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Monday, April 30, 2018

Author Guest Post-James Jackson

Please welcome James M. Jackson to the blog.  He authors the Seamus McCree series consisting of five novels and one novella. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s Lowcountry. He claims the moves between locations are weather-related, but others suggest they may have more to do with not overstaying his welcome. He is the past president of the 700+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

REVIEWS FOR THE AUTHOR
Reviews are the balm and bane of writers these days. With so few newspapers providing reviews, many readers have come to rely on reader reviews on websites like Goodreads or Amazon. Best-selling authors can rely on enough of their fans to post reviews; the rest of us must rely on the kindness of strangers to post enough reviews to attract a new reader’s attention. (Thank you to all readers who do post reviews.)

Some authors claim not to read their reviews. I’m not so self-assured; I read them all. And I read them for books I’m considering as well. One thing I have noticed is that many of the “bad” reviews are from people who don’t like the kind of book the author writes.

It’s a shame for a reader to waste limited reading time on a book they are unlikely to enjoy. I’ve put together 10 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Read My Book

* If you like page-turners with plots that twist and turn, Empty

Promises is your kind of book.

* If you like hot romance on the page – not so much.

* If you like suspense and thriller novels, Empty Promises will suit your fancy.

* If you prefer cozy mysteries with food and crafts on the side – this is not that.

* If you like complex characters with strengths and weaknesses, Empty Promises has them.

* If you like your heroes to take names and pound the bad guys to dust, this may not be for you. Seamus prefers to use brain over brawn, although he’ll use force when he must.

* If you enjoy amateur sleuth stories set in real locations, Seamus turns amateur sleuth and Empty Promises is set in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

* If dragons or zombies or other magical/mystical creatures are your preference, the closest this book comes is a granddaughter who likes fairies and stuffed animals.

* If you want a knee-slapping hoot – I don’t write them.

* But if you enjoy a bit of wry humor, touching scenes with the grandkid and her dog, Empty Promises has them, too.

The best way to know if you’ll enjoy a book is to read an excerpt. To check out Empty Promises, you can download and read the first four chapters of Empty Promises (click here), or if you prefer reading a series from the beginning, here are the first four chapters of Ant Farm (Seamus McCree #1) (click here).
***
 You can find information about Jim and his books at https://jamesmjackson.com. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and/or Amazon.

You can order paperback versions of his books from your favorite physical or online bookstore (or from his website if you’d like them autographed). You can find his Kindle books here


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THANK You Mr. Jackson for the glimpse into your book, I'm sure there are readers who will be interested.



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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review - A Brush with Shadows


This is one of the few series I have followed since the very first book:  The Anatomist's Wife (click here) .  I have also reviewed #2 Mortal Arts (click here) , #3 A Grave Matter (click here), #4 A Study in Death (click here), #5 As Death Draws Near (click here), and was honored to interview the author (click here), and have a guest post (click here).  Now for the next book in this riveting historical mystery series.


Author: Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: March 2018 (Berkley) 384 pgs

Series: 6th in Lady Darby Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Detective Mystery

Main Character:
Lady Kiera Darby, an accomplished artist, widow now re-married, and social outcast

Setting:
1831, Scottish Moors

Obtained Through: Publisher (Netgalley) for honest opinion

From the Cover:  "Sebastian Gage returns home to battle the ghosts of his past and prevent them from destroying his future with Kiera in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.

All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim..."

Lady Kiera Darby finds a challenge when living with Gage's mother's family while investigating the heir's disappearance.  They are an unpleasant lot, privileged, condescending, judgmental and so on. She gets a good picture of how they tormented her husband during childhood.  


Sebastian Gage struggles with the baggage from his childhood from this cruel family plus questions regarding his mother's death years prior. 

Bree, Kiera's personal maid and Anderley, Gage's rough spoken valet are the only people they can trust.  Gage's Grandfather, Aunt, and cousins Alfred and Rory are all contentious and incredibly secretive. 

The setting of the Scottish Moors provided a gothic setting that created the best atmospheric stage I can remember in a novel (better than Hounds of Baskerville even). 

