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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review - Tomorrow River

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *
 
Here is the review of the book that is up for the giveaway.  You still have a chance to enter for this book - and I think after you read the review you probably will want to enter.  It is brand spanking new, hitting the stores TODAY. 
 
 
Author:  Lesley Kagen
 
Copyright: April 29, 2010 (Dutton Adult); 342 pgs.

Series: Stand alone novel

Sensuality: Adult references

Mystery sub-genre: Suspense

Main Character:  11 year old Shenandoah (Shenny) Wilson Carmody

Setting: 1969 Shenandoah Valey Virginia

Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review


When I received this book from the publisher the blurb got my attention and I was looking forward to reading it.  It does not dissapoint ladies and gentlemen, I will say that upfront.  When I was in school I had to read the short story "Haircut" by Ring Lardner, it was so good I remember it to this day.  This novel reminds me of that short story for how skillfully a terrible truth is slowly revealed.  If you know that short story then you will understand what I am saying.  Enough of that, on to the review.

The one year anniversary of Shenandoah and her twin, Woody's (Jane Woodrow) mothers disappearance is approaching.  The night of Evelyn Carmody's dissapearance was the last time that Woody has spoken.  Her last words were "Mama gone, Mama gone" and not another word.  Woody is the family artist and her drawings have become dark and bloody.  Woody is emotionally fragile and Shenny takes over the care of Woody since their bond as twins allows her to understand Woody when nobody else can.   Over the last year their father, a powerful judge of the area, has become increasing drunk and abusive to his girls, often locking them in the cellar overnight.  This doesn't help Woody's emotional state and Shenny decides she just has to find her mother because they can't keep going like this - Woody can't keep going.  The story that follows is spellbinding.

Where to begin?  Shenny is a character I doubt you will forget for a very long time.  This eleven year old leaps off the pages and you feel her bravado and vulnerability in the depths of your heart.  She is wise-cracking, strong, coureageous, laugh-out-loud funny and poignant.  Through her eyes you piece together what must have happened to her mother that night and yet she doesn't see it.  With each chapter another part of the drama drops in place and Shenny is too grounded in what she believes of people and circumstances whereas the reader isn't so blinded with preconceptions.

Then there is Woody, Shenny's twin who is clearly emotionally scarred from whatever she knows of that fateful night.  This character is lovingly brought to life with a very skilled touch.  Fine details in the rendering of the twins make them living and breathing people rather than paper and ink.  Details, such as how the twins have their own language and when Shenny uses their words it calms Woody, bring to life how their connection sustains them.

A supporting character that surprisingly shines through strongly is the poor boy across the river, E.J. Tittle.  E.J. is homely and not socially an equal who is completely devoted to Woody and daily is by the twins' side doing everything in his power to help them.  Shenny calls him their sidekick and he proves his worth several times and has his comic moments too.

I must mention the character of Evelyn Carmody, the twin's missing mother.  Through Shenny's bittersweet memories of her mother an idependant, liberated northerner who loves poetry and musicals haunts the pages.  To craft a character from snippets of memories is daunting but Ms. Kagen is wildly successful at it.  I adored this yankee whose free spirit came up against a heart-of-the-south community.  
She lies down so gently beside me, I have to check to make sure that she actually has.  "Don't do that.  You're givin' me the creeps," I say, trying to pry her arms apart.  She's firmly X'd them across her chest and lowered her lids.  With Mama's dusting powder covering her from head to toe, she looks exactly like one of the corpses over at Last Tidings funeral parlor that's waiting for somebody to tip the casket closed so they can be on their way.  "Look Woody," I say, getting strict with her.  "I know you're hurtin' so bad that you wish you were, but you're in fact - not dead.  Remember how I felt the same way when I got so melancholy?  You got to shake this off.  Pull yourself up by your bootstraps."  I'm trying to hold my breath so I don't smell Mama's Chantilly powder.  "I didn't make much progress today, but I'll find her, just wait and see.  It'd help a lot if you'd quit runnin' off."
 
I know it seems like I don't miss my mother as much as she does, but I do.  It's just that Woody is counting on me to rescue our damsel in distress, so I cannot wear my feelings on my sleeve the way she does.  I got to stay strong, armored up, but I want you to know, there is no way to describe how much I pine for our mother.  The way she presses her cool full lips down to soak the fever off my forehead.  Her cheeks smooth as the underbelly of leaves and how her honey hair...aw, shoot.
The characters are rich and highly memorable.  The plot holds up it's end as well.  As the one year anniversary fast approaches, marked by the return of the carnival, events gain momentum toward an edge-of-your-seat climax and twist ending that I really didn't see coming.  I can not think of a single area that could be improved in this story.  Am I gushing?  I suspect that this novel is so good that a few decades from now it will be considered an enduring classic.  That is right, you heard it hear first!  This is my un-compensated honest opinion of this novel.  I clearly recommend Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen.
 
For your convenience you can get your copy here.
 
 
 
 
 
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Author Interview: Lesley Kagen and Book Giveaway!

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *
 
Thursday I will be reviewing Tomorrow River (Release date April 29) by Lesley Kagen but I am posting the wonderful interview with her and the book giveaway now.  "Set during the summer of '69 in rural Virginia chronicles the dramatic changes in the lives of 11-year-old Shenny Carmody and her twin sister, Woody, nearly a year after their mother's disappearance. Woody hasn't spoken since, and their father, a renowned judge, spends most of his nights in a drunken stupor.  Shenny, adventurous and bright, takes it upon herself to locate their beloved Mama and discover why she left them."  Publisher's Weekly.  Ms. Kagen became a first time novelist at 57 - never too late!
 

- Do you start your next book with the problem, the main character or a plot idea?

I start with the main character, the voice of the novel.

- Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?

Nope. I just sit down and let 'er rip. I'm surprised every day!

- What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write?

I let the characters lead the way. They're my boss.

- How do you find time for writing, what works for you - and do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?

I write at the same time every single day, no days off. I get up usually around 6AM, let my dogs out, feed them, and make myself a gigantic cup of tea. I write in the same spot. In front of a window in my living room. I think it's important to keep to a routine. I've recently started experimenting with listening to white noise while I write and I'm liking it.

- What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

I write an average of five hours every day, sometimes more if I'm feeling particularly in the groove. My preferred time to finish a book is about a year and a half.

- How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?

Don't really research too much. If I have a question about a date or song or old TV show, I just Google it.

