Audiobook · blog tour · mystery · paranormal · series

Audiobook Tour – The Soul Searchers Mysteries: Donn’s Shadow

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: The Soul Searchers Mysteries by Caryn Larrinaga

Author: Caryn Larrinaga

Narrator: Jessica McEvoy

Length: 9 hours 51 minutes

Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries, Book 2

Released: March 2020

Publisher: Twisted Tree Press

Genre: Supernatural Cozy Mystery

Mackenzie Clair finally has this whole ghost-hunting psychic thing figured out. The Soul Searchers are a hit, she’s got pet-parenting down, and she even has a plan to banish the poltergeist running amok at a lakeside cabin. Best of all, Donn’s Hill feels like home. But not everyone loves the town as much as Mac.

A world-famous paranormal debunker thinks the psychics in Donn’s Hill are lying about their abilities. His determination to destroy the Soul Searchers threatens Mac’s livelihood, and when a killer strikes, the sheriff’s suspicions threaten her freedom.

Mac needs all the help she can get to find the real murderer and clear her name… even if that help comes from beyond the grave.

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Caryn Larrinaga is a self-described horror evangelist and paranormal junkie. Her debut supernatural mystery novel, DONN’S HILL, won the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill Award in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. Her short fiction has won multiple honors and been featured in local and international anthologies. Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit for free short stories and audiobooks.


Narrator Bio

Between peddling video games and teaching yoga in her home state of Arizona, Jessica McEvoy attempts to conduct a career as a professional voice actress. This, however, is moderately undermined by the fact that she records in a dimly lit closet with her microphone balanced on a stack of old board games (Junior Scrabble and Powerpuff Girls Monopoly form a strong foundation), but she hopes that no one holds that against her.

Though her main work consists of narrating audiobooks, her first dive into the voice world was through the NoSleep podcast after answering a post from the LibriVox forums. Having been raised on horror movies and scary stories, she was beyond excited to be able to work on the show. Many stories, tortured screams, deranged villains, and creepy little girl giggles later, Jessica hopes to work on the podcast for seasons and seasons to come.


Q&A with Striker the cat
  • What is your full name? Do you have a nickname (if so, who calls you this)?
    Striker Clair. Mac sometimes calls me “my cat” in front of other humans, which is hilarious.
  • Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place (home and location) and the person/people you live with.
    Mac found me a really nice, warm, cozy apartment in a big yellow house not too far from Main Street in Donn’s Hill. There’s a great big tree right by the window, so I can climb up and down whenever I want. My favorite part about it is this cushy bench that runs along the inside of a round turret; it’s sunny there for most of the day and it’s a great place to nap. Usually I sleep in the soft bed Mac bought me though; she’s pretty warm so I let her share it with me.
  • What is your job?
    I’m in charge of security for a TV show called the Soul Searchers. I travel with the team when they’re filming and make sure no mice or birds interfere with anything. If a ghost shows up, I keep Mac safe. She’s really important. You know… to the show.
    Sometimes I help my friend Graham sell his sculptures at the Afterlife Festival. He always sells way more when I’m around!
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, why?
    I’m really proud of how far Mac has come since I’ve been taking care of her. When we first met, she was so lost. She didn’t even have a home. Now I make sure she’s happy and healthy, and she’s really thriving. It’s great to see!
  • Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?
    “A treat in the hand is worth two in the bag.” Also, “Give me the bag.”

  • Mackenzie Clair (aka Mac) is a wanderer at heart. For Mac, home is where the people she loves are, and at the beginning of Donn’s Hill, everyone she loves has either left this life or betrayed her completely. She’s used to starting over, and her willingness to dive head first into uncharted territory serves her well as she discovers the return of a lost psychic ability to see the dead.
    Mac has dark, curly hair and tends to have shadows under her blue eyes from staying up late reading. Her sweet tooth can get out of control, and her favorite snacks include lemon bars and homemade chocolate chip cookies. She loves a good cup of tea but will take coffee if somebody else made it.
  • Striker is a small tortoiseshell cat who found her way into Mac’s life just when she was needed most, as cats have a way of doing. Fond of games and cuddling, she takes care of Mac as well (or better) as Mac takes care of her, and her inquisitive nature has a way of leading her human both into and out of trouble. Favorite snack: crunchy treats from Mac’s landlord’s breast pocket.

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · literary fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Surviving Me

Surviving Me

Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.

Purchase Links


Author Bio

I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.

I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.

I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.

Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”. 

In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.

