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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review - Prose and Cons

I reviewed the first book in the series, Crime and Poetry (click here), and this is fast becoming a "must read."  I am attempting to catch up on my past due reviews, I got behind with the holidays.  Whew.

Author: Amanda Flowers

Copyright: Dec 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 2nd in Magical Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery with some paranormal elements

Main Character: Violet Waverly, graduate student in American Literature PhD program

Setting: Modern day, Cascade Springs - New York

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion

From the book cover: October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe in the shop’s back garden to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.

Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead during the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore...

The gang is back with Violet, Grandmother Daisy, persistent Mayor/ex-boyfriend Nathan, tantalizing Police Chief David Rainwater, the writing group Red Inkers play a central role, and the whimsical crow Faulkner and cat Emerson continue to charm.  The character mix is slightly less eccentric and a bit more real than you might expect for a cozy while maintaining the lighter feel.  The characters are welcoming and draw you into their world.

The town continues to provide a rich tapestry for the backdrop and more believable than most "bustling" small towns because of its proximity to Niagara Falls.  I typically have a problem with the usual small town setting that manage small shops with employees and large events, since small towns I've visited struggle to keep shops open at all.  This is more likely in the story with the regular tourist draw of the Falls nearby.  Besides that, the Food and Wine Festival supplies a level of confusion and complication that was utilized nicely.

I was engaged from the first page and that was maintained throughout.  The maze of who the victim really was and possible killers made this second book in the series an iron-strong addition signaling the story-lines will only get better.  I have to say the murder weapon was a surprising twist in itself.  There is a subplot introduced that touches Violet personally that added a deeper dimension.  The balance between characters and plot is perhaps the reason the pacing seemed effortless and smooth.

This had a great killer reveal with a good twist.  I liked it because of the tension and danger that was well constructed, my favorite in a reveal/confrontation.  The wrap-up promises the personal subplot mentioned will be further developed and the Nathan vs. Daniel dilemma is moving towards Violet making a decision.

Ms Flowers writes a novel with finely balanced mix of plot and characters with judicious dashes of magical whimsy topped with a dollop of romance.  Kudos.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mid-Winter's Eve Hop

This is my THANK YOU for following the blog and letting me be a part of your life.

If you are looking for the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop, you are in the correct place and thank you for stopping by.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!

We have 3 packs of 2 books each available to win.

1)  We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany and Frosty the Dead Man by Christine Husom

2)  Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson and Spouse on Haunted Hill by E.J. Copperman

3)  Better Off Thread by Amanda Lee and The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Entry for giveaway lasts until December 31 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

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

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you. If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Guest Author Post - T. C. Lotempio

 Welcome Toni (T.C.) Lotempio, author of the Nick and Nora Mysteries.  I have reviewed the first two books in her series and am reading the third currently.  She is about to kick off a new series, the Cat Rescue Mysteries, in a few months.  I'm looking forward to that as well.  Today Toni discusses book covers and how it influences our decisions.

You Can’t’ Judge a Book by its Cover – or can you?

Ever hear the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, it’s not just a lot of words strung together – it’s a lot truer than you might think. In the cold light of day, the harsh reality is a vast majority of readers do indeed use the cover of a book as a deciding factor in not only whether or not they should buy the book, but if they will enjoy it as well.

With millions of books for readers to choose from, the first “sales pitch” is the cover. If it is not striking enough to draw attention, it will be passed over for something more interesting.

The cover is actually the first page of the story. It is here the book communicates to the reader a hint of the story contained within. Color is extremely important. A dark cover, for example, could suggest a dark tale while those with brighter covers might communicate a lighter fare. The cover can speak to the emotion of the reader, encouraging them to take a journey.