- Setting seems as important as the characters in your novel, any tips on conveying a sense of place well?

Yes, setting is important to me, it grounds me in the story. I think it's important to have experienced where you're writing about. I know a lot of writers can do that. Write about a place they've never been, but I can't. I need to have spent some time there. Preferably a lot of time.

- Can you recommend a fiction book that provides a great example of the writing craft to dissect and learn from?

Gosh, there are so many books I admire. For some reason, Ivan Doig comes to mind. His stories just flow.

- What are you currently reading?

I just finished Joe Hill's HORNS. I don't usually read horror, but I loved it. Very dark, yet hopeful. Interestingly constructed. Excellent characterizations as well. Layered.

- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hmmm...I guess that I love to write from the perspective of a child. And that I have to wear my jammies and a fuzzy white jacket when doing so.

- How did you get your first break towards getting published? Was it sending in a query or meeting an agent at a writing conference etc?

I sent over 135 queries to agents before I found one that agreed to represent me!

- Do you participate in a critique group (or have you in the past?) What are the pros and cons of critique groups?

I don't participate in a critique group and never have so I have no real insights to offer. I have a writing friend who does, though, and she loves the feedback! I think writers have to experiment to find what works best for them.

Great questions! Thanks for having me!
Warmest regards,
Lesley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Thank You Lesley for a great interview ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now on to the next Book Giveaway. The publisher has graciously provided 2 copies of Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen for promotional giveaway. Review coming Thursday.



Please read the directions carefully as I have changed one or two things.

How to Enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post (or possibly in an email.)

I will stop taking entries for this giveaway Friday April 30 at midnight and will announce the winner Monday the May 3rd.

For each point you earn you will have one entry in the random drawing. There is a chance for 9 points total for each contestant and thus 9 entries each.

+1 for leaving a comment with your correct email information. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email in a comment, please email me your information at: mysterysuspense1 at gmail dot com.

+2 for posting on your blog about this giveaway with a link back, please supply link to your blog post in the comments

+2 for each new member you bring to this blog (you must identify the new member you brought) limit of 2 new per contest

+1 for having this blog's button in a side bar of your blog with a link back, please supply link in comments

+1 for tweeting about this contest, please post link in comments


Comment/email example:

+1 here is my email address so you can notify me I won _ _ _ _ _ @ _ _ _ .com

+2 here is the link to the post I did on my blog for this giveaway (http://myblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/book giveaway hurry)

+2 for new google member Sadie197 I brought to your blog

+1 for adding your blog button to my blog sidebar (http://myblog.blogspot.com/)

+1 here is the link to the tweet I did on this giveaway (http://twitter.com/NICKI0162/status/7657117606)


Thank you for participating and good luck!




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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: The Pendragon Murders

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Author: J.M.C. Blair

Copyright: February, 2010 (Berkley); 320 pgs.

Series: #3 in A Merlin Investigation

Sensuality: Many references and nudity

Mystery sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Merlin, of Arthurian legend

Setting: Medieval England


Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review


I was really looking forward to this book.  I enjoy the Camelot and Merlin tales.  I loved Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment).  So to have Merlin as an amateur sleuth was an appealing concept to me.

Plague has been brought to England via merchant ships.  Merlin and his two aids, Nimue and Petronus, are in the port town of Dover for the autumn market festival.  Merlin is first on the scene and identifies it as the plague.  They hurry back to Camelot to be a nerve center and try to be a communications hub for news of the spread of the plague.  But on the way  back they come across a Baron brutally murdered at Stonehenge.  Then a death occurs at Camelot seeming to be the plague, but Merlin isn't convinced.  Could somebody be killing off contenders for the thrown by mimicing the plague?  Merlin grows more suspicious as the body count rises.

The following quote is at Stonehenge with Morgan about to perform a ceremony.
The torches still shone brightly in the half-light.  Glowing patterns danced on the monument's stones as the procession moved in to the heart of the monument.  The clouds overhead closed up again; the sun, which they were there to celebrate, was lost completely behind them.

Then suddenly, abruptly, all forward motion halted.  The people at the front of the march broke ranks and began to mill about in the most disorganized manner.  There were shouts.  The music petered out and stopped.

Morgan bellowed, "What is the problem up there?  Why have you all stopped?"  She turned to Mordred and told him to run ahead and see what the problem was.

Merlin took his two young companions each by the hand.  "Let us go and see."

The orderly procession was quickly dissolving into a disorganized mob.  But Merlin was determined to enter the monument and see what the problem was.  He, Nimue and Petronus forced their way through the throng just behind Mordred.

Inside the stone circle, Mordred stopped and seemed to freeze.  Merlin pushed past him.
The horseshoe of trilithons loomed around them, each formed by a pair of massive stone uprights topped by a stone lintel.  The space at the center was empty of people; they were backing away. 

Then he saw what was alarming them.  Lashed to the altar at the monument's center were three men.  One was prone on the top of the stone; the other two were lashed securely to its sides.  A web of leather thogns held them in place. 

The throat of each man was slashed.  The altar stone and the earth around it were covered in dried blood.

And then he recognized them.  "In the name of everything human."  The dead men were Lord Darrowfield and his sons.
The book leaves much in the way of period language completely out which was a bit jarring. Even more jarring are the modern concepts of how disease spreads that Merlin embraces.  Merlin has a reputation as a wizard that he hates.  He is portrayed as a scholar and an early physician who hates all forms of superstition. He is flippant, arthritic, cranky and has a really cynical view of the world and of human nature.  Merlin's cynical outlook is perhaps why this seems to be a bit darker book than I was anticipating.


Merlin's aid Nimue is a rather liberated and free thinking woman for the time period which is really out of place.  Out of all the characters she has some potential but was only a minor player in this book.  I hope she gets more attention in other books in the series.
 
Arthur seems to be two different people, one self absorbed who won't listen to wise council and the other a statesman adept at the middle road.  It was hard to warm up to this portrayal of Arthur.
 
Morgan, Arthur's notorious sister and high priestess to the ancient Goddess belief system (remember Avalon?) is practically a cliche always wearing flowing black gowns.  The other priestess in the tale is also all in black.   Morgan is naturally portrayed as conniving and always plotting against Arthur yet for such a role she is rather cardboard.
 
