Share This

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Multi-Author Event

My newly edited book is part of a multi-author promotion and giveaway.  

Win up to 26+ Women Sleuths eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks!

(26+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 21, 2017

Author Guest Post - Laurie Cass

Please welcome Laurie Cass, author of the hit Bookmobile Cat Mysteries series to the blog today. I love the cat theme!

How People I Know Get Into My Books

The short answer? They don’t. 

The longer answer? They don’t. Well, not really. 

The complete answer is a bit complicated, but here goes. Back in the day, lo these many years ago, before I was published, before I’d submitted a single query letter to an agent, before I’d started writing any book at all, I realized that I had no clue how to write.

I desperately wanted to be a writer, and made a solemn vow to become a published author, but I had absolutely no idea how to, you know, actually do it.

So I did what a lot of people do:  I started reading. Not the mystery that I longed to write—though I did that, too—but books about writing. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Robert Ray’s The Weekend Novelist, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and numerous others that I could name if I got out of this comfortable chair and walked all the way over to the bookcase. I read all that advice—inhaled it—and when I sat down to put pencil to paper, I still had no clue what I was doing.

Thus started my pre-published era of writing. This was when I wrote the 6.3 books that are now languishing in the deep dark corners of my computer. This was when I joined the Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. This was when I joined a local writers group. This was when I started hearing people say things like, “That guy who fired me, yeah, I put him in my first book as the murder victim. It was cathartic,” and “In one of my books I made the mean girl in high school into a waitress in a run-down diner. It felt great.”

I thought about all that, but when I finally got brave enough to start writing my own stuff, I never got around to thinking about inserting people I know into my books. My characters tend to develop first as a skeletal role—best friend, neighbor, aunt, coworker, whatever—and then I figure out what personality would best fit the story. Shoving someone I know into one of those roles isn’t likely to fit. If I dropped a friend into a book, she would walk and talk like my friend, and that could drive the entire thing in a direction I didn’t intend.

That said, there have been times when I’ve used bits of people, but not so much personalities as physical attributes. It works like this. I’ll be writing a scene and a new characters walks in. “Huh,” I’ll think, pausing in my typing and staring off into space. “What does he look like? Hmm…” (I need to have some idea, even if it doesn’t get on the page.) “Let’s see…how about that summer intern I worked with 15 years ago? Don’t remember his name, but I remember what he looked like. Sort of. That’ll work.” And I’m on my way.

So that teeshirt you might have seen; “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my novel”? With me, you don’t have to worry about that happening. 

Not really, anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Except for a year in Connecticut, Ms. Cass has always lived in Michigan. Thanks to her maternal grandparents,she and her husband, Eddie, and Sinii, their six-pound killer cat, live on a lake in northern lower Michigan. They spend summers entertaining weekend guests and winters guessing which day the lake is going to freeze over.

When she isn't writing, she is working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of the garden, or doing some variety of skiing. She also plays the piano and violin and dabbles in photography, but most of the time, almost all of the time, what she really wants to do is write.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

THANK You Ms. Cass for that insight into your characters. 

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 14, 2017

Author Guest Post - Julianne Holmes

Please welcome to M&MM the author of the Clock Shop Mysteries, Julianne Holmes.  She will have a new series, Theater Cop, start the end of this year.  I reviewed her most recent book, Chime and Punishment (click here.)  


Whenever I explain the premise of my clock shop series—that Ruth Clagan is part of a clock making family who owns a shop in the Berkshires—most people smile, and then they tell me about a clock in their family. Everyone has a clock in their family, I’ve discovered.

For me, it is a mantle clock. I inherited it from my grandmother—a Telechron electric clock that looks a bit like a Seth Thomas. It likely dates from the 50’s, isn’t worth a fortune, but means the world to me. Of course, given the work I’ve done on these books, I am looking for a traditional clock that I must wind.

For some people, longcase clocks are passed down from generation to generation. Keeping them running can be a challenge, especially if they haven’t been moved carefully or maintained over time.  Clockmakers will come in and do a house call to determine what the best course of treatment is for the clock. Now, folks trusted in the craft are few, and I’ve heard stories of people inviting clockmakers to travel or traveling to them for a consult.

