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Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
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review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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Notable Quotable & Giveaway: The Widow’s Watcher by Eliza Maxwell

 
THE WIDOW’S WATCHER
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: March 29, 2018
Number of Pages: 286Scroll down for the giveaway!

From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…
Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.
Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness. 
But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?
PRAISE FOR THE WIDOW’S WATCHER:
“There was a moment I had to tell myself that this is just a book…”
Goodreads reviewer
“A well-paced story of healing, forgiveness and tragedy, with enough unexpected twists to keep readers guessing.”
— Amber Cowie, author of Rapid Falls

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Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever-patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers.
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Covey Jencks by Shelton L. Williams

 
COVEY JENCKS
by
Shelton L. Williams
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS: 
I just love Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls! They are a modern couple who remind me of Nick and Nora in West Texas. Characters, crimes, and social commentary leap off the page. Shelly can tell a story! Deborah Crombie, author of the award-winning mysteries of Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid

I loved the story, the writing, and the prospects for future Covey Jencks adventures, but what I love the most, as an African- American author and documenter of human experience, is the proof that this work presents of the inextricability of Black and White lives in America. Sharon T. Freeman, CEO of Gems of Wisdom Consulting, author of 24 books, and global development expert

A dead body and a miscarriage of justice? What is a West Texas boy to do? Well, Covey Jencks, an Odessa native who knows some secrets, spurns his job with a Washington, DC law firm, and heads back to his hometown to solve the crime. Prudence Mackintosh, Contributing Editor, Texas Monthly, author of Thundering Sneakers and more

“I have unfinished business in Odessa, by God, Texas.” And with that, we are off on a wild ride with Covey Jencks as he tries to find out who killed Freddie Mae Johnson, a black prostitute, when Covey was a junior in high school. If you like your detectives to be misfits who chafe at the social rules, idealists who try to find the order behind apparent chaos, attractors of a cast of characters as contradictory as the detective is, you will grab hold of Covey and hang on until the end of the ride. When you get there, you’ll know for sure that you’ve been somewhere. Carol Daeley, Professor Emerita of English, Austin College.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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Author Video & Giveaway: High Treason by DiAnn Mills

HIGH TREASON
An FBI Task Force Novel, #3
by
DiANN MILLS
  
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: February 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.
Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?  

“Compelling characters and a riveting plot that fits seamlessly with current events make this novel impossible to put down. Readers can count on being glued to the pages late into the night – as “just one more chapter” turns into “can’t stop now.”” – RT Book Reviews


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Who is DiAnn Mills?
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian fiction category for Firewall.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed.

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Review & Giveaway: Lady Jane Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

LADY JAYNE DISAPPEARS

by
JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO
  Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 416
Scroll down for giveaway!
When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet house guest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance—and perhaps even her father’s death.

Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.

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Praise for Lady Jayne Disappears:

“Emotional. Intriguing. Both haunting and romantic. . . In her historical fiction debut, Joanna Davidson Politano delivers a smart plot that navigates twists and turns with a mixture of wit, intelligent characters, and a refreshingly original voice. Reminiscent of Dickens’ classic storytelling, Lady Jayne Disappears is a debut to remember!”
Kristy Cambron, author of The Illusionist’s Apprentice

“Wonderfully unique, this compelling debut grabs you from the first intriguing line. The evocative English setting, textured characters, literary theme, and unusual romance make Lady Jayne Disappears a standout, the lovely cover offering a hint of the gem within. A must read!”
Laura Frantz, author of A Moonbow Night