As for the murderer, it isn't hard to figure out with a process of elimination for who had opportunity in each case inspite of litering the playing field with several suspects.  There seemed to be an entire chapter whose events don't justify being included. 
 
If you typically don't like medieval stories because of the difficult language this might be a book for you.  If you are an avid Camelot fan, this may not live up to expectations.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A little something extra for you ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pecan Pumpkin Crumble
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs1
16 oz can (2 cups) pumpkin
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 box yellow or white plus cake mix
1 cup melted butter
¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. In large bowl combine sugar, spice, eggs, pumpkin and milk; blend well.
Pour into ungreased 13 X 9 pan.
Sprinkle with dry cake mix.
Drizzle evenly with melted butter until top is covered.
Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Bake at 350° 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.
Refrigerate until chilled. Cut into squares.


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview: Martha Grimes

Winners of the Giveaway for THE BLACK CAT by Martha Grimes are Pixie13 and the Book Mole.  You should have received an email asking for your mailing addresses.  Congratulations!

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *


Martha Grimes agreed to give us an interview, below are her responses.  Thank you Martha.


- Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?
None of the above; I start with a pub name.

- Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?
No. Once I was writing a Richard Jury mystery and I was stuck, so I thought I’d do an outline. So I wrote an outline, and when I came to the same place, I was still stuck.

- What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write?
I just take the character as he comes.

- How do you find time for writing, what works for you - and do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?
No, you find time by making it a priority. I usually write at home in long hand, but I also like being in coffee shops and writing there.

- What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes a year for me to write a book. Forget the schedule.

- How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?

I do it as I go along.

- Setting seems as important as the characters in your mysteries, any tips on conveying a sense of place well?

That would take a book in itself to answer. Unfortunately, anyone who wants to write should have this sense to begin with.

- Can you recommend a fiction book that provides a great example of the writing craft to dissect and learn from?

There is no such book, I wish there was. What is good about books about writing is that they keep a writer company. For that purpose, they're very useful.

- What are you currently reading?
A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like a lot of different colors of ink when I’m writing.

- How did you get your first break towards getting published? Was it sending in a query or meeting an agent at a writing conference etc?

No. I believe in the process of first writing a book. I sent the first one to a publisher and got it back, another publisher and got it back, another and another and another. The secret is persistence.

- Do you participate in a critique group (or have you in the past?) What are the pros and cons of critique groups?
The pros are they usually have food. The cons? Such groups are fairly useless when it comes to writing.


Here is an additional video of Ms. Grimes that gives some additional information on her writing process.





 



 
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review: A Toast to Murder by Michele Scott

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I have managed to read a second book this week to post...yea!  I am trying to get through that stack.  I hope you are enjoying the extra reviews.  This is a book that was released April 6th.  Enjoy.

Author: Michele Scott

Copyright: April, 2010 (Berkley); 267 pgs.

Series: #6 in A Wine Lover's Mysteries

Sensuality: Mild references 

Mystery sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character: Nikki Sands, once starred in a short lived TV series but now manages a vineyard

Setting: Current day in Napa Valley on the Malveaux Estates/Vineyard

Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review



In book one Nikki gives up the last of her dreams of being an actress in Hollywood and takes a job at the Malveaux vineyard working for Derek - the owner.  Throughout the books there has been increasing romantic tension between Nikki and Derek even though both were dating other people.  Can you tell I have read most of the series?  Most significantly Nikki was dating the manager of another vineyard, Andre and Derek briefly dated Renee Rothschild before coming together - and both Andres and Renee are back in this installment.
The property was acres and acres of rolling vineyard.  On the highest peak, with a fantastic view of the valley, sat the hotel and spa, done in an old-world Tuscan  style that was intended to make guests feel as if they'd really stepped out of the hustle of life and into luxury and relaxation.  Farther back from the hotel was the winery where wine tastings were held daily.  Connected to the winery were the offices where Nikki and Derek worked.  Back behind the offices stood the warehouse and large metal wine vats.  And about half a mile from there stood the old mansion where Derek had grown up and which now served as home to Simon, Marco, and Violet.  Derek and Nikki's home was a smaller ranch style that was located just behind the front gates and to the side of the entrance of the property, set against a lovely pond that a handful of ducks had made their home.
The story begins with introducing Violet, the newly adopted toddler of Simon (Derek's brother) and his partner Marco.  Violet falls asleep with Nikki and upon waking finds gum stuck in her hair.  Only a few days before her wedding to Derek (that's right - they are tying the knot) the gum must be cut out and Simon gets the hairdresser to turn Nikki into a platinum blond while he is at it.  That evening Nikki meets Derek's old college friends for the first time.  Derek's friends seem nothing like the Derek she knows, catty, mean and a bit scandalous.  The fact is established early that Nikki has been receiving notes, even text messages with the theme "Do you believe in fate?" and signed with the Greek words Moros Apate Thanatos (Doom, Deceit and Death) and that morning she had received a newspaper clipping of Derek's first marriage notice to Meredith (first book - she is now in jail and Nikki helped put her there).

To add to the complications to Nikki's life and approaching wedding, Patrice, Derek's step mother, comes back uninvited and moves in claiming this is her home.  Patrice was in the first book and hated Nikki then and probably still does.  The stess mounts and Nikki is trying her best not to be a Bridezilla.  The wedding day seems on track and Simon is walking Nikki down the aisle when Simon takes a bullet in the arm that was likely intended for Nikki.  Then one of Derek's college pals is found dead and the sleuthing begins.  In past books I got tired of Derek's never ending demands that Nikki stop her snooping but this time Derek joins her (partly to protect her and also to speed things up so they can get married.)
Could anyone have a stranger couple of days leading up to their wedding? Not only had all the crazy stuff happened, but now it seemed like all the ghosts of Nikki's past were coming back to haunt her. First Patrice and now Andres and Renee. The even stranger part was that two out of three of the ghosts from Nikki's past had both used the word "fate" when speaking to her.
Nikki still makes a few misteps (she always does) that as a reader you are yelling "No, take Derek with you - don't see Andres alone!"  Nikki is a likeable main character who seems to have a judgement error at least once in each book.  They aren't usually tragic but they do tend to complicate her life and throw some drama in.  As a main character Nikki is well thought out and well rounded with a flaw her or there.  I felt that Derek was portrayed more fully in this book.  In past books I would have a hard time with this character but I liked him in this one much better. 

