Mar 142017

by Stacey Berg
on Tour March 13-April 1, 2017

Book Details
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 384
Series: Echo Hunter 367, #2
Purchase Links:


The Church has stood for hundreds of years, preserving the sole surviving city in a desert wasteland. When Echo Hunter 367 is sent out past the Church’s farthest outposts, she’s sure it’s a suicide mission. But just when she’s about to give up hope, she finds the impossible – another thriving community, lush and green, with a counsel of leaders who take her in.

Wary of this new society, with ways so different from the only life she’s ever known, Echo is determined to complete her mission and bring hope back to the Church. She’s unsure who she can trust, and must be strong and not be seduced by their clean, fresh water, and plentiful energy sources. If she plays her cards right, she may even still have a chance to save the woman she loves.

Read an excerpt:

Echo Hunter 367 studied the dying woman in the desert with grudging admiration. The woman had walked long past what might reasonably be expected, if that lurching stagger could be called a walk. When she couldn’t walk any more she had crawled, and after that she had dragged herself along, fingers clawing through sand until they clutched some purchase, body scraping over rocks and debris, heedless of the damage. Now and then she made a noise, a purely animal grunt of effort or pain, but she forced herself onward, all the way until the end.

I smell the water.

Desperate as the woman was, she had still been cautious. Though an incalculable distance from any familiar place, she still recognized danger: the wind-borne sand that scoured exposed skin clean to the bone, the predators that stalked patiently in the shadows for prey too weak to flee. The cliff edge that a careless girl could slip over, body suspended in space for the briefest moment before her hands tore through the thornbush, then the long hard fall.

Echo jerked back from that imagined edge. It was her last purposeful movement. From some great height, she watched herself collapse in the sand. One grasping hand, nails torn, knuckles bloody, landed only a few meters from the spring’s cool water, but she never knew it. For a little while her body twitched in irregular spasms, then those too stilled. Only her lips moved, cracking into a bloody smile. “Lia,” she whispered. “Lia.” Then she fell into the dark.

For a long time there was no sound except water trickling in a death rattle over stones.

Then the high whine of engines scattered the circling predators. Pain returned first, of course. Every inch of skin burned, blistered by sun or rubbed raw by the sand that had worked its way inside the desert-proof clothing. Her muscles ached from too long an effort with no fuel and insufficient water, and her head pounded without mercy. Even the movement of air in and out of her lungs hurt, as if she had inhaled fire. But that pain meant she was breathing, and if she was breathing she still had to fight. With enormous effort she dragged open her eyes, only to meet a blinding brightness. She made a sound, and tasted hot salt as her lips cracked open again. “Shhh,” a soft voice said. “Shhh.” Something cool, smelling of resin and water, settled over her eyes, shielding them from the glare. A cloth dabbed at her mouth, then a finger smoothed ointment over her lips, softening them so they wouldn’t split further when she was finally able to speak. Lia, she thought, letting herself rest in that gentle strength until the pain subsided into manageable inputs. Then she began to take stock.

She lay on something soft, not the rock that had made her bed for so many weeks, although her abused flesh still ached at every pressure point. The air felt cool but still, unlike the probing desert wind, and it carried, beyond the herbal tang, a scent rich and round, unlike the silica sharpness of sand she’d grown so accustomed to. Filtered through the cloth over her eyes, the light seemed diffuse, too dim for the sun. Indoors, then, and not a temporary shelter, but a place with thick walls, and a bed, and someone with sufficient resources to retrieve a dying woman from the desert, and a reason to do so. But what that reason might be eluded her. The Church would never rescue a failure.

Unless the Saint commanded it.

She mustered all her strength and dragged the cloth from her eyes. She blinked away grit until the blurred oval hovering above her took on distinct features, the soft line of the cheek, the gently curving lips. Lia, she thought again, and in her weakness tears washed the vision away. She wiped her eyes with a trembling hand.

And stared into the face of an utter stranger.

Excerpt from Regeneration by Stacey Berg. Copyright © 2017 by Stacey Berg. Reproduced with permission from Harper Voyager. All rights reserved.

Stacey Berg

Author Bio:

Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

Visit Stacey Berg on her Website, Goodreads Page, and on Twitter!

Q&A with Stacey Berg

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I don’t draw from current events on purpose, but I can certainly tell that I’m influenced by what’s going on in the world around me. Regeneration is full of characters struggling to understand whom to trust and what to believe about the turmoil in their society. As for personal experience, I don’t directly put my own experiences into stories, but when I’m figuring out how a character would feel or act, I try to find analogies in my experience and work from there.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have to know how the story ends—not necessarily the actions, but the emotional arc for the main characters. And I usually know roughly where the story starts. In between—well, I would love to be a more efficient plotter, but most of the time I finish a scene and ask myself what would logically happen next (that would be interesting), how that could steer the story towards the climax, and that’s the way the story goes. In revisions I spend a lot of time making sure that the plot events, character development, and story themes are as tightly integrated as I can make them.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Nope  Although I will admit that sometimes I use famous people as a sort of body double for certain characters until I can get a proper hold on them. For example, former President Jimmy Carter stood in for one of the characters in Dissension, the prequel to Regeneration, until that person came to life on his own for me.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I get up very early and write before work. I really try to be consistent; otherwise I feel like it takes me too long to get my head back into the story when I’ve been away from it for more than a day or two. I don’t know if this counts as an idiosyncrasy, but when I’m brainstorming I really like to do it with a medium point gel pen in a spiral notebook, while when I’m actually writing, I much prefer to type on my computer.

