Monday, January 15, 2018

Guest Post: Soak Up the Awesome Vortex Vibe by Gilian Baker

Today, it's my pleasure to have Gillian Baker, author of MURDER OVER MEDIUM, as my guest to talk about vortexes and her book:

No one who’s visited Sedona, Arizona can forget it. Its local art, its jeep tours, its majestic beauty, its vortexes. 


My protagonist, Jade Blackwell, responds the same way when her old friend and colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby informs her she moved to Sedona to be close to the spiritual energy of the vortexes. You see, Gwendolyn is no longer a religious studies professor, as Jade supposes. Instead, she’s found a “higher calling” as a psychic medium.

So, what the heck is a vortex?

A vortex is a place where large amounts of energy spirals, enveloping everything nearby. It's believed these locations having an energy flow that exists on multiple dimensions, which is why so many seekers visit them each year. Many believe the vortexes intensify meditation, rituals, inner spiritual work, and healing. People flock to Sedona every year, not only to enjoy the beauty of the red rocks and vistas, but to soak up the transformational energy at the various vortexes in the area. Oh, yeah, and to go on a rugged jeep tour.

Sedona has long been a hub of New Age activity. And with four of the most powerful vortexes in the United States within the city limits, it’s not hard to understand why. There are fourteen more within a 10-mile radius of the city also. That’s some powerful spiritual mojo!

Now, depending on who you ask, there are different theories about what causes this spiraling energy. And not just in Sedona, but also surrounding The Great Pyramids, Machu Picchu and Stonehenge.

Here’s a very rudimentary scientific explanation: Vortexes all over the globe exist where there are robust concentrations of gravitational irregularities. Geologists believe the environmental features of Sedona, which transition from mountains to flatland, plays a part in creating the swirling energy centers. The plentiful faults full of magnetized basalt deposits found there are also believed to alter the earth’s gravitational field.
Visitors of the vortexes in Sedona can witness the spiraling energy themselves, even if they don’t believe in any of the woo-woo theories surrounding them. The trees near the different vortexes have had their trunks twisted due to the constant swirling energy under them. Cool, huh?

What better town for my psychic medium character to inhibit than Sedona? Gwendolyn, like many before her, felt the vortexes magical pull and was unable to resist. She also understands the old adage, “location, location, location.” More than four million people visit the small town every year, and many of them are looking for higher guidance and an enlightened spiritual journey. Sedona is a great place to be a medium!

When Jade finally gets Gwendolyn to tell the story of her move from professor to medium, this is what she hears:

“One day I met a psychic healer who used this vortex energy to enhance her past life and cellular vibrational healings—some of the deepest soul work possible. She offered me a full weekend of healings so that I could experience them for myself.”

Her broad smile told me this experience had been the catalyst of her transformation even before she put it into words.

“Well, of course, as any researcher would, I took her up on it, and …well, it changed my life. I suddenly had clarity about why I was here on Earth during this lifetime. My fascination with archaic, nature-based religions suddenly made sense. For the first time in my life, I had more than a passing, intellectual understanding of the Sacred. I had experienced and knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was Truth. Oh, what a magical time it was! I contacted the university and resigned, never returning from sabbatical.”

“Don’t you miss academia? The research? The intellectual stimulation? I know that’s the part I miss most—there’s always something to learn, analyze and deconstruct.”

“Oh, my dear Jade. Once you experience the Sacred, nothing else can compare. You come alive inside, knowing you are interconnected with all beings. My work now is part of the planetary healing we are currently going through. That’s far more important than writing more scholarly articles on topics only other religious scholars will read. Intellectual stimulation pales in comparison to spiritual stimulation. Everything does.”

Excerpt from MURDER OVER MEDIUM. Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.

You may ask, do I believe in the magic of the vortex energy? You bet I do! I've experienced it for myself. Totally amazing!