The plot quickly turns complicated with the secretive nature of the family and many developments and aspects to Alfred's disappearance.  The pacing kept me reading into the night.  The climax was edge-of-your-seat thrills - just how I love it.  The wrap-up provides satisfaction on many levels for Sebastion, Kiera, and the reader.

This case, with all of its personal issues, is the most emotionally straining for Kiera and Sebastian.  They are seriously challenged so early in their marriage and it shows what they are both made of.  I loved the depiction of the moors, highlighting the stark beauty and lethal hazards. There was love and hate, privilege and isolation, and bitter family dynamics.  This book would be excellent for a book club to discuss the layers of plot, characters, theme, and the use of gothic elements.  I believe this is my favorite of the Lady Darby mysteries thus far. 

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





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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Calling Bloggers & Reviewers


For all you book bloggers or reviewers in the audience, NAILED - the second novel in the Resort to Murder Mystery series, is available through Netgalley. 

Reviews from those who have read it so far:

"It will keep you hooked from beginning to end." Shelly H,

"A real page turner! It's a very well written book that keeps you hooked from the beginning till the last page.
Strongly recommended." Anna Maria G

"A very well plotted mystery set in a resort in Vail, Colorado. ...The book kept me engaged from the beginning right to the end and surprising reveal. There were no slow or boring times in this story. It kept flowing at a very good pace." Sabine F

Please check it out here: (click here).

I am happy to coordinate a giveaway &/or guest post as well.


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Monday, April 23, 2018

Author Guest Post - Paty Jager

Please welcome Paty Jager to the blog.  She is an award-winning author of 32 novels, 6 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”  
Dreams, Clues, and Murder
Avery, thank you for having me on your blog. 

For those who don’t know me, I’m Paty Jager. I write murder mysteries and western romance. I grew up in the NE corner of Oregon where the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce wintered and summered before they were driven to Montana, and ultimately, surrendered to the Army. Growing up in the area I was frustrated that the history of the county wasn’t taught in the schools. Especially, how the Nez Perce tried to hang onto the land they loved. And then to only see them in the county once a year during the Chief Joseph Day’s Rodeo and Parade, seemed insulting to me. I’m not sure how they felt.

Because the non-treaty Nez Perce (the ones who refused to go on the reservation and fled to Montana) were thought to be a bad influence on the treaty Nez Perce, they weren’t allowed to set foot in the Wallowa country. In fact, after their surrender, they were taken clear to Oklahoma where they became ill and many died. Those that survived the 7 years of incarceration in Oklahoma were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest but not to the Lapwai Idaho Reservation where the treaty Nez Perce resided. They were sent to the Umatilla and Colville reservations to live with tribes they had battled with before and who had scouted for the army to find them. 

I’m happy to say these days, there is a powwow held every July in Wallowa and the Nez Perce have purchased land in the county where they have fish naturalizing ponds and hatcheries. 

The reason I write about the Nez Perce is because of the injustice I feel they endured. And the vision of a Nez Perce warrior I saw on the mountain behind my family’s home one summer day as I rode my horse through the trees. 

My main character in my mystery series is Shandra Higheagle. I made her half Nez Perce and half White. Her Nez Perce father died when she was four. Her mother remarried a man who didn’t care for Native Americans and forbid her to talk of her father’s family or visit them. While the stepfather didn’t adopt her, he made her use his last name in school. 
 
When Shandra went on to college, she used her legal name of Higheagle and studied art, becoming a potter. She hadn’t thought much about it being a part of her heritage until she is called to the reservation where her grandmother and the rest of her family lives for her grandmother’s funeral. During the funeral and the Seven Drums Ceremony, Shandra discovers her family is interested in bringing her back into their lives. 

After the funeral, when Shandra returns to Huckleberry, she becomes a suspect in a murder. Her grandmother begins showing up in Shandra’s dreams, giving her clues that could help her solve the murder. 

All amateur sleuths need a sidekick who is in law enforcement. That is where Weippe County Detective Ryan Greer comes in. In book one, Double Duplicity, he realizes she isn’t the murderer even though she is found with the body. And when he catches her where she shouldn’t
be, looking for a clue, she tells him about her dreams. To her surprise, he believes in them more than she does. 