Tell us why we should read this book.
If you like character-driven science fiction with a fast-moving plot and strong women characters, I hope Regeneration (and Dissension) will appeal to you.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love this question! I could go on for a long time, but I’ll try to keep the list short so it fits in the space. Phillip Pullman. CJ Cherryh. Patricia McKillip. Peter O’Donnell, who wrote the Modesty Blaise books. Alastair MacLean. Not only do I love these authors’ books, but I spend a lot of time dissecting how they do the things I love, so that I can write better myself.

What are you reading now?
I just started a book called The Voices Within, a nonfiction book about our internal narrative and stream of thought. It’s fascinating and I’m very curious to learn more about the stories we’re all constantly telling ourselves.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on my next novel. It’s speculative fiction, set in a very different world from the Echo Hunter 367 books, but I think there’s going to be a similar underlying feel. It’s still early days, though, and I’m afraid if I say too much too soon, it will break.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Halle Berry! (Lots of Halle Berrys, since there are clones). Actually this is a tough one for me. I know lots of writers “cast” their characters in their heads to make it easier to visualize them, but that doesn’t work for me. In fact, I think the most interesting thing about having a movie made from the books would be to find out how the director envisions the characters. You can never really tell if a reader is seeing what you are.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Walking on the beach is my favorite thing—any beach, anywhere; although the US mid-Atlantic coast is the “real” beach to me.

Favorite meal?
I love food! For sentimental reasons, the tasting meal where my wife and I picked the dishes for our wedding dinner was my favorite meal ever. On any given day, what would I most like to eat? Pizza from Mineo’s in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing like it.

Tour Host Participants:

Visit the other stops on this tour for reviews, interviews, guest posts, and more great giveaways!!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Stacey Berg and Harper Voyager. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dissension by Stacey Berg. The giveaway begins on March 13th and runs through April 4th, 2017.

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Mar 082017

Lisa Brunette

Hi, Cheryl! Thanks for hosting me on your blog, and hello to your readers! It’s an honor to be chosen as your Author of the Month. I also want to thank you for all you do for writers. So many of us depend on the time and talent of book bloggers like you, and we know you do this out of a love for the written word.

Here’s my official bio, by way of formal introduction to your readers:

Lisa Brunette is a novelist, game writer, and journalist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from University of Miami, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Bellingham Review, The Comstock Review, Icarus International, and elsewhere. She’s also received a major grant from the Tacoma Arts Commission, the William Stafford Award, and the Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals Project Award. Her Dreamslippers Series has been praised by Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review, Readers Lane,, and others, and the first two books won the indieBRAG medallion. Framed and Burning was also a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award and a nominee for the RONE Award.

Brunette’s journalistic work has appeared in major daily newspapers and magazines, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Woman, and Poets & Writers. She’s interviewed a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a sex expert, homeless women, and the designer of the Batmobile, among others.

She also has story design credits in hundreds of bestselling mystery-themed video games. A seasoned educator and public speaker, she’s won several teaching excellence awards, and her 2012 headlining talk at the Game Developers Conference was covered by Brunette is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Lewis County Writers Guild.

Now on to your excellent questions.

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes, all of the above. But I wouldn’t call my books autobiographical. It’s surprising to me that I have to explain this, but I don’t actually have the ability to psychically pick up other people’s dreams. Still, this question comes up often when I read my work publicly!

What was the inspiration for this book?
This book was inspired in part by my rekindled love of genre fiction. Back in 2008, I interviewed top mystery writers for a Seattle Woman cover story. Reading their work reminded me of when I first fell in love with reading as a child, and that was genre fiction like Nancy Drew. Academia had beat this out of me, unfortunately, so it was wonderful to be drawn back to it as an adult. After all, being an adult means you’re allowed to read whatever you want! After the Seattle Woman cover story, by 2009, I’d joined the game industry as a writer full-time, and by 2011, I was working on the story design for primarily mystery games. That led to a pent-up need to create my own plot and characters, since a lot of game writing happens by committee.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I plot the entire novel out in a very rough format, with questions and multiple possibilities noted, writing this in marker directly on my wall, which I’ve painted in whiteboard paint. Then I begin to write, and I give myself permission to explore questions, try different paths, and deviate when necessary. So I guess I’m a hybrid writer. Several times I didn’t know a character would appear and act that way in a scene until I was in the midst of writing it.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I don’t have a routine. I probably should, but I have to flex my novel-writing time around game-writing projects, and those have harder deadlines. The only thing I really need besides uninterrupted time and quiet is to make use of my laptop’s “wifi off” function, which is a lifesaver.