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Giveaway to Win two signed copies of Surviving Me & five Surviving Me fridge magnets (Open INT)

1st Prize – 2 winners each winning a signed copy of Surviving Me

5 Runners Up – each winning a Surviving Me Fridge Magnet

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


My Review

5/5 stars

This has been probably one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year.  The reason: it’s very real, believable, and features topics that we just don’t talk enough about. I loved it!

Written primarily from the male viewpoint of Tom, with occasional chapters headed up by his wife, Siri, the story eases us into their everyday life. Siri wants a baby, but it’s not happening which starts to create tensions. So when Tom loses his job, he’s wary of telling Siri, and hopes to find a new one quickly and then break the news.

But the new job doesn’t happen, and Tom’s insecurities mount. Rather than face up to the truth, he continues his regular routine, pretending to go to work, and with each passing day it becomes harder to tell her. 

What does he do then, when he’s pretending to be at work? He drives around, not too far because fuel costs money, but eventually stops off at a café in a small village where he can be anonymous while applying for jobs on his laptop. Here there are no expectations, no judgements to be made. 

But this is no ordinary café, or rather the owner and the regulars are not so easily duped. While keeping their distance, they notice him …and his visits become more frequent and longer lasting. He finds himself intrigued by them too, especially a young girl, Lydia, who sits alone by the window, lost in her own world.

At home, Siri is still fretting about not conceiving, so both of them visit the doctors for tests. When Tom finds out he is infertile, this is another blow to his confidence … and another secret to keep for as long as he can. Already feeling pretty worthless, knowing he can’t give Siri the one thing she wants tips him over the edge. His own personal depression is not helped by other worries about his brother-in-law’s odd behaviour. In all, everything seems to be going wrong. 

You’ll have to read for yourself what happens next – you won’t be disappointed. There are moments of sadness, poignancy, hope and despair, but above all, there’s a sense of love, togetherness, and community.  

I don’t have any personal experience of depression, but there is a genuine sense of vulnerability in many of the characters. They are real people, with real flaws and issues, and a very real British approach to such issues – i.e. say nothing and it’ll all go away! Asking for help seems so hard, but absolutely nothing to be worried about or ashamed of.

I don’t want to give the impression that this story is a hard or a heavy read; it’s not. It flows effortlessly and will scoop you up for the ride. Emotions are laid bare, but that means humour and hope rise to the surface and will make you smile. I particularly appreciated the author writing much of this from a male perspective given that suicide is such a major problem among younger men. It’s easy to see how life can become too much, and by not talking about it, the future seems too bleak. Kudos to the author for tackling this head on and with such clarity. 

The ending is possibly one of the greatest twists I’ve read in recent months. Delivered with great subtlety but with the power of a sledgehammer! Fabulous, and I hope it leads to a sequel.

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blog tour · book review · mystery · romance · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Point of No Return (plus a giveaway)

Point of No Return

Jake Williams has been undercover as a captain at Great Britain Air for months and he’s beyond frustrated. Tasked with finding the airline insiders who are smuggling chemical weapons into the country, he’s getting nowhere fast.

Bree Phillips has spent her whole life wanting to travel and experience life outside of the small village she grew up in, but her family needed her. Now, years later than planned, she is finally joining her best friend to work for Great Britain Air, and her adventure is beginning.

Jake knows he is better off alone, it keeps him sharp and focused, but despite his efforts to keep Bree at a distance, she is drawn further and further into his world. Both have to ask themselves whether some risks are worth taking.

Purchase Links

Author Bio

Tanya Jean lives in England with her award winning performer husband, Fisher Stevens, and their two teenage boys.

She has always loved (been obsessive about) books, and has an embarrassingly huge and ever growing pile of things that she just ‘has’ to read, next to her bed. 

The Cabin Crew Series, Broken Trust & Point of No Return, allowed her to combine her love of writing with her experiences of working in the airline world.

She squeezes her writing (daydreaming…) around her family and her day job , and is convinced that chocolate & diet coke should be considered a well-balanced diet.  

Social Media Links

Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of Point of No Return (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


My Review

4/5 stars

This was a fun read with an original plot.

Bree was so excited to start her new job, even the brusque manner of the captain, Jake Williams couldn’t curb her enthusiasm, although she did wonder why his attitude to her didn’t mirror his behaviour with the rest of the crew. Nonetheless, she was determined to get stuck in and enjoy the job she’d waited so long for.

Of course, it became clear that Jake was intrigued by and attracted to Bree, but his undercover job meant a relationship – a proper one – was out of the question, especially when he was no nearer finding the inside man (or woman) at the airline helping  to smuggle chemical weapons.

But when did “no relationship” ever really mean no? Not here, as the two were thrown together during stayovers, and the attraction was mutual.

