Take the Monkeys and Run (Barbara Marr murder mystery #1)

Karen Cantwell Twitter





Book 1 in the bestselling Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series

Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie’s Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor.


I’m always hesitant to post a negative review. I don’t want to come across as crass or rude, but there are times when I just can’t finish a book.  Sadly, I did not enjoy this book. Barbara Marr is very funny, but the first 1/4 of the book is a lot of unnecessary exposition and her quirky point of view that, personally, I think really detracted from the story. The main character is funny, but the additional characters, and her estranged husband/failing marriage, just made me want to skim, bypassing necessary kernels of information for the mystery itself. I’m all for insightful character POVs, but when she started discussing the tooth fairy, and reacting to her recently bailed husband, I just got annoyed. Yes, I get it, she’s a housewife turned sleuth, but I could not care less about the disillusioned life she had, if it really had no bearing on the mystery itself. If it did, I had sadly lost interest in that point and skimmed over why it was relevant.

Skimming to the ending, I wasn’t rewarded with anything worth reading, since I couldn’t even hold on long enough to get past the first dead body. 2 out of 5 stars for being uninteresting.


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A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book 1 by @E__Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter Twitter and Facebook



Don’t let the cover fool you, although feel free to admire the scenery. One doesn’t normally associate ripped abs with books, but it would behoove you to ignore the connotations of bodice ripping in some old library you’re imagining right now, and at least read the prologue. I did and I’m pretty glad I gave this story a chance, despite the cover.


I’m not a huge romance fan. I am a woman, bordering on being a cougar…yes, and not happily, but I’d read a well written romance just as long as it doesn’t involve the ridiculously beautiful man sweeping the ridiculously average woman off her feet. Elizabeth Hunter piqued my interest with a strong introduction of a mysterious man speaking to a college girl in a library, asking for help on her computer. He elicits her immediate help just by merely touching her. Now, let’s read the blurb.


No secret stays hidden forever.


   A phone call from an old friend sets mysterious book researcher Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery that has eluded him for centuries.  Little does he suspect a young librarian holds the key to an ancient secret, nor could he expect the danger Beatrice De Novo would attract.


   Now both will follow a twisted maze leading from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a passion that could destroy them both.


I don’t think the description does this story justice. I would classify this as paranormal romance mystery. Giovanni Vecchio is the enigmatic and mysterious Italian historian that visits a local university library in Houston, Texas. He captures the attention of Beatrice De Novo, 23 year old library science major who works the night shift and oversees the special collections archive. Giovanni is tall, dark, and handsome (but aren’t they all) and Beatrice, B to her friends (but not Giovanni), finds him weirdly fascinating.


Slowly but surely they are both embroiled into a several centuries old mystery of a lost library, supernatural beings, and a romance that almost, but doesn’t quite come to full fruition, and for that, I was thankful. The attraction between Beatrice and Giovanni is restrained – he’s using her and ultimately she is using him, after discovering he’s not like your average Italian historian with dark hair, olive skin, green eyes, and an alluring electrical presence. Hunter keeps the focus on Beatrice and Gio, but introduces incredibly fun supporting characters. The charming butler Caspar, the hilariously devilish Carwyn, and the lovely Isadora, Beatrice’s grandmother. There is a healthy mix of romance, adventure, mystery, as well as a nasty villain, Lorenzo.


Hunter weaves an intricate tale, slowly revealing the true nature of Giovanni and dark world he lives in, and ultimately, drags Beatrice into. Far from a ‘bodice-ripper’ romance, it did, on occasion, remind me of Twilight, but I think in this day and age, no author who writes paranormal romance will ever avoid that comparison. I think Hunter does a tremendous job focusing on the plot of the story, not just the romance, and neither is kicked to the wayside for the sake of short-lived thrill. I thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent voice and snarky attitude of the dialogue between Gio and Beatrice, and Carwyn, the thousand year old welsh priest, accents this story, giving the reader much needed comic relief before the romance gets out of control.


Definitely give Elizabeth Hunter’s ‘A Hidden Fire’ a strong 4 out of 5 stars for capturing my interest and forcing me to stay up until past midnight to finish book 1 and immediately buy book 2. This is a series I will be happy to finish, and cannot wait to read more about Beatrice and Giovanni. Gold star, Elizabeth, and thank you. >..<




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Pop Travel by @taratylertalks

Tara Tyler – Facebook and Twitter


pop travel official cover


POP TRAVEL is the way to go! (at your own risk!)

