Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob – Into the Lead by Brooks Olbrys

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob – Into the Lead by Brooks Olbrys
ISBN: 978-0982961377
Publisher: Children's Success Unlimited
Date of publish: April 2016
Pages: 56
S.R.P.: $12.95

What if children’s books could help teach our kids fundamental principles for life-long success? This is the question that author, attorney, business owner and father, Brooks Olbrys asked six years ago when he began writing The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob books for children. Inspired by his young son and encouraged by motivational author and speaker Bob Proctor, Olbrys created a series of colorful, rhyming books that introduces children to timeless achievement principles wrapped in an oceanic “hero’s journey.” Olbrys distilled the lessons in the books from the teachings of experts on personal achievement Bob Proctor, Earl Nightingale, Napoleon Hill, and Wallace Wattles, among others.

In the latest book in the series, The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob – Into the Lead, Blue Ocean Bob progresses from a job as an assistant marine biologist into a new leadership role on the island and learns valuable lessons about courage, creativity, decision-making, action and leadership. After an earthquake hits, Bob faces a series of new challenges on his quest to protect the surrounding sea and its creatures. 

As he does in the prior books, Bob turns to Doc the turtle, Wallace the walrus and Earl the clam for sage advice and guidance. But when his mentor, Mary Marine, is called away to a distant island,Bob puts his fears aside and steps into her shoes, ultimately recruiting an assistant of his own. 
Distinguishing the series, Olbrys says, “Blue Ocean Bob books substitute worldly and aquatic challenges for evil forces or characters. Instead of facing villains or fighting battles, Bob must overcome his own fears, and the doubts of his companion Xena, each time he confronts a new challenge.”
About the author:     
A graduate of Stanford University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Brooks Olbrys is the founder of Children’s Success Unlimited and a managing director at investment bank Ion Partners. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

Illustrator Kevin Keele
From a young age, Kevin Keele has enjoyed creating artwork in many forms: drawing, oil painting, digital painting, even stained glass. His work has been featured in numerous picture books, magazines, board games, and video games. Though he lives far from any coastlines, he has always been fascinated by the ocean and enjoys illustrating its various creatures. Kevin is currently an artist for Disney Interactive Studios. He lives in Utah with his wife and two sons. 

Written in a delightful cadence, this book will be a favorite to read aloud at storytime.

The first adventure is really an emergency. Bob is called upon to save the day and doubts his readiness. Can he do what is needed even when he feels a little bit afraid?

When Bob thinks he'll have a moment to catch his breath, another messenger tells him he is still needed. What can one small boy do when someone older and with more muscle can't solve the problem?  A nice story about teamwork and imagination.

The third tale about Bob being needed has my favorite line and lesson in the book.
It is not as action oriented as the previous two chapters, but I think even more motivating.
Chapter four, as each chapter does, builds upon what we have learned so far.

The final chapter shares the importance of passing on your knowledge and helping others by allowing them to help you.

Beautifully illustrated with rich colors and an assortment of backgrounds which show off the clever characters with such expresive faces!  The contrasting colors are eyecatching and add to the enjoyment of the storyline.

I did receive an e-copy of this book via Netgalley to review.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Artifacts by Pete Catalano Review

Artifacts by Pete Catalano
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Tantrum Boooks

It's funny how one little letter can change a person's life. 
Jax and his friends have been planning the summer of a lifetime at Camp Runamuck. However, when one of them is facing summer at a school desk for failing English, they watch those plans crash and burn!
At the last moment they're given a way out.
An extra credit assignment to find several fake artifacts for a fairy tale display their teacher is presenting at the local library.

Thinking they've hit the easiest-extra-credit-ever jackpot, they begin rummaging through any piles of junk they can find. As they start putting the clues together, they realize that what they're really searching for is one authentic artifact that can rewrite fairy tales!

Enlisting the aid of the Lost Boys, Jax and his friends battle fairy tale villains to see who can get their hand, or their hook, on it first.

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

BAM | Google Play | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks 

Old friends, new friends, siblings, parents and teachers all play a role in this fast paced, often hilarious middle grade adventure. It is nearing the end of the school year and the gang is already dreaming about summer fun away from their parents.

What the kids at first believe is a fun and simple way to get extra credit and save Crunch from summer school, turns out to be anything but simple and is even dangerous. A fresh and unexpected delightful read that shines a new light on familiar fairy tales and the age old battle of good vs evil.

