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Monday, June 1, 2020

Killing Time



Killing Time (A Dodie O'Dell Mystery)

by Suzanne Trauth


About Killing Time




Killing Time (A Dodie O'Dell Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

6th in Series

Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)

Number of Pages: 215

Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV





With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim's neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who's recently been spotted in the town park.


But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She'd better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .



Excerpt




“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.



“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.



We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.



Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.



Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”



I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.

What I Thought:

This one started out a little slow for me. There are a lot of characters to try to keep straight, plus the fact that some of the characters are playing characters in the Little Theatre's staging of Dracula. Dodie is busy trying to get the Windjammer ready for Halloween plus having authentic dishes for the opening night of Dracula. Once I got into the story, though, it flowed well and went pretty fast. I enjoyed the setting and reading about the wacky characters of Eatonville. There is also some romantic tension ans Dodie and Bill move forward with plans for their wedding. Since there are so many characters, it was hard to figure out who the killer was and I was left guessing till the very end. All in all this was a good cozy and I hope to revisit Eatonville in the near future.

About Suzanne Trauth


Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Author Links



Webpage: www.suzannetrauth.com



Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/



Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzanneMTrauth



GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6187623.Suzanne_M_Trauth



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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

This is How I Lied














Book Summary:

With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of Sadie, THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.
Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.


What I Thought:

I love all of Heather's books, so I was excited to get to review this one. When I first started it, I thought it was going to be different than her other books, not as good. Boy was I wrong! Once I started it, I could not put it down. Maggie is a detective and when new information comes in one the death of her best friend's death 25 years ago, Maggie is put on the case since she is pregnant and needs desk duty. Once Maggie starts digging into the case, it brings up memories she would rather forget. Heather has a great way of writing that weaves the past and the present and and makes the story flow so well the reader just keeps turning pages because the story line is so gripping. There were several times when I thought I had the mystery figured out, but I was wrong. There were so many twists and turns, I thought I was on a back country road. This is such a gripping thriller, you will want to finish it in one setting.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.
















Author Bio: 

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. 
Buy Links: 


Social Links:
Twitter: @hgudenkauf
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf




1. What is your writing process like? 
I approach each of my novels with the goal of being a plotter – someone who explicitly organizes and outlines her books – but it never quite works out that way for me. I make notes and outline the plot but ultimately the characters take over and do what they want to anyway. My process is messy and meandering. Thankfully, I have a brilliant editor who is able to see through the weeds and pull out the best parts of my plots and keep me on the right path. This is How I Lied completely evolved from my initial intentions. The characters changed, the plot shifted and the final ending poked its head up near the end of revisions and I couldn’t be happier with the results. 



2. Which came first: the characters or plot line?
For me, the two go hand in hand. The basic plot line comes first, and close behind comes the characters. It doesn’t matter how suspenseful of a plot I develop, if the right characters aren’t there to mold the story and carry it forward, it won’t work. Before I begin writing, I attempt to give my characters rich backstories. Often many of these details don’t make into the novel, but by fully developing their personalities and biographies, it helps keep me in tune with them as I write. Knowing the characters’ likes and dislikes, their foibles and strengths helps me to honestly and accurately determine their motivations and the decisions they make as they move through the novel. 



3. How do you come up with your plots?
I’m a news junkie! I’ll scan newspapers and websites and a story will catch my eye. It can be the smallest detail or a broader theme but if the idea sticks with me and keeps harassing me to write about it, I know I’m on the right track. For my novel Little Mercies, it was an article about a social worker who ended up on the other side of the justice system because of alleged negligence with her caseload. From this I created an entirely new story about a social worker who was fighting for her own child. In This is How I Lied, I was intrigued by news stories that dealt with the use of familial DNA to solve cold cases and it became a key detail in the novel’s resolution.

4. Do you use music to help set a mood/tone for your books? 
I do listen to music as I write. It varies based on the story and what I think the characters might listen to. By curating these playsets, it helps me get into their mindset. As I worked on Maggie’s sections in This is How I Lied I listened to a lot of Avett Brothers and Lumineers. For Nola, I listened to classical music and hard rock – she’s an interesting mix. As for Eve, since she was sixteen years old and living in the 90s, I listened to plenty of Nirvana and Beck. 

5. Where did the idea for this story come from? 

Before I started writing This is How I Lied, I read I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, about the author’s investigation of The Golden State Killer who, for decades, terrorized northern California. This book both terrified and fascinated me and I became intrigued by how modern technology was being used to close old cold cases. For my project, I thought it would be interesting to explore how this might play out in a small town where the perpetrator thought the truth behind the crime would never be discovered. 