Unfortunately, Bree and Jake then found themselves at the centre of a confrontation with the criminals. The story became very intense here, dramatic and exciting. You’ll have to read it to learn what happened, but I can assure you it’ll be worth it.

Fun secondary characters gave the story a natural and realistic vibe,  and learning about Bree’s and Jake’s personal history made me root for them to get together.

The revelation of the inside man (or woman) came as a surprise. The author succeeded in making me think someone else was responsible, and that twist in the mystery left me wanting to read more in the series.

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Audiobook · murder mystery · mystery · paranormal · series · Uncategorized

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – The Soul Searchers Mysteries: Donn’s Hill

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: The Soul Searchers Mysteries by Caryn Larrinaga

Author: Caryn Larrinaga

Narrator: Jessica McEvoy

Length: 9 hours 54 minutes

Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries, Book 1

Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Publisher: Twisted Tree Press

Genre: Supernatural Cozy Mystery

“Grief can change us… rewire our brains and shift the way we look at the world…”

After returning home from her father’s funeral to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman, Mackenzie Clair is looking for a fresh start. She thinks she’ll find it in her favorite childhood vacation spot, but returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. Mac regains a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead, and the poltergeist haunting her apartment is desperate to make her use that gift to find his killer.

Aided by her new roommate – a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker, and the ghost-hunting crew of the nationally televised show Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to learn how to use her powers. But she’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t somehow divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.

Buy on Audible

Caryn Larrinaga is a self-described horror evangelist and paranormal junkie. Her debut supernatural mystery novel, DONN’S HILL, won the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill Award in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. Her short fiction has won multiple honors and been featured in local and international anthologies. Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit for free short stories and audiobooks.


Narrator Bio

Between peddling video games and teaching yoga in her home state of Arizona, Jessica McEvoy attempts to conduct a career as a professional voice actress. This, however, is moderately undermined by the fact that she records in a dimly lit closet with her microphone balanced on a stack of old board games (Junior Scrabble and Powerpuff Girls Monopoly form a strong foundation), but she hopes that no one holds that against her.

Though her main work consists of narrating audiobooks, her first dive into the voice world was through the NoSleep podcast after answering a post from the LibriVox forums. Having been raised on horror movies and scary stories, she was beyond excited to be able to work on the show. Many stories, tortured screams, deranged villains, and creepy little girl giggles later, Jessica hopes to work on the podcast for seasons and seasons to come.


5/5 stars

Not many towns can boast an annual paranormal festival, but Donn’s Hill is a town like no other. Everyone has an aura, a vibe or a fascination with the paranormal. There’s even a dedicated team of ghost hunters for a TV show. Not that Mac knew this when she moved there, though she did remember her mom taking her to the festival when she was a child. It’s probably her only memory of her mom whose maternal instinct was somewhat lacking. Raised by her father, recently passed, and finding her boyfriend is a cheat, Mac packs up her belongings and heads for Donn’s Hill where she discovers an ability to communicate with the dead, who are most eager to talk to her. 

Mac is a likeable character, a true bookworm, an introvert, and coffee addict – how could I not like her? 😉 

Learning her new “apartment” has a ghost is the least of her problems to start with, and she keeps the fact to herself for some time, trying hard to adapt to her new surroundings and not wishing to cause a fuss. At least she has Striker the cat to share her woes. Not just any cat though, Striker comes to her defence many a time, and especially when it matters most. When her apartment ghost proves more difficult, then she calls for help from the town’s medium, Gabriela to rid her space of the now-frantic poltergeist. 

Mac starts working for the ghost-hunting team, as they recognise her affinity with the spirit world, and how she seems to attract the very ghosts they are looking for. Except, ghost-hunting leads to her finding some more recently deceased residents. Solving these murders now becomes a priority. 

The narration by Jessica McEvoy is well done; she plays the characters with differing tone making it easy to follow. Combined with an intriguing storyline, fascinating backdrops, and well-rounded characters the story comes alive in all its creepy eeriness and Mac’s moments of vulnerability.

Stand-out moments: Striker takes first place, swiftly followed by that windstorm …and then it’s all topped off with a great ending. I’m hooked and in this for the long haul – bring on book two!
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Caryn Larrinaga. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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blog tour · book review · historical fiction · LGBT · must-read · mystery · series · Spain

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Prison in the Sun

A Prison in the Sun

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

Purchase Link:


Author Bio

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction.

Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Social Media Links

My Review

4.5/5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read in the Canary Islands series, and I was absolutely bewitched by the whole tale. Trevor is in a rut from ghost- and copy-writing. He wants to write a novel under his own name – a desire made even greater when a client for whom he rewrote a novel is in line for a major literary award. He books a three-month break in Fuerteventura, determined to find his muse and write the next best-seller. But Tefia, while definitely perfect for isolationism, has a grim history.