The story kept moving and the plot was just intricate enough.  I honestly have to say that there were so many viable suspects in this story that my suspicion kept shifting.  It has been a good while since I have been fully stumped as to the killer even though the clues were there. Kudos Ms. Scott. 

The newly introduced characters are nicely brought to life and the drama they all created well done.  The supporting cast of Simon and Marco continue to develop and they definitely grow on you in the books.  The setting is lovingly cast and I have put Napa on my "must vacation there" list due in large part to these books.

I felt the climatic reveal was a bit rushed - Nikki is checking out a theory and in a paragraph or two wham, killer revealed and show down.  I felt like a few more chapters were needed to lead into the revealing of the killer.  But otherwise it was a suspenseful revealing with palpable danger.  I do have reservations for future books - I like the current arrangement and I fear that if Nikki and Derek start a family, as the book indicates they are trying to do, that much of what I like about the series will completely change and be a different dynamic - essentially a different series. I can easily see there being the "before kids" book and the "after kids" books division taking place. 

A Toast To Murder is a well plotted cozy that has reached maturity and pairs with a comfortable chair for a pleasant reading experience. 

As always in the series there are recipes with wine pairings to enjoy.  In this book the recipes include: Peach Galette with Gouda Cheese with Bonterra Rose; Grilled Pork in Sun-dried Cherry Cabernet Sauce with Bonterry Cabernet Sauvignon; Stuffed French Toast with Mimosas, Pan Seared Scallops, Champagne-Pear Cream  and Chervil with Bontera Viognier; Grilled Ahi with Poblano Cream Sauce with Bonterra Chardonnay; Baked Lemon with Mozzarella and Mushroom Crostini with Bonterra Syrah; and Asian Beef Tip Salad with Bonterra Merlot.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.






 
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis

It is National Library week so take a little time this week to get to know your local library if you haven't already. I plan on paying my overdue charges! Yes, I donate to the fund to buy new books regularly via my late fees.

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *


Author: Joanna Challis

Copyright: November, 2009 (Minotaur); 304 pgs.

Series: #1 Daphne du Maurier Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Character: 21 year old Daphne du Maurier, aspiring author (who later writes Rebecca that becomes a movie)

Setting: 1928 Cornwall England

Obtained book through: Library

21-year-old Daphne is visiting Cornwall to research local history and encounters a teenage girl, Lianne Hartley, leaning over a beautiful young woman's dead body on the beach during a storm. Lianne identifies the dead woman as Victoria Bastion, the local town girl who was about to marry Lianne's brother, Lord David Hartley. Daphne soon meets other members of the aristocratic Hartley family, whose complex relationships and great house, an Elizabethan mansion called Padthaway, cast a spell on her. 
My ears may be young," I replied, "but they are not unhinged by scandalous doings.  In fact, it's quite inspirational for me and my writing. Oh yes," I sighed, deciding to include Ewe in on the secret, "I've come to Windemere Lane at the right time.  For a reason."

"A reason?"  Ewe barked.  "Well, I'd put my two bob on you more than Sir E in solving this case.  I reckon one of those Hartleys did it - her ladyship more than likely.  But Sir E, he's a stickler for the old and rich.  He may seem to be investigating, but he'll never betray them, not ever."...

"Oh my," Ewe laughed.  "If I were Sir E, I'd be worried about you."


"Me?"


"Yes, you.  Miss prim and proper Miss Daphne du Maurier wanting to be a writer of great novels."  She paused.  "You've come to Windemere because you wanted adventure, and adventure met you halfway.  You wanted inspiration, well, a real live murder case could be no more inspiration needed..."


She was right.  I'd stumbled right in the midst of murder and mayhem.


In Windemere Lane of all places.  I intended to shake things up and solve the mystery of Victoria Bastion's death. 


It had become my mission.


And nobody could stop me.
Since Ms. du Maurier's family is well known and friends with the Prime Minister she is welcome at the great Padthaway, encouraged to be the friend of Lianne and the grieving groom is takes an interest in her.  All of which gives her easy access to snoop and question.

The young miss du Maurier is staying with the retire nurse to her Daphne's mother on the wild coast of Cornwall.  This tale drips of gothic romantic imagery, but often times the writing is a bit confusing (even to a gothic suspense lover like myself).  If you can wade through the sometimes convoluted and wordy sentences it is an entertaining tale.  The mystery is a classic formula, a secretive and powerful family that the villagers feel will get away with the murder of the beautiful town girl making good by marrying the Lord.  A limited number of people as suspects within the house provide some twists and turns.

The character of miss du Maurier as an imaginative, slightly headstrong and lovely young lady who discovers the dead body and takes on the pleas of the grieving mother to find out who killed Victoria is convincingly portrayed.  I must say I liked the young Daphne who is a mixture of a daydreamer and a sensible character. Her sympathy for her fellow man is deftly balanced by her wariness of a killer roaming free.  The character of her hostess, the retired nurse, is a fun addition with her unswerving curiosity over the murder. 

The story is doled out a bit at a time and sheer curiousity kept me reading.  I enjoyed how a late arrival character, Major Browning is somewhat a mystery and definitely throws some romantic tension into the mix.  There is enough misdirection that I was suspecting the wrong person all together.  Even after the revelation of the murderer, there is one more twist to be uncovered.  The wrap-up leaves us with a potential on-going romantic interest as a tantalizing morsel to keep us eagerly awaiting the next book.  It is a promising debut for a new series.  I hope that the writing gets smoother and cleaner which would make this a stellar series.

For your convenience you may purchase your copy here.



 




 
 
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Author Interview - M. Louise Locke & Book Giveaway

It is National Library week so take a little time this week to get to know your local library if you haven't already.  I plan on paying my overdue charges! Yes, I donate to the fund to buy new books regularly via my late fees.

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *

First up we have an author interview with M. Louise Locke, author of MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE, that I reviewed recently (read the review here.)  Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa, Ms. Locke had two goals for her future: to teach history and to write novels that would bring others the joy that Georgette Heyer’s historical romances and Mary Stewart’s suspense novels brought her. History degrees from Oberlin College and Kent State University got her started on the first goal and she did go on to have a long career teaching history. Now semi-retired from teaching, she has finally returned to her second childhood goal, to write light, romantic, suspenseful fiction.

- Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?