As I was writing the novel, I learned about the developments in a 40-year-old cold case not far from where I live where familial DNA was used to ultimately convict the killer. Amazing!


6. Do you find inspiration for your novels in your personal life? 
I often get asked what my childhood must have been like because of the twisty thrillers I write. Thankfully, I can say that I had a blissfully uneventful childhood with parents and siblings that loved and supported me. For me, the inspiration from my own life comes in the settings of my novels – the Mississippi River, farmland, the woods and bluffs – all found in Iowa. In This is How I Lied, the town of Grotto is loosely based on a nearby town until I moved to this part of Iowa, I never realized that we had cave systems.  Visitors to the state park, can literally step back thousands of years. The limestone caves and bluffs are beautiful, haunting and have something for everyone. You can take a casual stroll through some of the caves and have to army crawl through some of the others. Old clothes and a flashlight are a must! The caves made the perfect backdrop for a thriller and I was excited to include them in This is How I Lied.

7. What is the one personality trait that you like your main characters to have and why? 
In looking back at all my main characters, though they are all different ages and come from different walks of life, I think the trait that they all seem to have in common is perseverance. I’ve had characters battle human evil and demons of their own creation but it doesn’t matter what traumatic events they have been through or the challenges they will face, they manage to make it through. Changed for sure, but intact and hopeful for the future.

8. Why do you love Maggie and why should readers root for her? 
I do love Maggie! As a police detective, Maggie has dedicated her adult life to helping others and is a loving daughter, sister and wife and is expecting her first child. This doesn’t mean that Maggie is perfect. Like all of my protagonists, Maggie is complicated and flawed and has made some big mistakes, but ultimately she is doing the best that she can.

9. What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?
As a former elementary school teacher, I had absolutely no insights into the publishing world beyond what I saw on television and in movies – which portrayed it as a dog-eat-dog world. I have to admit, as a new author, I was very intimidated. But to my delight -  and relief - the people I’ve encountered along the way– my agent, editors, publishing teams, fellow authors, booksellers and readers – all have been nothing but supportive, encouraging and kind.

10. What is coming up next for you? 
I just finished the first draft of my next novel, a locked-room mystery about a reclusive writer working on a true crime book when a snow storm leaves her trapped inside her remote home, setting off a series of events that lead to a stunning revelation. It was so much fun to write!

11. Has quarantine been better or worse for your writing? 
It’s been such a scary, unsettling time but I’ve found writing a nice distraction and a great comfort during this extended time at home. I’ve been able to turn off the news and get lost in my manuscript or other writing projects. It’s a lot like reading – a much needed escape from the real world.

12. What was your last 5 star read? 
Julia Heaberlin has a new book coming out this August called We Are All the Same in the Dark and it has surged to the top as one of my favorite reads of the year. It has everything I love in a great thriller: a beautifully written small town mystery, with multilayered, unforgettable characters and a twisty plot. It was absolutely mesmerizing.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

On the Lamb



On the Lamb (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)

by Tina Kashian



About On The Lamb


On the Lamb (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

4th in Series

Publisher: Kensington (February 25, 2020)

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

ISBN-10: 1496726057

ISBN-13: 978-1496726056

Kindle ASIN: B07R8WVPMX




Lucy Berberian is busy preparing her family’s Mediterranean restaurant for Easter on the Jersey Shore—but a batch of sweets is to die for . . .


Bikers are thundering into the seaside town of Ocean Crest for the annual Bikers on the Beach gathering that raises funds for injured veterans. It’s a big boost for the Kebab Kitchen, as well as for local businesses like Melanie Haven’s candy shop. But Melanie is about to find herself in a sticky situation.


When Melanie and Lucy attend a beach bonfire, a local landlord is found dead after apparently choking on a piece of salt water taffy. Melanie, who was known to have a contentious relationship with the victim, is quickly skewered as the prime suspect. But Lucy is determined to prove her friend’s innocence before the real killer coasts free . . .


Recipes included!

What I Thought:

This was another great installment in this series. I love author's writing style because I actually feel like I am at the Jersey Shore. Her descriptions are that great. In this one, it is time for the Biker's on the Beach Festival and Lucy's friend Michael invites her and her friends to a bonfire on the beach. When Lucy and Katie's friend Melanie's landlord is found dead on the beach, Melanie is the main suspect. Of course, since Lucy is a pro at solving crimes, Melanie begs her to help prove she is innocent. Lucy gets herself into some sticky situations while investigating. On top of all this, she is still trying to run the Kebab Kitchen and keep up her relationship with Azad. I thought this story flowed well and the plot was well thought out and well written. I found myself quickly turning pages because I could not wait to find out what happened next. There were several suspects and it took Lucy a little while to rule them all out. I did not figure out who the killer was until right before the reveal, which is what I like in a cozy. I really enjoy this series and look forward to reading more from this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.