A cover can also create preconceptions in a reader’s mind about what the characters or the setting look like. Oftentimes, however, what’s on the cover doesn’t quite match the story. For example, iin Nick and Nora #2, Claws for Alarm, Nick is depicted on the table of Nora’s coffee shop with a cup of spilled coffee spelling out “Help” at his side. Okay, it’s true, the main character owns a sandwich/coffee shop, BUT…the murder and most of the action takes place at an art studio. When they asked me for cover suggestions I thought about having the cat on an easel, the brushes or paint from the brushes spelling out “Help”. Why did they pick the café background instead? “Cafes are a better sell” is what I was told. So often times it’s metrics that will determine a book’s cover, not the actual tale contained within.

Still, a well-designed cover is the first assurance the reader has of the actual quality of the book. A poorly drawn or designed cover can sometimes create preconceptions in the mind of the reader. They might be more inclined to try to spot mistakes in the text, typos or even plot points. Publishers realize the importance of a quality cover and quite often they have special artists for different genres. Cozy covers tend to be more colorful, while thrillers are dark and edgy. More and more authors who have turned to self-publishing now entrust cover design to independent graphic artists to try and ensure bigger sales.

In a nutshell, a great cover design is necessary to draw the reader’s attention and to get them to connect to your book on an emotional level. Great cover designs therefore need to draw the reader’s attention, engage them on an emotional level, suggest the tone and style of the work, and showcase the quality of the book itself. A monumental task, to be sure, but one that could make the difference between a book with lackluster sales and one that hits the NY Times bestseller list.

About the Author…..

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at and

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
 Thank you Ms Lotempio, I know I enjoy the covers.  There is a definite difference between genres as well.  I confess I am fond of cozy mystery covers.  The changes in style over the years is interesting as well.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guest Author Post - Christine Husom

Please welcome Christine Husom, the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series and the Snow Globe Shop Mystery Series, to our blog. 

Frosty The Dead Man, the third book in the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries is  out just in time for Christmas.  Ms Husom gives us a short excerpt as an early present.

Frosty The Dead Man Excerpt

Frosty The Dead Man, third in the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries, continues with most of the same characters it’s been a true pleasure for me to get to know the past few years.

Camryn Brooks is currently managing her parents’ business, Curio Finds, a shop that specializes in snow globes from around the world. Her childhood friend, Alice “Pinky” Nelson runs Brew Ha-Ha, a coffee shop in the building adjoining Curio Finds, and provides comic relief at the oddest times. Their other best friend is teacher and faithful helper, Erin Vickerman. She helps keep Cami and Pinky grounded. Brooks Landing Police Officer, Mark Weston, another forever friend, is there in good times and in bad, often trailing behind the assistant chief of police, Clinton Lonsbury. Clint and Cami agree on two things: they each find the other attractive and irritating at the same time.

When the book opens, Cami overhears Mayor Frost’s having separate conversations with several people who have bones to pick with him. One is a councilman who tells the mayor he’s giving up his seat on the city council. Later that day, Mayor Frost catches Cami completely off-guard when he pays her a visit. Here is a condensed version:

Mayor Frost came rushing into the shop like he was being chased. And with all the controversy swirling around him, maybe he was. He looked around like he was checking to see if we were still alone then moved close to me and lowered his voice. “I want you to submit your name to be considered for appointment to the city council.”

“What?” My ears must have been plugged because what I heard couldn’t have been what he said.

His bright blue eyes shone. “Throw your name in the hat for the council seat that’ll be opening up. You have as much political experience as anyone in town.”

“I worked for a senator researching legislative issues and policies.”

“Perfect! That’s what we need, someone who does her homework.” He clapped his hands together.

Pinky came into my shop and caught what must have been a doozy of a look on my face. And I knew my color was a deeper tone than usual, given how hot I felt. “Cami, are you all right?” She looked from me to Frost. “What’s going on?”

“I just gave her something to consider. To strongly consider. Stop by the office when you get a break, and we’ll hash it over some more.”

And when Cami went to see Mayor Frost later that afternoon, she makes a shocking discovery:

The near silence in the deserted office space was disquieting. It’ll be comforting to talk to a live person, I thought as I walked down the corridor that led to the individual offices. I stopped at the one with the nameplate Mayor Lewis Frost on it. He’d always talked about his open door policy, but it was closed shut at the moment.

