Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, California, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 3, 2014

HilltopSunset

 

Synopsis

A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.

Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.  Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.

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Review

I believe this is a spin off of the Jillian Hillcrest mystery series. While I don’t think you have to read those to read this one, there is a tie-in with the characters and a crime that must have happened in one of the other books since there are quite a few references to it and it is the premise for this storyline.

I did enjoy the book and was suspicious of several characters just because they seemed sneaky or underhanded or something!  I do wonder if Brynn is actually going to make it to the new job, or if running the winery with her ex-husband, Liam, will change her mind.  It also seems that Brynn has issues expressing emotions to people and perhaps with everything that happens to her in this book, she is learning how to express how she feels in different situations.  I like when I see character growth in books, that is always a plus.

The book was easy to read and enjoyable…and it didn’t hurt that part of it was set at a winery!  I can imagine the sunsets as described in the book and it made me want to fly out to Sonoma and see it for myself.

We give this 4 paws up

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About the Author

joyce-t-strand-1Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it mysteries set in the San Francisco Silicon Valley and Napa-Sonoma wine regions of California.

Her most recent novel, HILLTOP SUNSET, is the first of a new series featuring protagonist Brynn Bancroft, a financial guru in transition to winemaker from corporate executive. Brynn Bancroft is a minor character in Strand’s novels ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE—three mysteries solved by Jillian Hillcrest, a publicist whose boss was Chief Financial Officer Brynn Bancroft.

Much like her protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing by-lined articles, press releases, white papers, and brochures to publicize her companies and their products.

Strand lives with her two cats and collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and seeks out and attends as many Broadway musicals and other stage plays as possible.

She received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA

Website * Blog * Facebook * Goodreads * Twitter

 

Other books by Joyce

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Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries 3-Book-Bundle-ebook for Kindle

Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries 3-Book-Bundle-ebook for Nook

 

Giveaways

There are 2 giveaways happening here!  One from the author and one from me.  The author kindly sent me 2 copies of the book, so I am giving away those copies to two different winners.  The second is a giveaway by the author.

Giveaway #1

2 print copies of Hilltop Sunset, open to US Residents only
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Giveaway #2

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1st prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card plus autographed copy of Hilltop Sunset

2nd prize: Autographed copy of Hilltop Sunset  

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Blog tour, California, fiction, Review on August 26, 2014

City-of-Toys

 

Synopsis

What would you do to become famous in Hollywood? In City of Toys, four beautiful women confront that very question. It takes more than just looks to make it in Tinsel Town, as they soon discover. The city brings them together as roommates and the hunger of fame lures them into situations that they never expected.  Through a series of intertwined yet separate events, City of Toys takes us from the naive optimism of the girl’s hopes and dreams to the sordid Hollywood underworld. Relying on one another helps get them through the Hollywood maze but will their friendship be enough to save them?

Four beautiful women, each with their own demons driving them towards the fame and fortune they so desperately seek, come together in Hollywood, the land of shattered dreams and broken hearts. Marlo, the tough-talking, former child actress from New York, Rhonda, the small town beauty queen, Kim, the “nice Jewish girl” with a painful childhood, and Guyla, the “serious actress” with a debilitating, stress-induced illness, all meet and reside in the same apartment building deep in the heart of Hollywood.

Each of these fame-hungry women experiences one painful disaster after another from casting directors behaving in sexually inappropriate ways, to crazed stalkers and jealous, mentally deranged starlets hounding them. They begin to rely upon one another to get through the horrific maze called Hollywood. But when the pressure gets too much, will their friendship be enough to save them in the City Of Toys?

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

The morning sun sparkled high in the sky above Los Angeles, and the summer heat had not yet fully invaded the curious world known as Hollywood. A cool, coastal breeze drifted in from the Pacific Ocean, so the infamous L.A. smog was not going to permeate the atmosphere too severely. The traffic at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and La Brea was typical, bumper to bumper and road rage simmering from tempestuous drivers. But, it was made even worse today by the arrival of a large moving van in front of the building.