Over the course of writing these books, I have fallen a bit in love with Banjo clocks (click here). Simon Willard invented these here in Massachusetts, and patented them in 1802. They continue to be made today. The clock is shaped like a banjo, with a square case on the bottom that can be clear, or can be painted decoratively.

Then there are the Seth Thomas miniatures (click here). I spent a day in the American Clock and Watch museum (click here), and these beauties stopped me in my tracks. Made of different types of wood, different shapes. I can easily see becoming obsessed with them.

I’m sure that there are family banjo clocks, or mantel clocks, or miniatures, or carriage clocks, or others that have been passed on from generation to generation. Do they still work? Hopefully yes, though many could use a good cleaning. While doing my research, and talking to Dave Roberts of the Clockfolk of New England (click here), I’ve come to realize a few things about clock repair. First, that it is a craft that takes years to learn. Second, repair means different things to different people. For some folks, to hold value, that means painstaking authentic repair. For others, it means doing what it takes to get the clock working. The repair may cost more than the value of the clock, but that’s the third thing I’ve learned. Clocks own a place in people’s hearts, and that is priceless.

Do you have a family clock that has been passed down? Does a clock have a place in your memories? 

Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. As J.A. Hennrikus, her Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017 with A Christmas Peril. She has short stories in three Level Best anthologies, Thin Ice, Dead Calm and Blood Moon. She is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. | Twitter: @JHAuthors | Instagram: @jahenn

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Holmes.  I love the ornate craftsmanship of some french clocks, but sadly I don't have a clock that was handed down.  At one point growing up, we had a grandfather clock with the weights that actually worked and winding it.  It had beautiful chimes.  

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I am doing a giveaway of the newest in the Royal Spyness
Mystery series, "On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service".

Giveaway entry lasts until Friday August 18 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S. entries only please.

I will be shipping the book to the winner.

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 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.

Good Luck!

Bookmark and Share

Review - Chime and Punishment

I reviewed the debut novel in this new series, Just Killing Time (click here), 2nd book Clock and Dagger (click here) and had a guest post from the author (click here).  It has the running theme of a clock shop and all things fine clocks.  Check out this addition to the series.

Author: Julianne Holmes

Copyright: August 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Clock Shop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Ruth Clagan, expert clock maker and owner of Cog & Sprocket

Setting: Modern day, Orchard Massachusetts (Berkshires)

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "Years ago, the serenity of picturesque Orchard, Massachusetts, was shattered by a fire that destroyed the town's beloved clock tower. Ruth inherited the dream of repairing it from her late grandfather. Now that she’s returned home to run his clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, she’s determined to make it happen, despite wrenches that are being thrown into the works by her least favorite person, town manager Kim Gray.

A crowd of residents and visitors are excited to see the progress of the tower at a fund-raiser for the campaign, until Kim is found crushed under the tower’s bell, putting an end to all the fun. The list of suspects is so long it could be read around the clock, and it includes some of Ruth’s nearest and dearest.

Time's a-wastin’ as Ruth tries to solve another murder in her beloved Orchard while keeping the gears clicking on her dream project."

Ruth is back and gearing up for the clock tower to finish restorations and have a celebration opening.  She is an every-woman who notices details and connects dots.  
Ben Clover, the romantic interest, is distracted by his ex-wife's manipulations.  Jeff Paisley, the by-the-book Chief of Police is put in the difficult position of having to officially question his Nancy (his girlfriend's mother).  This is probably my favorite cop portrayal in any of the cozy's I have read. 
Becket, who has been a thorn in Ruth's back side since book one has a few surprises.  Caroline, the step-grandmother is present but not much page time.  Of course, Bezel, the shop cat deserves a mention since he gets a spotlight in the story.  

The setting is a standard small town with the standard enclave of shops but you get more of the history of the City Hall which added to the overall feel of the town.  Pacing keeps steady with the sub plots of dealing with ex-partners for both Ben and Ruth.  

The plot is solid cozy mystery with several suspects, all of whom you don't want to be the killer.  The killer reveal was tame, but works since all the suspects were "nice" people.

I enjoyed my return to Orchard.  It feels like visiting good friends and the story is entertaining.  Win-win.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

In case you missed it, Random House bought Penguin (who publishes a whole lot of cozy mysteries) and has decided they will stop publishing a significant number of the series in their lineup.  