I knocked and waited. No answer. I knocked again, a little louder, but still no answer. “Mayor Frost?” I called out and gave the door a final knock. I was about to leave when I noticed the light from his office was showing out from under the bottom of the door. Maybe he had earphones in and was listening to music, or the news, and couldn’t hear me. I’d seen him wearing a pair when he was taking walks.

After I’d convinced myself Frosty was working at his desk, connected to earphones and oblivious to the outside world, I turned the knob and pushed the door open. But he wasn’t at his desk, or anywhere else in sight. His chair was pushed aside, like he’d gotten up and left in a hurry. I was about to turn tail and leave when I saw what looked like the base of the snow globe the mayor had purchased mere hours before. It was lying on the floor near the desk, but the globe wasn’t next to it. What had happened?

I hoped Mayor Frost wouldn’t think I was snooping, but I crept over to see where the rest of it was. And when I found out the answer, there was no turning back. There were broken pieces of glass and wet snow flakes lying next to Mayor Frost who was sprawled out on the floor behind his desk.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Miss Husom for that nice setup and excerpt.  It has me hooked already.

Here is a nice cookie recipe that goes with the "snow globe" theme of the book.

Pennsylvania Snow Drops

1 cup butter 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 teaspoons water 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon orange extract (optional) 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats 
1 (16 ounce) package white confectionery candy coating pieces (optional white chocolate) 
1 cup flaked coconut 
1 teaspoon colored candy sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place butter and confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and well combined. Stir in the water, salt, vanilla extract, orange extract, flour, and quick rolled oats to form a crumbly, dry dough. Pinch off about 1 1/2 tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll into a ball about 1 inch in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are lightly browned, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to a warm temperature.

While cookies are baking, place the confectionery candy pieces into a microwave-safe bowl, and cook in microwave oven with low power for about 10 seconds at a time, stirring once the candy begins to melt, until the coating is liquid, smooth and warm (not hot).

Dip the still-warm cookies in the white coating, and place on prepared baking sheet to cool. Careful, they will crumble easily. Can dip just one side, not entire cookie, if easiest. While coating is still liquid, sprinkle each cookie with flaked coconut. Decorate some cookies with candy sprinkles, if desired. You can also spoon the coating over the cookies while still on the baking sheet before decorating with the coconut and sprinkles.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Guest post - Amanda Flowers

Please welcome Amanda Flowers, author of the Magical Bookshop Mystery series along with An Appleseed Creek Mystery, A Living History Museum Mystery, and India Hayes Mystery.  She shares a great recipe with us.

La Crepe Jolie Lemon Madeleine Recipe

In Prose and Cons, Grandma Daisy and Violet Waverly want to provide refreshments for the Poe-try Reading, an event they are hosting to celebrate the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The event will be held at their magical bookshop, Charming Books, during the Cascade Springs Food and Wine Festival, the most anticipated event in the village each autumn. Grandma Daisy enlists the help of La Crepe Jolie, the French café down the street from the bookshop, and among the many treats that café makes for the event are lemon madeleines, Grandma Daisy’s favorite cookies. She says nothing is better with a cup of tea than a lemon madeleine. Enjoy the recipe!

La Crepe Jolie’s Lemon Madeleines


1/2 cup sugar

2/3 sticks of unsalted butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 lemon, juiced and zested

Powder sugar


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter and flour madeleine molds.

2) In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, and butter. After these three ingredients are well blended add flour, baking powder, lemon, vanilla.

3) Spoon batter into molds 3/4 full. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.

4) Remove from molds and cool on a rack.

5) While still warm, dust with powder sugar if desired.


Buy a mystery and help feed a community! Purchase any edition of Prose and Cons book, between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and Amanda will donate $1 for every book sold to a food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio. The Learned Owl is also making a $1 donation to the Landing for every copy the bookstore sells and is selling PERSONALIZED AND SIGNED copies on the novel. They can ship anywhere.

