Share This

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial day is here and many enjoy outdoor activities.  But let us remember the military that have served as well as the police and fire personnel that work to keep our country free and safe.

I wanted to spotlight two deserving charities that benefit our wounded veterans for this post.

The first is the Wounded Warrior Project (click here) which helps the thousands of wounded warriors returning home from the current conflicts and to provide assistance to their families. As the number of wounded steadily increases, it is easy to see how the needs of these brave individuals also increase.

The next is Homes For Our Troops (click here) that is committed to helping those who have selflessly given to our country and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries since September 11, 2001. It is our duty and our honor to assist severely injured Servicemen and Servicewomen and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and to coordinate the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Don't forget to join the Bookmark Swap, the deadline to join is tomorrow. 
What mystery or suspense novels do you know that feature military or veterans?  

There are the Samantha Spade mysteries which features a USAF Lieutenant in the heat of the west Texas desert.  What else is there that you know of?

In honor of the various outdoor activities that many will be enjoying today, here is a wonderful summer vegetable side dish.

3 or 4 cups cubed zucchini
2 tablespoon olive oil
red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
2 tablespoon cream cheese
1 or 2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano 

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review - Where Shadows Dance

Summer is finally here!  Oh happy day.  The bookmark swap is gathering participants steadily.  Don't wait, sign up now.  May 31 will be the last day to join the swap.

Today I review a fantastic historical suspense novel that I am excited to have discovered.  If you aren't already a fan of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, it isn't too late to start.

Author:  C.S. Harris

Copyright:  March 2011 (NAL Hardcover) 352 pgs

Series:  6th in Sebastian St. Cyr Regency Mysteries

Sensuality:  Some strong sensual imagery at the end, a few fight scenes

Mystery Sub-genre:  Historical Suspense

Main Character:  Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) a veteran of the Peninsula wars with Napoleon and a nobleman with an ingrained sense of justice.

Setting:  1812 London England

Obtained Through:  Publisher for an honest review

Sebastian's friend, Paul Gibson, is an anatomist who gets dead bodies to learn from as a surgeon.  He specifically wants the body of a young man who was reported to die from a heart problem so he can further his knowledge of such problems.  What he finds is the man died of a knife to the back of the neck.  Mr. Gibson immediately goes to Sebastian who is known to solve such murders.  The young man worked at the foreign office and dealt with many international representatives which opens a world of political strategies and calculated moves. 

This is how the story begins and it is full of suspense and intrigue.  There are two women important in his life: Kat Boleyn, an actress and love of his youth and Hero Jarvis, the intelligent and fearless activist daughter of Sebastian's powerful enemy Lord Jarvis.  Fans have apparently formed Team Kat and Team Hero factions rooting for their favorite with sentiments running hot.  

This is my first book in the series but it is obvious how easy it is to become a big fan and jump into the debate.  Dare I say seemed that Hero is more of a capable woman to match Sebastian's lifestyle and interests.

There are many strong characters from Paul Gibson, Hero's father, Sebastian's father, even the police constable.  They all make an impression in their own ways.  

This book was a wonderful surprise for I did not expect the level of suspense that the story displays.  I felt the plot had just enough twists without being too much.  There are several murders with an impressive line up of international suspects.  I had figured out the killer(s) but couldn't be positive and the motive was wrapped in international maneuvering.  I was impressed by the level of polish I felt the plot and the characters displayed.  The historical details are lush and vivid topping off the whole.

The only drawback is some leaps of believability.  Sebastian is a Regency hero of almost modern stature (one of the book trailers says "think Mr. Darcy with a James Bond edge") with uncanny hearing ability and Hero Jarvis proves herself nearly as lethal in a significant scene where her life is threatened -  but she doesn't have any post traumatic stress at all.  I can't get too worked up about these since the rest is so well written. 

There are several nail-biting scenes, but the climatic confrontation with the killer is first rate.  The wrap up was equally as superb.  The biggest problem I have is now I just have to get the prior five books to read. Is there such a category as historical suspense?

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 23, 2011

Join the Mystery Bookmark Swap

I have seen bookmark swaps on other blogs and thought this would be fun to do.

The idea of a bookmark swap is to share your love of bookmarks with other swappers. If you love reading then chances are good you enjoy collecting bookmarks.  

Each person participating in the swap will be responsible for mailing 3 bookmarks and will get at least 3 bookmarks in return.  Keep in mind this is something you are committing to do.

