Tuesday, February 28, 2023

A Study in Chocolate ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Spotlight & Giveaway!


Bean to Bar Mysteries Book 5

Cozy Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths / Romance 
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: January 27, 2023
Number of Pages: 260 pages 

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Felicity Koerber's bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston's historic Strand is expanding, as it has become a gathering spot for the community, despite having been the scene of multiple murders. Artists she met while doing a chocolate sculpture are now working out of the shop. So when Felicity is invited to tea by an eccentric art collector, she's intrigued, especially when she gets asked to pose for a portrait done with chocolate on chocolate. Only, where there is a murder the next day at the same historic house where the tea was held, one of Felicity's artist friends becomes the main suspect.

When the killer threatens that unless Felicity unravels the murder, one of her two love interests will be the next victim, she finds herself unwittingly at the center of a puzzle with a Sherlock Holmes-obsessed murderer who wants to be the next Moriarty - and wants to cast Felicity as Sherlock.

Felicity starts finding unexpected connections between her friends and acquaintances and must deal with the idea that someone who knows her is a murderer. At the same time, she has to keep her business running, despite construction dust and unruly customers - and an unexpected order for thousands of truffles.

Satchmo the retired police-dog-turned-therapy dog returns to help her sniff out a few clues, and the kidnapping of Ruffles, the quirky artist's cat, helps lead Felicity into the puzzle. Can Felicity solve it in time to protect the people she cares about from becoming additional victims?


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Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: A Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.

Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.


Signed copy of A Study in Chocolate +
a chocolate bar from French Broad Chocolate.
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/10/23)

Friday, February 24, 2023

Brutal Season ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Cover Reveal & Pre-Order Book Blitz!


The Seasons Mysteries Series #4

Police Procedural / Mystery
Publisher: MCM Enterprises
Coming April 10, 2023

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Eighteen-year-old Jamel Frederickson is shot and killed by a white, rookie Dallas police officer. His crime? Being black and mentally ill.

Following that unwarranted death, anger, and violence erupts on the streets, leading to the murders of two protestors who were marching around the downtown federal building.

Detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are thrust into the investigation of those murders, while desperately clinging to the threads of their partnership.

The shootings also raise questions about whether the alt-right white supremacists that invaded the city with their guns and inflammatory rhetoric are responsible.

Will more people get killed?

Is there more than one person out there with an agenda?

When a member of the team, Ryan O’Donnell, is shot while attempting to prevent looting, the tension in the city, and the department, ratchets up even higher. And it deeply affects Angel who’s been pretending she really isn’t falling for this white man.

Angel joins the protests to take a stand against racism in the city and within the department; an action that puts her job, her relationship with Ryan, and her fragile partnership with Sarah at risk.

For her part, Sarah comes to realize that she is not as enlightened as she thought she was, and both women just hope they can come through the personal and professional challenges and end up with something that resembles a true partnership.

While catching the killers in the process.


"In the compelling fourth installment of the Seasons Mystery series, Miller once again tackles difficult subjects in this absorbing, page-turning crime thriller."--Carrie Rubin, author of Fatal Rounds, a Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize Finalist

Maryann Miller, an award-winning author, has been in love with storytelling since she was a child and used to scare her sister with stories of the monsters in the cellar.

When she grew up, she started her professional career as a journalist, writing newspaper columns, feature stories, and short fiction for regional and national publications. Her novels are primarily mysteries, with an occasional mainstream novel thrown into the mix.

Miller is the recipient of the Page Edwards Short Story Award for her story Maybe Someday and the New York Library Best Books for Teens Award for her nonfiction book, Coping with Weapons And Violence In School and On Your Streets. Her mystery, Doubletake, was honored as the Best Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors. She took first place in the short story and screenwriting competition at the Houston Writer's Conference and was a semi-finalist at Sundance for her script “A Question of Honor.” She was also a semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Competition with the adaptation of Open Season, the first book in the Seasons Mystery Series.

When not writing, Miller loves to play on stage and play in her garden. She lives in Texas with her dog and three cats. The cats rule.


FIRST: $50 Amazon gift card
+ signed copies of the first three books in the series.
SECOND: Signed copies of the first three books in the series.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Copper Waters: Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review, Book Trailer, & Giveaway!

Annalisse Series, Book 4

Genre: International Mystery / Crime / Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: October 7, 2022
Number of Pages: 340

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A rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous.

Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover.

Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life.

But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue.

Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations.

The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets.

As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: In Copper Waters, Marlene Bell is back with the fourth installment of her Annalisse Series! The New Zealand setting allows for another amazing armchair travel adventure – which is one of the things I like best about the Annalisse Series. Bell always does a great job of putting readers right in the scenes. The descriptions of not only the natural elements, but also the look and vibe of the buildings and town, add an extra dimension of enjoyment. And language lover that I am, the sprinkling of Kiwi terms and sentence constructions are a fun bonus. Oh, and it’s always excellent to (vicariously) live the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous!

I have read two of the prior three books: Stolen Obsession (which has since been considerably revised), and Spent Identity, so the significant backstory given to readers in Copper Waters bogged things down for me; I want the here and now, not the then and there!  I wonder if it was almost too much detail for new-to-the-series readers. But, on the plus side, it does allow the book to stand alone, and when reading the blips from Anna’s prior adventures, without a doubt, it gets one’s attention and piques one’s curiosity. (Admittedly, I feel the need to go back and read Italy-set Scattered Legacy.)  Seriously – how can one gal be embroiled in so much delicious drama?