Learned Owl | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | CBD

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio. 

Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Secret Santa for book lovers

Interested in a Secret Santa for books?

SantaThing is a Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

How it works
You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Sign-ups close MONDAY, December 4th at 5pm Eastern. By Tuesday morning, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking closes Monday, December 12th at 9am
Eastern. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review - Putting on the Witch

I have not read the first book in the series, but I did start with the second book Looking For Mr. Good Witch (click here).  In this book we find our "mature" witches attending Brian's fancy birthday a castle.

Author:  Joyce and Jim Lavene

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Retired Witches Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Character: Molly Addison Renard, owner Smuggler’s Arcane Metaphysical shop and witch

Setting: Modern day, Wilmington, North Carolina

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

"With their coven’s spell book still missing, Molly and Elsie—along with their ghostly friend Olivia, her daughter Dorothy, and her boyfriend Brian—are all on edge, especially now that Dorothy’s infamously wicked father is back in the picture. So when they receive an invitation to an exclusive Witches Ball, the ladies jump at the chance to dress up and have some fun.

The castle locale is spectacular and the party is hopping, but the festivities come to a swift end when a member of the Grand Council of Witches is murdered. With the whole place on lock down, the coven is determined to find the cunning killer, even with an angry council and a real Spanish Inquisitor breathing down their necks."

I enjoy Molly for a main character.  She is a mature woman and a quiet force of nature (water element witch!).  Others in the cover include: Elsie is an outspoken, spunky, and rambunctious lady,  Olivia is a ghost who is short-sighted and a bit selfish, and Dorothy is a witch in training and Olivia's daughter, Brian is the newest member from a prestigious Grand Council family who rebels against his family.  The Grand Council is a bureaucracy of older, wealthy, and influential witches set in their ways.  Throw in a Dorothy's renegade dragon father, a shape-shifter posing as a cat given to Brian as his familiar, and a cursed "Witchfinder" from the infamous 1500-era Inquisiton for many surprises.  I thought Antonio de Santiago, the cursed Witchfinder, was the surprising breakout character of the book.

I enjoyed the attention to details, like Madam Tunis and her magical beauty shop.  The bulk of the story takes place in Fuller Family Castle that can only be reached by magic and where the participants are cloistered during the investigation of the murder.  This provided a feeling of isolation with a killer in plain sight among the attendees.  Molly uses her policeman husband's investigative knowledge garnered from many years discussing investigations, to assist the investigation of far more powerful witches.

The story moves along with the subplots of politics, manipulation, and subterfuge.  The pacing keeps up steadily with several twists.  The Climax was more procedural than thrilling, but worked well in the plot.   The wrap-up had it's own surprise to leave you wanting more.

The Retired Witches is a fun, quirky, and creative concept that takes witches to fun new levels and this novel is pure delight.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vote for Best Book of 2016

Goodreads, the bookworm's social media site, has open voting for the best book of 2016.  

Opening Round Nov. 1 - 6
Semifinal Round Nov. 8 - 13
Final Round Nov. 15 - 27

Historical Fiction
Science Fiction
Non Fiction
History & Biography
Science & Technology
Food & Cookbooks
Graphic Novels and Comics
Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult Fantasy
Middle Grade & Children's
Picture Books

Click here to check it out!

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Author Interview - Deborah Blake

Please welcome Deborah Blake, author of the paranormal police procedural book Veiled Magic (click here for my review).  I have also reviewed another of her books not discussed in this interview, Wickedly Dangerous (click here for review).

Where did the initial idea for Veiled Magic and Donata Santori come from? 
Believe it or not, it came to me in a dream. The short story that Veiled Magic was based on was something I dreamed from start to finish, and jumped out of bed and wrote in about six hours with no break. This has never happened to me before or since!

What attracted you to this middle ground of paranormal and police procedural? 
Honestly, that was just the way the story came to me.

What do you and Donata have in common? How are you different? 
Well, we both have long dark hair, a smart-ass attitude, and we are witches. But she definitely has better luck attracting men!

In literature (other than your own), who is your favorite character and secondarily, who is your favorite paranormal character? 
I love Alanna, the teenage protagonist of Tamora Pierce’s first quartet. My favorite paranormal character is Harry Dresden, by Jim Butcher.

What are you currently reading?
I’m actually reading two different British contemporary romances (they’re my “comfort food”), but I’m about ready to start reading The Brimstone Deception, by Lisa Shearin, who is one of my favorite paranormal authors.

What's the one thing a reader has said that you've never forgotten and perhaps found startling? 
That my books have helped them get through a difficult time. I’m amazed and touched when someone says that.

If your Donata Santori series were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in your top character's roles?
For Donata herself, I always envisioned Yancy Butler (Witchblade). I’d love to see Alex O’Loughlin as Peter, and I’m open to suggestions for Magnus. (I envision him as looking much like model Gabriel Autry.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Thank you Ms. Blake for that interview.  I have a new appreciation for Peter and Magnus now!!

Check out all of Deborah's fiction books here.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review - Tangled up in Brew

I jumped on this new series because of the interesting premise of a lady brew-master.  I reviewed the debut novel, To Brew, or Not To Brew (click here), and a guest post (click here).  The second in the series is out and I again jumped at the chance to review it.  Here is the second in the Brewing Trouble mystery series, see what you think.

Author: Joyce Tremel

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Brewing Trouble Mystery series

Sensuality: G rated

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Maxine “Max” O’Hara, Brewmaster and owner of The Allegheny Brew House

Setting: Modern day,  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the Book cover: "Brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara and her chef/boyfriend, Jake Lambert, are excited to be participating in the Three Rivers Brews and Burgers Festival. Max hopes to win the coveted Golden Stein for best craft beer—but even if she doesn’t, the festival will be great publicity for her Allegheny Brew House.

Or will it? When notoriously nasty food and beverage critic Reginald Mobley is drafted as a last-minute replacement judge, Max dreads a punishing review. Her fears are confirmed when Mobley literally spits out her beer, but things get even worse when the cranky critic drops dead right after trying one of Jake’s burgers. Now an ambitious new police detective is determined to pin Mobley’s murder on Max and Jake, who must pore over the clues to protect their freedom and reputations—and to find the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner."

Maxine “Max” O’Hara has gumption balanced with a kind nature. Jake Lambert, former ice hockey player and childhood friend of her brothers is the romantic interest.  I'm not a romance novel fan, but this is so G rated as to be reminiscent of Nancy Drew with her boyfriend.  But my concern is now Max and Jake are dating, there is no spark or tension between them and seems they will be best buds with a kiss occasionally.  Max's father, Sean Sr., is a police detective that in this 2nd entry in the series is teamed with a young detective, Vincent Falk, who is out to make his reputation - at Jake and Max's expense.  Brothers Father Sean, the Catholic Priest, and Mike are protective and bit walk on roles. There are several colorful characters associated with the Festival as well that keep this interesting.  I was glad that rival breweries and brew pubs got along and Max was one of them.

Pittsburgh is given life with through the interesting tidbits that natives know and take for granted, excellent job there.  The plot is classic with the killer cleverly hidden in plain site. The pacing was effective, keeping me interested and made for a story I had a hard time putting down.  The climax had action and some heroism.  

I like the writing style and Max makes a unique heroine, but the Jake and Max chemistry from the debut was sorely missing which did impact the story for me.  Otherwise a solid mystery to delve into.  I liked the festival theme as the backdrop which bolstered the mystery.

Rating:  Very Good - I enjoyed it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Author Post - Victoria Abbott

Welcome the mother-daughter writing team known as Victoria Abbot.  Their Book Collector mysteries and delightful, 1st book was The Christie Curse (click here), 2nd entry was The Sayers Swindle (click here), The Wolfe Widow (click here) I have reviewed on this blog. 