This feel good buddy book is sure to be a neighborhood hit!

Pete Catalano’s books are written for kids of all ages — and adults who secretly never grew up. He lives in Charlotte, NC with his adorably funny wife and two neurotic dogs. Pete was a theatre major in college and tries to keep the ‘suspension of disbelief’ in his life as much as he can.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest |Goodreads

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Flair for Chardonnay (A Sadie Kramer Flair Mystery – Book 1) by Deborah Garner Book


When flamboyant senior sleuth Sadie Kramer learns the owner of Cioccolato, her favorite chocolate shop, is in trouble, she heads for the California wine country with a tote-bagged Yorkie and a slew of questions.

The fourth generation Tremiato Winery promises answers, but not before a dead body turns up at the vintners’ scheduled Harvest Festival.

All four Tremiato siblings have possible motives, as well as a few peripheral acquaintances, but only one could be the guilty party.
As Sadie juggles truffles, tips and turmoil, she’ll need to sort the grapes from the wrath in order to find the identity of the killer.

Available to buy from....
Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk

Sadie Kramer believes life should be lived with "FLAIR" -- for style, adventure, for interesting and extravagant flavors, especially specialty chocolates.
She has four "C's" to live by and a very special personal fifth "C," Coco, her secret tote bag companion. It is the curiosity "C" that draws Sadie into this present predicament. Responding uninvited to an aggitated, overheard, phone conversation she heads off for an upscale community centered on vineyards and family dynamics overwhelmingly complex and confusing. We deliciously get to appreciate an environment many of us will never visit.
The writing sets the tone for tension and uncertainty, making characters cold or compassionate. I enjoyed the description of shop assistant Amber over caffeinated and how the author expresses appreciation for modern technology through Sadie's thoughts:
Now she could just tap questions into a keyboard. Wearing fuzzy slippers and polka dot pajamas, no less!
The only flaw I perceived in the plot was insufficient strength of the planted clue.
I did have to look back and see the relationship to the crime scene.
I enjoyed my time with Sadie, Amber and Coco as well as the time in wine country.

About the author
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways.
Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA.
After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management.
Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others.
She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

Find the author on the following sites...


I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology!

Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology
by Various Authors
Release Date: April 17th 2016
Write More Publications

Summary from Goodreads:

From princesses and princes, to witches, ice queens, imaginary friends, and dorks, Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology has it all! Seven unforgettable stories by seven talented authors! Some stories are fractured takes on classics, while others are originals that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page!

Featured Authors:  Vanessa Hancock, Dana Piazzi,

Jordan Hancock,

Kim Stevens, Elaine White,

Michelle Feury, and Stephanie Parke

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links:

Even though it starts out similar to the well loved tale of servant girl meets prince, this Cinderella version has a fairy godmother with an attitude and a prince who is not so charming. Even the humble brother turned advisor comes off as a bit of a cold fish. Can there be a happy ending?

As a child, did you have an imaginary friend? Was it another child or an animal? Did you wonder what happened when you no longer had time for your friend?

Snow White has a spoiled stepsister in the Blue Bird fairytale. Another version the of sibling rivalry theme "if I can't have him, no one else can either." Is redemption possible?

What happens when a hermit author allows each of her seven most trusted friends to set her up on a one night date? She is not looking for Mr. Perfect, just someone who will accept her as is and respect her devotion to her craft. And to Heathcliff.
This is not the only manhunt you'll find in these tales.

Faeries, trolls, knights, king's, true love and heartbreak. Curses! These are the elements of real fairytale. But sometimes a girl can only count on her trusty unicorn.

Fancifully imagined and wonderfully expressed this collection of reformed tales is magical.
I did receive a copy of this anthology to review.

About the Authors
Dana Piazzi       Jordan Hancock       Kim Stevens       Elaine White

Blog Tour Organized by:
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Withering Rose (Once Upon a Curse #2) by Kaitlyn Davis!

Withering Rose (Once Upon a Curse #2)
by Kaitlyn Davis
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
Release Date: May 17th 2016

 **A USA Today Recommended Series!**

What if Beauty was cursed, and the Beast was the only one who could save her?