I started with the plot for my first mystery, Maids of Misfortune, and I have done this for the sequel I am writing. I knew I wanted the sequel to explore nineteenth century spiritualists (including those who were clearly fraudulent versus those who were true believers.) From that I knew that I needed to have a reason for Annie, my protagonist, to investigate spiritualism. So, I came up with a murder where the killer could exploit spiritualism and those plot elements lead me to come up with the identity of the victim and killer. Once I had these two elements, this lead to additional plot ideas, additional characters, etc.

- Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?

I did an outline for my first book, and have an outline for my second one. I find it helpful since I am writing mysteries, where you have a definite murder, certain clues you have to develop, as well as red herrings to plant, to have a basic outline. I also like to have an arc planned out of the development of the relationship between my two main protagonists, so that goes into the outlines as well. But the level of detail isn’t very great. I actually start with listing each day that passes from opening of the story to the end. Then under each day I list scenes and for each scene I list location, characters, and my goals for the scene. I also wrote out a brief description of the day of the murder, which happens before the story opened. But then as I write each scene I pretty much let my imagination take me where it wants to go. There are ways in which my finished book deviated from my original outline-but the basic structure remained the same.

- I enjoy Annie, Nate and Annie's supporting cast, what is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write?

For Annie and Nate, my primary characters, I wrote out mini biographies, physical description, and primary motivations. These biographies expanded over time as I wrote (and since I wrote first book over a long time it was important to maintain continuity.) I wrote out a short biography for most of the secondary characters that included physical characteristics and some back-story.

I have found that my secondary characters also tell me a lot more about themselves as I write. Ambrose Wellsnap, a secondary character that comes late in Maids of Misfortune, simply walked into a scene, introduced himself, and there he was. I hadn’t developed any detail in my mind about him except that he needed to exist, so he was a complete surprise to me-name and all. I hope readers enjoy meeting him as much as I did!

I love novels where much of the humor comes from secondary characters, and I have tried to infuse my supporting characters with as much life as possible. Since I plan to write a series, I knew that the people in the boarding house that Annie owns would have continuing roles, so I knew I would have time to develop them in subsequent books.

I couldn’t have been more pleased, Ariel, when you said that when you finished Maids that you immediately began to miss Annie and her world. Because I also hate to leave the world created in novels I really enjoy, I have started to write short stories for the secondary characters from Maids of Misfortune that I will make available for free. I hope this will tide my readers over until I finish my next full-length book. My first short story features the teacher Barbara Hewitt and her son Jamie (two of the boarders in Annie Fuller’s boarding house), and their dog (who now has a name). The story is entitled Dandy Detects and will be available soon at my book website, www.mlouisalocke.com.

- How do you find time for writing, what works for you - and do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?

I am semi-retired community college professor, and, until my retirement, I did most of my writing during the summer. That is in part why it took me nearly 20 years to write Maids of Misfortune! Now that I only teach one class a semester, I try to put in 3-5 hours, usually broken up during the day, about 3-4 days a week. I tend to work on my laptop, sitting in my living room. There is usually music playing in our house, but I don’t really need to have anything going to inspire me.

- What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

My first book was done over such a long time that I don’t know how to answer this. I did just write the first draft of my first 6,000 word short story in a week, and I hope that this summer when I start work on my second book that I will be able to produce at an even higher rate. I will know better what the answer is to this question in about 6 months!

- San Francisco in 1879 must be fascinating.  How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?

For my doctorate in history from UC: San Diego, I wrote a dissertation called “Like a Machine or an Animal: Working Women of the Far West.” For this I examined the 1880 census for Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland and did a statistical analysis of women who worked in these three cities. I also did a lot of primary research, including diaries by working women. As you can see, when I began to write Maids of Misfortune, I had a wealth of research already done. What was wonderfully liberating was to draw a picture of the San Francisco and the people who lived there without having to footnote everything!

That dissertation was done nearly 30 years ago, so now, as I write, I have to look up details I have forgotten. But there is also so much more information available through the internet-and I do spot research as I go along.

- Setting seems as important as the characters in your mysteries, any tips on conveying a sense of place well?

I don’t live in San Francisco, but I travel there as often as I can, and walking around the city, paying attention to the way the weather changes, going through old Victorians like the Hass Lilienthal House, all helps me as I try to create as complete a picture as I can. I also own books that detail period interiors, women’s clothing, exteriors, etc. A writer friend once reminded me to use all my senses when describing a place-and just using my imagination-what my character might smell, or hear, or touch as they move through a scene makes it more real for me, and I hope that is conveyed to my readers.

- Can you recommend a fiction book that provides a great example of the writing craft to dissect and learn from?

My original inspiration in writing was the regency romance novels of Georgette Heyer, and I have spent a good deal of time looking at how she produced such satisfying blends of romance, suspense, and humor. One of my favorite contemporary series is Laurie King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books, and they have also been a great inspiration to me.

- What are you currently reading?

I just finished Anna Dean’s Bellfield Hall: Or the Observations of Miss Dido Kent. It is an historical mystery written in the period and style of a Jane Austin. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I would recommend it for readers taking your historical mystery challenge.

- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I think it is probably a quirk that many if not most fiction writers have. Once I start writing, I get very spacey, because I find it difficult to get out of the world I am in back to the present.

- I see you self published, what were the factors the made your mind up to go that route?

This is a long story, and I have actually addressed it in a series of 4 posts on “Why I Decided to Self Publish” on my blog The Front Parlor. If anyone is interested they can go to www.mlouisalocke.wordpress.com. The short version of the story is that I had tried the traditional route, with frustrating results (got accepted by an agent, but historicals weren’t yet popular, got accepted by a small press that went under), and I didn’t want to waste anymore time. I also became fascinated by the possibilities of ebooks and print on demand, and loved the idea that I wouldn’t give up control or my rights by self-publishing.

- Do you participate in a critique group (or have you in the past?) What are the pros and cons of critique groups?

I have belonged to a writer’s group for 20 years, and while it has expanded and contracted, the same 4 writers who started the group are still meeting monthly. The most important advantage of the group I am in is that we critique full manuscripts, and that our basic writing skills are all good enough so that we can concentrate on things like character and plot, not grammar. Knowing that we need to finish a manuscript before we bring it to the group is a powerful motivation to get beyond the trap of writing and rewriting the beginning. Belonging to this group also meant that over the years when I was not really writing I continued to see myself as a writer. Finally, critiquing other people’s work can do a good deal to help you improve your own writing.

- Do you have another book in this series planned?  If so, please tell us a little about it.