Trevor finds the “camp” one day when he’s exploring the area. Tefia is way off the tourist path, and the brisk breeze and hardy terrain suits his mood, until the sun beats down on him and leaves him burnt, exhausted, and curious.

His lack of fitness spurs him on to join a gym where he learns about the history of the camp as well as about other sights to explore. In search of his muse he chooses to visit the smugglers’ caves, but doesn’t account for the return of the tide nor the abandonment of a rucksack. Concerned someone may be missing their belongings, he carries the rucksack back to shore, no mean feat as he battles rising water levels. When no-one claims the rucksack, he takes it home. Inside he finds a large amount of cash, a fact he shares with a couple he’d met earlier that day … a couple who he starts to see a lot of, a couple who he starts to suspect, especially when a body is found and the body turns out to be related to the couple. Also in the bag are notes – in Spanish – written by a young man, Jose, who was held at that camp. His crime: being gay in the Franco era.

For Trevor, already struggling with his own sexuality after his wife leaves him for a woman, and he can’t stop thinking of how much he enjoyed a boyhood friendship, his paranoia is firmly out of control. He tries to focus on his novel. Despite earlier misgivings, he decides to use the story of the camp as his premise; the notes seems to compel him to tell Jose’s story.

However, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem – since people know he has the rucksack and the cash. Scared for his safety, Trevor decides to return to the UK …which is also not as easy as it seems, or indeed should be.

The author has created an intricate story here, combining two men – Trevor & Jose – from different times, but struggling with similar issues, though with very different options.  Jose’s story at the concentration camp for homosexuals, where the daily regime is harsh, the treatment by guards is brutal, yet through it all Jose finds love. For Trevor, the future, while nowhere near as dangerous, is still uncertain and he is floundering in that uncertainty.

This is a mystery with a strong literary vibe. It’s compelling, fascinating, and intriguing. Though I have to say the ending left me ….ARGHHH!

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book review · historical fiction · thought provoking · WWII

Book Review: The Occupation


A page-turning historical saga that will pull at your heartstrings! For fans of Freda Lightfoot, Pam Jenoff, Sebastian Faulks and Kate Atkinson.

One woman’s secret war against the Nazis. One man’s war against himself…

1940, Jersey

When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies.

Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.

Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France.

Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance.

But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.

How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her?

Or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?

THE OCCUPATION is a moving war & military saga following the separate stories of a young man and woman through the years of the Second World War as they fight to survive. 

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My Review

5/5 stars

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and World War II one of the most fascinating backdrops. I visited Jersey many times as a child, and we always went to the war tunnels (probably where my interest was born) although this was always balanced by the Festival of Flowers.

The Occupation centres on a married couple – Céline, an Englishwoman born in Jersey, and her German husband Fred (Siegfried). The two met in Vienna, and later began a bakery in Jersey, where Fred’s talent as a pâtissier offered the islanders delicious pastries alongside their bread orders. To everyone who knows him, he is Fred the baker … until war breaks out and his nationality becomes his label, and Céline’s.

Fred is conscripted into the German army. At first, he’s quite proud of the efficiency of his compatriots, but that is short-lived when he sees the brutality that follows. His ability to speak French and English gets him a job as a translator in Paris, where he adopts the cover of Édouard Vibert and lives among the locals where he witnesses the diversion of food from the French to the German soldiers. His work reveals what is happening to the Jewish residents, and he sees firsthand a family being dragged away. His bosses soon ask him to ‘spy’ for them, as they are looking for members of the Résistance. At the same time, the locals suspect him when he is visited by a German officer. He must convince them (the locals, now his friends) that he’s on their side. To do that, he gets involved in daring and dangerous acts against the German army. But it is when his friends are arrested that he risks his life to help them, and become a wanted man.

Meanwhile, back in Jersey, Céline worries about him, having no news at all. Her Jewish friend, Rachel, goes “missing”, and then Fred’s German brother Horst (A high-ranking Nazi officer) descends on the bakery …wanting more from her than bread. All this leads to her being ostracised by her neighbours, labelled a “Jerrybag” and struggling for her own survival.

Their acts of heroism determine their fate, both Fred and Céline face the German authorities – will they survive? This is historical fiction at its best – it doesn’t wrap the events up in a cosy blanket, but rather shows the good and the bad, showing how war has an effect on people that changes how they treat each other when their own survival is under threat.

This is a powerful story depicting the best and the worst of humanity, but also not painting all Germans with the same brush (Wolfgang) or making all the Jersey islanders out to be virtuous. Written from both perspectives, the author delves into their new everyday existence, each unaware of how their spouse is faring.