Don't miss WITHERING ROSE, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Beauty & The Beast. This is the second book in Once Upon A Curse, a series of interconnected stand-alone novels all set in the same fantasy universe.

"As the heat finally disappeared, I felt the bloom blossom in the very core of my soul, a rose just like my name—a ticking clock hidden behind a fa├žade of beauty. From that moment on, my life would become a countdown, and all I could do was wait and watch as the petals of time slowly started to fall."

Omorose Bouchene has a secret—magic. There's only one problem. At the age of seven, an earthquake struck, catapulting her into a new world. A land made of skyscrapers and cell phones. Fast cars and fluorescent lights. A land where magic isn't supposed to exist and anyone who wields it is the enemy.

But after ten years of hiding, she's desperate to find a place where she can be free. Because all magic comes with a curse, and her curse is time—every ounce of power she uses strips days off of her life. The clock is winding down, and the only option left is to escape to the realm ruled by a man known only as the Beast. But the king of monsters isn’t what he seems. And the more Omorose opens her heart, the more she comes to realize that the only person she may need to fear is herself. 

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links:
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Gathering Frost (Once Upon a Curse #1) on Goodreads

Gathering Frost Buy Links:
Amazon│Barnes and Noble│Kobo│iBooks│Smashwords│Google Play

Both the books (so far) in this series can be read enjoyably as stand alone. However, I know that when you read one you will want to know more about these worlds and the characters you meet that cross over into the other books. I am eager to continue with the third book, coming soon!

The beginning of this tale, while dangerous, tense and explosive from the first page, moved a little bit slowly for me. As it began, my empathy for Omorose Bouchene grew along with her frustration over her circumstances. After a point, she can not tolerate her situation a day longer and escapes. That is where the story finally grabbed me and pulled me in. 
As with all the best fairytales, you can read this purely for the adventure or listen closely for the lesson within. There is a moral. Hint: watch for a great quote about strength and vulnerability.

I really enjoyed the interactions between Omorose and Cole, especially before they begin to understand and trust each other.
"The Beast has secrets. So do I. So does everyone."
Each question gets a response that seems to invite more questions and Cole's responses offer " just enough about himself to reply to the question without revealing anything at all." Cryptic!

Omorose ran away to a magical world, to confront a beast that everyone seems to fear for many reasons, primary being sanctuary from a world where she has to keep her own magic under wraps and hopes to find acceptance for herself as herself, to not be the freak outcast.
Her first experience of this "beast" make her doubt her actions. 
I appreciated the humor within the fright.

" 'So you decided the best way to help me would be to terrify me?' Cole bares his teeth, growling, lightly, 'You're never going to let that go, are you?' " 

If you enjoy retellings that perhaps offer more than the original tale, you should read Kaitlyn Davis' series.

I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review

About the Author
Bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie.

Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she's not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found indulging in some puppy videos, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her--about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general--you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

To stay up-to-date with all of Kaitlyn's new releases, sign up for her new release newsletter here: TinyLetter.com/KaitlynDavisBooks
Author Links:

RAVE REVIEWS for Gathering Frost!

"My favorite thing about this book is the action. Jade isn't a sleeping princess. She's the best fighter and so fierce in her "empty" state. I felt like this was an urban fantasy with all the steam of a romance, and it was almost perfect for me." - Jessie Potts, USA TODAY Happy Ever After Blog

"Davis writes with confidence and poise, and the story's many twists and turns stave off predictability and allow readers to become immersed in a starkly magical world filled with last hopes." - Publisher's Weekly

"Gathering Frost is just awesome in every way. Beautiful prose, lots of heart-wrenching emotion, action and romance, a great, unstoppable villain, and a smart, tough heroine who will fight for what she wants." - Geeks in High School

"The writing is flawless as always and I must say, way to take a classic and make such a creative and wonderful twist to it...It's well thought out and it unbelievably magnificent. I seriously couldn't put it down. Wait I never actually put it down. I started and finished in one sitting because it's just that good. This one is a MUST READ." - Happy Tails and Tales Blog

Blog Tour Organized by:
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An Author Interview with Rachel Jones

Monday, May 23, 2016

Flying by the Seat of My Knickers by Eliza Watson

Flying by the Seat of My Knickers 

(The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw) (Volume 1)

  • Series: The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw
    Genre: NA Contemporary
    Release Date: March 25th 2016
  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Elizabeth Watson (March 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0989521974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989521970

Why run from your troubles when you can fly instead? 