The Franklin Regency was a five-story dwelling that loomed on the southwest corner of the crossway, halfway between the sparkling wealth of the Hollywood Hills and the sordid madness that was Hollywood Boulevard.

Everywhere beautiful, young people with fabulous faces and perfect bodies — every single one of them a struggling actor, model or something or other, trying to keep the bitterness at bay — jogged, walked dogs, hurried to auditions and roller-bladed. While the homeless (and other un-lovely denizens of ‘paradise’ almost equal in number) who had long ago lost the spark of life, seemed to blend into the background, completely ignored and snubbed by the bronzed gods and goddesses scurrying to an audition for a laxative commercial.

Awe-filled and often-disappointed tourists took it all in, recording it on film and video for the folks back home, wherever that may be. In the bright, mirrored lobby of the Franklin Regency, however, all was cheerful and sanguine. Rhonda McNutt talked excitedly on a pay phone to her father back in Cordova, Tennessee. Rhonda was nineteen, beautiful, and in the process of moving into the Franklin Regency Apartments.

“Yes, poppa, the truck just got here.” She spoke into the receiver with her thick Southern drawl. Outside, the large van containing all of her worldly possessions had pulled up to the curb. Rhonda had driven out to Los Angeles the week before, and was still in shock that she was actually here. She looked vigilantly around the lobby, at the longhaired rocker guys covered with tattoos, the sexy, gorgeous blondes, and the older men who could not resist winking at her as they passed by. She knew she was in a whole new place, but that didn’t matter. She was in Hollywood, and she was determined to be an actress. I’m here, and I’m going to make it! I’m going to be a star!

“All right, poppa, I’ll call you as soon as the phone is turned on…I love you too, poppa. Bye.” She gently hung up the phone, and waited for Marina Edwards, the apartment manager. An older woman stepped out of the elevator, clad in a severe dark business suit, and walked purposefully towards the front door.

She turned and gaveRhonda a nasty look, then stepped outside, chatting deliberately into a cell phone. Rhonda sat on a pink plush couch and waited while the moving men began to unload her furniture. She stared up at the famous James Dean poster on the wall. ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ was the caption underneath. Not for me, Rhonda thought, my dreams of Hollywood stardom are going to come true. She had dreamt of being a movie star since she was five, and nothing was going to stand in the way of her goals. Finally, the elevator doors opened, and Marina stepped out, accompanied by a tall, beautiful redhead.

“I’m glad this place is centrally located, my agent says I need to get to my auditions quickly.” She told Marina curtly, glancing down at her watch.

“We’re just fifteen minutes from Burbank and Warner Brothers, and five minutes from Hollywood and Paramount.” Marina explained. The girl pursed her lips and gripped her designer handbag.

“Well, I’ll think about it. I live in Pasadena now, and my agent is on my case about being late to auditions all the time. Things are starting to happen for me, and my agent tells me that I need to be close to the studios,” she said a little too loudly, glancing over at Rhonda to make sure she overheard.

She thrust her hand out to Marina, who smiled. “I’ll call you.” The girl turned sharply on her heel and headed out the front door, not without sneaking a quick glimpse of Rhonda. She gave Rhonda an uppish glance, and darted out the door.

“Marina.” Rhonda jumped up and cheerfully bounded over to her.

“Hey you! Come on in.” Marina unlocked the office door and the two of them ambled in. Marina was in her late thirties, blonde and beautiful, with very white teeth and an enormous smile. The two women had met a few days before, when Rhonda noticed the ‘Now Renting’ sign out front as she was driving around. Marina had leased her a single apartment on the first floor, and now it was time to go over little details. The moving men were placing Rhonda’s things in the lobby.

“Apartment 122, right?” Marina smiled sweetly. She smelled of Noxzema and peppermint chewing gum.

Rhonda was so excited she could barely contain herself. My God, I’m really here!