Highly recommended to lovers of quality, well-researched, and real historical fiction with plenty to entertain as well as shock.

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blog tour · friendship · NA · romance · Sport

Blog Tour – Game Changer

Game Changer

AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey – two of his favorite things.

Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?

Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?

Purchase Links

UK –

US –

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

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author resources · book blitz · writing

Blog Blitz ‘n’ Book Review – 52 Weeks of Writing (plus a giveaway)

52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?

52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.

52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.

52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?

  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?

  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?

  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you.

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.

Purchase Link

Author Bio

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

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Giveaway to win….

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My Review

5/5 stars

Not only is this a beautiful item to look at, it’s jam-packed with tips, inspiration, and a “you can do this” attitude.

Who is it for? Well, in the author’s own words:

Not for the faint of heart!

and by that she means this is for the writer who isn’t looking for someone to hold their hand and tell them it’s all going to be just fine. Instead, it’s for those who feel their writing isn’t progressing, at least not in the
way or at the pace they want it to, and they need someone to ask the right questions—which are never the easy ones —while providing them with a safe space where they can chew on their answers.

This feels more like a workbook to me, with an easy-to-read font and an elegant design. It’s like having your own writing coach in book form. This is more than a simple notebook or to-do planner – because we all know how easy it is to write that list, but it’s just as easy to move the goalposts and get nothing done.

The beauty of this is that you can start it anytime – you’re not restricted to a regular calendar year, and so day 1 really is the day you start to use it fully.

From the very first week, the reader/writer is challenged to think about how writing makes them feel. Usually, I’d skip these “feel-good” sections and move on to the nitty-gritty, but then I realised that this is just as important as getting words on paper (or screen 😉 ) I love the idea of setting long-terms goals, not just in my head, but actually thinking about them and committing those goals by writing them down – in permanent ink, not pencil cos that’d be too easy to erase. Yeah, I know that trick too well 😉  You might think writing these things down could lead to disappointment if the deadline passes without you, but for me it actually focuses my mind on the goal.  Throughout this planner there are opportunities to look back and see how you’ve done, to work out why things didn’t go to plan, and also to celebrate those milestones that you hit. With inspirational quotes to spur you on, this is a resource every writer should have.

I’ll be recommending this to all my writer friends.

Finally, I’d like to thank Mariëlle for also offering her other books for free during this month.  Be sure to check out her giveaway page for details. You’ll be glad you did.

As always,



blog tour · cosy · murder mystery · Private Investigators · series · women sleuths

A Spotlight on “Dangerous Ground” – plus a giveaway!

Dangerous Ground

by Susan Hunter

on Tour February 17, 2020 to March 20, 2020



A Murder Among Friends …

Everyone is anxious to connect with actor Ryan Malloy when he returns to town for his 15-year high school reunion. Everyone except crime writer Leah Nash. She doesn’t have many fond memories of Himmel High’s golden boy. But it turns out she’s not the only one who isn’t a fan. Before the weekend is over, Ryan Malloy is murdered.