Their relationship builds throughout the series with a wedding on the horizon. 

While most of the books are set in and around Huckleberry Ski Resort and Shandra’s ranch on Huckleberry Mountain, there are also trips to the Colville Reservation in Washington where Shandra helps her family discover the truth when there are murders there. 

Shandra not only has Detective Greer on her side, but she has a big, furry, cowardly lion of a dog, a cantankerous woman who came with the ranch like a stray cat, and a slew of unique and quirky friends who live in Huckleberry. 

I use Shandra’s grandmother coming to her in dreams as the mysticism in my series. Everyone knows of dream catchers. The are many different versions of how this web within a hoop works. Some say it catches the good dreams and they slide down the feathers to the person sleeping under it and lets the bad dreams escape through the hole in the middle. Others say it captures the good ideas that make a person or people stronger and allows the bad ideas to pass on through. I used this concept along with that of the visions or vision quests, which are important to all tribes as well, and the fact the Nez Perce have long believed in the Seven Drums and Dreamer religion. It is a following that Chief Joseph and many in his band believed in. 

Putting all this information I’d gathered about the Native American cultures, dreams, and visions, I came up with the premise of the deceased grandmother coming to my character in dreams to help her solve murders. You can get the first book of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, Double Duplicity, free as an ebook at all ebook vendors. Books 1-5 are available in ebook, print, and audio. My narrator is working on book 6. My current book, book 10, Artful Murder, is available in ebook and print. 

Artful Murder by Paty Jager

Book ten in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series 

Secrets… Scandal… Murder…
An autistic boy and his brother need potter Shandra Higheagle’s help when a teacher’s body is found after a confrontation with the older brother. Shandra knows the boy is innocent. Digging into the teacher’s life, she and Ryan turn up scandal. 

Detective Ryan Greer has believed in Shandra’s dreams in the past, but she can’t always be right.  When his investigation uncovers a principal on the take, females being harassed, and parents kept in the dark, he discovers more suspects than the brothers.  Shandra’s time at the school is coming to an end, and the killer has struck again. 

Universal book link (purchase here)
 blog / website / Facebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest / Bookbub

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THANK You Ms Jager for the insight into your series.

 
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Attention Book Bloggers


You can get the second book in my Resort to Murder mystery series, NAILED, on Netgalley (click here).  I would be delighted and honored if any book bloggers in the audience would read and review the book.  Please contact me as well if you would like to do a giveaway on your blog.  
 
NAILED:
 Julienne is snow bound in the middle of the Rocky Mountains with a killer striking at will.  This wasn't covered in Resort Management training.

Julienne LaMere gets to attend a Resort Management conference at a prestigious ski resort in the Colorado Mountains.  What should be an enjoyable getaway attending workshops by day and shopping and enjoying the resort by night comes to a screeching halt when a loud-mouthed guest is murdered plus the roads and town shut down for an epic blizzard.

In addition to attending the conference, dodging a smitten teen boy, and seeking clues among the gossiping - and increasingly tense - guests, her best friend’s heart has warmed to an unlikely man and may get broken.  As if her mind isn’t already fully occupied, Julienne and her new boyfriend Mason are skiing down troubled slopes in their relationship.  Will Julienne put the scant clues together and unveil the culprit before a murderer gets away?
 
 

 NAILED review in King's River Life!

I am so excited and grateful for the wonderful review of NAILED in King's River Life Magazine (click here.)  The article also contains a chance to win a copy of my book, so head on over there.  

Since I am so excited about the review, I am including a snippet here:  "The essence of a “page turner” with a plethora of rich characters to support her amateur investigation, not-so-smooth romantic entanglements, and some perilous moments. Julienne is proving to be a favorite cozy character: vulnerable, but strong..."

Thank you so much King's River Life and reviewer Kathleen Costa.
 
 





http://kingsriverlife.com/04/21/nailed-by-avery-daniels/
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Author Guest Post - Christina Hoag

Please welcome fellow author Christina Hoag.  She is a former journalist who has had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas, phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She has interviewed gang members, bank robbers, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.