If you could co-author a book, who would that writer be?
Since so much of my game-writing work is collaborative, I don’t know that I’d co-author a novel. Perhaps something non-fiction, especially in the area of health and wellness. I’m a great generalist and a writing craft expert, so it would be wonderful to team up with a subject matter expert in a wellness field.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
The character Amazing Grace is named after and inspired by my late mother-in-law. She wanted to legally change her name to just “Grace,” like Cher is known as Cher alone. But the authorities said she had to at least have another initial, so she picked “A.” When asked what the A stood for, she would answer, “Amazing.”

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Meryl Streep as Amazing Grace. Jennifer Lawrence as Cat. Jeff Bridges as Mick. There’s also a character I love in book three, Bound to the Truth, who would be perfect for my friend Cammie Middleton-Helmsing to play. She’s an actress for whom there aren’t enough roles as an African-American woman, and she’d be a perfect Cecily Johnson.

What’s next:
Are you working on your next novel?
Right now I’m on deadline for a text-based game I’m both designing and writing for a Russian woman I’ve worked with before. She’s owner of a studio called Daily Magic and smart as a whip. I’m also writing and designing for another game studio, Magic Tavern, and collaborating with the creative director on that game, which will be really fun and casual.

Around those projects, I’m working on a standalone novel that really excites me, but I’m still in the beginning stages, working on the first third.

Can you tell us a bit about it? Title?
I don’t have a title yet; it’s too early. But it’s based on an actual news report for an alleged murder committed in a neighboring town. A woman called 911 to report that she shot her husband in self-defense. At first, it looked like the evidence supported her claim, since both spouses’ guns were out. But then things began to look fishy. The husband was shot in the back, and someone cleaned the crime scene, even going so far as to spackle over a bullet hole in the wall. I’m riveted by this. How does a woman with no priors or history of mental illness get to this point? That’s the question I’m attempting to answer in the novel.

When can we look for it? Approximate publication date?
It’s in the beginning stages, so this hasn’t been set yet. Since self-publishing the Dreamslippers Series over the last two years, I’ve had interest in my work from both Hollywood producers and literary agents. So rather than set a self-publishing date on this new manuscript, I’ll be exploring traditional options. But first I have to finish it!

Tell us why we should read this book.
My goal with the entire Dreamslippers Series was to marry rich character development and an emphasis on human relationships to a brisk plot. I think on the whole I’ve accomplished that. Once the foundation for the psychic ability and the family tree is established in Cat in the Flock, readers say the books are real page-turners that keep them rapt and wondering whodunit to the very end.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
The best book I read in 2016 was Tana French’s Faithful Place. I liked it better than Girl on the Train, which I also enjoyed. I’ve read all of Gillian Flynn’s work and actually liked Dark Places the best, over Gone Girl. I’ve been influenced by cozy writer Mary Daheim and paranormal queen Jayne Ann Krentz, too, and I like my Jack Reacher novels. But having a BA in English and coming up through the MFA degree, I’ve been shaped by the academy, so a lot of my favorites tend to be literary writers like Elizabeth Strout and Colm Toibin. Then there are the classic writers I’ve both studied and taught, such as Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, the Harlem greats and those who arrived out of that tradition, like Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.

What are you reading now?
Oddly enough, I’m slowly making my way through The 48 Laws of Power, because it was referenced in the Luke Cage Marvel series. And I’m about to raid my local library for more Tana French.

Fun Questions:
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I practice a holistic barefoot dance called Nia. It’s the perfect antidote to a vocation that involves way too much sitting and typing at a keyboard.

Favorite meal?
I’m on a diet of what one friend of mine who’s a chef calls “meat and leaves.” So my favorite meal these days is a good grass-fed, organic steak with loads of vegetables not as the side but taking up most of the plate. I haven’t met a vegetable I can’t love, but broccoli is my favorite. I eat it like it’s candy!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting us!

Lisa publishes a bimonthly newsletter. Sign up and receive a free book!

You can also visit Lisa on her Website 🔗, on Twitter 🔗, & at Facebook 🔗.


Entry link is located on the sidebar.


Click on titles below for synopsis via GR:
CAT IN THE FLOCK (Dreamslippers #1) Check out my review here.
FRAMED AND BURNING (Dreamslippers #2)
BOUND TO THE TRUTH(Dreamslippers #3)

Lisa will be returning to CMash Reads March 15th….Mark your calendar. Hope to see you then!!!

Feb 242017

End of the Road

by LS Hawker

on Tour January 30th – February 28, 2017


End of the Road by L.S. Hawker

Great minds can change the world

or leave it in ruins . . .

When tech prodigy Jade Veverka creates a program to communicate with her autistic sister, she’s tapped by a startup to explore the potential applications of her technology. But Jade quickly begins to notice some strange things about the small Kansas town just beyond the company’s campus—why are there no children anywhere to be seen, and for that matter, anyone over the age of forty? Why do all of the people living here act uncomfortable and jumpy?

