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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

No Filter


No Filter (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery)
by Heather Day Gilbert

About No Filter


No Filter (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: WoodHaven Press (May 26, 2020)
Number of Pages: ~280 Pages
Digital ASIN: B085BX4N96

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java...and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

Fed up with her go-nowhere job, newly single Macy Hatfield moves back to her small hometown in West Virginia. She joins forces with her brother Bo in his crazy new venture—the Barks & Beans Cafe, which caters to dog lovers and coffee drinkers alike.

When a golf instructor is murdered at the nearby spiritual center, Macy winds up adopting his Great Dane. Just after Macy finds a mysterious message sewn under the dog's collar, her Dane is dognapped. She launches into a relentless search for her newfound canine friend, but along the way, she digs up a cruel and confident killer.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown...with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.
The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over

What I Thought:

Well, since I am from West Virginia, I am always partial to books set in my great state. But, honestly, this one was really good. I enjoyed the plot very much and the setting, a coffee shot that also features shelter dogs was really interesting. I enjoyed the story line and the mystery was gripping. Macy and her brother Bo were both great characters. Macy and Bo have both just moved back to Lewisburg, so neither sibling really knows the murder victim. Macy makes a visit to the neighboring town where the victim lived and ends up falling in love with his Great Dane and ends up adopting him. When Coal is dogknapped, Macy goes on a spree to find him. This takes her to Ivy Hill, the local spa and she gets immersed in all the shady doings going on there. I found this a fast paced book that kept my attention from the very beginning. I did not suspect who the killer was at all and was totally surprised by the ending. I definitely look forward to more in this great series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About Heather Day Gilbert



HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren't afraid to protect those they love. Like her amateur sleuth heroines, she enjoys reading Agatha Christie, playing video games, dogs, and coffee.

Author Links

Website: http://heatherdaygilbert.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

Instagram: @heatherdaygilbert

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/heather-day-gilbert

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

Purchase - Amazon

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Monday, June 1, 2020

Southern Sass and the Crispy Corpse


Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse (A Marygene Brown Mystery)
by Kate Young

About Southern Sass and
a Crispy Corpse


Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse (A Marygene Brown Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Kensington (May 26, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496721470
ISBN-13: 978-1496721471
Digital ASIN: B07W4MRDKR

On Georgia’s picturesque Peach Cove Island, a killer is serving up a two-for-one special . . .

After their mama's passing, Marygene Brown returned to Peach Cove Island to help her sister Jena Lynn run the family diner, renowned for its homemade peach desserts. But Mama is never too far away—her sassy spirit haunts the island, and more specifically Marygene. Lately Mama has been warning her that the dead will seek her out to solve their murders, an idea Marygene is far from peachy keen on.

But that prophecy appears to be coming true when she goes skinny-dipping off the island and swims right into a woman's charred corpse floating in the waves. And when Marygene and her brother Sam come upon a second burned body in a wine cellar at an event they're catering, it appears they have a double homicide on their hands. It soon turns out the victims have more in common than their charred remains, and Marygene will need to double down to find a killer who has no aversion to playing with fire. Good thing Mama has her back . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

What I Thought:

This is the Second Installment in the Marygene Brown Mystery Series about a southern girl who moves back home to help her sister run the family diner, oh did I mention her dead mother visits her often. I have read both books in this series, and I am glad I did because the first book in the series lays the background for the series. I think though, you could read this one and not be lost as to who is who and why the characters are where they are. In this book, Marygene is "swimming" one early morning when something brushes up against her. It happens to be a burned up corpse. When she is catering her best friends open house, Marygene and her brother Sam find another "cripsy" corpse in the cellar of the home. Of course, since Marygene gets visits from her dead mama, she is prone to find dead bodies, and she has to help figure out the demise of the dead bodies. Once Marygene starts investigating, she digs up a lot of old memories some would rather keep buried. I really enjoyed this book and once I got started, I did not hardly want to put it down. This was a great cozy in a great setting with a great cast of characters. The plot line was well thought out, and I was left guessing till the very end. I thought I knew who was responsible, but the author threw in enough twists and turns that I was surprised by the ending. I look forward to more in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About Kate Young



Kate Young writes Southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she’s reading or cooking.

Author Links -

Website – https://www.kateyoungbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKateYoung/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KAYoungBooks

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527572.Kate_Young

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-young-b3339e9c-d2e4-482d-a637-5afd7b064d73

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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!

Author Links






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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


Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Google Play - IndieBound


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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!