My next book in the series is entitled Uneasy Spirits, and it will take up a short time after the conclusion of Maids of Misfortune. In this book Annie Fuller will be asked to prove that a trance medium in San Francisco is a fraud. Her investigation will lead her into personal danger and it will also cause her to begin to question her own work as a clairvoyant. Annie’s relationship with Nate Dawson will develop further during this story, but of course the path to true love will not run smoothly!
 
 
Thank you so much M. Louise Locke for that wonderful interview.
 
 
Now on to the next Book Giveaway.  The publisher has graciously provided 2 copies of THE BLACK CAT by Martha Grimes for promotional giveaway.  You may read the review I did recently on this book here.
 
Please read the directions carefully as I have changed one or two things.


How to Enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post (or possibly in an email.)

I will stop taking entries for this giveaway Friday April 16 at midnight and will announce the winner Monday the 19th.

For each point you earn you will have one entry in the random drawing. There is a chance for 9 points total for each contestant and thus 9 entries each.

+1 for leaving a comment with your correct email information. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email in a comment, please email me your information at: mysterysuspense1 at gmail dot com.

+2 for posting on your blog about this giveaway with a link back, please supply link to your blog post in the comments

+2 for each new member you bring to this blog (you must identify the new member you brought) limit of 2 new per contest

+1 for having this blog's button in a side bar of your blog with a link back, please supply link in comments

+1 for tweeting about this contest, please post link in comments


Comment/email example:

+1 here is my email address so you can notify me I won _ _ _ _ _ @ _ _ _ .com

+2 here is the link to the post I did on my blog for this giveaway (http://myblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/book giveaway hurry)

+2 for new google member Sadie197 I brought to your blog

+1 for adding your blog button to my blog sidebar (http://myblog.blogspot.com/)

+1 here is the link to the tweet I did on this giveaway (http://twitter.com/NICKI0162/status/7657117606)

Thank you for participating and good luck!




 

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: Murder Has No Class

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *

Winner of the MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE book giveaway is Wendy.  If you haven't received an email from me please contact me with your mail address.  Thank you everyone for participating.

I have so many books to review from publishers, as well as the ones I have been wanting to read, that I am trying to read a second here and there.  So today we have a cozy mystery sent me by the publisher that was published this last January (see how behind I am?)


Author: Rebecca Kent

Copyright: January, 2010 (Berkley); 240 pgs.

Series: #3 (and the last) in Bellehaven House Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Edwardian Historical Cozy

Main Character: Meredith Llewellyn, headmistress of Finishing School for Young Ladies...who sees ghosts

Setting: England in 1905 in the midst of the Women's Rights movement

Obtained book through: Publisher, in exchange for an honest review

Lord James Stalham has claimed innocence in the murder of his father from the moment he was discovered standing over his father's dead body and even into death after being tried and hung for the murder. Now Stalham's ghost is haunting Meredith Llewellyn. The headmistress needs her sleep, so she sets out for the truth-and discovers a high-society scandal.

Meredith gets visits from ghosts who can't move on, usually because of a murder and justice hasn't been carried out. But Meredith isn't fond of seeing the ghosts nor helping out, in this case she does so to get rid of the pestering entity.
Angry swirls coiled around in a flurry of whirlpools until gradually, a figure began to form in the middle of it all.  Dark and black it rose, until Merdith could see it was a man. 

Her heart began to pounding and she clutched the eiderdown to her chin.  This was no friendly ghost, as the others had been.  This was a man convulsed with rage, with flashes of lightning shooting out in every direction and his fist raised in the air in violent protest.

As always she could hear no sound from the apparition, but she could feel the energy pulsing into the room, driven by the terrible fury of her unwelcome visitor.
The main plot is who killed Stalham if his son is innocent, secondary plots are the assistant Tom Platt who is too friendly with the girls and just might be related to the owner, Felicity and Essie who are Meredith's sidekicks, and two trouble-seeking maids Grace and Olivia who want to stage a suffrage demonstration in the town pub and they recruit the school girls to participate, and then there is the owner of Bellehaven, Stuart Hamilton, it become clear he likes Meredith as more than the competent headmistress.  When it is revealed that their is going to be a big dart tournament in the same bar and time as the demonstration the reader foresees the coming trainwreck and the question is how will everybody get out of the pending disaster.

Meredith came across a bit stiff and stilted to me and I had nothing to feel a commonality with her. She gets flustered very easily by the very presence of the owner which seemed improbable to me even accounting for the time period - afterall she has to manage an entire school of unruly teen girls not to mention the staff while teaching a class herself and she sees ghosts! I wanted to like her and I think I could have if there was something that struck a chord with me, but it wasn't there.

This is a light and easy read that doesn't get bogged down with too much sensibility. Meredith goes to Lord Stalham's house and claims to be an interested buyer in the house so she can get a tour and grill the servants on the events of the night Lord Stalham Sr. was murdered. For a book set so heavily amidst the women's rights movement I found it strange that it would be so easilly accepted that a woman was going to buy a major piece of real estate all by herself - I could be wrong, but a woman's lawyer would have been present and he would have dealt with most of the details and questions regarding the house. A woman never handled such matters without a man at that time. Then the improbable amounts of information that Meredith got from snooping as a buyer just seemed too easily won.

The mystery itself supplies a limited number of suspects and you try to figure which one actually had motive and time to kill the elder Lord Stalham before the son rushed into the library upon hearing the gun shot.  It is somewhat like a game of CLUE.  The killer isn't too difficult to detect.  This will appeal to those who just want something very light to read and not work hard at.

If you like light cozy mysteries set in England this might be a book for you.

If you are a fan you can go to the authors website and get a summary of the characters and how their lives turn out after the end of this book since it is the last in the series.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

A special added little something...this recipe is always a huge hit.  It is sooooo good and yet way too easy (since you will be tempted to whip up this rich decadent delight all the time.)

Rachel Ray's 5 Minute Fudge

* 1 bag semisweet chocolate morsels (12 ounces)
* 9 ounces butterscotch morsels (3/4 of a 12 ounce bag)
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 can or package of walnut halves (8 ounces)
* Bundt cake pan lightly greased

Place a heavy pot on the stove and pre-heat it over low heat. Add chocolate and butterscotch morsels and milk and stir until morsels are melted and milk is combined. Stir in the vanilla and remove the fudge from heat. Add the nuts and stir in immediately.