Not only is this short-sighted, those authors can become independently published authors and take their readership with them!  But it is bad news for fans.  

Here is a list I understand is verified of what series are on the chopping block at this point:

Penguin Random House
Avery Aames - Cheese Shop mysteries

Ellery Adams - Book Retreat and Charmed Pie Shoppe.  May be moving to new publisher for Book Retreat.

Beverly Allen - Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (not renewed) Now writing Vintage Toyshop Mysteries for Crooked Lane as Barbara Early.

Janet Bolin - Threadville Mysteries

Melissa Bourbon -Magical Dressmaking.  Is thinking of self publishing but not anytime soon.  Source: Author's FB page.

Jacklyn Brady - Piece of Cake mysteries

Lucy Burdette - Key West Food Critic series

Amanda Carmack - Kate Haywood Elizabethan mysteries

Maia Chance - Fairy Tale Fatal

Erika Chase - Ashton Corners 

Peg Cochran - Gourmet DeLite

Laura DiSilverio - Mall Cop

Monica Ferris - Betsy Devonshire Needlework series.  Is shopping for new publisher and has plans for future books.

Christy Fifield - Haunted Souvenir.    Owns rights, plans to self-publish. 

Shelley Freydont - Celebration Bay

Eva Gates - Lighthouse Library  (not renewed, possibly still hope). Is writing the Sherlock Holmes Bookstore and Emporium series for Crooked Lane under the name Vicki Delany. The year-Round-Christmas series by Vicki Delany is still continuing with Berkley. 

Kaye George/Janet Cantrell - Fat Cat mysteries (work for hire, cannot be continued by the author.)

Rosie Genova - Italian Kitchen mysteries

Victoria Hamilton - Vintage Kitchen mysteries (she is continuing the series with another publisher, ebook only.)

Mary Ellen Hughes - Pickled and Preserved mysteries. (She is starting a new series, the Keepsake and Collectibles mysteries, with Midnight Ink.)

Sue Ann Jaffarian - Ghost of Granny Apples. (plans to write more and self pub.)

Annie Knox -  Pet Boutique

Elizabeth Lee (Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) Nut Shop Series

Meg London - Sweet Nothings Lingerie

Molly MacRae -- Haunted Yarn Shop  (plans to continue the series)

Leigh Perry - Family Skeleton.  Shopping for a new publisher. UPDATE - Sid Lives!!   Leigh has found a new publisher for the Family Skeleton series! 9/14/16

Cate Price - Deadly Notions

Paige Shelton -  Farmer's Market and Country Cooking School

Christine Wenger - Comfort Foods Mysteries (NAL, which was merged into Berkley); is considering self-publishing.

FIVE STAR (Gale Cengage)
Five Star has dropped their entire mystery lineup. 
Nancy Cohen - Bad Hair Day
Maggie Toussaint - Dreamwalker Mysteries 
Susan Van Kirk- Endurance Mysteries

Limitless Publishing
A E H Veenman -  Marjorie Gardens Mysteries (Limitless Publishing)
Anna Loan-Wilsey - Hattie Davish

Macmillan / St. Martin's Press 

D.E. Ireland - Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins  (switching publishers)

If you would like to keep informed with news of this development, join the Facebook group "Save Our Cozies" (click here).  This group was formed to centralize efforts to persuade Penguin Random House to reconsider their decision to cull their cozy mystery offerings. It also offers a place for authors to update their fans on future plans.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 7, 2017

Author Guest Post - Rhys Bowen

I am excited and happy that Rhys Bowen is joining us today  She writes two mystery series that are each wonderful.  She writes the Molly Murphy and the Royal Spyness mysteries.  

 A little background about Ms. Bowen.  Rhys was born in Bath, England, of a Welsh/English family, and educated at London University. She worked for the BBC in London, as an announcer then drama studio manager. She sang in folk clubs and also started writing her own radio and TV plays.  She married and settled in the San Francisco area, where she has lived ever since, raising four children. (Although she now spends her winters in her condo in Arizona.)

She gave us an interview in 2010 (click here.)

How my own experiences shape my characters.