In 2080, technology has gone too far for J. L. Cooper. He is happily hidden in his simple, secluded life as a private detective in a small town, far from any pop travel laser teleportation stations. Until he takes on a client who insists pop travel made his fiancé disappear.

When Cooper investigates, he finds evidence of pop travel’s deadly flaw, sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother. He’d like to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him?

The only way he can save his brother is to fool his observers while looking for a way to expose the problem. He decides to go to the source and confront the Creator of pop travel. On his way, Cooper meets Southern siren, Geri Harper (an undercover FBI agent) who tags along despite his protests. When they reach the Creator, he has plans of his own and leads them on a wild detour.


When I sat down to start this book, I was immediately intrigued with the very idea of instant travel in a world of increasingly busy people. Tara Tyler starts off extremely strong, establishing the wonder of ‘pop travel’ as well as the fear that it might be killing random travelers.  Something as revolutionary as the automobile, was actually a death trap. The world the author creates is incredible and tickles my scifi funny bone with excitement and glee, even with the introduction of the main character, J.L. Cooper, ex lawyer and alcoholic, older brother to the enigmatic congressman/future president.

Cooper is a recovering alcoholic lawyer turned private eye (aren’t they all, tho?) who fell into a tailspin of self destruction after inadvertently sending his beautiful wife to her death. A ‘pop travel’ virgin, Cooper instinctively does not trust the instant travel, and after sending his wife on a fatal plane crash, falls head first into a bottle of scotch. Years later, he is a rehabilitated, stronger man, thanks in part to his younger, if not better, brother. Tyler creates a flawed human being you cannot help but like. Cooper’s good name, as a lawyer who tried to sue the corporation that had begun to monopolize the travel industry, puts an accountant in touch with Coop to help solve the mystery of his fiancee’s death, whom you meet in the introduction of the book.  Cooper is reluctant, but as he begins to look into the accountant’s case, bodies start hitting the floor, and this is where I checked out, sadly.

Tyler begins introducing a multitude of characters, all of which are, at best, annoying. Geri Harper (undercover FBI agent pursuing Cooper and what he discovers) pretty much derails what could have been an amazing science fiction mystery. I guess the author wanted to include some sort of romance aspect, but it rails against the personality that Tyler has set up for Cooper. He’s a driven investigator with the life of his congressman baby brother on his hands, yet is immediately distracted by a southern drawl in capri pants. Really? Just like that? I was beyond disappointed.

Skimming through the rest of the story, you’re introduced to the ‘bad guys’ – an ice queen villain who thinks nothing of saving her own skin, and her ridiculously over reacting accomplices. Then there’s the ‘Creator’ of pop travel and too many characters I just did not care enough to read about.

I read the ending, with of course Geri and Cooper ending up together (no idea why she didn’t do her job, and didn’t care to read about it). This story had such potential to stand out with an exceptional plot and believable main character, that even with such a strong beginning, still falls short of anything worthy of more than 3/5 stars.

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Murder on Cue by Jane Detinger


Struggling actress Jocelyn “Josh” O’Roarke just got a real offer. Well, something resembling a real offer. Her old friend Austin Frost has written a play for Broadway and cast the glamorous Harriet Weldon as the lead. Not wishing to leave his old friend Josh behind, he has invited her to be Harriet’s understudy. The role of understudy is a difficult one—and it becomes even more so when Harriet turns up dead and the police name Josh their prime suspect.

With the NYPD breathing down her neck, Josh must find the people responsible while ensuring that the show will go on.

Murder on Cue is the first book of the Jocelyn O’Roarke mystery series, which also includes First Hit of the Season and Death Mask.



A 1992 publication by Jane Detinger which will hopefully be released into ebook as well as reprint, is resurrected as a very well written and obnoxiously snooty acting troupe involved in a murder most foul.  I have always wanted to say that – ‘murder most foul!’ but really, what else could murder be? Foul, cold…beachy?