On the way home one night, Jade and her co-worker are run off the road, and their lab and living spaces are suddenly overrun with armed guards, purportedly for their safety. Confined to the compound and questioning what her employers might be hiding from her, Jade fears she’s losing control not only of her invention, but of her very life. It soon becomes clear that the threat reaches far beyond Jade and her family, and the real danger is much closer than she’d ever imagined.


4 stars

Jade Veverka accepts, what in her mind is, the ultimate job to continue the research of her AI program that she developed for her autistic sister Clementine. But soon things aren’t what they appear to be and those close to her are being threatened, or even worse, murdered.

This is the first book I have read by this author and thoroughly enjoyed it. The suspense kept me glued to this book. I am looking forward to reading more titles by this author.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 006243523X (ISBN13: 9780062435231)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

September 7

Jade Veverka unwrapped the frozen bomb pop she’d bought from the gas station on the corner of Main and 3rd and took a bite. She sat gazing at the pile of magazines on the barbershop coffee table while a rhythmic alarm-clock buzz went off in her head. Not an urgent warning, just buzz buzz buzz.

Her friend and coworker Elias Palomo sat in the barber chair, getting his customary fade crew cut, the same one he’d presumably sported since his plebe days at the Naval Academy. So the background to her mental alarm clock was an actual buzzing from the electric razor punctuated now by a sharp yip of pain from Elias.

“Sorry about that,” the barber said.

Elias rubbed his ear, and Jade attempted to keep her face neutral, looking at his scowl in the mirror.

Buzz buzz buzz.

She leaned forward and fanned the magazines—Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, ESPN—all this month’s issues. Jade took another bite of bomb pop and grinned.

“What are you smiling at?” Elias grumbled, rubbing his nicked ear.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Jade said, “but you are not the center of my universe. I do occasionally react to things outside of you. I know it comes as a shock.”

“Shut up,” he said, his dark eyes flashing.

Jade stared now in fascination as the razor tracked upwards on Elias’s skull, his glossy black hair—or what was left of it—uneven, his scalp an angry pink. This guy was the worst hair dresser Jade had ever seen. And the least talkative. In her experience, growing up in rural Ephesus, Kansas, barbers had always fit the stereotype—gregarious and gossipy.

Elias was the shop’s lone customer, and only a few folks walked by outside the window, through which Jade could see the hardware store and the occasional slow passing car.

Buzz buzz buzz.

It struck Jade now that this was less a barbershop than what amounted to a barbershop museum, complete with an actor playing the part of the barber. She wanted to point this out to Elias, but it would mean nothing to him. He’d grown up in Reno, Nevada, a vast metropolis compared to Jade’s 1200-population hometown an hour southeast of this one, which was called Miranda, Kansas.

Not only was this man not a barber, he wasn’t a Kansan either, Jade would have bet money.

“Hey,” she said to him. “What’s your name?”

The man went on butchering as if she hadn’t spoken. Elias’s eyes met Jade’s in the mirror, and his dark thick brows met on either side of a vertical crease, his WTF? wrinkle. He leaned his head away from the razor, finally making the barber pay attention.

“The lady asked you a question,” Elias said.

Jade had to hold in a guffaw. This never failed to tickle her, him referring to her as a lady. No one other than him had ever done that before. Plus she loved the authoritative rumble of his voice, a trait he’d probably developed at Annapolis.

The barber froze, his eyes locked with Elias’s. Weird.

“Need a prompt?” Elias said. “Your name.”

The man cleared his throat.

“Is it classified?”

Jade did guffaw this time, and she watched the barber’s jaw muscles compress as she clapped a hand over her mouth.

“My name’s Richard.”

“Hello, Richard, I’m Elias. This is Jade. We work out at SiPraTech.”

Jade could see from Richard’s face he knew very well where they worked. He nodded and got back to destroying the remains of Elias’s hair.

“Whereabouts you from, Richard?” Jade said.

He pulled the razor away from Elias’s head and blinked at her.

What in the world was this guy’s problem?

Buzz buzz buzz.

Elias emitted a loud sigh, clearly exasperated by the guy’s reticence, and waved a hand as if to say, “Carry on, barber-not-barber.”

Jade laughed again.

“Here,” Richard mumbled. “I’m from here.”

Like hell. What was he, in the witness protection program or something?

And then it hit her. The magazines, every last one of them, was a current issue. In a barbershop. The place where back issues of magazines go to die.

She’d worked for SiPraTech just over three months now, and Miranda, the closest town, had always given her an itch. Something about it was slightly off, but she couldn’t say what. She’d brought it up to her team members—Elias, Berko Deloatch, and Olivia Harman, and each of them had looked at her like she was schitzy. They all came from big cities, so Miranda struck them as weird in general.

Buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz.

As if drawn by static electricity, her eyes tracked to the window where a man in mirrored shades peered into the barbershop. The man had a dark mustache and wore a blue baseball cap pulled low over the sunglasses.

What was he staring at? She glanced behind her, but there was nothing to see but a white wall. When she turned back, the man mouthed something at her, his exaggerated soundless enunciation wringing a sharp intake of breath from her.

“What?” Elias said in response to her gasp.

Was it her imagination, or did this man she’d never seen before say her name?

Jade Veverka.

She looked at Elias, and said, “There’s a man out there—”

Author Bio:

LS HAWKERLS HAWKER grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.

Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.

She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters, and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland. She is the author of The Drowning Game, a USA Today Bestseller, and Body and Bone.

Q&A with LS Hawker


Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes, and yes. My characters get to experience a lot of the things I’ve experienced (*laughs and rubs hands together evilly*). My second novel, BODY AND BONE, dealt with online trolls and Internet bullying, which is a current phenomenon. My newest release, END OF THE ROAD, is centered around self-propagating computer programs and nerd pop culture.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I usually have a vague idea of how the story is going to end, although with my debut, THE DROWNING GAME, it ended up in a place I never could have foreseen at when I started writing, because things happened that I hadn’t anticipated leading up to it.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Absolutely. In THE DROWNING GAME, Randy, a definite bad guy, is based on a friend’s ex-boyfriend. When she and I would go out, he would hunt us down. One night he drank an entire fifth of Jack Daniel’s and drove around looking for us. When he found us, we tried to get his car keys from him, and he grabbed me by the face and shoved me down into the street. Not a nice guy.

On the other end of the spectrum is my second novel BODY AND BONE’s Isabeau, who’s based on my friend Liz. I really struggled writing my second, because it was the first time I’d written to deadline. So having Liz there in my mind and heart as I wrote was a calming, light influence, just as her character is to my protag in the book.

I’ve had friends actually ask me to put them into my novels.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I write standing a lot, as I have an electric height-adjustable desk. My office ceiling is covered in Christmas lights, I burn scented candles, and I binge write, sometimes for 15+ hours at a time.

Tell us why we should read this book.
If you like twisting, unpredictable narratives, tech, nerd culture references, ethnically diverse characters, and high peril, this is the book for you. If you don’t, you should read it anyway.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are so many, but here’s a partial list. I love Gregg Hurwitz, Liane Moriarty, Gilly Macmillan, Harlan Coben, Tom Wolfe, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Nick Hornby, Ira Levin, Michael Crichton, John Steinbeck, and Anne Tyler.

What are you reading now?
Just finished FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay. I’ve been binge-reading him over the last month—five of his books. His plots are consistently interesting, his characters real and funny, and his pacing outstanding. Yes, I’m a fan.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m rewriting an old manuscript right now, one that includes a couple of secondary characters from THE DROWNING GAME—Uncle Curt Dekker and Petty’s lawyer, George Engle—as young men in the 1980s. George wakes up behind a burning house with a gun in his hand and no recollection of how he got there. Curt comes to his aid in the most unconventional of ways.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
This is always a hard question for me, because I like to think that my characters would be played by unknown actors. But if pressed, I’d say Hailee Steinfeld would probably do END OF THE ROAD’s Jade proud.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Movies, parties, live music, more parties. Oh, and reading, of course.

Favorite meal?
Whenever we’re celebrating, we go for crab legs with a side of artichokes.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Visit Ms. Hawker’s Website 🔗, her Twitter Feed 🔗, & her Facebook Page 🔗.

Tour Participants:

Visit the other tour participants for interviews, guest posts, reviews, & more great giveaways!

Check Out This Awesome Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for LS Hawker and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) eBook Coupon for End of the Road by LS Hawker. The giveaway begins on January 24th and runs through March 2nd, 2017.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.

I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Feb 222017

The Piper

by Charles Todd

on Tour February 1-28, 2017


The Piper by Charles Todd

Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge returns shell shocked from the trenches of World War I, tormented by the spirit of Hamish MacLeod, the young soldier he executed on the battlefield. Now, Charles Todd features Hamish himself in this compelling, stand-alone short story.

Before the Great War, Hamish is farmer in the Scottish Highlands, living in a small house on the hillside and caring for a flock of sheep he inherited from his grandmother. When one spring evening he hears a faint cry ringing across the glen, Hamish sets out in the dark to find the source. Near the edge of the loch he spots a young boy laying wounded, a piper’s bag beside him. Hamish brings the piper to his home to stay the night and tends to his head wound, but by the time Hamish wakes the boy has fled. He tracks the footsteps in pursuit of the injured lad and finds him again collapsed in the grasses—now dead.

Who was the mysterious piper, and who was seeking his death? As Hamish scours the countryside for answers, he finds that few of his neighbors are as honest as he, and that until he uncovers a motive, everyone, including Hamish, is a suspect.


4 stars

I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of short stories, however, I have recently changed my mind on this subject.

Reading this novella has introduced me to an author that I have not read before and quite enjoyed. It amazes me how an author can deliver a full suspenseful story within so few pages.