The point of this is to have fun, not to be stressful or expensive to anyone. Handmade bookmarks don’t have to be perfect, but please remember that some of our swappers will be putting hours into creating something special. So let’s all create something memorable!

No swag bookmarks (advertising of a specific book) please.

THE DEADLINE to sign up for the swap is May 31.

THE DEADLINE to mail bookmarks will be Monday June 27, 2011. 

HOW TO JOIN THE SWAP:  Send me your email and mailing address to: mysterysuspense1 (at) gmail (dot) com.  

A few weeks before the deadline I will send a reminder email.
On the deadline day I will send you 3 addresses to mail one bookmark to each address.

2 inches by 7 inches seems to be a common size for paper bookmarks in case you were curious.  Add yarn, ribbon, or string to the top if you like.

When you go to send your bookmarks if they are paper, I found some lightweight cardboard - such as from a clean cereal box and cut to fit in the envelope works nicely.  This keeps the bookmarks from getting crumpled and bent in mailing and is not too heavy so you can still use one stamp.
I think 3 bookmarks can be made without much stress by June 27th.

Below are some ideas for bookmarks that can get your creative juices flowing.  Let's have some fun with this :-)

Here is how to make beaded thong bookmark:

 You can use plastic cording also for beaded bookmark.

Paperclip bookmarks - this one is a little different than the standard paperclip bookmark:

Scrapbook Bookmarks from a book-lover.  She shows a variety of completed projects for great ideas.

Here is how to make a magnetic bookmark.  This gives you a good idea of how to accomplish the magnetic bookmark easily:

Shipping Tag Bookmark Collage demo:

Or if you sew here is a demo of making a beautiful ribbon bookmark:

This website (click here) has the directions for another bookmark to sew  You can make a ribbon top rather than the fabric rose or even embroider something.

Or if you are more a computer person or handy with PSP or Photoshop, you can put together a bookmark with pictures and layered effect etc.  Print it out on some heavy paper and maybe laminate.   Copy centers often do lamination for a dollar or so a 8 1/2 by 11 sheet which will hold several on one sheet.  Or there are simple SelfSeal laminating sheets that you don't have to use a machine with.

I am thinking of using my favorite Nancy Drew book covers and copying text from the book for a background - or maybe find a good quote from it for my bookmarks. So join in the fun and share your love of mystery as well as bookmarks!!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review - Old Loves Die Hard

This week I review the second in a series set in a plush lakeside in Maryland.  I reviewed the first book in the series and you can check it out here.  I also interviewed the author here.  

Author: Lauren Carr

Copyright: Dec 2010 (Signet) 316 pgs

Series: 2nd in the Mac Faraday Mysteries

Sensuality: romance and some innuendo

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character:  Mac Faraday, former homicide detective who inherited a fortune

Setting: Modern day, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Obtained Through: Author for an honest review

Mac is starting to adjust to his new life when his ex-wife, Christine, shows up at his door drunk. I had wondered when the ex would come around now that he had a mansion and the money to keep it. Mac quickly takes her to the Spencer Inn so she is out of his hair.  He barely walks in the lobby when the man his former wife left him for, Stephan Maguire of those Maguires, is walking past with a young woman on his arm.  Christine promptly makes a scene and attacks the man.  Mac and the hotel manager practically drag her into Mac's reserved suite to stay. 

Mac finds out the next morning that his private suite at the Spencer Inn is now a murder scene with the bodies of both Christine and a viciously stabbed Stephan Maguire, putting a serious black eye on Mac's 5 star hotel.  Interestingly Maguire, a lawyer wanting to climb to success, had files of many of Mac's old homicide cases and a note to talk to Mac about one of them.  At first Christine is thought to have killed Maguire and then during her cleaning up she slips in the shower, hits her head and accidentally dies.  But evidence shows there was a third person in the room.  Then Mac is suspect.

Mac is an enjoyable main character as a man who didn't know his birth mother until she died and now is adjusting to wealth...and not being a homicide cop anymore.  He is tested in this book by his ex-wife's relatives, a former defense attorney, and a former judge show up for a collision of his former life with his new.  Archie, the love interest, has been a favorite of mine since the first book and we get to know her a bit better.  The other characters are finely drawn as being not all bad, but definitely not all good either creating a multi-layered cast. And then there is Gnarly, the German Shepherd that once had been military trained.  He gets into trouble because he isn't challenged any longer. Gnarly even knows sign language as part of his former training, which saves Mac's life at one point.  This character is worth his weight in gold.