About Tina Kashian




Tina Kashian is a bestselling author, an attorney, and a mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and the first book in her Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean mystery series, Hummus and Homicide, spent six weeks on the B&N bestseller list. Please visit her website at www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Here Comes the Body

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)

by Maria DiRico


About Here Comes the Body




Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

1st in Series

Publisher: Kensington (February 25, 2020)

Mass Market Paperback: 304 page

ISBN-10: 1496725344

ISBN-13: 978-1496725349

Digital ASIN: B07R8WYLSC




After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her Nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .


Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .


Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .Italian recipes included!

What I Thought:

This was a great start to a new series. This cozy was also unlike most cozies that I normally read. Mia has moved back to Queens from Florida after the suspicious death of her husband. She come back to help run her families catering hall. I really enjoyed meeting this quirky cast of characters which are based on the author's own family, which made the story more authentic and real. When Mia helps plan and elaborate bachelor party, when the giant cake is wheeled out and the stripper does not pop out, but is found dead, Mia's father is the main suspect. Mia has to get busy proving that her father is innocent despite the fact that some of his associates are on the shady side. This story was so well written and I really enjoyed the setting and the plot. It was well thought out and the characters were really believable. I liked that there were some twists but that the book did not end in a cliffhanger, but still leaves you wanting to read more about Mia and her eccentric family. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book

About Maria DiRico


Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.

Website - https://www.ellenbyron.com/catering-hall-mysteries


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/


Twitter - https://twitter.com/ellenbyronla


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Guest Post:

Mia Carina, by Maria DiRico

Lemme tell you, running a catering hall with a mobster father who’s trying to go straight can get a little dicey.

Don’t get me wrong. I wake up every morning thanking the universe that I’m in Astoria, Queens, and not Palm Beach, Florida, where my cheating husband disappeared with his mistress. I live upstairs from my nonna – that’s Italian for “grandma” in the two-family house that she’s lived in for like, a bazillion years. Nonna basically a mom to me, especially since my own super self-involved mother lives in Italy with her deported second husband.

Once I get to work at Belle View Banquet Manor, with its lovely view of the Flushing Bay – and the LaGuardia Airport runway I tend to business and give tours that I hope make people wanna hold their weddings/Sweet Sixteens/anniversaries/Bar or Bat Mitzvahs/funeral luncheons at our oh-so-lovely establishment. On some days, I take a break and go visit my brother Positano “Posi” Carina at the Triborough Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison where he’s finishing a sentence for stealing luxury sports cars. Posi is incredibly good-looking. I love my bro because he’s got a good heart, even if he spends half our time together admiring his own reflection in the visiting room windows.

When you run a catering hall, you spend a lot of nights there working parties, so I don’t have much of a personal life – yet. I’m back in touch with my old friend, Jamie Boldano. His dad Donny is my dad’s boss, but Jamie has zero interest in going into the “Family” business. You know, when your family’s in “the Life,” you end up with some interesting baggage. Jamie and I grew up together, so we share a bond that only kids who grew up like we did can relate to. We may or may not move out of the Friend Zone into a romantic relationship. Jamie’s got a girlfriend and I’m still skittish after my disastrous marriage.

Yeah, being home again, living with Nonna, working with Dad – it’s all good. All I have to do is keep Dad from getting into trouble, or make sure trouble doesn’t find him.

Wish me luck!





Thursday, February 6, 2020

Statue of Limitations


Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery)
by Kate Collins


About Statue of Limitations


Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 28, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 149672433X
ISBN-13: 978-1496724335
Digital ASIN: B07R8QWPTN

In this delightful new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries, Athena Spencer comes back home to work with her crazy big Greek family at their garden center. But she never expected a return to her roots would mean protecting her family from murder . . .

After her divorce, Athena has returned to coastal Michigan to work in her family’s garden center and raise her son, while also caring for a mischievous wild raccoon and fending off her family’s annoying talent for nagging. Working alone at the garden center one night, Athena is startled by a handsome stranger who claims to be the rightful owner of a valuable statue her grandfather purchased at a recent estate sale.

But she has even bigger problems on her plate. The powerful Talbot family from whom her pappo├║s bought the statue is threatening to raze the shops on Greene Street’s “Little Greece” to make way for a condo. The recent death of the family’s patriarch already seemed suspicious, but now it’s clear that a murderer is in their midst. Athena will have to live up to her warrior goddess namesake to protect her family from a killer and save their community from ruin . . .