Dream trip or nightmare?

Fall is our favorite time of year: we love the crisp sunny days and the cooler nights. We enjoy the hint of colorful leaves to come and once again we are celebrating that we have a new book coming out: The Hammett Hex. You can probably tell by our fedoras that we’re celebrating the link between the book and the legendary Dashiell Hammett.

The Hammett Hex will be released on October 4 and we are very excited about sharing this fifth book collector mystery with you. We hope you’ll join our protagonist, Jordan Bingham, on a dream trip to San Francisco, with the man in her life, Officer Tyler ‘Smiley’ Dekker. Of course, they have separate rooms in case things don’t go well, which sometimes they don’t for this pair. Jordan is taking no chances.

They’re just trying to see if they can rebuild their trust in each other and overcome the differences in their backgrounds. The deck is stacked against a romance with Jordan, the first person to go straight in her large family of Irish crooks and Tyler, a man with no family to speak of and a desire to be a good police officer with no criminal connections. Can they work out their problems in the foggy city of Dashiell Hammett, where it seems you just can’t trust anyone?

All Jordan has to do is find a signed first edition copy of Hammett’s Red Harvest for her book collector boss. Soon Jordan isn’t safe on a cable car, taking a cab ride or even in her hotel room. Coincidence? Of course, she has something to hide and naturally, it also turns out that Tyler is keeping a big secret. Will it make a difference or is there an even bigger threat to their happiness?

Of course, there is! This a mystery after all and we all want to know that our characters are made of the right stuff.

Join us on this trip and find out for yourself what happens to our friends. But we warn you to be very, very careful in the city by the bay. In the meantime, check out the trailer:

The Hammett Hex, Victoria Abbott’s Book Collector Mystery #5

Amazon: click here
Chapters-Indigo: click here
Barnes & Noble: click here
Book Depository: click here
Kindle US: ckick here
Kindle Worldwide: click here
Kobo: click here
iBooks: click here
Nook: click here

Thank you both for this great author post.  I need to catch up with Jordan.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop 2016

If you are joining us as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Blog hop, look around and stay for awhile.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!


We are celebrating Halloween here at Mysteries and My Musings with a giveaway for the sixth year!  One combination prize to a winner, 6 winners!

1)  Gone With the Witch (Wish Craft Mystery #6) by Heather Blake and A Grave Prediction (Psychic Eye Mystery #14) by Victoria Laurie

2)  The Witch and the Dead (Wish Craft Mystery #7) by Heather Blake and Twice Told Tail (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery #6) by Ali Brandon

3)  The Ghost and Mrs Fletcher (Murder She Wrote Mysteries #44) by Donald Bain and The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala (A Book Club Mystery #3) by Laura DiSilverio

4)   Inspector of the Dead (Thomas and Emily De Quincey Investigation #2) by David Morrell and A Dark and Stormy Murder (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery #1) by Julia Buckley

5)   Spells and Scones (A Magical Bakery Mystery #6) by Bailey Cates and A Toxic Trousseau (Witchcraft Mystery (Book 8) by Juliet Blackwell

6)  Behind Chocolate Bars (A Chocolate Covered Mystery #3) by Kathy Aarons and Paws and Effect (Magical Cats #8) by Sofie Kelly

Entry for giveaway lasts until October 31 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

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

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Oct 31, 2015.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are a member (or email subscriber) of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME a member (or email subscriber) of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Other participating blogs:

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Book Review - Whispers Beyond the Veil

I jumped at the chance to read and review this book based on the blurb and the main character's description.  This is a brand new historical cozy series, so join me in the turn of the century when there was a surge of interest in psychic phenomenon and medium-ship and multitudes of fakes taking advantage people.  

Author:  Jessica Estevao

Copyright: September 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 1st in A Change of Fortune Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a "questionable" past

Setting: 1898, Old Orchard-Maine

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

"Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn…

After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged aunt, Honoria, owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.