The first quarter of the book introduces your cast of characters, including: Jocelyn O’Roarke, Josh for short, our heroine and prime suspect. As the much more talented understudy of the victim Harriet Weldon, you are treated to an unfamiliar world, at least to me, of theater actors and the cut-throat lives of off-Broadway productions. Josh’s friend Austin writes an incredible screenplay and Josh, along with her fellow actors, director, and screenplay writer get thrust into a murder mystery.  Enter Detective Sergeant Phillip Gerrard, the Mickey Spillane police officer, with his dark black hair and Icelandic stare, is quite possibly Josh’s only ally in searching for murderer.


Admittedly the rather haughty and highfalutin theater attitude slowed the first 1/4 of the book, almost making me want to put it down, but I’m glad I stayed with it, especially when the bodies started hitting the floor. This is definitely a more refined and intelligent author’s voice that really influenced the way I thought and wrote while reading this book. I felt like a straight up snob and wrote that way, too. I loved it. Takes a little getting used to, what with the plethora of pop culture tripe that has inundated literature today (see…I’m all snotty!), but it is very refreshing and reminded me constantly of Hecule Poirot.


It is a little frustrating to see Josh employ her best Jessica Fletcher and refuse to tell the enigmatic Gerrard very important clues, but ‘Murder on Cue’ does end with a believable conclusion. The burgeoning romance between Gerrard and Josh is just enough to keep you giggling with interest, but the romance is never over done, and the end result of their association is quite lovely, making me want to read more about them in the next installment, should the series ever make it to ebook.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms Detinger’s mystery and give it a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. I anxiously await her catalog to be released digitally!





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Flashback by @mariahammarblad #bewitchingbooktours



Maria Hammarblad


Genre: contemporary romance/suspense/military


Desert Breeze Publishing


Release Date: June 21, 2013


Book Description:


Steve Petersen is a Very Troubled Man. Sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp, he often thinks only parts of him returned; his sanity appears to have been left behind. He seeks solace in alcohol and drugs, but nothing helps block the images from his mind for more than minutes at a time, and he is trapped in horrifying flashbacks.


He is more than surprised when he wakes up in a bright and merry bedroom that turns out to belong to the widow Anna, a woman he has rudimentary memories of meeting. Knowing he should leave isn’t the same as doing it, and before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself pulled into a world with real life problems, such as folding laundry, and what’s for dinner.


Whiskey is no longer his first priority, and not being alone in his waking nightmare is a relief. That is, until Anna disappears. Steve finds himself forced to return to Afghanistan, a place where he’ll have to face both external enemies and himself.




  When they came home, Steve sank down in the sofa without even taking off his jacket. Life outside could sure be exhausting. Anna went into the kitchen, and he rested his head back and closed his eyes. Listening to her hum a song, just a little out of tune as she loaded the coffee maker soothed his nerves.

A hard rattling sound made him open his eyes again. Gunshots, and they were close. Anna still sang, and she would be an easy target.

He ran through the apartment, making sure to stay away from the windows. Peeking around the corner, his beautiful fiancée was oblivious to the danger.


How did they survive?

He sprung out from his hiding place behind the wall, shoved her down on the floor, and threw himself over her. After all she did for him, protecting her with his own body was the least he could do.

Anna wheezed, clearly trying to draw a breath.

“Sssh, they’re coming.”

She lay on her back, and the question in her eyes was clear. Have you lost your mind? Of course he had, a long time ago. She should know. When she opened her mouth, he covered it with his hand so she couldn’t draw attention to them.

“Don’t you hear them? The shots?”

She shook her head and closed her fingers around his wrist, attempting to pull his hand away.

“I think we’re safe, but be very quiet.”

Anna nodded, and as soon as he removed the hand, she whispered, “Please get off me. I can’t breathe.”

He obeyed, she endeavored to sit up, and he pulled her back down.

“Don’t make yourself a target.”

Why did she look so exhausted?

“Sweetheart, there’s nothing there.”

“But…” He had heard them.

“That noise? Remember the crazy people upstairs? I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s definitely them.”





About the Author:



Born in Sweden in the early 1970’s, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, “The Sun Book.” They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother’s horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.


As an adult Maria’s creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.


Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.


Upcoming releases


Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013


Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013


Fun Facts


Favorite color:             Blue

Favorite food:             Chicken with cashew nuts

Doesn’t eat:                 Mammals

Favorite TV Show:     Star Trek TNG and Leverage

Favorite animal:          Border Collie

Quotes:                        “Full Speed Ahead” and “Caffeine is good for you”


Website: http://www.hammarblad.com
Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariahammarblad