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Monday, June 26, 2017

Author Guest Post - Juliette Blackwell

Ms. Blackwell has been a guest of this blog since the beginning.  We are excited to welcome her back to share how she came up with the fascinating setting of her newest book in the series.

On Ideas, Lighthouses, and Strong Women

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This is one of the most common questions a writer is asked, and I wish I had a good
answer.

The truth is, I can’t stop with the ideas. Whether people-watching in parks or on public transportation, from stories in the newspaper or on the radio, or sparked by some overheard bit of conversation or a strange turn of phrase ….no matter what, in the course of my everyday life I see waaaay more ideas than I could ever use in my books.

Case in point: several years ago I noticed a want-ad for a couple interested in running the historic East Brother lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay, which had been turned into a rather idiosyncratic bed and breakfast. The ad specifically asked for two people, and at least one had to have a Coast Guard boat piloting license.  Further, they should enjoy “cooking, history, basic maintenance, and hospitality.”

A want-ad for a lighthouse keeper/B&B host? What a great set-up for a novel!  Also…who knew there was a functioning lighthouse in San Francisco Bay?

I spoke to my sister, the historian, who mentioned that many women became lighthouse keepers back in the day. In fact, this was one of the only professions in which women could earn the same money as their male counterparts. Usually the women had been the wives or daughters of the original male keeper, had served as his unofficial assistants, and then inherited the demanding job when the man died or
was incapacitated.

Fascinated, I made my way to Point San Pablo, the
secluded houseboat community that serves as the departure dock for the lighthouse island, and –my notepad always
at the ready-- talked to a few of the residents before climbing aboard the small boat that ferries passengers over to the island to roam the grounds. The island location is gorgeous, of course, and the Victorian lighthouse and residence is stunning. Also, lighthouse keepers kept careful logs – a rich font of information. (Read more about East Brother Lighthouse, and see some great photos, here: http://www.ebls.org/)

This was years ago, mind you, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the charming little lighthouse in the Bay, which most people whiz by on the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge without even noticing. Finally, I found the perfect opportunity to put the locale to use, in my latest Haunted Home Renovation book, A GHOSTLY LIGHT.

Of course, I took a bit of artistic license with East Brother Lighthouse and Point San Pablo, and as I wrote the story began to careen and twist the way all good mysteries
do. But how better to use the setting and history of the East Brother Lighthouse than to create the fictional need for its thorough renovation?

In A GHOSTLY LIGHT, Mel Turner, general contractor extraordinaire, steps in to fix up a dilapidated lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay when her friend, Alicia, gets the
financial backing to transform it into an inn. But Mel’s not only gifted with a hammer; she’s also able to see ghosts. And who’s ever heard of a lighthouse without a resident ghost (or two?) Soon Mel’s trying to figure out how to placate the island’s agitated spirit – a woman lighthouse keeper-- while searching for buried treasure, uncovering the fate of a long-ago missing boy, and exonerating her friend Alicia, who
now stands accused of killing her violent ex-husband.

Just a week in the life of Mel Turner, reluctant ghost-buster.

And now I have a few ideas for the next book…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Blackwell, always a pleasure to have you visit!  I loved the setting of the lighthouse island for this mystery.  My review will be coming in a few days.



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

International Bookmark Swap

I found this fascinating website that I want to share with you.  For the many people who love print books, the bookmark is more than a place holder but artistic and a personal expression.  

Now you can swap bookmarks with people around the world.  International Friends of Bookmarks has created a website where you can sign up and give particulars of what sort of bookmarks you are interested in receiving and what kind you have to send (click here).  You can then browse by country and see who is looking for bookmarks that you can send.  

What a fantastic way to reach out and share the love of reading and a sense of community.  It is simple and easy that deserves to be shared.  I hope it spreads and catches on to be a huge success.   


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review - French Fried

This is the second book in a new series - and the first that I have read.  I had no problem understanding it without reading the debut novel.  The author provided us with a guest post (click here) that goes into the cafe in the series.  Find out what my thoughts are on this new book.

Author: Kylie Logan

Copyright: June 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Ethnic Eats Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Laurel Inwood, former personal chef to a Hollywood movie star

Setting: Modern day, Hubbard Ohio

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From book cover "The Statue of Liberty is 130 years old, and for the struggling residents of Hubbard, Ohio, any opportunity to bring in tourists is reason enough for a celebration. Laurel Inwood and her aunt, Sophie, are pitching in. Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks, a former greasy spoon turned charming ethnic eatery, will be offering French cuisine for the entire week.

For expert help with their quiche and escargot, the ladies turn to Raquel “Rocky” Arnaud, a former French chef and friend of Sophie. What looks like a match made in heaven turns rank as quickly as buttermilk on a summer’s day. Rocky turns up dead and when her nightly red wine shows notes of oak, cinnamon, and poison, Laurel turns from soufflĂ© to sleuth."

Laurel is torn between the growing attachment for the town (particularly Declan), and getting back to high profile personal chef jobs.  This is the main aspect of Laurel.  Aunt Sophie, owner of a small cafe, is the closest thing to family that Laurel has left - and she is ever hopeful that Laurel will stay long term.  Declan is the romantic interest and owner of the Irish shop is set on Laurel being his gal. The victim - Raquel - is fascinating and not your typical victim in that she was a pretty cool person.  But she had lived quite a life, and the past came back with a vengeance.

The setting is standard small town, with the exception of Rocky's property, Pacifique, which is idyllic.  The beauty of Rocky's property turns scary since the murder occurred there.