The plot itself was complex and gave a touch of crime drama to this cozy without loosing the cozy charm.  I liked that we see a little of the police detective side without it being dark or gruesome.  There is suspense and twists that keep the pages turning. The killer is a surprise although I had a good idea of the motive, and the final confrontation with the killer felt natural and even realistic.

This is a cozy mystery that is character and plot driven.  I think Ms. Carr is just hitting her stride and I suspect that we shall see each new book surpass the last.  I particularly recommend to not only cozy fans but those who like a good police detective story without the guts, gore, or darkness usually associated with them.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 16, 2011

Non-fiction Agatha Award and Nominees

The winner of the Agatha for non-fiction was Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran.  "A fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie’s seventy-three private notebooks, including illustrations and two unpublished Poirot stories.

When Agatha Christie died in 1976, at age eighty-five, she had become the world’s most popular author. With sales of more than two billion copies worldwide, in more than one hundred countries, she had achieved the impossible — more than one book every year since the 1920s, every one a bestseller."

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by David Crowder was nominated too.  This is perhaps the first "Dummies" book I have seen nominated for an award!  I had seen this book before and wondered if it was worthwhile.  I think the nomination answered that question.  It also got me interested in other nonfiction books related to the mystery genre.  

Another nominee was Have Faith in Your Kitchen by Katherine Hall Page.  I had done a post on Mystery Cookbooks last year and thought this would be of interest.  This "is the long-awaited collection of recipes from Katherine Hall Page’s famous series of novels starring Faith Fairchild — caterer, wife, traveler, and detective.  Here fans can find in one convenient volume the recipes that have spiced the Fairchild mysteries and provided them with their acute and varied sense of place. In addition, the author has provided a brace of warm-hearted and illuminating personal essays on cooking, locales, and the craft of writing."

But of the nonfiction nominees the one I am most interested in is Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang.

"On a balmy July night in 1904, a wiry figure sauntered alone through the dim alleys of Honolulu’s Chinatown. He strolled up a set of rickety steps and into a smoky gambling den ringing with jeers of card sharks and crapshooters. By the time anyone recognized the infamous bullwhip dangling from his hand, it was too late. Single-handedly, the feared, five-foot-tall Hawaiian cop, Chang Apana, had lined up forty gamblers and marched them down to the police station.

Himself a literary sleuth, Huang has traced Charlie Chan’s evolution from island legend to pop culture icon to vilified, postmodern symbol, ingeniously juxtaposing Apana’s rough-and-tumble career against the larger backdrop of a territorial Hawaii torn apart by virulent racism." Well, this is definitely going on my wish list!!

I found a video of the author discussing the Charlie Chan book, but it can not be embedded for me to include.  Please go here to view this video.

I have not paid much attention to non-fiction books related to the mystery genre but the Agatha Award nonfiction nominations grabbed my attention this time around.  Now I wonder what I have been missing.

Perhaps you know of some interesting books to include in this listing.  Please share!

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

Graduation season is upon us.  Unfortunately there are still many of our youth that don't graduate.  Here is a charity whose mission is solely to provide at-risk youth with mentors and real-world experiences that will motivate them to stay in school and graduate.

To date, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has donated more than $28 million to support programs that:

    Stress the importance of graduating from high school and receiving a diploma

    Encourage youths to volunteer and make their communities better places to live; studies show teens who do so perform better in school, are more likely to graduate and become active citizens

    Inspire teens to pursue higher education, increasingly critical in helping them succeed in the real world

    Provide vocational training that helps teens find jobs, develop skills and identify career interests – which has been proven to help them stay engaged and in school.
You can also find them on Facebook as "Graduate to Go".

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review - The Wedding Shawl

Where I live we had a cold snap that felt like winter again.  So let's give a drum roll and usher in summer with our review.  This week we go to a wonderful seaside town (already feels like summer) for a murder and a wedding!

Author:  Sally Goldenbaum

Copyright:  May 2011 (NAL) 320 pgs

Series:  5th in Seaside Knitters Mysteries

Sensuality:  mild references

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy

Main Character:  Nell Endicott

Setting:  Modern day, Sea Harbor, Massachusetts

Obtained Through:  publisher for an honest review

Let me introduce you to the knitters:
Nell: the motherly spirit of the group.
Birdie: the spirited elder who is hard to keep up with.
Cass: the lobster-woman with a gentle heart - truly a rough diamond.
Izzy: Nell's niece and bride-to-be who owns the knit shop.