But everyone has to experience it for themselves. If you prefer, you can see the vortex energy as a geological anomaly that you enjoy—people report feeling joyful and at peace while in Sedona. Or, you can go all New Age and soak up the awesome vibe. Regardless, Sedona is a enchanted place everyone should visit. And while you’re there, don’t forget to get a reading with Gwendolyn!

About the Book MURDER OVER MEDIUM - A Jade Blackwell Mystery

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

About the Author

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

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Monday, January 1, 2018


It's that time of the year once again - a time to reflect on the good and the not-so-good.  Overall, 2017 was a good year on all work levels - the day job and the writing. Lots of accomplishments for sure and hopefully more to come in 2018. 

I commented last New Years on the world situation. The frequency of hate, violence and terrorism hasn't improved. As a year ago, with all the turmoil here at home and abroad, I will strive to:
  • Be more positive and thoughtful of others
  • Be an advocate and help out others as best I can
  • Remember to engage in random acts of kindness
  • Be respectful of others and their opinions, even when I disagree 
As always, I can't avoid the tried and true - eat better, exercise more, lose weight... I'll add in there, take some time to relax.  And since I'm behind, catching up the books I've read, but not yet reviewed.  

What about you? What will you be working on in 2018?

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Money isn't worth killing for, or is it?

When her estranged husband is murdered, Stacie Maroni Noth is quickly identified as the main suspect. With divorce papers not yet signed, she may get a substantial inheritance – a clear motive in the eyes of both Noth’s family and the police. His family and law firm strive to keep up the pretense that all is above reproach and idyllic.

In her quest to prove her innocence, however, Stacie discovers she's not the only one with a motive for murder. Could it be a colleague at the prestigious law firm where he worked? Or is it tied to the victim's stance on domestic violence? Or maybe even his threats to reveal family secrets? Whatever the true motive may be, it soon becomes clear that Stacie might be the next victim.

Read an excerpt ( Chapter 1):
It had been a while since I’d gone to a bar by myself and I was nervous. It was a Friday night and the DJ joked about song titles and singles. Not too crowded, a few couples danced to the tune he played. Other couples and groups sat in booths or tables. The bar was long and I’d grabbed the last seat at the bar, a great vantage point for checking out the crowd.