The hard-headed but soft-hearted Leah is unwillingly drawn into investigating his death by the pleading of Ryan’s terminally ill mother. She soon discovers that Ryan’s self-absorbed journey through life trampled on the dreams of a number of people. His old girlfriend, his best friend, his own brother, a local businessman—there’s no shortage of suspects—or secrets. But the solution eludes Leah, until the past and the present collide in a dangerous confrontation that threatens one life and ends another.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Published by: Himmel River Press Publication Date: November 19, 2019 Number of Pages: 364 ISBN: 1698530994 (9781698530994) Series: Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 6 Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1 I parked my bike just inside the cemetery gates. It took only a few steps down the tree-lined path for the heat and humidity of a mid-summer Wisconsin day to slide away into the cool dark shade. Overhead, the soft murmur of thousands of leaves stirring in the light breeze accompanied me as I walked slowly toward my sister’s grave. Both of my sisters are buried in the cemetery just a few miles outside of Himmel, Wisconsin. My father is as well. But today it was Annie I’d come to visit. My heart beat a little faster as I neared the gravesite. I’m not afraid of the dead. It’s the memories they leave behind that haunt me. Quiet Annie with her soft voice and big blue eyes, too shy to join the other laughing, shouting kindergarteners at recess—but the first to run over to comfort a little boy struggling not to cry on the first day. Imaginative Annie, commandeering our wide front porch as a sailing ship for her and her cat, Mr. Peoples, to travel around the world. Kind-hearted Annie, sharing her Halloween candy with me when I’m forced to surrender my own treats as penalty for talking back. Sweet, brave, compassionate, eight-year-old Annie, who ran into a burning house to save Mr. Peoples twenty-two years ago, and never came back. Over all the years since, people—my mother, my aunt, my therapist (yes, I went that route once), my best friend—have reassured me that her death wasn’t my fault, that I was just a child. But, I was older. I should have been watching over her. I should have seen her slipping back to the house after we’d all escaped. In my deep heart’s core, I can’t ever forget that. Now and then, and always on her birthday, I go to the cemetery to see her. I know that she isn’t really there. But her grave is an anchoring spot for me. I catch her up on the good, the bad, and the ugly happenings in my life. She knows what hurts me, and she knows what frightens me—secrets I don’t share with anyone else. I tell her what our mother is up to, and how others she knew in life are doing. I say all the things to her that I would if she were still here. I try to make up for the fact that I’m alive, and she isn’t. But, of course, I never can. When I’m talking to her at the cemetery, it feels as though she can really hear me. And I know that she answers. Not right there, at the grave, but later, in unexpected ways. Sometimes, I hear Annie speak to me through a chance remark a stranger makes, or a phrase that leaps out at me from a book, or a sudden flash of insight on a problem I’m wrestling with. I don’t share that belief with very many people. If I did, I might be forced to resign my membership in the Doubting Thomas Society, to which all good journalists should belong. But I can’t accept that those occurrences are just coincidental. I really can’t. So, on the anniversary of her birth, once again I sat down on the bench in front of her grave and told her how sorry I was that she had died. That I hadn’t saved her. That I still missed her. And then I told her what was really going on in the seemingly successful life of Leah Nash, former small-town reporter, current true crime author, and soon-to-be business failure. *** When I say I talk to Annie, I mean that literally. I have a one-sided, out-loud conversation with her, though only when I’m sure I’m alone. Some people already think I’m crazy. No need to give them additional proof. On this particular day, I had a serious problem weighing on my mind. Not long before, I had made what seemed, at the time, like a brilliant decision. The Himmel Times Weekly, the paper where I’d started out in journalism, and where I’d found a home again after a self-inflicted career injury, was closing. I decided to buy it. I asked a wealthy, community-minded, local attorney, Miller Caldwell, to invest with me. And then I asked a lot of other people—reporters, an editor, stringers, office and sales staff—to work very hard, for very little money, in the hope that together we could keep the Himmel Times alive. It was exhilarating at first. But it had become an increasing source of anxiety for me. Just as we were getting off the ground, Grantland County Online, a digital-only news site (and I use the term “news” loosely), had gotten a major infusion of capital and a new publisher. Now GO News, as it’s more commonly known, was kicking our butt. “The scariest thing, Annie,” I said, “is that we’re barely keeping our heads above water, while GO News keeps getting bigger. They don’t have the expenses we do—no print edition, no delivery costs, and they don’t spend a lot of staff time fact-checking. Plus, they started Tea to GO. Did you know that the cool kids say, ‘spill the tea,’ when they mean ‘what’s the gossip?’ “Tea to GO is full of ‘What married school official was seen in Milwaukee with a very attractive staff member last Thursday night? Did we say late, last Thursday night?’ That kind of garbage. It’s almost all blind items—the better to avoid lawsuits, my dear. But people are eating it up. Every time you go into the Elite Café, someone is trying to figure out who the latest gossip is about.” I paused for a bit of a wallow in self-pity. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried to shake things up at the Times, to get us moving ahead, but so far nothing I’d done had made much difference. “We have a good team. Miguel is much happier since he gave up the managing editor job. He really didn’t like bossing people. And Maggie McConnell is doing great in that spot. She’s got the instincts, the skills, and forty-five years in the news business behind her. If she could only spin straw out of gold, she’d be perfect. But since she can’t, we’re making do with a budget so lean it might as well be made out of turkey burger. “I gave Allie Ross—you remember, I told you about her. She’s the high school kid we’ve been using as a stringer. Anyway, I gave her a part-time job for the summer in the office. She’s doing the routine stuff, obits and inside pages copy—weddings, anniversaries, club news. She’s got promise, but she’s only fifteen. Troy, the other reporter besides Miguel, is a little bit of a suck-up—and his news judgment isn’t quite there yet. Still, he’s a hard worker. The stringers are a pretty mixed bag. “Now, here’s a twist I bet you didn’t see coming. I hired Mom to take April Nelson’s place as office manager. I know, I know, it’s a dicey move. But she’s smart, and efficient, and she gets the job done. Plus, she comes cheap. It’s been a little challenging, I admit. Remember when I used to get mad at her and say, ‘You’re not the boss of me!’ and she’d send me to my room? “Well, now I’m the boss of her, only I don’t get to send her to her room. Yes, OK, I’m not supposed to be doing the day-to-day. That’s Maggie’s job. I understand that. But I can’t just hide away in my office and write my next book if the paper is falling apart two floors below me, can I? “Everybody took a leap of faith when we reopened the Times, and everyone is putting everything they have into it. I can’t let them down. I have to find a way to keep us afloat. I just didn’t know it would be so hard, Annie.” I paused for a breath before I wrapped things up. “And then there’s Gabe. I don’t know. I like him as well—no, probably better than—anyone I’ve gone out with in a long time. He makes me laugh, and he’s really smart. And he likes strong women who speak their minds. In my experience, a lot of men don’t. So what’s the problem, right? Well, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s more that I’m afraid a problem might be coming. Lately, it feels like he’s pushing me a little, like for a commitment or something. Can’t we just enjoy each other? Can’t we just be without getting all serious, and defining things, and making plans? I don’t want to change things. That’s when things go bad, when you try to change them.” I slumped back against the bench with a sigh. Usually, when I lay everything out to Annie, it makes the issues seem a little more manageable. This time it all still felt overwhelming. Then, a voice spoke. *** Fortunately for my mental health, it wasn’t Annie’s. I turned and looked behind me. “Coop! How long have you been standing there?” I asked, trying to remember exactly what I’d said out loud. It’s not that Coop and I have major secrets. He’s my best friend, after all. Still, I don’t tell him everything I tell Annie. “Long enough,” he said with a grin that didn’t offer me much comfort. I tried to move the conversation away from my chat with Annie, particularly the Gabe part. “What are you doing here?” “Your mom said you were here. I called your cell, but it didn’t go through.” “Yeah. It’s a dead zone—pun totally intended—in the cemetery, except for the hill. What did you want?” “Nothing. I brought something for Annie.” I looked down at his right hand and saw that he carried a small pot of pink flowers. Pink was Annie’s favorite color. Tears sprang to my eyes. I quickly blinked them away. “That’s so nice. Why?” He shrugged. “I know what today is.” I’m all about keeping my tough outer shell polished, but I was so touched, I couldn’t keep up the facade. “You’re a pretty great friend, you know that?” He smiled, but he looked embarrassed, and tried to cover it by moving to put the flowers next to Annie’s headstone. “Did you really come just to put flowers on Annie’s grave?” “No, not just for Annie. I took some to Rebecca, too.” He was kneeling, positioning the flowers, with his back to me. I couldn’t see his expression. “Oh.” Rebecca had been Coop’s wife and my nemesis until she was killed last year. I wasn’t happy that Coop had lost someone he loved, but I couldn’t pretend I was sorry she was gone. She’d done everything she could to break up our twenty-year friendship and came close to succeeding. I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her. So, I employed the Thumper rule, and didn’t say anything. Coop apparently didn’t want to get into the subject of Rebecca either, because as he stood and turned to me, he said, “I’ll walk out with you. I’ve got my truck. We can throw your bike in the back and you can ride home with me.” “Yes, please. I didn’t realize it was so hot. I just about sweated to death pedaling out here.” “Yeah, I can see that,” he said, taking in my damp, bedraggled hair, slipping from its hair clip, and the beads of moisture coalescing into a river of sweat running down the side of my forehead. “You kind of look like you just took a shower.” He sniffed the air, “Except you don’t have that shower-fresh scent.” “Shut up,” I said. “I’m a head-sweater from way back. Deal with it.” I smiled though, because there’s something very nice and very easy being with a person who really doesn’t care how you look—or in the present situation—smell. We walked together in companionable silence, until I’d decided he hadn’t heard any of my one-sided conversation with Annie. That dream died in the next minute. “So, what’s going on with you and Gabe? He’s a nice guy, Leah. You’re not getting ready to toss him overboard, too, are you?” “No. Why would you say that? And what do you mean by ‘too’?” “You really want to go there?” He cocked an eyebrow. It’s a not very funny running joke between Coop and my mother that I always find a reason to cut my romances short. “No, I don’t. I thought you didn’t believe in illegal surveillance, and what do you call lurking around cemeteries where people are having a private conversation? It’s nothing. Really.” He looked at me for a second, but all he said was, “OK.” Our conversation was cut off as a tall woman in her fifties, her hair pulled back and hanging in a long, gray braid down her back, appeared and abruptly crossed the path in front of us. “Hello, Marcy,” I said. She looked up as though surprised we were there. “Leah. Coop.” She nodded but didn’t stop to talk. We knew where she was going. To the top of the hill on which sat a small granite building that resembled an ancient Greek temple. The family mausoleum held Marcy’s grandparents, her own mother, and Marcy’s baby daughter, Robin. One day, it would hold Marcy, too. We watched in silence as she reached the building, pulled a key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, and slipped inside, like a ghost gliding through a wall. It had been sixteen years since Marcy White’s baby had died, and she still came every week. People said she brought a different book each time and read it to Robin. They said it like it was something weird, or even crazy. Not me, though. I understood why she did it. “You know what, Coop?” I asked, as we continued on down the path. “What?” “I’m calling bullshit on death.” *** Excerpt from Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter. Copyright 2019 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.  