The gang is busy with wedding preparations for Izzy (including knitting a delicate lace shawl), but when the scheduled hair stylist for the wedding, Tiffany, is found dead under suspicious circumstances the community is stunned.  The seaside knitters become convinced that there is a connection to what was thought to be an accidental drowning fifteen years ago of Harmony Farrow and this death.  Is it simply a coincidence that the Harmony's mother has returned to Sea Harbor only a few months before the latest death?  Could the town's favorite young man be the murderer - the police sure suspect him since he dated both girls.  Nell leads the charge to clear up past and present deaths so nothing will overshadow Izzy's big day.  But warnings start coming to stop questioning and leave things alone.

This entry in the series continues the excellent tradition established. The plot is interesting and you get swept up with how the current murder is somehow linked with the drowning - and the drowning must have been more than an accident.  The setting is rich and smoothly conveyed, you never notice that you moved to Sea Harbor, but somehow you are transported there.  Being a Rocky Mountains person, I have never adored the seaside except when reading these stories. I can practically smell the salt air. 

The warmth of the characters offsets that this is a murder mystery.  You will find yourself hoping the killer isn't this or that character because you like them all.  Truly a "cozy" in the sense of how comfortable you become with the cast and want to spend more time with them. I have never wanted to learn to knit until picking up this series, that is how it envelopes you.

The pacing keeps you teased and wanting more.  As for the confrontation it is bittersweet more than suspenseful, which lends to the overall believability of the story.  Truly if an average person were to get nosy about a murder, this is how it would look - right? The wrap-up is touching and I found myself missing the gang as soon as I shut the book. 

Don't let the topic of knitting hold you back from this mystery, that only lends to its cozy warmth.  This is hands-down one of the top cozy mystery series on the scene today and this entry is a gem (or is that a purl?) - IMHO.

Now let's go to the Massachusetts beach and watch Sea Turtles

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 9, 2011

book cover artwork

Welcome to all the new subscribers and members from the Spring Blog Carnival.  I hope you have found a place you can hang out like the neighborhood coffee shop.

I have a question this week for all of you.  How much does the cover art impact your reading decisions.  I know I am very influenced by cover artwork.  I may not decide what to purchase based on the artwork, but I am more likely to pick up a book and read the blurbs because the cover got my attention. 

So what about you - how much does cover artwork impact the books you end up reading? 

Such as these book cover examples - which immediately grabs your interest and why:

I tried to include a few examples that covered the range.  So what do you think?  What draws you more and why?

Would you like to know more about the artists that do the covers?  I have been considering featuring a few cover artists if the publishers are agreeable - what do you think?

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review - Hell's Corner

This week I am reviewing the latest in the intrigue packed Camel Club series by best selling author David Baldacci. There is a fascination with the underdog and this capitalizes on that idea.

The Spring Blog Carnival is below.

Author:  David Baldacci

Copyright:  November 2010 (Grand Central Publishing) 448 pgs

Series:  5th in Camel Club Series

Sensuality:  Mild, but action fight scenes occur

Mystery Sub-genre:  Suspense

Main Character:  Oliver Stone, prior "Triple 6" CIA assassin John Carr who is believed dead.

Setting:  Modern day, Washington D.C.

Obtained Through:  Library - audio book

The Camel Club refers to a group that originally gathered regularly to discuss political conspiracies - they considered themselves a conspiracy watchdog group.  They are lead by a man with the alias Oliver Stone.

Oliver Stone, formerly known as John Carr the CIA assassin, has been called by the President back into service to stop supposed Russian drug cartels operating in the U.S.  The central event in the book is an explosion that takes place in Lafayette Park in the renowned "Hell's Corner" area.  Stone/Carr is teamed up with a MI6 agent, Mary Chapman, since it is thought the explosion was intended for the British PM who was scheduled to be in the park at the time of the explosion.

Much is made of how an explosive could have made it into the park with all the dog patrols and various government agencies covering the park.  At first Stone/Carr attempts to keep his good friends, The Camel club, out of events for their safety.  Nobody is who they seem and eventually he needs to have people he can absolutely trust to assist him and turns to the Camel Club which definitely brings danger to the members and one may never recover. It begins to look more like a Mexican drug cartel is involved and wants it to look like the Russians.