One of the good things about being a writer is that I can take episodes from my own life and foist them upon my characters. This works especially well for embarrassing events. Events that were mortifying to me: now I can laugh at them as I make poor Lady Georgie suffer with them.

In my teens and twenties I had a checkered career. I studied at a drama school. I worked in BBC drama (an amazing experience working with top actors of the day. How many twenty-two year olds get to tell Sir John Gilguid where he is supposed to stand on the set?) I also sang in folk clubs. This was the Sixties, the age of folk music. I was friends with Al Stewart (of Year of the Cat fame) and through him I became a regular at a couple of folk clubs in London. And through him I met Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They were also just starting out in their careers and sang at the same clubs, and also stayed at the same house in London, inhabited by a motley crew of young creative types. I was actually sitting with Al in a café late one night when Paul and Artie came to say goodbye. “We have to go back to America,” they said. “Our manager says our song Sounds of Silence is doing quite well.” A moment in history.

Of course I can’t use the Sixties for Lady Georgie, but I did use another of my brief and not too successful careers. Modeling. I thought if I became a model it would give me time to write. I  enrolled at a modeling school and then their, 
agency sent me out on a job. Modeling for a fashion house for their spring collection. I had to put on clothes quickly, come out and walk up and down. This went fine until I was given a strange garment. The skirt was long and very tight. I could hardly get it over my hips (and I was super skinny). It buttoned behind the neck. I started to walk out, taking tiny steps. That’s when I noticed something flapping beside me and realized it was culottes and I was in half of them! I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me but I had to walk all the way back again. 

So I made Lady Georgie suffer that same embarrassment, only she is modeling in front of Mrs. Simpson! How mortifying. Poor Georgie.

In subsequent books I have inflicted more embarrassing moments upon her. However I have never found myself in such a pickle as happens to her in On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, when she is trapped in a room with… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out more. Enjoy


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

THANK You Ms. Bowen.  Oh my gosh, Al Stewart and Simon and Garfunkel.  Very cool.  I remember Georgie's failed modeling attempt.  That was great to get a different insight into what Georgie suffers!

Here is a video of an interview last year.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review - Veiled Menace

I reviewed the first in this series, Veiled Magic (click here), and was fortunate to have the author visits for an interview (click here).  Today I am reviewing her newest in the series, Veiled Menace, featuring a witch police officer. 

Author: Deborah Blake

Copyright: April 2017 (Intermix/Penguin) 285 pgs

Series: 2nd in Veiled Magic series

Sensuality: Mild/sprinkled cursing

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Police Procedural

Main Character: Policewoman Donata Santori is a witch who talks to the dead.

Setting: modern day, large seaside city (never named)

Obtained Through:  Personal Purchase

From the book cover:  "Witch and police officer Donata Santori is no stranger to magical mayhem, but lately her life has been unexpectedly charmed. Her job as a Ghost Yanker now includes the occasional paranormal investigation, and she’s advancing her magical abilities with the help of an ancestor’s treasured spell book. And while both of her former love interests—reclusive half-Dragon art forger Peter Casaventi and disgraced Shapechanger Magnus Torvald—are nowhere to be found, she’s not averse to being wined and dined by wealthy businessman Anton Eastman.

But Eastman isn’t what he seems, and what he wants from Donata is far more than she’s willing to give. When a mysterious relic, the Pentacle Pentimento, resurfaces, along with Peter’s Dragon father and a shocking Santori family secret, Donata must fight to save herself, her friends, and just maybe the fate of the world from a magic as old as it is dangerous…"

Donata, the black sheep of her powerful witch family because of her profession just may get some respect as she is on the forefront of whatever is coming.  Peter Casaventi, the half-dragon art forger, displays his less attractive dragon pride and ego in this book.  Peter's father, a dragon, wants Peter with a nice dragon girl - not a witch. That's not what gets him murdered though.  Anton Eastman, who is dating Donata acts superior and self-centered, but he has worse qualities that come to light.  We get to see more of the police chief and the Medical Examiner in this outing, which I enjoyed.  Donata's mother and two sisters are elitist and judgmental, which I keep wondering when Donata-the-cop will have enough of their treatment.  Ricky, the Kobold Earth Spirit with a temper is her loyal friend and a star in his own right.

I still don't know what city this takes place in, but it is seaside as the mansion Peter's father owns overlooks the beach and ocean.  That was used particularly well with weather patterns taking drastic changes. 

Ms. Blake keeps the pacing just right and the reader engaged, the plot in parts seems easy but then a little twist comes along putting everything in a new light.  Donata's face off with the villain is deliciously suspenseful and the last paragraph leaves you anxious for the next book.  

I like where Ms. Blake is going with this series, playing a longer game around a situation.  That said, each can be read independently so far.  I can easily see team Peter and team Magnus forming to cheer for the favorite guy to win Donata's heart.  I must say that it isn't the typical love triangle, rather the guys come in and out of her life and each has his issues and baggage.  

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ICED Book Blog Tour

I am trying out conducting a virtual blog tour through Great Escapes for my book ICED. Here is the itinerary in case you are interested in checking it out:


August 2 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 3 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

August 3 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 4 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 5 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

August 6 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

August 7 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 7 – Sleuth Cafe – GUEST POST

August 8 – Varietats – REVIEW

August 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

August 9 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

August 10 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

August 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 11 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 12 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

August 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

August 14 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 14 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

There is a giveaway associated with this tour as well, so check that out!

This is my first book blog tour and I would love some feedback if you follow them or have participated in one before. Do you like virtual book tours?

Sign up for my newsletter:


Barnes and Noble

IndieBound print

Audio book is due shortly.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, July 31, 2017

Author Interview - Susan Elia MacNeal

Today we have Susan Elia MacNeal, author of the smash hit Maggie Hope series set in WWII.   Read my review of newest addition to the series, The Paris Spy (click here) including a book giveaway!  Please welcome Ms. MacNeal.

1)  What drew you to write a historical mystery and why the WW2 era?

 You know, I never planned on writing a historical mystery. But I was writing fiction when I went to London with my husband (who was there as Bear for the Disney Channel show Bear in the Big Blue House). I ended up going to the Churchill War Rooms, the underground bunker where Churchill and his staff ran World War II. It was a powerful, transformative experience — and I just knew I had to write about it.

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

I usually write every morning from about 8 or so to noon. After lunch, I do a little more and also answer emails and whatnot. When I'm starting a new novel it's harder, because I don't know my characters and setting as well. Towards the end, I put in really long days because the people and the world seem so familiar. It usually takes me a year to write a book for my editor, and then more time as it goes through editing and copyediting.

3)  What in your background prepared you to write not just mystery novels but historical intrigue?

 I have a B.A. in English from Wellesley College and also studied history. But basically I just love to read and learn. I knew about World War II, of course, but more of the big battles and also from an American perspective. I had to educate myself about World War II in London, which I did with books, videos, and talking to people in the UK who lived through the war.

4)  Who is your favorite Mystery character (by another author)?

 I'm a huge fan of Flavia de Luce, Alan Bradley's heroine. The Favia series starts with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I'm also currently obsessed with Ann Cleeves, who writes the Shetland Island series. The first book is Raven Black. I'm also reading and rereading a lot of P.D. James, currently on An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, about private investigator Cordelia Gray.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Thank you Ms. MacNeal for that interview and joining us today.

Now, please read further if you are interested in the women Churchill utilized as spies in Nazi occupied countries in his full out effort to stop Hitler's advance.  It is this effort that the Maggie Hope series highlights and is built upon.  Here is a clip on the SOE training.

I am fascinated by the story of Eileen Nearne, one of the SOE spies for the Britain during World War II.

She died at 89 years old, poor and alone in September of 2010 in England.  When her small apartment was being emptied, her wartime medals (Croix de Guerre by the French government, and appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire) were discovered and her secret was out.  She had no family or friends to pay for her funeral and was about to be cremated, until the news was spread that she was a war hero.  The public flooded local officials to help pay for her funeral and to attend her services.  The Royal British Legion placed a flag on her casket.  There was even a French official in attendance at her funeral to honor this incredible brave woman.  Her eulogy was given by Adrian Stones, Chaiman of the Special Forces Club.

