and even though it’s very much an obstructed view, I have often enjoyed peering into the room from my odd vantage point, trying to figure out what movie is playing by the way the lights bounced off a mirror on the far wall of the booth.

There was no movie running at the moment, but something else immediately grabbed my attention. I stood up to get a better view and confirmed my worst suspicions. Even from this new angle there was no denying my first impression had been correct.

There was a body lying on the floor of the projection booth, lying in what appeared to be a small pool of blood.

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Review

It is appropriate that this book is about magicians considering the book leads you down one path towards the killer and then with “sleight of hand” someone else becomes the killer!

This is the 3rd book in the series and I don’t think I’ve guessed the killer yet! Along with Eli, there is a hodge podge of interesting characters including Mr. Lime – who is definitely an enigma and what exactly his role is in these books. I like how Mr. Lime has a code name for Eli, and that Eli never knows when he is going to see Mr. Lime.

Uncle Harry is still around but something has him preoccupied – but you will find out what at the end of the book. He is also very wise in informing Eli how lazy he (Eli) has become with his magic. It makes Eli think about the illusions/tricks he performs and maybe he is just going through the motions. It doesn’t hurt that there is another magician on the scene that is making Eli jealous and rethinking a lot of things in his life.

We give this 4 paws up so check out this series especially since book 2, The Bullet Catch, is just $0.99 right now!

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About the Author

In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed six low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He’s also written multiple books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films. His blog, “Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts,” has been named “One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers” and “One of The 100 Best Blogs For Film and Theater Students.” He’s also written for TV and the stage. John lives in Minnesota and shares his home with his lovely wife, several dogs, a few cats and a handful of pet allergies.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Romantic Suspense, Spotlight on October 26, 2015

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No Matter How Far You Run, The Past Will Find You

Leslie Tentler is back with another story of romance and suspense…this time in a small Southern beach town called Rarity Cove. What happens when a woman on the run has her dangerous secrets finally catch up with her? Find out in Before the Storm by Leslie Tentler…

Before the Storm

 

Synopsis

Six years earlier, Trina Grissom disappeared, on the run for her life. Now living under an assumed identity—as Samantha Marsh—she still struggles with the dark secret she harbors and the fear she might one day be found. When she moves to the coastal town of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to open a café, a handsome widower begins to chip away at the walls she’s built to protect herself.

Mark St. Clair lost his wife two years ago in a tragic accident. Head of the grand St. Clair resort, he distracts himself from his lingering grief by running the family business and caring for his troubled young daughter…until a beautiful restaurateur sets up shop in town. Before meeting Samantha, Mark was convinced he could never be drawn to another woman. But as his attraction to Samantha grows, the mystery surrounding her deepens.

As the two begin a hesitant courtship, double perils emerge. Someone from Samantha’s lurid past comes calling, threatening to expose her. And a powerful hurricane is forming in the Atlantic with the small beach town in its path. Trapped in the storm by the brutal man who wants vengeance on Samantha, she and Mark must fight for their lives.
On Sale in Digital and Print: October 20, 2015

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Excerpt

The Sea King Motor Court sat off the two-lane highway heading inland out of Rarity Cove. A good four miles from the beach, the one-story, painted cinderblock structure was outdated and somewhat run-down, with a small swimming pool surrounded by a chain-link fence next to the parking lot. Samantha walked past the unoccupied, darkened pool, clutching her purse that contained Lenny’s payoff.

Room six. She stood outside it and reminded herself to breathe. But her courage felt shattered, like so many broken shell fragments washed up along the shore. The porch light beside the door had either burned out or been purposely extinguished. If not for the moon overhead and the iridescent, droning orange of the motel signage, she would be in eerie darkness.

Nearly choking on dread, Samantha knocked. As she waited, her fingers roamed inside her purse until she felt the handle of the kitchen knife she’d brought with her from Café Bella. If Lenny tried to take more than the money, if he grabbed her and tried to force her…

Samantha shivered despite the evening’s humidity. Jittery, she knocked again, louder this time.

