Posted in Colorado, e-books, fiction, Giveaway, Kindle, mystery, suspense on March 10, 2012

Colleen Collins is a PI by day (so she knows of what she writes!) and is also an award-winning author who’s written 20 novels and anthologies for Harlequin (including a romantic paranormal thriller for Dorchester, writing as Cassandra Collins). Her books have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests.

After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager at the RAND Corporation, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.

Along with sending me a copy of her book (e-book) she even answered a few questions for my readers!

SBR: How similar is what Rick experiences as a PI to what you do as a PI?

Well, we don’t stumble across dead bodies in our work, fortunately!  However, we have conducted investigations in homicide cases, and for those we follow steps similar to Rick’s: conducting background investigations on witnesses, conducting witness interviews, revisiting/analyzing/documenting the crime scene, reviewing existing discovery, examining forensic evidence.

SBR: What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but around 1989, I told myself that if I ever wanted to get published I had get serious. I committed to writing every single day until I completed a novel…and I did just that. I’ll be honest, that first novel sucked, but I completed it! After that, I joined writing organizations and critique groups and continued writing…in 1996, I finally sold my first novel, a romantic comedy, to Harlequin.

SBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and what books are on your nightstand?

I have a slew of favorites — from Dean Koontz to Susan Isaacs to Ed McBain. I’m currently a judge for the Private Eye Writers of America’s annual Shamus contest, so there’s a huge stack of private eye novels on my nightstand right now. The one I’m currently reading is The Cut by George Pelecanos.

SBR: Who do you envision playing Rick and Laura?

Great question. I’d want both to have wonderful senses of humor, so I’d pick Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson if they wouldn’t mind acting together post-divorce 🙂 My husband, the inspiration for Rick, said he should be played by Matthew McConaughey.


Book blurb:

Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.

Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer. In the course of their investigations, they dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to its tony corporate centers. Dodging bullets, a kidnapping, trumped-up charges and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, Rick and Laura continue tracking key suspects who have motive…eventually learning that true redemption begins at home.

 My Thoughts:

It has been awhile since I read a book with a male protagonist.  Lately I have been reading romance books or cozy mysteries where the main character is a woman.  This was definitely a nice switch.  I’ll say right off the bat that I did figure out “whodoneit”.  Now it is not because it was fact, I was never 100% sure that it was who I thought because of the many red herrings tossed into the mix.  But it was just something in my gut that said X was the killer. (thought I was going to spoil it didn’t you?!)  There was a great mix of characters and side story lines that just added to the history of Rick and how he got to be who he became in this story.  The story has a good mix of mystery and suspense and even a little humor.  There are many clues that might help you figure it out before the end of the book…depends on if you can decipher them!

All in all I give this story 2 thumbs up and 4 stars.

The Giveaway:

Colleen has been kind enough to offer an e-book copy of her novel.  You can get it in a format for the Kindle or the Nook.  No e-reader? No problem. You can read The Zen Man on your computer, iPhone, iPad and other devices — you can even read it in your Web browser!

She will also send the winner a t-shirt (L or XL).

So sign up today!  This will close on Sunday, March 18th.

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Posted in mystery, romance, Texas, Tuesday on February 2, 2012

I had good intentions this year to post at least twice a week….well that worked for the first few weeks of the year and then I don’t know what happened.  Actually I can’t believe it is February already, where did January go? 

So my teaser that I should have posted on Tuesday made it to Thursday, but it is still a day that begins with the letter T! 

Today’s teaser is a new series by author Diane Kelly called Death, Taxes and a French Manicure.  The main character is Tara Holloway, an IRS special agent (in Dallas!) out taking down those tax evaders, like Capone.  She is in Texas and grew up in East Texas (Nacogdoches to be specific) and is a take charge woman that can shoot her way out of a situation if necessary.  But heaven forbid it should mess up her manicure!

This book is a romantic mystery with a LOT of witty dialogue.  Heck the first sentence of the book had me laughing and I knew I was in for a treat.  If you are looking for a new series, definitely check this one out.  The second book in the series Death, Taxes and a Skinny No-Whip Latte is due out March 1st and the 3rd book, Death, Taxes and Extra-Hold Hairspray will be out in July.  I cannot wait!  Oh and I just saw on her website that she will be signing copies of that second book on March 10th in Arlington, I’m planning to be there!

So I’m going to offer 2 teasers – the first is the first sentence in the book.  The other will chosen at random.