Spoon fudge into already greased bundt cake pan. 

The fudge will start to set up almost immediately.

Chill covered in the refrigerator.

You can leave and serve from the Bundt pan or remove it to a platter for serving.

Slice the fudge very thin when ready to serve - a little goes a long way!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: The Black Cat by Martha Grimes


* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *

I apologize, I somehow managed to publish this post when it was still being worked on.  I am so sorry.  I will try to not let that happen again.  I must have been going too fast and clicked on the wrong button.  Whoops!

Author: Martha Grimes
Copyright: April 6, 2010 (Viking); 323 pgs.

Series: #22 in Richard Jury Mystery  
Sensuality: N/A
Mystery sub-genre: Police Procedural

Main Character: Richard Jury, Scotland Yard Superintendant
Setting: England
Obtained book through:  Publisher, in exchange for an honest review

This book was released Tuesday April 6th.  The body of an unidentified extremely fashionably and expensively dressed young woman is found behind a pub, The Black Cat, in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Jury is called from London to investigate. Not only is this Jane Doe killed but the pub's resident black cat is suddenly missing.  Jury discovers the woman led a double life: local plain-Jane librarian by day and high paid London escort on the weekends.  Quickly the bodies of more "escorts" are found, all of them wearing expensive clothes and particularly expensive designer shoes.  The shoes become an integral part to the puzzle.

Ms. Grimes apparently likes to feature real British pubs in her books, and this one features The Black Cat Pub prominently.  There are some threads from prior books that continue in this installment.  I had not read any prior books in the series and I was able to pick up on the story line easily enough.  Jury has an "arch nemesis" who he is still trying to get evidence of his criminal activities to put him behind bars.  Then there is the side plot of Jury’s lover, Detective Lu Aguilar, is suffering from a bad car accident and Jury is working through his feelings regarding the whole situation. 

Jury apparently turns often to a gent named Melrose Plant, sort of his sidekick, to assist him.  Melrose is reminiscent of a by-gone England where the pace is decidely slower and is resistant to change on any level really.  Oh, and Jury is a bit of a surprise and a mystery, such as how he comes across as sensitive to people's plights or doesn't lock his apartment door even after all the crime he has seen.  I like the details Ms. Grimes gives him, like how his phone's ring tone is "Three Blind Mice."
Like bandages coming off a patient's eyes, sighted or blind; or unwound from a burn victim's ruined face, Edna Cox's defensive covering unwould more and more.  Jury felt very sorry for her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They took both cars, and Melrose insisted that Jury follow him.

"Why?"

"In case my car breaks down."

"Your car is a Rolls-Royce.  My car is a Vauxhall of questionable provenance with a million miles clocked."

"Now, which car is more likely to break down?"
"Mine."  Melrose turned on the engine.  It thrummed like Yo-Yo Ma's cello.

"Oh, my, yes.  The rattle and clang's enough to deafen you."

"I'll wait for you," called Melrose to Jury's departing back.  And again: "Don't forget we're stopping if we see a Little Chef."
There is a fansiful side to this tale.  The cat-napped Morris gets a few sections where she gets assistance from a dog in her desire to get back to her pub.  These are diversions or little side-trips and they will keep you guessing how the cat-napping is involved with the murders.  Another touch of light-heartedness is Jury's neighbor who walks in a makes herself at home, answers his phone for him leaving him cryptic messages. 

The investigation began to run long without any headway seeming to be made. The resolution and wrap-up were a bit sudden, as if everything just clicked into place in Jury's mind. As for the resolution of the murder, I had only part of the "who" right and even at that I didn't have the motive worked out.  Overall an enjoyable police procedural.  If you enjoy British mysteries you will probably enjoy this meandering story.

I will be having an author interview and book giveaway shortly so stay tuned.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Here are two video clips of the author discussing some of the aspects of the book.  I thought you might like the author's take on her book.




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Monday, April 5, 2010

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival for April 2010

We have reached 100 followers!  I am so tickled, please, overjoyed.  "Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music." 

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *




 

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival for April 2010

It is the first Monday of April and time for our fifth blog Carnival. It is another chocked full directory of mystery and crime fiction reviews across the blogosphere.


Police Procedural Book Review

 KerrieS reviews A CARRION DEATH by Michael Stanley.  She tells us it is "one of my best reads for 2010. an impressive debut novel structured in a way that gets the reader thinking. For example, the events are layered in time rather than sequential, so you are forced to take notice of chapter headings. There are little puzzles to solve and as one is resolved, the next presents. It is also populated with engaging characters such as Kubu Bengu, his wife Joy, and his boss Mabake."

The Book Mole presents an oldie but goodie Gallows View by Peter Robinson

Mason Canyon reviews An Axe To Grind by F.M. Meredith

Private Investigator Book Review


Ms. SP...as in Smarty Pants presents The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
 
Marie Burton reviewed 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan  and says it was an unforgettably nostalgic journey through 31 Bond Street in New York City that I would not hesitate to recommend to fellow mystery lovers.
 
Amateur Sleuth book Review

Bernadette at Reactions to Reading reviews Borderline by Nevada Barr

Beth Fish reviews Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

Mayhem and Magic reviewed It Happened One Knife by Jeff Cohen

Jennifer reviewed Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich

Tiny lIttle Reading Room reviewed The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Cozy Mystery Book Review

Violet at The Mystery Bookshelf reviews Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Child

Mark  gives us a mini review of The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen

Pudgy Penguin reviewed Devil's Food Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

hristina reviewed Death in Kashmir by M.M. Kaye and says it is an entertaining mystery, in the tradition of Agatha Christie

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Matt Fullerty presents his book The Murderess and the Hangman

Missy Frye reviewed Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll

Elena reviews the classic Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Douglas Cobb reviews Drood by Dan Simmons

Author Interview


 You can hear the Bookhabit PodCast (a 23-minute interview) with British Author Matt Fullerty by clicking here.


Mysteries and My Musings inteviewed Wendy Roberts
 
Mysteries and My Musings interviewed Diane Stuckart 
 
Writing Tips and Advice
 
Author2Author gives us Mystery Stucture

For research Angela Martin gives us The 100 Best Crime Books Ever Written

Rowena Hebert gives us 37 Lectures Every Writer Should Listen To

More research aids Isabella Smith gives us 50 Fascinating Documentaries for Forensics Science Junkies

Rowena Hebert presents 100 Twitter Feeds That Will Improve Your Writing

For research and perhaps a plot idea Mia Taylor presents The Top 10 Art Heists of All Time



*******I hope you got some ideas for new books or authors to read and even some tips and insights for writing.*******


For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here.