When Caity Shaw is fired from her first job that doesn’t require an elf uniform, her older sister, Rachel, an event planner, hires her to work a meeting in Dublin. Caity jumps at the opportunity to travel abroad and escape her pathetic life. However, even four thousand miles from home, there’s no avoiding debt collectors, an overbearing mother, and haunting memories of a controlling ex. 

While in Dublin, Caity suffers a series of humiliating mishaps, causing her to lose even more faith in herself. Caity struggles to earn Rachel’s respect—and to keep Declan, her hot Irish coworker, at arm’s length. Declan repeatedly saves Caity’s butt and helps boost her self-confidence, making it difficult to keep her distance from the charming womanizer. When Declan helps her research her Irish grandmother, Caity discovers the mysterious past of the courageous woman she barely knew might hold the answers to her future.

A sweet clean read with different layers concerning relationships.
Nicely paced, with hints at past difficulties and advice about believing in yourself before you take on responsibility for others. It gave me a lot to think about regarding hotels and travel.
I was thinking this book would make a fun TV series.

I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author  

Eliza is a #1 Kindle Bestselling Author! When Eliza isn't traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she's at home working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. Eliza also writes romance novels under the name Eliza Daly. Learn more about her books at elizawatson.com.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Murder Run

by Shelly Frome

on Tour May 1-31, 2016

Murder Run by Shelly FromeIn this crime novel, a wayward handyman grapples with the suspicious death of his employer, a fragile choreographer who secluded herself in the Litchfield Hills. As the fallout mounts, the reader is taken to various locales in and around Manhattan, an escapade in Miami Lakes and back again to the hills of Connecticut until this twisty conundrum is finally laid to rest.

Book Details:Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery Published by: Sunbury Press Publication Date: August, 2015 Number of Pages: 239 ISBN: 1620066165 (ISBN13: 9781620066164) Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle Unlimited Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

“Wake up, pal, we got a situation . . . Hey, I’m talkin’ here. Maybe she makes it, maybe she don’t. I’m sayin’ you better move it!”
The voice came out of the past. The words cut into the here-and-now of the Connecticut night.
Left with just the dial tone, Jed Cooper hung up, got off the cot and tried to get his bearings. Though he’d been house-sitting this junk trailer for a while, he still had to grope around to find the pull cord for the lights. He waited a few seconds more and punched in the unlisted number of the "she" the guy must’ve been talking about.
It was busy.
He reached for his jeans, work boots and a pullover sweater, got dressed and called her number again. No luck. He hit redial three more times and gave up.
Scuffing past the frayed wires hanging across the water-stained ceiling, banging into the space heaters as he jerked open the little frig, he took a few swigs of bottled water and thought it over. There was no hope of getting a bead on who the street-wise caller was. And there was still only one person who could possibly need him at this hour and was close by. Plus, chances were the guy had disconnected her phone.
Jed straggled out into the March dampness, skirted around the rusty snow plow blade and hurried up the path. He slid behind the wheel of the Chevy pickup, cranked the old motor, gave it hardly any time to idle and took off onto Green Hill Road.
Off the beaten path in the Litchfield Hills there were no street lights. Under the misty cloud cover, his brights only made matters worse. And way out here his cell phone was useless.
Taking the dips and rises as best he could, he began to have second thoughts. Granted the guy had to be talking about Miss Julie. Putting aside what in God’s name he was doing at her place, what if he was laying in wait? And even if he’d split, what were the repercussions? Could Jed just tear into a single woman’s hidden drive this late at night? And then what? Check things out, or call up to her window to see if she was okay? Or, hoping no one had spotted him, ring her bell? Suppose he got no answer?
Besides, there were too many incidents already on his record. One more, and he’d had it.
But then again, she’d gotten so skittish today she didn’t even let him finish his chores. Told him to put down the chainsaw and completely changed her mind about clearing the drive. “If I can see the road, someone can see me,” she said. “I want you to go up to the attic and put a latch on the crawl space.”
But why? What was that all about? She didn’t say, wouldn’t tell him.
His pondering tapered off as he dealt with the pitted lane. Straining his eyes, he took an immediate left onto Nonnewaug Road coursing past the stands of maples.
For a second he caught a glimpse of what could’ve been a Lincoln parked by the side of the road. Not just any Lincoln though–a Continental, the vintage one with the single blade fenders and squared-off hood. It was another flickering memory out of the past but had no bearing right now. Or did it?
Focusing hard, keeping his mind on what he was doing, he made a sharp right. Gearing down, he spun his wheels navigating the muddy patches, shot forward as he cleared, eased onto the gravel, jerked the hand brake and killed the motor. He got out onto the drive at the side of the weathered cape, glanced up and spotted a flitting shadow under the gabled window. He’d wired-in motion detecting flood lights for her that should’ve lit up the area but nothing snapped on.
He thought of calling out. He thought of rushing over to the road to see if the Lincoln was still parked there partially hidden under the trees. He thought of putting this whole thing down to some kind of hoax.
Just as he was about to honk the horn and damn well do something, he heard the cellar door slam shut.
Yelling out, Jed reflexively ran around to the back in time to see a burly shape make for the tree line. Which was a stupid move, slogging through underbrush and waist-high weeds and briars. Plus, whoever it was had a hitch in his stride and couldn’t possibly know where he was or what he was doing.
Jed took off after him. But, despite everything, the guy kept changing direction. Like a gimpy street kid ducking down a dark alley and then darting here and there through the traffic. Like Jed himself used to do way back then.
Rushing straight ahead, Jed tripped over a tangle of bittersweet roots, warded off the sprays of honeysuckle lashing across his face and kept going until it finally dawned on him. Even if he caught up, the guy outweighed him and could take him out with a few punches. He was obviously leading Jed on, away from the house and it didn’t much matter in which direction.
Jed turned around and headed back for the cellar. Banging into things, he brushed past the mess the guy had made, located the breaker panel, flipped the switches and climbed the stairs as the lights came back on. He called her name as he passed the kitchen and cut around the dining room but there was no answer.
© 2015 Shelly Frome