Perched on a stool by the bar, I was on my second glass of wine when I spotted him. A dark-haired Adonis in snug jeans and a tapered polo shirt, he scanned the room. The wine did its job and I felt good. I caught his eye. My soon-to-be ex wasn’t the only one who could fool around. I winked and he smiled – his smile about knocked me over. My heart raced as he sauntered in my direction.
“Hi. Care to dance?” He extended his hand and I nodded. The DJ played a slow song and he was a strong lead. I couldn’t help but notice the woodsy scent of his aftershave as he held me in his arms and we danced. When the song was over, he walked me back to my spot at the bar.  
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Uh, sure. Viognier, please.”
I almost admitted that two was my limit but decided I could sip this one. Viognier isn’t the most popular of wines. That he didn’t question my choice surprised me. Ted certainly did. Often.
He signaled the bartender and ordered the wine along with a scotch and water for himself. “I’m Rick. Rick Murdock.”
I hesitated and answered with a smile, “You can call me Barbie.” If this was my once in my lifetime one-night-stand, I didn’t want to use my real name.
His eyes narrowed for a split-second before he nodded. The bartender delivered our drinks and distracted him from the name issue.
“Thanks!” I lifted my glass and he tapped it with his.
“Cheers! So, Barbie… what do you think of the music the DJ is serving us?”
I had to give him credit. It was better than the “Come here often?” I expected. Then again, Creekview Lounge catered to a different crowd than Rockies. We exchanged opinions on music and danced to a few more songs.
Along the way, I finished the third glass of wine, gained a better appreciation of the muscles in his shoulders and noticed his hazel eyes. As I tried not to stumble, he caught me.
“You all right?”
I licked my lip, flicked my hair over my shoulder, and tried for a flirty look. “I think some fresh air would help.”
His multi-watt smile came back at me and we walked outside. In the parking lot, we commented on how good the crisp cool air felt. He leaned toward me and I toward him. The wine had diminished my inhibitions and I responded when he kissed me. Then his hand was on my back and I burst into tears.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just… I can’t do this. I’m not as slimy as Ted. I’m so sorry.”
He dropped his hands and put them up in front of his body as he stepped back. The smile was long gone. “No problem. No problem.”
I turned and ran to my car, still crying. After a few minutes and a little calmer, I drove to my empty townhouse. Thankfully, I didn’t get stopped by a police car or have an accident.
It wasn’t that late – a little after midnight. That’s what I told myself as I called my best friend Jillian. I didn’t get any farther than “I hope it’s not too late” and I burst into tears.
“Stacie, what’s wrong?”
I was crying too hard to talk. I squeaked out, “I went to the Creekview Lounge. I thought I could be like Ted. That’s not me. I tried and I can’t do this this dating thing again.”
“Stacie, you are only 34 years old. You have a great job at Foster’s Insurance Group. You’re educated and smart. Maybe you could go back to school and get that graduate degree in counseling you wanted before Ted.”
“I don’t know about graduate school. What about all the weight I’ve gained? I’m not a size 6 anymore. Each day I find another gray hair. The thoughts of going out and trying to meet somebody is scary and tonight proved it.”
“You have beautiful dark brown hair and blue eyes, and so what if you’re a size 10 now. There’s a man out there – a better man than Ted. Did you see any prospects at Creekview?”
“Yeah, there was one guy. His name was Rick. He was a great dancer and when he smiled – wow!”
“So what happened?”
“Well, I said I needed a breath of air and then he kissed me. I just lost it. I mean I’m not even divorced yet. I burst into tears and sat in my car until I could drive. Then I came home and called you because you’re my friend.” I burst into tears again.
“Stacie, you know if this guy was even halfway good-looking and interested, there’s hope. Was he attractive?”
“Oh, he was easy on the eyes for sure. Tall, dark, and handsome. Muscular. And that’s not the alcohol talking. I only had a couple glasses of wine.”
“Was he drunk?”
“No, he didn’t seem drunk at all. He seemed like a nice guy and a good dancer. He wasn’t pushy at all and didn’t get mad when I freaked. Maybe because I met Ted there … that was 12 years ago. We were supposed to have a happily ever after.”
“Listen, Ted’s scum. You have a lot of years left for happiness. Look at me. I didn’t meet Wade until I was 30. My thirtieth birthday bash with you and Trina. Remember what fun we had that night?”
We talked more about the fun times. Jillian and I shared some laughs and by the time I hung up I felt much better. I surveyed my townhouse. It had been six months since I bought it and moved in, but it didn’t quite feel like home. The only pictures were of my parents and brother, and then a couple of friends. Ted insisted on keeping our dog, Jasper, and I missed him. Maybe I’d get a dog or a cat to keep me company.

The next week, my breakfast on the table, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, the sight confused me.
“Ma’am. Mrs. Noth?”
“How did you find me?” I asked Rick Murdock as he stood on my front step. Even two weeks later, I hadn’t forgotten how good he looked or how humiliated I felt about that night.
“Ma’am. Your address was on the divorce papers. Can we come in please?”
My brain kicked in and I realized Rick wasn’t talking – it was the other man on the step. The balding stocky one in uniform with a scowl on his face, a smoker from the odor wafting off of him. And then I realized Rick was in uniform, too. He still looked good and gave off a woodsy scent.
“What’s going on?” My gaze went from one man to the other.
“Mrs. Noth, if you don’t want us to come in, we can go down to the station. We have some questions we need to ask you.”
I stepped aside so they could come inside. “I don’t understand. What kind of questions?”
My thoughts were running in circles. Could I have broken a law at the Creekview Lounge that night and not have remembered? Did Rick think I was soliciting? Did they catch me on camera drinking and driving?
“May we sit down? I’m Officer Flatt and this is Officer Murdock.”
“Sure… What’s going on?”
“Mrs. Noth when was the last time you talked to or saw your husband?”
“As I’m sure he told you, it was yesterday at a meeting with our lawyers. Is he still complaining I refused the ‘irreconcilable differences’ lies?” My anger at Ted surfaced once again.
“What time was that ma’am?”
“The meeting was at 3:30. I had to leave work early to make it there on time. He finally grabbed the papers and left, must have been after 4. I was home before the 5 o’clock news. I don’t understand. Is he accusing me of something? Are you here to serve me a gag order?” I huffed, my anger rising.
I glanced from one officer to the other. Rick avoided my gaze and shuffled his feet.
“No ma’am. Mr. Noth isn’t accusing you of anything. He’s dead and…”
I didn’t hear the rest of his sentence. “What? No!” And then I passed out.