It turns out she was only 23 when she was sent into occupied France since she spoke fluent French. She was one of 39 (some report 57) British women who were parachuted into France as secret agents by the Special Operations Executive [SOE is featured in The Paris Spy], a wartime agency known informally as “Churchill’s secret army.”  She was caught by the Nazis using her radio to send information.  She endured torture but maintained her cover story, but was still sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany.  She managed to escape and resumed spying.  In all, she was captured three times by the Nazis, and either convinced them she knew nothing, or escaped.  The New York Times reported that after the war, she suffered emotionally from the toll of her experiences.

Then there is Nancy Wake who escaped France, but her husband didn't make it and was executed by the Gestapo.  So Nancy joined the SOE (featured in The Paris Spy) and returned to France to coordinate the 7,000 person strong Resistance attacks, led a raid against Gestapo headquarters and German gun factories.  When wireless operator codes were destroyed in a Gestapo raid, she cycled (autos were banned except for Nazi's) over 71 hours on sheer determination - through multiple Nazi checkpoints - to replace the codes so orders and weapons drops could resume.  She became the Gestapo's Most Wanted.  She was awarded the George Cross medal by Britain, the Medal of Freedom by the USA, and the Médaille de la Résistance, the Croix de Guerre – three times – and the Légion d'Honneur by France.  Nancy died in 2011, at the age of 98.  She has had books written about her and movies and documentaries made about her.

Movie Trailer:

The 1958 black and white movie "Carve Her Name with Pride" was about Violette Szabo, who even has a museum about her work as a spy. She was another SOE agent and was trained in fieldcraft, night and daylight navigation,  escape and evasion, uniform recognition, communications, cryptography, extensive weapons training, and demolition. She provided critical information on the factories producing war materials for the Germans that were critical in determining Allied bombing targets.  On her second mission during the Normandy invasion, a Nazi roadblock resulted in a shoot out and while racing across fields she severely hurt her ankle and provided fire cover so her partner could escape and carry out the mission.  She was captured and interrogated by the SS for four days, then taken to Gesatapo HQ in Paris and tortured.  As allied forces were sweeping France, Violette was moved to Ravensburck concentration camp in Germany where she reportedly helped to save the life of Belgian resistance courier Hortense Daman.  She was eventually executed at the age of 23 and received many medals posthumously.

I shared these to highlight how the character of Maggie Hope is based on real life heroines and the plots borrow much from the history of the actual SOE and their mission.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, July 28, 2017

Review - The Paris Spy

I have followed and reviewed each of the books in the Maggie Hope series:  #1 Mr. Churchill's Secretary (click here), #2 Princess Elizabeth's Spy (click here), #3 His Majesty's Hope (click here), #4 The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (click here), #5 Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante (click here), #6 The Queen's Accomplice (click here), and a wonderful interview with Ms. MacNeal (click here).  Today I review the newest addition to the series, which can be read as a stand alone, if you haven't read the six prior books.

Author: Susan Elia MacNeal

Copyright: August 2017 (Bantam) 320 pgs

Series: 7th in Maggie Hope Intrigue series

Sensuality: Medium on violence and adult themes

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth, Historical Intrigue

Main Characters: Maggie Hope, a spy who started as Churchill's secretary

Setting: 1942, Nazi occupied Paris

Obtained Through: Netgalley - Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "Maggie Hope has come a long way since serving as a typist for Winston Churchill. Now she’s working undercover for the Special Operations Executive in the elegant but eerily silent city of Paris, where SS officers prowl the streets in their Mercedes and the Ritz is draped with swastika banners. Walking among the enemy is tense and terrifying, and even though she’s disguised in chic Chanel, Maggie can’t help longing for home.

But her missions come first. Maggie’s half sister, Elise, has disappeared after being saved from a concentration camp, and Maggie is desperate to find her—that is, if Elise even wants to be found. Equally urgent, Churchill is planning the Allied invasion of France, and SOE agent Erica Calvert has been captured, the whereabouts of her vital research regarding Normandy unknown. Maggie must risk her life to penetrate powerful circles and employ all her talents for deception and spycraft to root out a traitor, find her sister, and locate the reports crucial to planning D-Day in a deadly game of wits with the Nazi intelligence elite."