Chapter One – Some People Just need shooting

When I was nine, I formed a Silly Putty pecker for my Ken doll knowing he’d have no chance of fulfilling Barbie’s needs given the permanent state of erectile dysfunction with which the toy designers of Mattel had cursed him.

from page 61:

Her eyes moved from my face to the pink Cadillac visible through the glass front of the clinic.  “What is it this time?  Makeover gone horribly awry?”

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Posted in chick lit, Cozy, mystery on October 24, 2011

SPYING IN HIGH HEELS is free for a limited time on BN Nook! If you don’t have a Nook reader, you can download a free Nook app to read it for your mac, pc, ipad, ipod, iphone, or many smartphones.

Get it here!

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Posted in Cozy, mystery, suspense on October 4, 2011

Today I’m reading Mind over Murderby Allison Kinglsey which is the pseudonym for Kate Kingsbury or Doreen Roberts Hight.  She even writes under the name Rebecca Kent.  Whew, talk about your multiple personalities!

Cousins and best friends, Clara and Stephanie Quinn run The Raven’s Nest Bookstore, where people go to find their most coveted reads. But they have no idea it’s the psychically-gifted Clara who’s reading them…

The bookstore has made an enemy of the town crier, Ana Jordon, who claims that the store’s occult collection is “poisoning” the town’s youth. Meanwhile, the store’s number-one employee, Molly, has made no secret of her anger over Ana’s antics. So when Ana is found dead, killed by the bust of Edgar Allen Poe sculpted by Molly, the evidence is stacked against her. And Clara must rely on her gift to make sense of this senseless murder…

So the teaser comes from page 161

Her first thought was that she was about to die. Hot on the heels of that thought came the determined vow to live, no matter what it took.

ooooh, I’m not this far yet but boy that has me intrigued about the book!  I am about half way through and it is pretty good and while there is the “Quinn Sense” it isn’t an overt psychic ability and Clara has shut out the voices for awhile so it is taking her awhile to get used to them again.

Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

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Posted in Movie, mystery, women on September 21, 2011

Usually we have to wait a whole year between releases of the Stephanie Plum series but for some reason Explosive Eighteen is coming out November 22nd!  Who am I to question the release 8 months early?!

Here is the synopsis from Janet Evanovich’s site:

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.

Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a rag-tag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photo–Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the Bail Bonds Agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

Did anyone catch what the first word of each paragraph spells?  Tricky!

And for those of us waiting for it to hit the big screen, One for the Money will be in theaters on January 27, 2012.  I’m still not picturing Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum but I’m sure she will do a great job.

Posted in Cozy, mailbox, mystery on September 8, 2011

There are various blogs I like to read and get suggestions of books to read…sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes this is a bad thing.  Actually the only reason why it is bad is because my TBR list grows by leaps and bounds and from when I used to have maybe 25 books I now have around 400 books plus about 200 e-books on my Kindle and about 400 e-books on my Sony E-Reader.  I’m not sure when I will get through all of these!  But I am finding new authors and genres that grab my attention.

While visiting one of the said blogs I saw this question and it made me think about what my answer would be and I’m not sure that I have a single answer! 

The Question: Do you have a Book Soul-Mate? Who is it and why? 


Recently in my mailbox, this book showed up: Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon (aka Misa Ramirez) which is the first in the Magical Dressmaking Mystery series.  I haven’t cracked the spine yet but here is a synopsis of the book for you.  Maybe it will whet your appetite and you will want to get your own copy!

When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas. But soon after she opens Buttons & Bows, a custom dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited, Harlow begins to feel an inexplicable presence…

One of her first clients is her old friend Josie, who needs a gown for her upcoming wedding. But when Josie’s boss turns up dead, it starts to look as if the bride-to-be may be wearing handcuffs instead of a veil. Suddenly Josie needs a lot more from Harlow than hemming a dress. Can Harlow find the real killer—with a little help from beyond?

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Posted in cooking, Cozy, mystery, New York on August 31, 2011

Once I finish Lost and Fondue I will be starting on Murder by Mocha by Cleo CoyleMurder by Mocha is the 10th in the Coffee House series.

From the dust jacket:

Clare Cosi, manager and head barista of the landmark Village Blend coffeehouse, can brew a beverage to die for.  But can she stir up some evidence against a bitter killer who has gone loco for mocha?

Clare’s Village Blend beans are being used to creatte a new java love potion: a “Mocha Magic Coffee” billed as an aphrodisiac.  Clare may even try some on her boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn – when he’s off duty, of course….

The product, expected to rake in millions, will be sold exclusively on Aphrodite’s Village, one of the Web’s most popular online communities for women.  But the launch party ends on a sour note when one of the Web site’s editors if found dead.