Christina’s noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos was a finalist for

the 2017 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her YA thriller Girl on the Brink was named one of Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 for young adults. She also co-authored Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, which is being used in several universities.

She's a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and Associated Press, and wrote from Latin America for Time, Business Week, New York Times, Financial Times, Times of London, Houston Chronicle and other news outlets.



Why I Write Dark 
Yes, I write dark stuff and always have. It’s simply what
comes out when I sit down at the computer. Gangs and dating violence are the topics of my two novels. I’ve written short stories about homelessness, prostitutes and assorted other gritty topics.

People have occasionally asked me why I’m drawn to the seamy side of life. I think it’s mainly attributable to my career in journalism, which has exposed me to many things that middle-class people never get to witness or experience within the normal realms of their lives. My fiction is an attempt to process those things, to take them a step further than the facts to explore the whys behind them or to simply expose different realities than the one I am used to because I find them intensely interesting.

So while I’m not afraid of venturing beyond the confines of my comfort zone, I admit it can be at times dangerous territory. I have to push myself. Violence and inhumanity are ever easy to write, but they are an inherent part of human nature. And what are writers if not chroniclers and interpreters of the human condition? I think it helps having written about acts of violence for many years as a newspaper reporter. I’m just used to writing about such stuff. Still, at times it gets to me.


My YA novel “Girl on the Brink” is about a girl who gets involved with the wrong guy, and it’s loosely based on my own experience. I had to amp up the conflict by including overt, dramatic acts of abuse. I wrote that book fairly quickly, especially those sections. I just wanted to get through it. My novel “Skin of Tattoos,” about a gang member who attempts to go straight but gets wrapped up in a rival conflict with a fellow homie, I probably downplayed the amount of violence that is normally in that type of lifestyle because I wanted my protagonist to be somewhat sympathetic.

I may have limits though. Having lived in Latin America for ten years, I am interested in narcoviolence in Mexico and other countries. It’s a topic I’d like to tackle and I think it’s an important one, but I know I’m going to have to steel myself to write about it with the level of detail required in a novel. The nature of that world is exceptionally grisly. Do I really want to go there? I haven’t decided yet. It may be too dark, even for me.

 For more about Christina, check out www.christinahoag.com 

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Thank you Ms. Hoag for joining me today and sharing about your two novels.

 
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review-Of Books and Bagpipes


I'm making my way through my TBR pile.  From the author of multiple mystery series, Country Cooking School, Farmer's Market, Dangerous Type series comes the second in a new series comes The Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series.  I reviewed the debut book in the series, The Cracked Spine (click here).   Now let's look at the critical second book.


Author: Paige Shelton

Copyright: April 2017 (Minotaur) 317 pgs

Series: 2nd in Scottish Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Delaney Nichols, Expat and new employee at The Cracked Spine

Setting: Modern, Edinburgh Scotland

Obtained Through: Personal Purchase

Cover blurb:  "Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.

While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder."

Delaney Nichols is a few months into her transatlantic relocation.  She has made new friends and settled into her job - feeling her co-workers are members of her new family including:  her boss, Edwin MacAlister, who is still just as secretive as before, Rosie and 19-year old Hamlet.  Tom is the bartender from across the street and the romantic interest.  Elias is a cab-driver who is also Delaney's landlord.

Castle Doune is a great atmospheric location to find a body.  All of the locations in and around Edinburgh are used to great effect.  The plot is murky throughout with no clear motive and thus suspects are pure guesswork which allows for twists as the reader is along for the ride.  The only semi-clear aspect is that it all has to do with Delaney's boss and his college days with two close friends.  The pacing was maintained with ongoing clues dribbled out.  The killer reveal was tense, my favorite.  The wrapup goes through the many twists and explains the nuances. 
 

I enjoy this series and its basic premise.  Delaney is a fun main character and this book had many twists.  The motive was a surprise for me.  This is probably not a mystery you can figure out ahead since the final pieces about the motive only surface at the killer reveal.  Elias and his over-protectiveness is getting a little too much since he and his wife are just friends and landlords.  The subplot of the romance with bartender Tom is so lukewarm and without chemistry that I barely remember their interactions.  Some may appreciate the romance taking such a backseat.  I appreciate how I feel so immersed in Scotland throughout the story.