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300b2-review
I am having trouble putting into words why this book grips me so. I think the cover, lovely like the cameo necklace my mother wore when I was a small child, beckoned me first. But then that opening chapter bound me in such a way that it tortured me to have to put this book down to get some sleep. I knew I should have started reading this over the weekend!
In retrospect, the first chapter reads different from the rest of the novel. Maybe it’s because of the terseness of the situation, but the tone doesn’t feel as Victorian as the chapters that follow. After allowing the characters to live in my mind these past few days, I also feel that the characterization of Aurelie is a little off. It is only in this first chapter that you will hear someone describe our heroine as “plain”. For the rest of the book, everyone describes her as ethereal and lovely like a wood nymph. There are even times that Aurelie looks in the mirror after a makeover and finds herself breathtaking.
I hope I’m not painting the girl as a narcissist, because she is anything but. Her talent for wordsmithing is the only thing that could tempt her to take pride in herself, and she’s easily deflated. For whatever reason, I can’t shake the idea that she reminds me of a Fannie Price, although she is much more resilient than that slip of an Austen girl. But just like Fannie, Aurelie struggles as she watches the man she loves fall for another woman (or does he?).
I don’t know if it’s because of the time period, but I felt a lot of Austen influence. Aurelie could be a cross between Fannie and Elizabeth Bennet. Juliette reminded me of an Emma mixed with Lydia Bennet. Jasper was a Wickham through and through but Silas was a hunky mix of Edmund, Mr. Darcy, and Colonel Brandon. I’m sure I would find more parallels if I put my mind to it, but I will stop there. I don’t know if the author had these characters in mind when she wrote Lady Jayne, but I do know that the mix of Austen characters I listed are polar opposites from each other. So no matter the similarities, Politano has achieved something truly special with her authentic characters.
I thought it was funny when Silas asks Aurelie about her reading preferences. Austen is mentioned but glossed over. The two prefer the less respectable form of serials, which reminded me of how the Northanger Abby characters were scandalously into gothic novels.
But enough Austen talk. The cast of characters in Lady Jane is, dare I say, perfect. No superfluous or unbelievable people are in this book. Nor do I feel like someone is missing from the line up. I’m pretty sure that this is one of the few books that have made me feel like that. I’m always quick to notice when someone says or does something out of turn. And I take wicked pleasure in pointing out when an author tosses in a token character that is hip at the moment. No one spoke a word or acted out of character, and yet I was anxious to see what would happen next. For a book where everything just felt right, Politano kept me guessing nonetheless.
I kept wondering if I could guess what was to come, and was delighted when the author proved me wrong over and over again. I adore this book and have added it to my rotation of books that are read several times a year.

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her on her website.

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Review & Giveaway: Hidden Sea by Miles Arceneaux

HIDDEN SEA
by
MILES ARCENEAUX
  Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 2017
Number of Pages: 384
Scroll down for giveaway!
Charlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.
But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.
Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.
What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.
Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.
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Praise for Hidden Sea:

“A riveting story from Texas that wanders down the cartel-invested Gulf Coast of Mexico and drifts across to lawless Cuba. The characters are as salty as the sea and the plot pulls you along as powerfully as the loop current.
W.F. Strong, Stories from Texas, Texas Standard Radio Network
“Hidden Sea is a total blast: smart, funny, and riveting, with unforgettably colorful characters and a world so alive that you’ll swear you’re really there.”
Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone
  
“In Hidden Sea, Miles Arceneaux tosses us in the drink of a timely contemporary adventure tale with the Sweetwater clan, complete with pirates, slave ships, family secrets, and the mother of all plot twists, in his patented Gulf Coast noir style.”
Michelle Newby Lancaster, Contributing Editor, Lone Star Literary Life, NBCC Literary Critic
300b2-review
“North Beach” is the first Miles Arceneaux book that I got my paws on, and I was thoroughly impressed with the trio’s storytelling. It took me a little longer to ease into this book, but once I was in, I was hooked. Although very far away from anything I’ve experienced in my life, the story is very real and the characters are authentic.
Dialogue is often painful to read in books, especially when another language is involved. But Arceneaux flits between English and Spanish effortlessly. And with so many different characters with varying levels of English proficiency, Arceneaux manages to keep the dialogue style consistent and fluid from one person to the next.
What Arceneaux crafts even better than dialogue is characters. Colorful doesn’t begin to describe the cast of “Hidden Sea”. Even characters that exist on only a few pages are multifaceted and interesting. It makes me wonder if Arceneaux plans to spin off a few of the key characters in the future.
Are you the type of person who can see things coming from a mile away? I dare you to guess how this story turns out. You’d be wrong. I am not usually surprised by books, but this one made me pause every once in a while to absorb what just happened. The suspense of whether Augie will be found in time is exciting. Heck, I was shocked by revelations that I wasn’t expecting to find. Arceneaux never takes the easy or predictable way out.
I can hardly put into words how much I love this book. The social issues are timely and the story is truly riveting. What are you waiting for? Get a copy and start reading!