The Piper introduces the reader to Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish shepherd in the year 1914. He comes across a young “lad” who has been beaten, and later dies. Feeling he wants justice for this young Bag Piper, he begins his own investigation and plans to seek out who is responsible. And some of the people he meets aren’t who they say they are.

Amazing…63 pages of an intriguing story that fully had my attention!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 100
ISBN: 0062678094 (ISBN13: 9780062678096)
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #19.5
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Charles Todd

Author Bio:

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.


Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads.

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Since we write psychological suspense set in the time of the Great War, we don’t use personal experiences or current events. Still, people today are not very different from our characters in the period we’ve chosen. They still resort to murder to solve their problems, and the police must find killers without the benefit of CSI. But for us that’s the fun of it, setting up a murder and then sending Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard after the person who did it. It’s a cat and mouse game, hunter and hunted, and that’s both exciting and intriguing. Rutledge has only his wits to help him, his knowledge of people, and his experience. And so it’s more personal, more intense, and we want the reader to come along on the chase with us.

When starting to write a story, do you start from the beginning and see where it takes you or do you know what the conclusion will be and plot in reverse?
We start with page one, create the setting and the murder, and then see where the characters take us. It’s always a challenge to find out if we’re actually going to come to the end of the story with the killer caught, because we have no idea who he or she may be or why the murder or murders were done. If your characters come alive, if you let them be human and do what they would have done in real life, they’ll lead you to a satisfying and exciting conclusion. We just follow along and put it all down on paper. So far our characters have never let us down!

Are any of your characters based on people that you know?
We’ve only used a person we knew once, and that was a very dear friend who really loved Rutledge and cared about what was to happen to him. But as a rule, it’s hard to make “real” people fit into a story they aren’t a part of. Our characters come from the time and the setting, and we go to England to find the right place for the right story to begin. As we’re walking around a village, the characters begin to take shape, to belong there, and to have their own stories. That’s probably why the books seem to live for us and for many readers. The setting is always real, and that seems to breathe life into the people too.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Charles: I write better in the morning, which actually works out quite well. We’ve already discussed the scene we’re working on together, and I will try out some action and dialog. Meanwhile, Caroline is doing the same at her end—only in the evening. So we have time to look over each other’s ideas, figure out what works best for the book, and take it from there. If there’s any problem, we solve it by going with what is true to the characters and the story. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful over twenty books for Rutledge and about half that number for the Bess Crawford mysteries set in the same Great War period. We’ve found a way to collaborate that really works for both of us.
Caroline: We really don’t have any idiosyncrasies, no “method” that helps us prepare for writing. By the time we’ve reached the second or third chapter, we’re so into the story that it’s exciting, and we’re eager to know what happens next. But there are two things that do matter. We can’t work in the same room—we talk too much and get nothing done. So we work in separate rooms even if we’re in the same house. It’s always been a long-distance effort, different towns and even different states, and we’re happy with that. The other thing is, we never like to talk about a story in progress. It seems to take the edge off, and so we just smile and tell our editor, “It’s going well.” And she’s content with that. She trusts us to deliver in the end.

Tell us why we should read your book?
What should we look for any book? We want it to be exciting—believable—fast-paced but well thought out—with characters we care about and want to spend time with. For us, the Great War was dramatic, it changed nations, and it shattered the lives of millions of ordinary people. What more riveting backdrop for murder and mystery? And here’s a man who chose police work because he wanted to give the victim a voice. But the war changed him too, and he came back to Scotland Yard with more in common with the killer. The trenches still haunt him, as they haunted so many, and you find yourself on his side, rooting for him, wanting him to win, and to heal. And that’s where the short story, “The Piper,” comes in. We often use short stories to tell the reader more about Corporal Hamish MacLeod, who served with Rutledge in the trenches until the Battle of the Somme and whose death has left unimaginable scars in Rutledge’s mind. Here for the first time, we let Hamish tell about his life before the Great War, before Rutledge met him. Turned out to be quite an experience!

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
We’ve recently handed in the next Bess Crawford mystery, A CASUALTY OF WAR—she’s a battlefield nurse who is sometimes drawn into situations where she sees, often more clearly than the police, what others are hiding. It’s been interesting to view the Great War through a woman’s eyes, and her training as a wartime nurse and her experiences as the daughter of a regimental colonel give her a wide range of talents to help solve a mystery. She’s really fun to write about, because she’s lively and intriguing, and very much able to take care of herself with wit and a clever mind–and a sense of duty that sometimes leads her into trouble. That’s September, by the way. And with the latest Rutledge, RACING THE DEVIL, just coming out in February, we’ve begun the Rutledge for 2018. This time we want to explore what happens to Rutledge when he is the only witness to a death… Stay tuned, we’ll soon know more.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
We both have a long list of favorites, past and present. We both grew up with Conan Doyle and Poe, then moved on to Jack Higgins and Frederick Forsyth, and Nelson DeMille, to name a few. Currently, we’re great fans of Lee Child and Lori Rader-Day, Anne Cleeland and Deborah Crombie, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Michael Connelly, Michael Stanley and Jeffrey Deaver, Judy Clemens and Laura Lippman. As you can see, we love to read mysteries as well as to write them!