The muffled blare of a television came from another of the guest rooms. But the one in front of her remained silent. Samantha glanced at her wristwatch, checking the time again. Five minutes past eleven. An eighteen-wheeler pulled into the parking lot, its big tires crunching over gravel. It came to a stop at the far side of the motel. A driver wearing cowboy boots, jeans and a baseball cap climbed down from the cab. The man approached and nodded politely at her as he traveled past, then disappeared inside one of the rooms.

Samantha knocked again on Lenny’s door, this time with the flat of her hand. Her palm smarted with the effort. But again there was no response. What kind of game was he playing?

Weak with pent-up fear and growing frustration, Samantha moved to the window and tried to peer between the slit in the closed curtains. But the room’s interior appeared dark. She sagged onto the white plastic lawn chair next to the air conditioner vent. A thin trail of water leaked from the unit across the grimy concrete stoop, reaching her leather thong sandals. She hadn’t worn the requested stripper heels.

She wondered what to do. Keep waiting? For how long? She squinted at a line of plastic flamingos planted in the motel’s patchy Bermuda grass. They called attention to a sign urging passersby to inquire about weekly rent specials.

Lenny wasn’t home, apparently. Samantha rubbed her hands over her upper arms, confused. Had he forgotten it was his payday?

That didn’t seem possible.

 

About the Author

Leslie TentlerLeslie Tentler is also the author of FALLEN as well as the Chasing Evil Trilogy (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MIDNIGHT FEAR and EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). She was a finalist for Best First Novel at ThrillerFest 2012, and is a two-time finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Maggie Award of Excellence.

Leslie is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Novelists, Inc. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta.

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Posted in chick lit, Spotlight, women on October 26, 2015

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Synopsis

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit story that chronicles the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer, who goes through a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships she compares to various styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to stand up for the handbag style that embodies what she ultimately wants – the “Clutch” or someone to hold onto.

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About the Author

In addition to her new book, clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click.  She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others.  She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters.

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Lisa’s other books (I have read the first two and you can read my reviews here and here!)

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Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, Giveaway, Review, Spotlight, Young Adult on October 26, 2015

I wishI Wish by Elizabeth Langston

What Lacey needs is a miracle. What she gets is a genie with rules.

Lacey Linden is hiding the truth of her life—a depressed mom, a crumbling house, and bills too big to pay. While her high school classmates see a girl with a ready smile and good grades, Lacey spends her evenings seeking ways to save her family. On a get-cash-quick trip to the flea market, Lacey stumbles over a music box that seemingly begs her to take it home. She does, only to find it is inhabited by a gorgeous “genie.” He offers her a month of wishes, one per day, but there’s a catch. Each wish must be humanly possible.

Grant belongs to a league of supernatural beings, dedicated to serving humans in need. After two years of fulfilling the boring wishes of conventional teens, he is one assignment away from promotion to a challenging new role with more daring cases. Yet his month with Lacey is everything that he expects and nothing like he imagines. Lacey and Grant soon discover that the most difficult task of all might be saying goodbye.

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Praise for I Wish

From School Library Journal (I Wish #1)

Langston wisely limits the power of wishes, so there can be no easy fixes to complex problems. [The story] is all the better for it, putting the focus on the compelling and sympathetic characters.

… the denouement offers enough twists and unresolved questions to have readers wishing the next book was already available.

From K-books blog:

I Wish is a fantastic storyline, with a dash of romance that is perfect for any YA fan. I can’t recommend it enough.

From Reese’s Reviews blog:

This is definitely one of the most beautiful and amazingly written books I’ve ever read. Elizabeth Langston has written a fantastic story that drew me in from the first page.

Review

This book covered so many different topics that affect teens today and it shed some light on other topics like mental health.

Lacey is 17, almost 18, and for the last 9 months has been the sole support for her mother and brother after the death of her stepfather. Her mother broke down and was barely able to take care of herself so it was up to Lacey to care for her and Henry and also make sure the bills were paid and there was food on the table.