Maggie, who originally started out as Churchill's Secretary and is now a Major.  She had already completed an assignment where she was air dropped into Germany...This one is just as dicey. She is looking for an agent she fears has been captured and her half-sister who escaped a prison camp in Berlin.  Sarah, Maggie's old roommate and former prima ballerina now spy is having her metal tested on her own extremely dangerous mission.  Hugh, an old flame of Maggie's now Sarah's love, is posing as Sarah's husband for their mission.  Jacques, Maggie's Paris contact for her dual mission, is a charming Frenchman.  Even Coco Chanel makes an appearance.  Then there are the various departent heads back in England that seem oblivious to glaring clues that the Paris spy network has been compromised.

No romantic Paris in Springtime glow fo the setting. As Maggie's contact described it: " 'It's the only rule you'll need while you're here,' he whispered, mirth gone from his eyes. 'Easy to remember: Trust no one.  Nothing is clear here. Everything is shadows.'"

I've heard much about England's suffering under the Luftwaffe bombing raids, but little about Paris.  Paris went from being like champagne, light and bubbly to a tripple-shot expresso, dark and nerve wracking.  But the author highlighted that many French collaborated with the Nazi's because of the continual lies spread that the real threat was the communists and convinced them to partner with Germans.  The propaganda is clear in hindsight, but in the midst of it so many succumbed to the lies.  It is such details woven into the story that makes the reader feel you have just witnessed history first hand as you read, I certainly did.

The plot is classic intrigue with rarely a safe feeling moment. One slip of a word can blow your cover.  Maggie's dual missions are one plot, but Sarah and Hugh's are another plot.  Eventually, they all converge.  This builds the tension like a Hitchhock thriller.

With such suspense through the story, it is hard to pull off a nail-biting climax.  Yet, it happens in this case.  Even the wrap-up ends with a major shock that took my breath away.

Another stellar addition to the Maggie Hope series. The plot has the very direction of the war at stake without the spies involved being aware.  The characters are real, in some cases you feel their anguish and pain.  Throw in some twists and a final surprise to have a powerhouse of a novel.  As always, I love the historical notes at the end to fix in my mind how much was based on fact - always an eye opener.

Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. If you haven't read the prior books, buy all of them while you're at it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The publisher has agreed to do a giveaway of The Paris Spy.

Giveaway entry lasts until Friday August 4 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S. entries only please.

The Publisher will be shipping the book to the winner.

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 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.

Good Luck!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Crossing - Love Your Books, Let Them Go

I came across Book Crossing and wanted to share this website and its quirky yet delightful idea with all of you.

BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books "into the wild" for a stranger to find, or via "controlled release" to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world. Our community of passionate, generous book-lovers is changing the world and touching lives, one traveling book at a time. We hope you join us!

Step 1. Label
Register your book for FREE, and get a unique BookCrossing ID.

This BCID allows you to follow your specific book wherever it goes. Think of it as a passport enabling your book to travel the world without getting lost!

There are several ways you can label your book:

Download free BookCrossing labels and print them from your computer onto label stock. Order labels from our bookplate collections. Create custom labels with our Bookplate Creator using your own image and message (even in your own language!).

Step 2. Share
There are a few different ways you can share your book:

Give it away. Pass your book on to a friend, a stranger, a strange friend, or a friendly stranger! You can find someone in the BookCrossing community who's looking for your book and make their day by sending it to them. These particular methods are referred to as “controlled releases", because you know the destination of your book’s next stop.

Or leave your labeled book on a park bench on a summer day, in a train station, on the table in your favorite coffee shop -- anywhere it’s likely to be caught by another delighted reader. Then come back and read about your book’s new adventures!

BookCrossers find a myriad of creative ways to exchange books and make new connections! They might establish an "Official BookCrossing Zone" (known as an OBCZ); a physical location where books are regularly caught and/or released. They may start a "bookring",  "bookray", or "bookbox".

Step 3. Follow
See where in the world your book goes, and who reads it!

Once you’ve labeled and shared it, follow your book’s adventures.

When another reader finds your book, they can enter the BCID on and report that it’s been caught. Journal entries about your book allow you to see where your book is, who's reading it now, and follow where it goes next. Some books tend to stay in one region while others really move! Your book may touch the life of a reader you never would've met, or it may just circulate among your friends.

Click this icon to go to their site:  Read and Release at

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts with Thumbnails