I groaned and opened my eyes. Rick stood there with a glass of water. “Here, drink this.”
I sat up and looked to Officer Flatt. “I’m sorry. I don’t usually faint. Did you say Ted was dead? That can’t be. I just talked to him yesterday.”
“That is what I said. He was murdered sometime last night.”
“Ma’am. After you left your husband yesterday, what did you do?”
“I came home.”
“Can anyone vouch for that? Anyone here with you?”
“Huh? What? No one was here with me. It was just me and a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream.” Then it dawned on me. This man suspected I’d killed Ted!
“Oh, my gosh. You think I killed him? I can’t even kill spiders.”
Officer Flatt shook his head a bit before he answered. “Calm down. We have to ask these questions.”
“I’ll get you more water.” Rick picked up my glass and disappeared into my kitchen. He came back with the water and nodded to Officer Flatt. “One empty Rocky Road carton in the trash.”
I glared at him. How dare he check my trash? “Just so you know, I didn’t eat it all at once.”
His mouth twitched, but he didn’t say a word.
“Just a few more questions. About your divorce…”
“Excuse me, but do I need to call my lawyer? I don’t think I should talk to you until I call my lawyer. Of course, he’s a divorce attorney, but he must know something about other kinds of law, right?”
Rick was back to staring at the ceiling and Officer Flatt studied the floor. Standing up, Officer Flatt put his little book and pen in his pocket. “We’ll be in touch or Detective O’Hare will be if there are any other questions. Here’s my card.”
He started to leave, Rick following his lead.
“Wait. Has anyone else been notified? Do I need to call his family? What should I tell them? Where is he? Who will take care of the funeral?”
Officer Flatt blinked before he answered. “You’ll have to talk with Detective O’Hare at the Beckman Springs Police Department.” He shook his head as he turned and left. Rick hesitated and then was gone.

My eggs were cold, but it didn’t matter. I’d lost my appetite.

Excerpt from Christa Nardi Prestige, Privilege and Murder. Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.

Prestige, Privilege and Murder is available for pre-order at a reduced price - it will be released on January 10, 2018! This is the first of the Stacie Maroni mysteries.  Available on AMAZON

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Blog post and review: ARIA TO DEATH

Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin
When Monteverdi's lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .
Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi. 
Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern. 
The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?


Kaspar had high hopes of an inheritance that would solve his financial woes and he is disappointed by the chest he receives of musical scores.  Were these the work of Monteverdi? If so, perhaps it's not so bad. Kaspar had no idea his uncle had these musical scores, but obviously others not only knew about them, but believe them to be of high value. Unfortunately, Kaspar is killed before he can find out. Haydn is left with his initial task - finding and authenticating the lost operas of Monteverdi while at once identifying those who want them and not ending up the next victim. 

The story is easy to follow and the context unique. An interesting journey and Haydn is a likable main character. Those who have interest in music history and opera will most likely enjoy this tale.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.



Free Haydn Mystery at Taste of Murder:



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Monday, December 4, 2017

Blog tour and Book Review: TWOFER MURDER by Lauren Carr

About the Book

Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder? 
Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go away for a fishing weekend only to get caught up in the murder of a journalist investigating fraud at a timber company. Meanwhile, the ladies are spending the weekend in the presidential suite at a posh resort where Jessica Faraday is to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late grandmother at a murder mystery writers conference. But before they have time to get their facials, they get wrapped up in their own real mystery when an up and coming author ends up dead!