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





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Monday, April 9, 2018

Author Guest Post - Marni Graff

Please welcome Marni Graff, the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. I always enjoy learning more about the settings and how they are used in the story and this one has a well known location.

Setting Inspiration

Although I’ve lived in rural North Carolina for the past 21 years, I’m a native New Yorker. The allure and glitz of Manhattan is never far from my memories of my favorite nursing position years ago as a medical consultant for a movie studio, which inspired my second series, The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries.

Trudy now has that job and the first book in the series, Death Unscripted, took place on the set of soap opera filmed for the internet in the studio where I worked with the cast and crew of One Life to Live. When I decided the next mystery would revolve around Trudy’s work on a television movie, I needed a gothic building for the setting that would evoke that sense of mystery just by its very presence.

What better building to choose for Death of an Heiress than

the famed Dakota, the late 19th-century Victorian-Gothic apartment building, rumored to have its own ghost, that was the brainchild of Singer Sewing Machine magnate Edward Clark. On West 72nd and Central Park West, most people think of the Upper West Side luxury apartment building as the place where John Lennon lived and died, and in fact, Yoko Ono still lives there. With its 15-foot ceilings, elaborately carved mahogany woodwork and mantels, parquet flooring, and iron and marble staircases, there is always a waiting list for tenants. A special storage room exists for storing the original doors and fireplaces if a modern tenant wants to renovate to a contemporary design.

The Dakota’s luxurious apartments have never been empty. Lauren Bacall lived there for 53 years until her death, and it has been the home to many of the rich and famous, who include Rudolf Nureyev, the Steinway family, Rosemary Clooney, Boris Karloff, Gilda Radner, Judy Garland and Carson McCullers. Its cooperative board is even more famous for those it would not allow to live at The Dakota, such as Billy Joel, Madonna, Carly Simon, Alex Rodriquez and Cher. No reasons are given, just a rejection on those applications.

Small wonder then, that when the floor plan of what used to be the home of Leonard Bernstein came into my possession, I decided this would be the perfect setting for where Trudy’s movie would be filmed. Trudy’s assignment is ostensibly first aid for the cast and crew, but the producers want her to watch over their star, in the early stages of a difficult pregnancy. When the actress disappears near the end of shooting and the male lead is found dead in the gorgeous paneled dining room, Trudy finds herself involved in the investigations.

The Dakota was used in the filming of Rosemary’s Baby, but only the exteriors were shot there in the large courtyard and coach entrance. A sound stage had to be built that mocked up the interior of the apartment where Rosemary lived, because in reality, The Dakota won’t allow any inside filming. Of course, in Trudy’s world, they will.

Ms. Graff also writes a crime review blog at www.auntiemwrites.com. Her books can be found at www.bridlepathpress.com and on Amazon, in trade paperback, Kindle and Audible.


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 THANK You Ms. Graff for that writeup about the famous Dakota featured in your novel.

 
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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review - Flowers and Foul Play

Amanda Flower's is the bestselling author of the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, Living History Museum Mysteries, India Hayes Mysteries, Magical Bookshop Mysteries (Crime and Poetry-click here, second book Prose and Cons-click here), and the new Magic Garden Mysteries.  It is the debut book of the new Magic Garden Series I'm reviewing here.

Author: Amanda Flowers

Copyright: May 2018 (Crooked Lane Books) 320 pgs

Series: 1st in Magic Garden Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery with magical touches

Main Character: Fiona Knox, recently single and jobless American in Scotland.

Setting: Modern, Duncreigan Scotland

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion - Netgalley

From the cover: "Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancĂ© left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in Scotland, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles―with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late."