 

Review

Warning, this book is rather crude (language, situations) but fits the story of the book – 4 women that have come to LA to become movie stars and their journey in that quest. Sadly some of the stories are what you expect and not everything is champagne and roses for these women.

someone else described this book as a trainwreck and I can see that. You wonder how some of these women can fall prey to the underbelly of the entertainment world. In fact, you might even feel sorry for them but at the same time, they compromise their principles to be in LA.

This was a pretty good story, just be prepared – it isn’t a fairy tale.

We give it 3 1/2 paws

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About the Author

Lindy S. Hudis is a graduate of New York University, where she studied drama at Tisch School of the Arts.

She is the author of several titles, including her romance suspense novel, “Weekends”, her “Hollywood” story City of Toys, and her crime novel, Crashers. She is also the author of an erotic short story series, “The S&M Club” and “The Mile High Club”.

Her short film “The Lesson” was screened at the Seattle Underground Film Festival and Cine-Nights in 2000.

She is also an actress, having appeared in the television daytime drama “Sunset Beach”. She and her husband, Hollywood stuntman Stephen Hudis, have formed their own production company called Impact Motion Pictures, and have several projects and screenplays in development.

She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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Posted in 4 paws, California, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on April 15, 2014

Fortune Cookie Tour

Tour Schedule

 

Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie

Sadie Hoffmiller has always liked things to be just so. A place for everything and everything in its place. Order over chaos. And of all things Sadie should be able to control, her own wedding is at the top of the list.

With the big day just three weeks away, Sadie is busily adding the final touches to her wedding plans but the arrival of a mysterious letter from San Francisco changes everything. The only person Sadie knows in San Francisco is her older sister, Wendy, whom she hasn’t seen since their mother’s funeral nearly fifteen years ago.

Sadie has faced off against murderers and criminals in recent years, yet the possibility of reconnecting with her sister is both overwhelming and frightening. Sadie soon discovers, however, that the letter is just the beginning when Wendy’s world turns out to be a place of unanswered questions, twisted truths, and more than one person with a motive for murder.

The more Sadie digs into her sister’s past, the more she places her own future at risk.

Review

First off, so sad to learn this was the next to the last book. I just started reading this series (and I actually didn’t follow my rule and start with book 1) and while I wasn’t wild about the first book I read, the books have gotten better. In this one, Sadie learns that her sister has died and she has a nephew…in the course of going to help sort things out she stumbles across things that don’t seem to fit and she and Pete solve Wendy’s murder.

I liked that we see Pete’s reaction to being in SF and reliving the memories from before his wife died and how it affect his relationship with Sadie.  It shows that while he wants to move forward with Sadie, he does have some emotional baggage.

While I didn’t figure out who the killer was, I did think something was up with a few of the characters, I just wasn’t sure what.  I’m not sure whether I like knowing who the killer is or not.

I do hope that in the last book that Ji and his daughters might make an appearance and perhaps forge a relationship with Sadie and her brother Jack (and their families).

We give this 4 paws up!

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Culinary Mysteries

Culinary Mystery Series

JosiAuthor Josi S. Kilpack

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/30/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, California, mystery, Review on October 20, 2013

hardcore

 

Synopsis

A shocking page-turner that explores the dark side of the multibillion-dollar porn industry. Ashley Hale was a rising star in the adult entertainment world before she abruptly moved to the other side of the country, leaving behind money, fame, and excitement for a nine-to-five bank job and a sensible apartment. But there was one tie to the industry she could not sever. Her sister, Tara, was also a porn star. Two years later, when Tara supposedly commits suicide, Ashley must return to the San Fernando Valley and the life she thought she’d left behind. Now she’s not sure who she can trust-especially the handsome new video editor who seems intent on helping her. But she won’t leave Los Angeles until she’s proven Tara’s death was a murder. And until she’s faced the killer. One of the most thrilling and original novels of the year, Hardcore crackles with sexual tension, great characters, and enough twists to keep mystery and thriller fans turning pages until every secret is revealed

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Review

WOW! is about all I can think of to say about this book.  A mystery set in the porn industry with its bad rap and seamy individuals.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but this book had everything that a reader could want – shady characters, murder, lies, sex and even some romance.  The characters are well developed and I know that I kept wondering who was someone worthy of trust and who wasn’t.  I will say that I was surprised many times by those that I thought were good but were bad, and those that were evil but were actually good. Plus there was even some romance thrown in to the mix that while seems like a good thing, quickly becomes a little terrifying for Ashley at first before learning the truth about those she thought were helping her.