I really like tense and thrilling killer reveals, and this was mild.  It answered all the questions without any harrowing chills.  It worked, but I miss the blood pumping finish.

The mystery aspect was good, I appreciated the motive as not typical. But, since Laurel is keeping just how hard she is looking to leave town and actively seeking personal chef jobs, she is deceptive to her aunt about her activities.  That was a bit cold-hearted as her aunt's hopes are growing that she will stay.  That put a crimp on fully enjoying the character for me.  I enjoyed the victim Rocky and her fascinating life, I even felt sorry for her as personal things are dug up during the investigation.  I liked how the author made the victim more likable, although that made the murder even more emotional - which I felt was a good thing. 

This second entry in the series provided an interesting mystery with a victim you want to provide justice for, mixed with small town characters.  

Ratings: Good - A fun mystery, good beach reading


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have written and published my first cozy mystery - Iced
(Resort to Murder #1) by Avery Daniels.

What a reviewer said: "The mystery is relentless, the characters alive and funny, and for the lack of a better expression, the novel is a page-turner. A must read for all those who enjoy getting lost in a well-crafted story."  5 Stars Joss Landry

ICED
Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime. 

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what's best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn't understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice. 

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to her widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

Amazon ebook and print (click here)
Barnes and Noble print book (click here)
IndieBound print book (click here)  
Audio book is due shortly, I will include link then.

Oh, and if you have a blog and would like to do a spotlight or a review, just leave me a comment.



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Monday, June 12, 2017

Author Guest Post - Kylie Logan

Kylie Logan visits us today.  You may also know her other pen names  of Casey Daniels, Zoe Daniels and Miranda Bliss.  She writes the Ethnic Eats Mystery series, Chili Cook-Off Series, League of Literary Ladies, Button Box Mystery, and the Pepper Martin mystery series.  Before that she wrote romance novels under different pen names.  

She studied English Literature at Queen's College in Oxford, England (UK).  She married her childhood sweetheart, and they live in a suburb of Cleveland with their two children, and an oversized Airedale named Hoover.

I read somewhere that if you live in the Midwest, there’s no doubt you’ve eaten in a restaurant located in an old railroad station.

I can’t say whether that’s true or not, but I do know that here in northeast Ohio, we have at least two former railway stations that are now restaurants, and something tells me if I searched, I’d find even more.

So what’s the allure? What do people like about old train stations?  I think that all depends on who you ask.

Some people are train buffs and in one of those restaurants
I’ve been to, trains still rattle by just outside the back windows and people stop eating and point and stare. It’s a railroad lover’s dream.

Other people enjoy the thought of the leisurely travel we associate with trains. No muss, no fuss, just sit back and relax. Of course, those same people forget the coal dust and the soot and the bumpety-bump ride!

Then there are people like me who are fascinated with historic buildings, no matter their original purpose. The architecture is always amazing and the craftsmanship is beyond compare.

I suppose those are just some of the reasons Sophie Charnowski in my Ethnic Eats mysteries loves her restaurant, the Terminal at the Tracks, so much. The Terminal is a hometown sort of place with basic, stick-to-your-ribs meals and it’s Sophie’s pride and joy.

The series premiered with “Irish Stewed” and this month, “French Fried” hits the shelves. What’s with the ethnic titles? Well, Laurel Inwood, once a former Hollywood chef, arrives to help out at the Terminal and realizes that the place is going downhill fast. People just aren’t as into fried baloney as they used to be, and Laurel knows she needs to add some excitement to the menu. She introduces a new ethnic food specialty each month.

Of course there’s no way she can know that wonderful food is always going to be served with a side of murder!

In “French Fried,” Rocky Arnaud, a friend of both Sophie and Laurel, dies mysteriously. The cops are sure it’s suicide. Laurel isn’t convinced. Her investigation involves her in the town’s Statue of Liberty celebration, allows her to meet a famous French romance novelist, and pulls her in deeper to the boisterous family of handsome attorney, Declan Fury.

Of course there are a couple recipes in the book, too, including one for a simple cassoulet (a sausage/bean stew) I often serve when company’s coming. Talk about no muss, no fuss! The stew is a hit at the Terminal, too, and easy enough to prepare to keep even the cranky cook, George, happy. Now if only it was as simple to keep murder off the menu!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Logan for that introduction to your newest novel in the Ethnic Eats mystery series.  We in the Rocky Mountains have an old train depot that is now an Italian restaurant.  


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Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Edgar & Agatha Awards

Award nominees and winners are great for finding new books to try.  Below you will find finalists for both the Edgar Awards and the Agatha awards.  The winners are noted by a double asterisk.  I have reviewed two of the books here, so those have a link to my review as well.  Happy reading! 



Best Novel

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley **
What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin
The Ex by Alafair Burke 
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Best First Novel

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry**
The Lost Girls by Heather Young
Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie
IQ by Joe Ide
Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Best Paperback Original

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty**
The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin
Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts
Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott
A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum



The Simon & Schuster –Mary Higgins Clark Award

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd**
Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub
The Other Sister by Dianne Dixon
Quiet Neighbors: A Novel by Catriona McPherson
Say No More: A Jane Ryland Novel by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Juvenile

OCDaniel by Wesley King**


Best Young Adult

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse**



Best Novel

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny**
Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross
Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson

Best First Novel

The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn**
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettman (click here for review)
Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper
Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Best Historical Novel

The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson**
Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson 
Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell 
Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland 
Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessican Estevao (click here for review)

I found these listings on CriminalElement.com.  
Hopefully this will provide a few new authors or books to your reading list.  Always happy to expand your TBR pile :-)


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