I have to say that this series works beautifully as a book on tape.  The plot twists and action are ideal for listening. As a book it is so action packed that it would be hard to put down and like many suspense/thriller novels it pushes the envelope as political agendas are utilized to the fullest.  I will warn the reader that the cast in the novel is extensive and the many different government agencies can get confusing.  Sometimes the believability aspect is stretched. I felt those moments weren't so overdone that I couldn't enjoy the novel but I think each person may react differently to that.

Oliver Stone is enigmatic as the mythical assassin jaded when a hit was done on his wife and child for his wanting to leave the service.  He had gotten his revenge on the persons responsible for that in the book "Stone Cold".  But in this novel he seems to make tactical mistakes - that being one of the flaws in believability. What makes the series is the eclectic mix of characters in the Camel Club who are loyal to a fault to one another:  Caleb (Library of Congress nerd), Reuben (decorated Vietnam veteran with attitude),
honorary members Annabelle (greatest con-artist of the age with a soft heart),  Alex Ford (Secret Service agent), and Harry Finn (DHS security expert)  - read "Stone Cold" to find out what happened to original Camelite Milton (wealthy genius OCD member).  The characters are intricately developed and in many instances ARE the story and even break the serious action with humor.

This series capitalizes on action and this book continues that. But the core concept is a group of underdogs who have plenty of baggage individually, but who make a formidable force together. On its own it is a good book with enough plot twists to keep the reader interested, but it isn't the strongest entry in the series.  Murder Mountain is employed for a suspenseful confrontation again but the ending had an intriguing showdown indicating that Oliver is targeted by a U.S. Government official who wants him dead that will no doubt be in the next installment.

I am a Camel Club fan but I realize that such suspense action books may not be for everyone. I do highly recommend the Camel Club audio for any long drives or monotonous work and you will probably be hooked.  One of the things I particularly like is that there aren't many graphic violent scenes such as other comparable suspense titles (The Emperor's Tomb comes to mind with horrific scenes of castration etc.) and are plotted better than any Brad Meltzer books IMHO plus the character development is better than most suspense novels. The Camel Club is a great series to try out if you haven't read suspense action books and would like to give them a try. 

Camel Club books in order: The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justine, Hell's Corner

Here is sample of the audio book that starts with Oliver in his caretaker cottage at Mt Zion cemetery:

David Baldacci discussing the book:

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - May 2011

It is the first Monday of the month - time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival. Below is the line-up. Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.  

If you are looking for the Spring Blog Carnival, it is the post just prior to this one - scroll down and you will see it.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed the legal mystery The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly.

Avid Reader reviewed Blood Country by Dan Jewell

Reactions to Reading reviewed Bound by Vanda Symon: A fast-paced, engaging and credible story and even the ending did not disappoint (a rarer thing than it should be).

Booking Mama reviewed Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Mike Dennis reviewed Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins:  Mike Hammer is back.  It’s the 1970s. He’s a lot older now, a little mellower, and far more world-weary.

Booking Mama also reviewed A Lesson In Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

Avid Reader reviewed Blood Country by Dan Jewell and said it is an entertaining detective mystery with an intricate plot and complex cast of characters.

Fair Dinkum Crime reviewed The Tower by Michael Duffy: Promising start to a new Australian crime fiction series with an almost true-crime feel.

Booking Mama reviewed Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Reactions to Reading reviewed Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker: thoroughly engaging and surprisingly thought-provoking novel that I recommend to readers (or listeners) of any sort.

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Mourning Gloria by Susan Wittig Albert

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed An Uninvited Ghost by E.J. Copperman

Booking Mama also reviewed To Have and To Kill by Mary Jane Clark

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Blast From The Past by Toni Kelner

Booking Mama reviewed Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Reactions to Reading reviewed What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn: My favourite book of the year so far. It might even be my favourite book of the decade. Or the century. Or …you know…of forever.

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Bad Moon Rising by L.F. Crawford

Author Interview

Ebook Endeavors gives us the post Can a "Normal" Author Make a Living E-publishing?

Avid Reader gives us an interview with Thacher E. Cleveland

#####Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here. #######

Submit your blog entry for next month's Carnival here: (

Spread the word far and wide!!!

Post a widget on your blog for this carnival here (

Join the mailing list to receive a reminder email 
to submit for the Blog Carnival

Join our mailing list
* indicates required

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts with Thumbnails