Author Bio:

Susan Hunter Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting. Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words. During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!


Tour Participants:

Click here to view the Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter Participants


Enter To Win!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 17, 2020 and runs through March 21, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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As always, 

blog tour · book review · Cuba · murder mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Queen of Bones

Queen of Bones

Juan, a Cuban construction worker who has settled in Albuquerque, returns to Havana for the first time since fleeing Cuba by raft twenty years ago. He is traveling with his American wife, Sharon, and hopes to reconnect with Victor, his best friend from college—and, unbeknownst to Sharon, he also hopes to discover what has become of two ex-girlfriends, Elsa and Rosita.

Juan is surprised to learn that Victor has become Victoria and runs a popular drag show at the local hot spot Café Arabia. Elsa has married a wealthy foreigner, and Rosita, still single, works at the Havana cemetery. When one of these women turns up dead, it will cost Padrino, a Santería priest and former detective on the Havana police force, more than he expects to untangle the group’s lies and hunt down the killer.

Purchase Links


Amazon UK

Soho Press

Author Bio

Delio Photo Studio – Business and Modeling Head Shot Photography in Miami

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Hobbs, where she is a Spanish and ESL professor at New Mexico Junior College. She has published ten novels and three collections of short stories.

Her first culinary mystery Death Comes in through the Kitchen (Soho Crime, 2018) is set in Havana and features Padrino, a santero-detective. It is loaded with authentic Cuban recipes like arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and caldosa (a yummy stew). Her second mystery, Queen of Bones, was also published by Soho Crime in November 2019 and includes elements of Santería and, again, food—clearly, the author loves to eat! Both novels are rich in details about life in the island, the kind only an insider can provide.

They are the first two books of Soho Crime’s Havana Mystery series. Upcoming are Death of a Telenovela Star (June 2020) and Death under the Perseids.

She also wrote A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004) and Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010).

In her native Spanish she has authored six novels, among them Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain) and El difunto Fidel (The Late Fidel, Renacimiento, 2011, which won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009).

Once in a while she delves into theater. Her plays La Hija de La Llorona and Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (published in Teatro Latino, 2019) has been staged by Aguijón Theater in Chicago.

Social Media Links 





My Review

3.5/5 stars

Queen of Bones, the latest murder-mystery by Teresa Dovalpage looks at what it means to return to a place you once called home several years after a dramatic departure. Twenty years have passed since Juan Chiong fled Cuba for Miami by raft, during one of Castro’s final sanctioned exoduses. The journey didn’t go as expected. Firstly, his best friend Victor refused to leave, then his girlfriend failed to arrive at their departure point, leaving Juan and another of his best friends to face the perils of the sea alone. His friend didn’t make it.

Juan settled in Albuquerque where he met and married Sharon, a realtor. Together, they were able to sell properties for a profit, thanks to her selling skills and his construction knowledge.

Juan returns to Cuba to visit his elderly grandmother and to show his respect at his father’s grave, but more importantly to see Victor and thank him for caring for his father in his absence. Sharon joins him on the trip when a job she is working on is cancelled at the last minute. She is not put off by Juan’s reluctance for her to go with him, but rather she is a tad suspicious of his reasons to so obviously exclude her. This sets up the story for Sharon to follow him at a distance … and to jump to some not unexpected conclusions, particularly when she sees Juan leave his friend’s house with a tall blonde woman.  What she doesn’t know is that Victor is now Victoria, a rising star on the Cabaret scene with a fiancé in the wings.

It is when Victoria is found dead that things unravel, with Juan as a suspect initially. Now the murder-mystery begins … to call it unconventional would be an understatement, but it is definitely intriguing, especially once a practising Santería priest offers to help. As a former detective the Padrino is well equipped to do so, and in his new position he can access a different type of witness than the police lieutenant is able to.

Having read Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by this author, I was ready for a colourful tale with a vibrant look at Havana and the lifestyles of its inhabitants. This is a story reflecting a cultural melting pot as the country is more and more influenced by the Western World while hanging on to its heritage with a firm grip. A fascinating read with expert insight into the everyday life of Havana’s residents and rituals.

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