Copper Waters isn’t the same level of action and suspense as the prior books, and readers spend a lot of time inside Annalisse’s ruminations about the present, the past, and her future – with or without Alec, the boyfriend who continues to offer a ring despite Anna continuing to decline the marriage offer. Not that I blame her this time around. That sub-plot, and a contributing factor in why Anna bolts to New Zealand, are one of the interesting parts of the story.

I found that in this book, likely due to the amount of internal dialogue, I started to understand Annalisse a little bit better, and hallelujah, I think she’s maturing at last. I loved having Bill Drake back and as a more central figure. He’s a character I’d like to learn more about and one who could carry a series on his own, I think. There is plenty that happens outside Anna’s thoughts, too, and the focus on the mystery / whodunit was more enticing for me than any romantic elements. Characters and situations are not all that they seem, and kudos to Bell for an unexpected and extraordinarily chilling resolution. 

I enjoy this series and am interested in seeing what happens next (a horse racing scandal, perhaps?) and maybe even what happened before…not only is Bill Drake intriguing, but I’d love to go waaaay back to what started it all and get a prequel about Anna’s BFF Samantha. There are all kinds of possibilities, and from a writing perspective, I am enjoying watching Bell, a gifted storyteller, hone her craft. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep in beautiful East Texas with her husband, Gregg, three cats and a flock of horned Dorset sheep.

The Annalisse series -- mysteries with a touch of romance -- has received numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity) and FAPA (Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award) for two other installments, Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy. She also penned the first of her children's picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.

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$50 VISA Card, 100% New Zealand wool throw, leather bucket bag, signed ARC paperback of Copper Waters, Hagestad hammered copper water bottle, Lucy Pittaway notebook
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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Survival (Fallout Series Book 1) ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Series Spotlight & Giveaway!

Fallout Series, Book 1
Lisa Harris

Dystopian / Science Fiction / Mystery / Christian
Publisher: Adrenaline-Fueled Fiction
Pages: 236 pages
Publication Date: October 19, 2021


HALL WAYS AUDIOBOOK REVIEW of Fallout series, book one, Survival, narrated by Kyle Tait. 

Survival by Lisa Harris, starts off with a tragic, emotional, and action-packed first chapter after “The Quake” hits and its chaos in the small town of Shadow Ridge. I thought our main character was going to be Garrett McQuaid, the top lawman of Shadow Ridge and patriarch of the McQuaid family, but we jump to day 264 post-Quake, and it’s Garrett’s sons, Jace and Levi, who have been deputized and are trying their best to keep the town safe. (Garrett pops up briefly later in the book, but I was left wanting more and really hope he comes back into the spotlight in one of the other books in the series.)

Speaking of wanting more – readers be warned: there are a lot of unanswered questions in Survival, but isn’t that just how it should be? I can’t imagine the frustration of lack of information nearly a year later – no idea of what really happened, and very little communication from the outside world.

All of the unknowns are what add tension to the book, and given the quality of the story, I have no doubt that author Harris will give readers what we need as we continue with the series. I am okay with this because Survival doesn’t end with an annoying cliffhanger. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“I know the right answers, but I don’t know if I believe them anymore.”

As we settle into the second half of the story, the faith element comes in heavier with Jace trying to find answers. I like that the message of believing in God and going to church aren’t all one needs to do to get back in the spiritual saddle again. Harris organically incorporates Jace’s wavering faith into the story via a powerful conversation with the town pastor, Matthew. The exchanges between Jace and Matthew seemed authentic. Maintaining one’s faith is often a challenge when life is particularly challenging, so it makes sense Jace would seek guidance. There is a Moses analogy that we all should remember.

Initially, I found myself wanting the details of what must have been absolute chaos right after “the Quake,” and for that matter: what was it?! But then I realized that is not what the author wanted to write. She focused on the relationships and adaptations of what is likely to be the new normal; hence the name of the series being called the Fallout series. We are seeing the fallout as it settles over the people.

Back to that resolution… while not a cliffhanger, the epilogue takes a bit of dark turn, providing a delicious different direction for the story after we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy about everything. Nice, Lisa Harris. I’m IN.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: WOWSA! There could not be a better narration than Kyle Tait. His southern drawl, and how he perfectly and consistently drops his Gs (goin’ comin’ lyin’)? It’s like buttah! Smooth and a delightful pairing to Harris’s amazing story. Pacing was perfect, not a glitch in the diction, and I listened at regular pace which is almost unheard of. Tait’s delivery elevated my reading experience, and I’ll seek out other books he’s narrated.


In today’s world, law enforcement agencies across the country rely on forensic tools, DNA testing, and crime labs. But what if that technology was suddenly no longer available? No one in the small, west Texas town of Shadow Ridge knows what took down the power grid, or when it’s going to be back up, but everyone knows exactly where they were the moment it went down. And now, with no electricity, no internet, and no modern technology, the men and women responsible for keeping the town safe are going to have to learn how to fight crime all over again.

Prequel: The Last Day
Book 1: Survival
Book 2: Hunted
Book 3: Frequency
Book 4: Deception
Book 5: Shattered (coming 2/28/23)
Book 6: Aftermath (bonus novella coming fall, 2023)

Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, Print, and Audio Book

Book One, Survival

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LISA HARRIS is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom, Vendetta, and Port of Origin, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has fifty plus novels and novellas in print. She and her husband currently live in Texas.

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1st: Spa Basket; 2nd: Shower Steamers; 3rd: Facial Masks
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What would you miss most if the grid went down? While not as essential as toilet paper or air-conditioning during a Texas summer, I think the McQuaid heroines from this series would love a bit of self-care—and so would I. – Author Lisa Harris


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