Lauren Carr’s Twofer Murder is a 2-for-1—making it a must-read for any mystery fan!

Content Rating: 

PG + M (Please be aware that TWOFER MURDER is a murder mystery. There are depictions of murder and some violence--though easy on the gore contents. No f-words but there may be some mild profanity, and mild religious expletives such as "damn", "hell" and "Oh God!". Some depictions of brief sexual content (kissing). No drug use or underage drinking among the protagonists.)


The males go off for a fishing trip and male bonding - dogs included. Needless to say with in-laws and potential in-laws and siblings, there is a bit of stress to this bonding experience. Add to that a contest to see who can catch the most fish and very different opinions on what constitutes food and relaxation. Tristan's cheese puffs keep disappearing, the investigative reporter is killed and David's friend from high school is involved along with the lumber company. And of course, all the men are worried about the women when one of the newest best selling authors is murdered at their author conference in Las Vegas. 

Archie is scheduled to interview Daniels who they all think killed his wife some years ago, while Jessica was scheduled to interview LeClair the new best selling author. There's the would-be author who nags Archie to edit his book and agent Nick who only takes on the elite among authors. Dallas and Sarah are there for the relaxation along with Monique who keeps getting lost in the suite and Spencer. As VIPs, the ladies have a private concierge, Garth, who takes good care of them, including Monique. Thinks get more complicated when the assassin who saved Dallas' life once shows up and then vanishes into thin air. The women collectively now not only want to find LeClair's murderer, but also figure out the intended victim to prevent another murder. 

Definitely a twofer -- two mysteries, connected by the characters in Carr's  series. The pace in both mysteries is steady with Gnarly, Monique and the other pets providing some comic relief. There are red herrings, but the resolutions make sense. The big question is who caught how many fish as they all meet back at Mac and Archie's. Fans of Carr's three series will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn't. Keep in mind, this is the equivalent of two books - not a quick read.

This can be read as a stand-alone with two mysteries in one volume. That said, I'd recommend reading at least one of the more recent books from each of the
three series to have more history on the characters.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Blog Tour Cover Reveal: HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE by Tina Kashian

When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu . . .

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect . . .

Recipes included!




Coming February 27, 2018 from Kensington Books!!

You can pre-order your copy today!!

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blog Tour and Review: CANAL DAYS CALAMITY : A Dog Days Mystery by Jamie M. Blair

Canal Days Calamity (A Dog Days Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)
Cameron Cripps-Hayman is taken aback when she stumbles upon another murdered neighbor, this time behind her sister's shop, Dog Diggity. The timing couldn't be worse, as there's only a week left before the store's grand opening during Canal Days, the biggest festival of the year.
When the police arrest her handyman, Cameron knows they've got the wrong suspect, so the Metamora Action Agency sets their sights on cracking the case. With one solved murder under their belts, how hard could a second be?
With a flood warning and a murderer on the loose threatening the start of Canal Days, can Cameron and her crew save the town's annual dog and pony show from being canceled?

There's a lot going on around as Cam, her sister, and mother get ready for Canal Days. If not the handyman, then who? The characters are on the quirky side and there are surprises along the way. The Metamora Action Agency has a lot of confidence but not so much experience with some humorous effects. Cam and her sister have a lot invested in Canal Days with the gourmet dog food store. 

This is the second in the Dog Days Mystery series. It can be read as a stand alone - I haven't read the first one - but it may be easier to follow the characters and relationships (like Cam's with her ex who she's dating) if you've read the first one. Personalities and relationships make the story.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

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uxzaib88_400x400About The Author

Jamie Blair (Ohio) is the award-winning author of young adult and romance books, including Leap of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and Lost to Me. Visit her online at and on Twitter at

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