While I’m not sure if there could be a follow up book with the same cast of characters, I would love to read more by Larry and hope that he has more books coming out in the future!

This is a must read for all mystery lovers!  We give it 5 paws and recommend picking up a copy.  If you have an e-reader it is only $3.99 on either Amazon or B&N.

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About the Author

Larry A. Winters is a writer of mysteries and thrillers.  When not writing about porn stars, FBI agents, cops, and killers, he can be found living a life of excitement—reading in his La-Z-Boy, playing video games, and hanging out with his family.

Website

 

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review

 

 

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Posted in California, e-books, romance on September 17, 2012

Not too long ago I read and reviewed Not the Marrying Kind by Nicola Marsh.  She loved my 5 paw review and asked me to read and review Crazy Love as well.  This is her first Indie-published book and it should be released on September 18th on Amazon.

 

Synopsis:

All’s fair in love…and matchmaking!

Sierra Kent doesn’t do love.  While she embraces the quaintness of her home town Love and delights in matchmaking her clients through her Internet dating agency Love Byte, she doesn’t trust her intuition when it comes to the one emotion that has repeatedly let her down. 

City-slick Marc Fairley, CEO of LA’s premier acquisition company, doesn’t have time for Love.  From the minute he enters the kitschy town he can’t wait to hotfoot back to LA with his deranged mother in tow.  Instead, he gets roped into the town’s Love Fest hoopla, investigates the shady farmer his mom is engaged to, berates his butler for a mad crush on a brash Aussie waitress, and finds himself falling for the brazen red-head who continually baits him. His life couldn’t get any crazier. Until he discovers in exacting revenge on his father and achieving his lifelong goals, he may lose the one thing he values most…

Can Sierra and Marc create enough sparks to send Love up in flames?  And prove that winning isn’t everything in the love stakes, it’s how you play the game.

Review:

I think Nicola has another hit on her hand.  I love the interaction between Sierra and Marc, how they are both strong characters and butt heads quite a bit.  Flo (the brash Australian waitress) is a nice addition in the cast of characters and her insecurity that someone could love her despite her age and her quirks.  I will admit I am not quite done (can you say busy weekend) but am nearly there and can’t wait to see how it ends and if Sierra and Marc learn to give in a little bit.  I have my suspicions about a few things but don’t want to let out any spoilers!

This story also gets a 5 paw review from Gracie & April!

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Posted in California, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on April 30, 2012

This week’s feature is an older book…circa 1997.  Ok, so older but not that old!  And doing research on the author realized she died in 2006.  Guess that means no more books in this series, but there are 6 to enjoy.

Anywho…the book is Delilah Doolittle and the Purloined Pooch and the author is Patricia Guiver.

Synopsis:
 
Sunny Southern California seems an unlikely place for a British widow to call home. But pet detective Delilah Doolittle is probably the least eccentric–if not the most civilized–of Surf City’s resident population. With the astute Doberman pinscher Watson sniffing out clues, Delilah follows the trails of missing animals, which often lead to the worst of human nature. The first thrilling pet detective mystery has Delilah Doolittle searching for a champion German shepherd. But when she finds a murdered man instead, it’s up to Delilah to collar a killer!
 
Review:
 
I love dogs, so any book with a dog in it is usually a winner with me.  The book started off a bit slow for me but once I got into the story I really enjoyed the story.  I didn’t figure out the killer and was suprised when this person was revealed.  Definitely not who I was expecting!  I’m not sure if I will continue with this series since there are so many books to read, but it is worth a read.