What are you reading now?
Caroline: I just snagged an early copy of Deborah Crombie’s GARDEN OF LAMENTATIONS.
Charles: I am in the middle of Lee Child’s latest.

Fun Questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Now that’s a question that comes up in every talk we give—and fans have their own ideas about who should play Rutledge. We’d like to see David Tarrant in the part. He’s actually older than Rutledge, but we think he has the skill to capture the man, heart and soul.

Who would play Bess? That’s harder to decide. Hmmmmm.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby>?
Charles: I find fishing very relaxing.
Caroline: I love to travel. I’ve been to exciting places all over the world, and sometimes they sort of wind up in the books…

Favorite meal?
Caroline: Forget the meal. Chocolate ice cream, pecan or mince pie, and a Cadbury bar will do just fine.
Charles: I love fish or shell fish, with a baked potato, sour cream, and asparagus.

Caroline: Okay, I’d start with shrimp cocktail, then a really good soup, like snapper, move on to a thick filet, and I like a variety of vegetables, so carrots or peas or green beans or asparagus. And sweet ice tea, southern style.
Charles: Ending with coffee, a really good cup of coffee, cream, no sugar.


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Feb 172017


by Carey Baldwin

on Tour February 14 – March 3, 2017


Stolen by Carey Baldwin

Is she missing…or a murderer?

When Laura Chaucer, daughter of a U.S. senator, vanishes from her college campus, celebrated FBI profilers Special Agent Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are called in. Thirteen years ago, Laura and her nanny disappeared from her family’s Denver home. Laura was found alive, but her nanny wasn’t so lucky… and the killer was never caught. Laura could identify him—if only she didn’t have a deep, dark hole in her memory.

Now she’s missing again. Did the troubled young woman run away or has the kidnapper returned? As women who look eerily similar to Laura’s nanny begin turning up dead, the Chaucer family psychiatrist renders a disturbing opinion: Laura is unstable, a danger to herself and others. Who knows what terrible secrets lurk in the shadowy recesses of her mind? Cassidy and Spenser must solve one of the most infamous cold cases ever to uncover the answer: Is Laura a killer, or is a monster still out there, waiting to claim another victim?


5 stars

Laura Chaucer, daughter of Senator Whit and Tracy Chaucer, is missing, AGAIN! Thirteen years earlier, at the age of 8, Laura and her Nanny were kidnapped and the Nanny found murdered. Laura, having been treated for mental illness since the first incident, her memory is fuzzy due to the many anti-psychotic meds. And now her friend is found dead. Is she the killer? She doesn’t think so but wants to find the “monster” who she believes is responsible.

A tense, page-turning read with an explosive ending! One I didn’t see coming!

STOLEN will definitely be one of my Top Ten reads of 2017!

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: February 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0062495542 (ISBN13: 9780062495549)
Series: Cassidy & Spenser #4
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One


Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains

Consciousness was the enemy and Laura Chaucer its captive. No matter how badly she wanted to flee into a dark, unseeing void, the menacing chill of the knife pressed against her neck forced her to keep her chin high and her eyes open. As her pulse raged, pounding against the deadly blade, she wondered, horrified, if it was possible for her throat to slit itself.

If only her mind would drop into an abyss. If only she could crawl into a black hole and escape awareness, at least then she wouldn’t suffer. Cowardice dragged her eyelids shut.

Stop running away.

From deep within, a voice demanded she bear witness to her own death.
Like broken wings beating against a gale, her eyelids fluttered up. Evil had been swirling around her for as long as she could remember, but she’d never had the courage to face it. Now, in her last moments, she must find the will. Before she left this twisted world, she needed to know the truth.

Who are you?

The answer she’d been running from her entire life loomed right behind her.

But the knife prevented her from swiveling her head to confront the bastard. A defiant move like that would surely cost her whatever precious seconds she had left. His breath, warm on her cheek reeked of booze, its stench curdling in her already woozy stomach.

Careful not to move her head, she braved a glance down and noted a wood floor.

Where am I?

A candle nub flickered in the dark; its yellow light illuminating patches of dust caked on an uneven plank tabletop. Bare log walls surrounded her. Eager for more clues, she sniffed. The scent of rain and earth hung heavily in the air. He must’ve stolen her from her room and brought her to a cabin—a primitive one.

Who was he?

You know, the voice within insisted. Stop pretending you don’t.

“I-I don’t know anything,” she answered, as if he and her thoughts were one and the same. “P-please, just let me go.”

The knife slipped across her throat, leaving fire trailing in its wake. Blood, warm and sticky, dribbled down her chest. Her head became heavy. The room spun. It would be so easy to let her chin fall, to drift into blessed unconsciousness, to leave it all behind.

But that would mean dying the same way she’d lived: running from the truth.