When more of the Web site’s Sisters of Aphrodite start to die, Clare is convinced someone wants the coffee’s secret formula – and is willing to kill to get it.  Clare isn’t about to spill the benas, but will she be next on the hit list?

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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 contest, fiction, Giveaway, Kate White, mystery, suspense, women on July 31, 2011

Kate White is best known as the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and several bestselling career bibles including Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead…but Gutsy Girls Do and 9 Secrets of Women who Get Everything They Want. Then in 2002 she decided to try her hand at mystery novels and scored a hit with If Looks Could Kill featuring Bailey Weggins. There have been several follow up books in the series which have also hit the bestseller list and the books have been optioned by Lions Gate Pictures.  Then last year she wrote Hush which I reviewed and now she is back with The Sixes and it is another page turner!

From the back of the book:

Phoebe Hall’s Manhattan life is unexpectedly derailed off the fast track when her long-term boyfriend leaves her just as she is accused of plagiarizing her latest best-selling celebrity biography.  Looking for a quiet place to pick up the pieces, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus’s quiet cafes and looming maple trees lie evil happenings.  The body of a coed washes up from the nearby river, and soon hidden secrets begin to surface among the students:  rumors of past crimes and abuses wrought by a disturbing secret society known as The Sixes.

Determined to find answers and help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues – a quest that soon raises dark memories of her boarding school days.  Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she’s close to unmasking a killer.  But with truth comes a deeply terrifying revelation: the past can’t be outrun…and starting over can be a crime punishable by death.

My Review:

When I was asked to review this book I had this feeling that it would hook me from the first chapter and I wasn’t wrong.  I belong to a sorority but The Sixes are nothing like a sorority and don’t cross them because they won’t forget it and will seek retaliation even if it is subtle!  There are many characters thrown in to the mix and while you might think one person is involved in the happenings on campus and in town, you might be right and you might be wrong.  Kate brings to this story a mix of complex characters and entertwining their lives so that you don’t know who is a good guy and who isn’t.  I found myself going back and forth on various characters and who might be involved and I was right on a few but not all!  There is even some romance thrown in, but not without some suspicion on Phoebe’s part.

I definitely recommend this book and suggest you pick it up when it comes out on August 2nd.  Or you could win a copy here!

So here is the contest:

I have been given 2 copies of Hush and 1 copy of The Sixes to give away.  I will sweeten the pot and also offer my copy of The Sixes (ARC).  So that is 4 books that I’m giving away!  It is open to all residents of the US and Canada.  Just leave a comment so that you can be entered.

I will even offer a 2nd entry if you blog about it or post it on Facebook.  Just leave a second comment with your blog listing or your Facebook posting link.

The contest will close on Sunday, August 7th.




Posted in Cozy, mystery, soap opera on November 23, 2010

Author Mary Jane Clark is probably best known for her suspense series featuring Eliza Blake, co-anchor for KEY news.  She has branched out and created a pseudo cozy series called the Wedding Cake Mysteries.  It might be more of a cozy than I think, but compared to others it didn’t see as “light” as other cozy series…doesn’t mean it is a bad book, just on a different level which is to be expected based on the other series that MJC writes.


To Have and To Kill features Piper Donovan, a struggling actress with no immediate prospects and a recently broken engagement. Reluctantly, she moves back in with her parents to take stock of her life. Piper steps tentatively into the family bakery business, and finds herself agreeing to create the wedding cake for the acclaimed star of a daytime television drama. But soon deadly things start happening around the bride-to-be and it seems that somebody is ruthlessly determined to stop the wedding.

With the help of her former neighbor, Jack, a handsome FBI agent with a soft spot for the gorgeous cake-maker, Piper moves closer to the truth. As she narrows in on a suspect, Piper realizes that it’s hotter in the kitchen than she may be able to handle…


I have read most of MJC’s other books in the Key Series and have really enjoyed the books so I was interested to see what her foray into the cozy realm would produce.  While I mentioned a few minor things before, I thought this book was a great start.  The characters were real and dealt with many life issues (money, love, desperation, etc).  The story line was intriguing and truly kept me guessing as to who the killer was in the book.  I kept going back and forth between a few characters only to be proven wrong in the end.  That is the sign of a good book when I can’t figure out whodoneit!  I’ll also be curious to see what path Piper chooses in her life…if she continues acting (or at least auditioning) or focuses a little more on her mom’s bakery.

This is definitely a series to watch, I think it could rival some of the other cozy series in the market.

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