And please help spread the word about this Blog carnival, it is very easy to submit a post to be included.



 





 
 
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book Giveaway: Maids of Misfortune

* * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *


I have 1 copy of the MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE to giveaway.  You may read my review of the book here.  If you like cozy or historical mysteries, I think you will find this book delightful.

Please read the directions carefully as I have changed one or two things.

How to Enter:



*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post (or possibly in an email.)

I will stop taking entries for this giveaway Thursday April 8 at midnight and will announce the winner Saturday the 10th.

For each point you earn you will have one entry in the random drawing. There is a chance for 7+ points total for each contestant and thus 7+ entries each.

+1 for leaving a comment with your correct email information. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email in a comment, please email me your information at: mysterysuspense1 at gmail dot com.

+2 for posting on your blog about this giveaway with a link back, please supply link to your blog post in the comments

+2 for each new member you bring to this blog (you must identify the new member you brought) limit of 2 new per contest  - NEW

+1 for having this blog's button in a side bar of your blog with a link back, please supply link in comments - NEW

+1 for tweeting about this contest, please post link in comments


Comment/email example:

+1 here is my email address so you can notify me I won _ _ _ _ _ @ _ _ _ .com

+2 here is the link to the post I did on my blog for this giveaway (http://myblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/book giveaway hurry)

+2 for new google member Sadie197 I brought to your blog

+1 for adding your blog button to my blog sidebar (http://myblog.blogspot.com/)

+1 here is the link to the tweet I did on this giveaway (http://twitter.com/NICKI0162/status/7657117606)


Thank you for participating and good luck!


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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke

* * * * * * If you have enjoyed this blog, then PRETTY PLEASE vote for this blog as best Entertainment Blog (proving reading is entertainment) and also as best Hobby Blog. Thank you most sincerely. There are voting buttons on the sidebar too. You will have to register with Blogger's Choice, but it is a simple process. I am listed under Mysterysuspence.Blogspot.com. * * * * * * * *



Author: M. Louisa Locke
Copyright: Dec 2009 (CreateSpace); 336 pgs.

Series: #1 in A Victorian San Francisco Mystery
Sensuality: N/A
Mystery sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Character: Annie Fuller, a liberated woman ahead of her time
Setting: 1879 San Francisco

Part of a Challenge: Historical Mystery Reading Challenge



Obtained book through: Purchased

It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt.

Annie secretly supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants. I loved this part of the story. Annie was raised by a single father who was a highly regarded financial wizard and taught her well. But as a woman nobody would be asking her advice on investing, but as Madam Sibyl she can advise them in a manner they willingly accept.
At one time this room had been a gloomy back parlor where her Uncle Timothy had retired with his port after Sunday dinner to smoke his cigar and subsequently snore away the long afternoons.  Annie had remodeled it by having a small entrance cut from this room into the larger parlor in front, installing a washstand and mirror in on corner and replacing the horsehair sofa with a small desk and book shelves.
 Annie stood in front of the washstand and began a curious morning ritual.  First, she liberally dusted her face with a flat white powder that rested in a box on the top of the washstand, effectively erasing all signs of the freckles sprinkled across her nose.  Then she dipped the little finger of her right hand into a small tin containing a sticky black substance, which she applied liberally to her eyelashes, normally the same reddish-gold as her hair.  Using her middle finger, she transferred a minute quantity of rouge from another tin to her lips, turning their usual soft pink into a strident scarlet.  After washing the black and red stains from her hands with the rough soap she kept by the washstand, she bent and opened the cabinet door under the stand and removed a disembodied head.

She placed this apparition, a be-wigged hairdresser's wooden form, on the stand.  After tethering her own braided hair securely with a net, she carefully lifted the mass of intricately intwined jet black curls off the form and pulled it snugly onto her own head.  The transformation was startling.  Her eyes seemed to grow instanly larger, turning from the color of heavily-creamed chocolate to the deep rich hues of coffee, taken black...

Then, after putting the mute, scalped hairdresser's form away, she draped a silken shawl of scarlet and gold over her severe black dress and opened the parlor door to the front parlor, where she would spend the rest of her day at work, not as Annie Fuller, the respectable, widowed boardinghouse keeper, but as Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants. 
But one of Madam Sibyl's clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe his death was suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie, as his financial adviser knows he was doing very well and that his investment documents have coincidentally disappeared when he died. She is convinced it was foul play.

Nate Dawson, the Voss family lawyer, meets Annie upon investigating why Mathew Voss left Sibyl money. He reluctantly begins investigating alongside Annie, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior while being attracted to her. This historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco is a complete package of a modified locked room puzzle, more than one murder, daring undercover snooping, romantic tension and a few twists and turns for a powerhouse of a debut novel.

When I finished this book I immediately missed Annie and the other characters, showing just how well they had been brought to life and, dare I say…memorable. The mystery was well plotted so I went down the wrong path along with the police at first. The setting of Victorian San Francisco and period details are rich and layered, easily woven in the overall story from the attitudes towards Chinese and class divisions to the strict propriety rules restricting women. The journey back in time seemed so complete I felt jarred if pulled back into the modern world when my reading was interrupted.

The climax and revealing of the murderer was tense and an edge-of-your-seat ordeal where Annie is in very real danger. The ending was satisfying and I put the book down smiling at the wrap-up. I had just stumbled upon this delightful book as I cruised Amazon’s suggestions and I am so glad I found it. I heartily recommend this book for historical mystery or cozy fans. I think you will find it captivating.

For you convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Shortly I will have an interview with the author of Maids of Misfortune and a book giveaway!

To help you get into the Victorian San Francisco environment, here is a video showcasing the historic Queen Anne Hotel:

This charming boutique hotel filled with one-of-a-kind antiques and treasures in a landmark Victorian mansion and prior girls' finishing school is a blast-from-the-past. Many antique touches adorn this historic family-owned hotel: from antique cast iron stoves, to original plaster ceiling medallions to stained glass windows, this historic property has been beautifully preserved and adapted.  Enjoy. Oh...and did I mention, it is rumored to be haunted.





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