It’s not too late. As long as you have one breath left, there’s still time to change your craven ways.

Watching the blood, already darkening from contact with the air, snake between her breasts, she took it all in, and a gasp agonized its way up her throat.

She was naked.

Bound around the waist, chest and ankles to a chair.

It all seemed so…unreal. But the scrape of splintered wood beneath her bottom, the shivers that wracked her body from the frigid air, told her this was no dream. This wasn’t another one of her ubiquitous nightmares.

If she closed her eyes now, she’d never wake up.

Her throat burned with the urge to scream. But sensing that might give him pleasure, she clamped her teeth together, stuffing her fear down deep. She inhaled a fortifying breath through her nose. Wiggled her freezing fingers. But when she tried to shift her arms into a more comfortable position, she found that they, too, were tied to the chair, just up to the elbows. He’d left her hands and lower arms free, giving her enough slack to cross her palms in her lap and cover herself. Tears of gratitude for this small kindness welled in her eyes.

Maybe he of the knife had a tiny, shriveled semblance of a heart.

He proved he did not by dragging the jagged blade across her neck again—a shallow retracing of its former path that produced exquisite pain and more hot red blood. The need to cry out shook her body so hard the legs of the chair rattled against the floor. Then he pressed the knife’s point into the hollow of her neck—that spot that ought to be reserved for a lover’s kiss. It was as if this monster could not decide whether he wanted to kill her with a long, decimating swipe or by a swift, stabbing impalement. She didn’t know whether he was deliberately prolonging her agony or working up his nerve.

A spasm of fear knotted her toes. Her vocal chords trembled from the impossible effort of restraint. Finally, she opened her mouth, releasing a hysterical noise.

He wanted to hear her scream? Let him hear her laugh instead. Her pulse bounded harder against the blade, but she no longer feared the consequence.

Whether he revealed himself to her or not, she suddenly didn’t care. It didn’t matter who he was. It only mattered who she was. Relief flooded her entire being, drenching her in joy.
Her death would be a victory.

Because it answered, once and for all, the question that had haunted her since the age of eight.

She was not a murderer.

Excerpt from Stolen by Carey Baldwin. Copyright © 2017 by Carey Baldwin & WitnessImpulse. Reproduced with permission from WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Kudos for Carey Baldwin:

JUDGMENT, the first book in my Cassidy & Spenser Thriller series, has been named one of the “BEST BOOKS of 2014” by SUSPENSE MAGAZINE.


Author Bio:

Carey BaldwinCarey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

Q&A with Carey Baldwin

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes to both. STOLEN was inspired by a blend of real life cases. CONFESSION is based in part on my career as a psychologist, and FIRST DO NO EVIL was inspired by my medical patients’ reactions when the cervical cancer vaccine first came out. The key word here is inspiration. None of my books contain real-life events.

Everything is FICTION: A product of my wild imagination.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I can’t say that I’ve ever started with the conclusion. I have started in the middle though! Generally speaking I come up with characters or a “What if?” scenario and go from there.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Yes and no. I think people in my world influence my characters, but I don’t have any who are based on someone I know. As I said earlier, it’s all FICTION.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I don’t have any rituals, but my husband thinks it’s odd when I get up at 3am to write a scene I’ve been dreaming about.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Not everyone should. It can get dark and gritty, so if that bothers you, STOLEN might not be for you. It has lighter, funnier moments and a touch of romance. If you don’t care for that, STOLEN might not be for you. But if you like dark, intense psychological thrillers with twist, turns and a bit of fun—it just might be your cup of tea.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Ack. Too many to name, but Tess Gerritsen, Harlan Coben, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Wendy Corsi Staub, Stella Cameron, Michael Connelly, Tami Hoag and Gillian Flynn make a nice start to this very incomplete list.

What are you reading now?
I recently finished YOU by Caroline Kepnes. Loved it.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes! I’m working on the next book in the Cassidy & Spenser series. I’m not trying to keep the title secret. I just don’t have one for it yet. My working title, which will definitely change, is Tahiti—because that’s where it takes place. If you’ve been following the series, you know that Spense and Caity have been trying to take a vacation for a long time, but pesky killers keep getting in the way. In this upcoming book, they definitely make it to Tahiti, but what happens once they get there is not the dream vacation they’d been planning. I’m mean like that.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I could go with Liam Hemsworth as Spense, and I think Dakota Johnson would be terrific as Caity. Let’s do it!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Definitely chasing wildflowers. Someone told me I should take that out of my bio because it sounds silly. But I don’t think so—and it’s true. During the wildflower season, I will get in the car or on a plane and then hike all day to get to the most beautiful spots. And I have my family in tow. Not sure what’s silly about enjoying nature with the people you love!

Favorite meal?
Chicken and Dumplings. Yum.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog!
Happy Reading!

Catch Up With Ms. Baldwin On:
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carey Baldwin and William Morrow | WitnessImpulse. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Stolen by Carey Baldwin. The giveaway begins on February 12th and runs through March 5th, 2017.

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