 

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Posted in animals, California, contest, Cozy, Giveaway on October 5, 2011

One of my favorite cozy series is Pet Sitters series by Linda O. Johnston.  Probably because I love dogs (have 2 myself) and I like reading where pets are always involved in the storyline.  Well Linda created a new series based off a character that made an appearance in Howl Deadly, Lauren.  Lauren runs a no-kill shelter…something I wish all shelters were but realize that it can’t always be that way.  This series is called the Pet Rescue series.

Anyway, if you visit Dollycas Thoughts you will have a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of The More the Terrier which is the 2nd book in this new series.  I’m entering…..and hope I win this new book!

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Posted in California, fiction, Movie, suspense on September 16, 2011

Today I am reading The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly for my book club.  We are meeting on Sunday and watching the movie and discussing the book…nothing like waiting until the last minute to read the book, right?!

So something I just learned by looking at the author’s website….there are several books with the same character – Mickey Haller.  I didn’t know this was a series….guess I’ll be picking up the rest to read at some time in the near future because I know I have had a hard time putting this book down to do work or go to sleep at night!

Synopsis from the dust jacket:

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn’t recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him.  But what he should have been on the watch for was evil.

Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind.  Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers – they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list.  For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence – it’s about negotiation and manipulation.  Sometimes it’s even about justice.

A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up  in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high paying client in years.  It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case.  And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career.

Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face to face with evil as purse as a flame.  To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal – this time to save his own life.

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Posted in California, fiction, mystery on August 9, 2011

Heads You Lose is a joint collaboration between Lisa Lutz (known for The Spellman Files series) and David Hayward (He writes poetry and has a editing/writing company).  The authors each write a chapter and then hand it off to the other.  In between the chapters there are comments about what is written and David’s foray into some alternate reality where there are strange reality shows. 

This is the official book overview from the website:

From New York Times–bestselling author Lisa Lutz and David Hayward comes a hilarious and original tag-team novel that reads like Weeds meets Adaptation.

Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing, twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can’t exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper … and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

But that’s only half of the story. When collaborators Lutz and Hayward—former romantic partners—start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

My Thoughts:

I was given this book to read from a friend in my book club a few months ago but just picked it up this week.  I had been told that the authors alternate writing each chapter but she didn’t tell me that there were comments in between each chapter and footnotes!  I have laughed my way through the whole book while trying to figure out who is committing the crimes.  I especially loved chapter 14.  I’m not going to say why, that would spoil the fun.  But if you pick up this book to read, don’t jump to that chapter, you won’t understand the humor.

I definitely recommend this book if you want a little mystery but a lot of humor too.  It is definitely light hearted and the interaction between the two authors between each chapter also gives you some good insight into why they wrote what they wrote, well sometimes.

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Posted in California, mystery, Sue Grafton on January 9, 2010

U for Undertow is the 21st book in the alphabet series by Sue Grafton.

Kinsey Millhone is a PI in Santa Teresa CA, a small bedroom community.  The year is 1988 and Kinsey is hired by Michael Sutton who seems to think her remembers seeing two “pirates” burying a little girl that was kidnapped in the summer of 1967.  He was 6 years old at the time and doesn’t really seem to remember much for sure.  Yet he hires Kinsey for a day (that is all he could afford) which sets off a chain of events that no one could predict.  Is Michael really remembering the past or is it something that he just thinks he saw?  The story also brings together several families and how their lives intersected in the late 60’s and reflects who they are today, well at least 1988!

I started reading this series of books about 10 years ago and one of the things I really enjoy about the books is the time period.  The 1980’s is when I was in high school so any references to pop culture I understand.  I also like that she doesn’t have computers and the internet at her disposal and has to solve crimes the old fashioned way, with lots of hard work and getting out there and talking to people.

I definitely recommend this series but if you do decide to take it on, you need to start with A is for Alibi and work your way through the alphabet.  It just better that way, trust me!

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