Enter Grant – the genie that grants wishes, but only if they are humanly possible. This puts a new spin on what Lacey can ask for, so she has to be creative in her wishes. But Lacey also has shut out everyone in her life – her friends and neighbors, afraid that they will take Henry away and put him in a foster home. So this is a journey for her to learn who she is and to accept the help of friends.

My heart broke for what Lacey was experiencing because I know that is has to happen a lot in this country, kids looking out for themselves and their parents because the parents are not capable. She may have been 17 and mature in some ways, but she was immature in others and had a lot to learn. Thankfully she had friends that would support her if she let them into her life just a bit more. There were many life lessons that could affect many that read the book.

A very enjoyable book and I have the 2nd book to read and can’t wait! We give this 5 paws up.
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Wishing for You New

Wishing for You by Elizabeth Langston

She’s a girl who can’t remember. He’s the guy she can’t forget…

It’s her final semester of high school, and Kimberley Rey is curious to discover what will come next. She needs to pick a college, but her memory disability complicates the choice. Will her struggles to remember make it impossible to leave home?

Help arrives through an unexpected and supernatural gift. Grant is a “genie” with rules. He can give her thirty wishes (one per day for a month) as long as the tasks are humanly possible. Kimberley knows just what to ask for–lessons in how to live on her own.

But her wishes change when a friend receives a devastating diagnosis. As she joins forces with Grant to help her friend, Kimberley learns that the ability to live in the moment–to forget–may be more valuable than she ever knew.

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Excerpt

“Are you going to sleep on me, Sean?”

“If you’re talking, probably not.”

His words came out in a drowsy mumble. Had the photo shoot drained him that much—or had he already been tired before we started? “What do you do all day?”

“Read. Watch Netflix.”

I waited, but he contributed nothing else. “That’s all?”

“Pretty much.”

“You can’t just drift.”

“Yes, I can.”

I had to hope he was teasing, because otherwise, his responses would alarm me. “You’ve never drifted in your life. You said you want to act like nothing’s different.”

“So I lied.”

“Have you gotten sick of it yet?”

“Yes. Or I will be after I’ve finished my West Wing marathon.” He yawned noisily.

I let my head drop against his and listened for his breathing to even out and his body to relax.

This portrait session had been good for all of us, but his fatigue worried me. Even though I had homework, I would stay here until they made me leave. Spending time with Sean had become more important than anything else I had to do.

Strange how knowing our story had no happy ending had freed us to live in the moment. We weren’t guy and girl. We weren’t damaged and terminal. We were just now.

Review

This is the second book in the I Wish series and as much as I loved the first book I wasn’t sure if this one would grab me as much. Boy was I wrong. I could related to Kimberley because I also went through chemo and had a chemo brain for awhile, not anywhere as bad as what she suffered, but it was still annoying! Kimberley is very kind hearted but has been sheltered by her parents for a long time and while it is understandable it was not doing anything to prepare her for life after high school.

Enter Grant. He was passed along to Kimberley from Lacey who knew that her friend needed he help and Grant was the perfect person to help. It was hard on Lacey and Grant to see each other because of the love they felt for each other, but they would have to get over that and they did somewhat.

Then there is Sean, Kimberley’s dance partner in PE class (why didn’t we have that kind of PE?!) and good friend who has a secret of his own that he doesn’t share with many people but it affects them to their core.

This book had me in tears near the end, maybe because it hit a little close to home. Kimberley’s story and hew growth with Grant was impressive. He helped find ways around her disability for her to achieve milestones in independence.

The story leaves you hanging a bit for book 3, which I hope there is one! I give this book 5 paws too.

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ElizabethAbout the Author

Elizabeth Langston lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two college-age daughters and one old husband. When she’s not writing software or stories, Elizabeth loves to travel with her family, watch shows on dance or Sherlock Holmes, and dream about which restaurant ought to get her business that night.

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