But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever."

Ruby may seem worldly wise for her youth, but she has the proverbial good heart in spite of her con-artist rearing. This makes her endearing as she struggles to be honest.  Aunt Honoria is a dear, the relative that gives unconditional love.  Officer Warren Yancy provides the potential love interest, and even though it is the standard policeman - his struggle with Ruby on many levels makes it interesting.  Lucinda (Lucy) is Officer Yancy's sister who has become Ruby's fast friend and is a great side kick.  The Velmont Sisters, Elva and Dovie, become Ruby's most ardent supporters as she develops her psychic abilities.  They are the breakout stars.

The seaside town of Old Orchard is a great setting that is woven throughout the story to become a vivid element in the tapestry.  Loved the town and the Hotel Belden.  

The plot and subplots are equal parts mystery and character driven for a great story.  The murderer was well hidden in plain sight, clever.  Pacing was perfect and kept me reading into the night to find out the next bit facing Ruby.  

The climax was fun with some dramatic elements. I enjoyed the killer confrontation and hope this is a signature of the series.  The wrap up was equally well done, and I am anxious for the next installment. 

This is an exciting debut novel, Ms. Estevao provides complex characters in a fascinating time period with interesting plots in an idyllic setting.  Couldn't ask for better.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Author Post - Diane Vallere

Diane Vallere, the author of Material Witness series, Mad for Mod, Style and Error series, and the newest Costume Shop Mystery series (debut novel review click here) joins us today.  At age ten, Diane launched her own detective agency and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.  Please welcome this multi-published author to M&MM.

Shaking Up Your Routine  

A funny thing happened while I was writing MASKING FOR TROUBLE. I got called for Jury Duty. I had hit that murky middle part of the manuscript and was actually happy for the distraction. I hoped that shaking up my regular routine would result would help me, but I also knew I had an excuse for not working. Truthfully, it could have gone either way.

I got up early and walked to the Metro stop, and then rode it to the courthouse. I ate a Pop-Tart for lunch and spent the rest of my time writing in the courtyard. I sat through jury selection only to be told that we would continue the process the next day.

I was fascinated by the process. A rumpled lawyer who appeared leaned back so far in his chair I thought it would break. A second lawyer who looked perfectly put together from his bowtie to his tailored suit. A third lawyer (it was a confusing case) who jumped in every once in a while, just to remind us that his client wasn’t happy with either of the brothers who were suing each other. The longer I sat in the back of the courthouse studying the people involved, the more I realized it was exactly what I needed to shake myself out of the murky middle. I took notes on how people were dressed (“Lawyer costumes”), how they acted, what they said. I watched a quiet woman in head- to-toe pink politely answer a lawyer who questioned her when she said she owned property. (“Do you mean your husband owns property?” “No, it’s mine. I formed a limited liability corporation and manage four properties in Los Angeles.”) (That’ll teach the lawyer to make judgement of women dressed in head-to-toe pink!)

By the time jury selection was complete, I was one of two people who hadn’t been selected. The group was dismissed for lunch. I could have caught the Metro home and gone about the rest of my week. But something about the process appealed to my sense of adventure. I wanted to see how this case unfolded. (Plus, I kind of liked getting out of the house.) I showed up at the courthouse every day for the next week and sat in the back. I took notes and revisited my synopsis. And during lunch breaks, I navigated the murky middle of my manuscript and came out the other side.

The case went on for almost two weeks. Revisions and other responsibilities kept me from attending during the second week but I made arrangements with one of the jurors to tell me the outcome. I finished MASKING FOR TROUBLE in the month that followed and there’s no doubt that, while there’s no court case scene in my book, the experience impacted the story.

Lessons learned: get out of the house. Experience new things. Watch. Learn. Take Notes. And never underestimate a woman dressed in head-to-toe pink.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THANK You Ms. Vallere for another example of how authors are a breed apart and take inspiration from everyday life.  

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