A wonderful addition to your library

This is not a book you can read a little at a time. It takes some concentration as there are two major themes or plots that weave together eventually. It is definitely not a book I should try to read while reading 3 others. The very first page drew me in with an urgency and intensity that captured my attention. Even though protagonist Jed becomes known to us as somewhat of a loser, I still cared what happened to him and wanted him to get justice. 

As I stated, you need to allow yourself to become swallowed whole by this book. There are very subtle clues entwined with the story which jumps from present to past reminiscences to two very different focal points that take a while to come together.
The writing is masterful. The characters just developed enough to make us appreciate them.
This is a good noir mystery with enough amateur sleuth appeal to satisfy those who like their reads a little bit lighter.

Whether you appreciate a good who-dunnit that keeps you guessing until the end or are a real fan of true crime and mobster lit, you will find this to be a wonderful addition to your library.

I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review

Author Bio:

Shelly FromeShelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the film columnist at Southern Writers Magazine, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter and Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Murder Run, his latest crime novel, was recently released. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Catch Up: Shelly Frome's website Shelly Frome's twitter Shelly Frome's facebook


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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Madness of Mercury review

The Madness of Mercury
by Connie di Marco

The Madness of Mercury
(A Zodiac Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Midnight Ink (June 8, 2016)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738749129


San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the target of the city’s newest cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. Is the young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods—he was a trickster and a liar as well.
A wonderful start to am intriguing new series. I am a cozy addict and I have enjoyed psychics and astrology in many forms for decades. I couldn't wait to see how they would be combined.
It turned out to be a lot of fun.

The characters are well written and we begin to care for them early on. When they get into situations that turn dangerous, your heart will beat faster. The flow of the story is well paced and you'll wish you could read it in one sitting!

Julia doesn't normally do home consultations but when events threaten her own home setting, she winds up moving in! The secondary characters are quirky but attractive in their own ways. I hope we see more of them.

There is another main theme in the book and that revolves around the care of elderly people, quality of life and some who desire to take advantage of them. I am at an age where I am dealing with this with persons in my family and soon enough I will be that age, so it also impacted my emotions.

Full of suspense and surprises and lots of interesting information!

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink.  She was fascinated by astrology at an early age and this was the inspiration that gave birth to Julia Bonatti, San Francisco astrologer and her newspaper column Ask Zodia.  Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.  Connie lives in Los Angeles with her family and a constantly talking cat.

Purchase Links
Amazon –  B&N