“Miles Arceneaux” is the pen name of three long-time Texas friends. James R. Dennis is a former attorney turned Dominican friar who lives in San Antonio. Brent Douglass is an international businessman from Austin. John T. Davis, also of Austin, is a journalist and author. Together, as “Miles,” they have been featured authors at the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, and the Lubbock Book Festival.
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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Unremembered Girl by Eliza Maxwell


THE UNREMEMBERED GIRL

by
ELIZA MAXWELL
  Genre: Psychological Suspense / Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 332
Scroll down for giveaway!
In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken young woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.


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Praise for The Grave Tender, Maxwell’s previous book:

“An emotional powerhouse of a story that will leave readers reeling from the beginning to the end.” —Christena Stephens, Forgotten Winds

“Beautiful and intoxicating.” —Chelsea Humphrey, The Suspense is Thrilling Me

“Haunting. Lyrical. Beautiful. Dark. At times, sickening.” —Julia Byers, Books in the Garden

“This is dark psychological suspense that skillfully inspires a slow-dawning dread. . .It will shred you.” — Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
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GuestPost

Building a Book

GUEST POST

By Author Eliza Maxwell

 

A few years ago, my parents decided to retire and buy their dream home.  In keeping with their life long tendency to go steadfastly in the opposite direction of sane people, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you, it was a shack.  Literally.  A shack on stilts, located dead center of nowhere, in a swamp where the alligators outnumbered the far-flung neighbors. By a lot.

“It has bars on the windows!”  I said.  “Why does it have bars on the windows?”

Mom shrugged.  “It has a hole in the floor, too.”

Imagine my face.

“A hole?  Was someone trying to get in… Or trying to get out?”

Aaaaand… she shrugged at me again.  

A master of the shrug, my mom.

“Oh, calm down,” she said.  “We’re not going to live here.  It’s just a staging area while we build a house.”

A small sigh of relief, but short-lived.  Said future home at that time consisted of nothing more than conceptual drawings sketched out in my dad’s familiar scrawl.  As I lie there that night, listening to the scratch of things best not named across the roof and the hoots and calls of the wildlife that had claimed this murky green place long before my parents, I fell asleep to the dance and sway of the old battered building stretching on its precarious perch.

I’ll admit, I’ve had better night’s sleep.  But in between the fits and starts of waking to “The Shack” inexplicably shifting from one side to another (No, I’m not joking. The place moved.) the seeds of Henry and Eve’s story were planted.

A love story, maybe.  But the darker side of love.  A love that’s nothing less than the worst thing that could ever happen.  A love you might not survive.  A love that could bury you.

Over the next few months, my dad built a house, and I built a book.

The shack is still there, waiting.

“What are you guys going to do with that thing?” I asked.

My mom just shrugged.

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers. You can find her at theelizamaxwell@gmail.com
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
Grand Prize ($90 value): Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, 1.75 mL bottle of Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Jusalpha white porcelain decorative cake stand, recipe for “Caroline’s Coconut Cake” (featured in the book), $20 Amazon Gift Card.
2nd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, $10 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl
October 5-October 14, 2017
(U.S. Only; proof of age 21 or older required to receive vodka)
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