Fiona Knox, still hurting from her unfaithful fiance and the closing of her florist shop, is confused and trying to do right by the memory of her Uncle Ian's legacy.  To her credit, she doesn't run from the situation before her when so many things challenge and test her.  Hamish, the rustic and down-to-earth caretaker of the property is a great character I enjoyed getting to know.  Chief Inspector Neil Craig, is the standard police love interest - but neither he nor Fiona are quick trust one another.  I like Inspector Craig's character.  There are several townspeople to  fill out the cast.  There are a few charming animal characters including a mischievous blue-eyed fox, a cat who adopts Fiona named Ivanhoe, and Hamish's companion red squirrel, Duncan, who add delightful magical touches.

Duncreigan, the property Fiona inherited is a great setting and key to the story.  The magical garden reminded me of The Secret Garden in the classic novel. The closest town and its people plus with the imposing cliffs complete the half magical and half secretive atmosphere.

The plot is wonderfully layered and kept my interest.  The killer reveal is my favorite - nice and tense.  The wrapup was complete and leaves it open for the next adventure.  The story telling is smooth and light. I enjoyed Fiona, who comes across as genuine and vulnerable yet strong.  I love the magical touches.  I appreciate that the potential romance may be a slow burn from early indications. 
 
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

 
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Monday, April 2, 2018

Author Guest Post - Sandra Cody

Please welcome Sandra Cody, the author of Jennie Connors series.  The Peace Morrow books are set in a picture-perfect small town just north of Philadelphia. The town, Doylestown, is real, but the the stories are totally fictitious. Much of the action takes place in a museum of antique tools and folk art. The stories center around family and examine the ways in which destiny is shaped by secrets. Peace is a young woman searching for her identity - and a history she may be better off not knowing. 

The Birth Of A New Series?
It’s funny how books come to be written. An Uncertain Path took me by surprise. In a previous book, Love and Not Destroy, I introduced Peace Morrow, a young woman who had been abandoned as an infant. Her quest to learn her history was a subplot to the main mystery in that book. By the end of the book, she knows who her biological parents are. So ... that question was answered, that goal achieved. End of story. Not quite.

Deep into my next book (part of my Jennie Connors series and totally unrelated to Peace Morrow’s story), I found myself wondering how Peace was dealing with this information. Was she happy with her discovery? Disappointed? If I didn’t write a sequel, Peace would never get to know her newly-discovered family. I felt like I was abandoning her again. I couldn’t do that. Long story short, what I thought was the end was actually a beginning. Problem was, I had no idea what was coming next. So I began what was An Uncertain Path - for both me and my protagonist.

The book is set in a real town, the town where I’ve lived for more than half my life. Part of the fun of releasing the first book was the reaction of friends and neighbors who live here. They loved reading about a fictional character walking along their streets, stopping in their favorite bookstore, or having dinner in a restaurant they know well. More to the point, I discovered they were also curious about what happened next in Peace’s life. She was real to them! There aren’t many things that make a writer as happy as that.

I also discovered that people who’d never seen my town

loved it too. They wanted to know more about it. I kept that in mind as I wrote An Uncertain Path. In fact, the name was inspired by one of our landmarks. A few yards from our library, there’s a labyrinth with a story deserving of its own novel.  Its construction was inspired by a woman grieving the loss of her beloved adopted daughter. It’s not really like the story of Peace Morrow, but certain elements of the two resonate. Yes, the labyrinth and an abbreviated version of its origin are included in the book. 

And, again, the people who live here love seeing part of their real-life history portrayed in fiction and people who live elsewhere are curious about it. My setting had become a character - in this case, a setting/character that was ready-made for me. All I had to do was pay attention to the streets I walk every day, the stores where I shop, the restaurants where I eat. These things, while not part of the plot, give texture to a story and help a reader suspend disbelief so they believe in your plot.

In case you’re curious, I’m now deep into another Jennie Connors book and wonder what’s next in Peace Morrow’s life.  Has another series been born?  AN UNCERTAIN PATH - amzn.to/2vhDkz4  


Thank You Ms. Cody for that peek into Peace Morrow's creation and evolution.  It is a compliment that a character grabs the reader's interest so much.  

Sandra's links:

Website: http://www.sandracareycody.com   
Blog: http://www.birthofanovel.wordpress.com   
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/18bIfTI
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/xfU969  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandracody

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