What I Thought:

I have not read Kate's other series, so this was my first with her, and I was not disappointed. From the great setting of the story to the unconventional Greek family in the story, there was just so much to like about this book. Athena has moved back to the coastal Michigan town of Sequoia to help run her family's garden shop. One night, she finds a stranger kneeling near the families statue of Athena, the man claims the statue belongs to him. Athena's grandfather, pappous, bought the statue off the recently deceased patriarch of the Talbot family. The Talbot family had recently threatened to raze Greene Street, which is home to many Greek shops. Grayson Talbot, Sr, decided not to go through with the plan, so Athena feels his death is suspicious. When his assistant mysteriously dies, Athena's suspicions go on high alert. This book was fast paced and kept me turning the pages. The family reminded me a lot of the family in My Big Fat Green Wedding. They really kept it interesting. I like a cozy that keeps you guessing, this one really didn't keep me guessing, but it was still a great cozy. It had great characters and the plot was well thought out and believable. I look forward to more in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About Kate Collins


Kate Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mystery series. After publishing numerous historical romances, Kate penned the long-running mystery series, three books of which were made into Hallmark movies starring Brooke Shields. An Indiana native, Kate graduated from Purdue University with a master's degree in education. When not growing roots at her computer, Kate loves to garden. Other passions include yoga, reading, spending time with family and friends, sampling great wines and fine dark chocolate, and enjoying every moment of life. Kate lives in Northwest Indiana and Key West, Florida. Visit her online at KateCollinsBooks.com.
Author Links

Website http://www.katecollinsbooks.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Collins/49648459004

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dead in Dublin


Dead in Dublin (The Dublin Driver Mysteries)
by Catie Murphy


About Dead in Dublin


Dead in Dublin (The Dublin Driver Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (December 31, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496724186
ISBN-13: 978-1496724182
Digital ASIN: B07Q3NPNFB

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, murder occurs at the feet of sweet Molly Malone . . .
Ferrying tourists around Dublin for the Leprechaun Limo Service makes quite a change after years in the military. Still, Megan Malone is enjoying her life in Ireland. She likes the scenery, the easy pace, the quirky, quick-witted locals. Everything—except having one of her clients drop dead at the statue of fabled fishmonger, Molly Malone.
Most restaurant critics notch up their share of enemies. Elizabeth Darr, however, was a well-loved international star. She and her husband, Simon, had just had dinner when Elizabeth collapsed, and spoiled seafood is the first suspect. The restaurant’s owner, worried her business is doomed, begs Megan to look into it. Between her irate boss and a handsome Garda who’s both amused and annoyed by her persistence, Megan has her hands full even before she’s cajoled into taking care of two adorable Jack Russell puppies (which she is almost definitely not keeping). But if cockles and mussels aren’t to blame, can Megan find the real culprit . . .before another fishy death occurs?

What I Thought:

This one started out kind of slow for me, and I was really excited to read it because it is set in Ireland and that is the one place I would one day love to visit.  But it did start out slow, once I got started though, I started enjoying the story more. Megan Malone is ex-military who moved to Dublin after her service to her own country.  She works for Leprechaun Limo Service as a driver and when one of her clients, food blogger Elizabeth Darr drops dead outside of her friend Fionnuala's restaurant. Meg tries helping Simon, Elizabeth's widower, and of course Fionnuala so she gets immersed in the mystery. Meg has her hands full when she keeps uncovering startling information on Elizabeth. She also has to deal with her irritable boss and the local Garda, Bourke, with whom she has strong chemistry. On top of that, she takes on the care of two rambunctious Jack Russell's. Once I got into this book, it picked up and I started enjoying it.  I thought the plot was well thought out and the writing was excellent.  It was a little darker than some of the cozies I am used to. Meg dug up a lot of dirt on the victim and I found her a refreshing and strong protagonist. I was totally surprised by the reveal of the killer in this one. I look forward to more in this series and find this series enjoyable as it is different from other cozies as it is set in Ireland, which is a great setting.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About Catie Murphy


Catie Murphy, who has written numerous award-winning fantasy and Sci-fi books under the pseudonym C. E. Murphy, began writing around age six, when she submitted three poems to a school publication. The teacher producing the magazine selected (inevitably) the one she thought was by far the worst, but also told her—a six-year-old kid—to keep writing, which she has. She has also held the usual grab-bag of jobs often seen in an authorial biography, including public library volunteer (at ages 9 and 10; it’s clear she was doomed to a career involving books), archival assistant, cannery worker, and web designer. Writing books is better. She was born and raised in Alaska, and now lives with her family in her ancestral homeland of Ireland.
Author Link - Website

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