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Monday, May 29, 2017

Guest Author Post - Kathleen Bridge

Please welcome Kathleen Bridge.  Kathleen, author of the Hamptons Home and Garden mystery, started her writing career working a the Michigan State University news in East Lansing, Michigan. 

She is also the author and photographer of an antiques reference guide, lithographed paper toys, books, and games, and a creative writing instructor at the William Cullen Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York.  Additionally, she is an antiques and vintage dealer in Long Island, New York.

Rare Books for Free

In my third Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery, Ghostal Living, rare books take center stage, which got me thinking about all the “rare” books I’ve found over the years in my local library. In Ghostal Living, a wealthy, rare book collector opens the Bibliophile Bed & Breakfast in Sag Harbor, New York. Each suite in the B & B is named after a famous author. My protagonist, interior designer and fixer-upper Meg Barrett has the lucky chore of filling the suites with books and antiques from the time period the authors were alive—as if they’d just stepped out for a bit of fresh air after a long day of writing.

A few years ago, I spent the weekend in Sag Harbor, picture
taking and soaking up the history and beauty of the historic old whaling village that would be the setting for my next mystery. As soon as I saw the John Jermain Memorial Library, I knew it would be the perfect location for my novel’s first annual Sag Harbor Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair. The library was built in 1910 and is a wonderful example of Classical Revival architecture with its pediment and four towering Doric columns, reminiscent of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue—all that’s missing are the stone lions, Patience and Fortitude.

When I first entered the lobby of the John Jermain Memorial Library, I couldn’t help but wonder if Sag Harbor resident John Steinbeck had spent time inside. I could imagine him checking out a volume on King Arthurian legends, one of his favorite subjects. Or perhaps hiding between the stacks of books to read Shakespeare’s, Richard III, the play that gave him the inspiration and name for his novel, The Winter of Our Discontent that he wrote from his little glass hut overlooking Sag Harbor’s Noyac Bay. And I’m sure another Sag Harbor favorite son, James Fenimore Cooper would be proud to know his books are safely stored in the new humidity and temperature controlled archive in the third-floor History Room.

In Ghostal Living there is a Gatsby-style cocktail party to celebrate the opening of the Sag Harbor Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair. I used poetic license to say that a portion of the proceeds from the 1920s cocktail party would go to SAIL, an acronym I made up for Save America’s Invaluable Libraries. The name, SAIL, might be fictitious, but please count on me to do anything I can to promote our public libraries where “rare” accessible books are available to everyone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Bridge.  I enjoyed your visit and guest post.


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review - Study in Scarlet Women

Sherry Thomas is an acclaimed romance author - regularly receiving starred reviews from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.  

It is a supreme challenge to come up with a new angle for a Sherlock novel, let alone pull any new attempt off successfully.  Ms. Thomas has ventured out from the romance genre and devised and brilliant angle - that Sherlock was actually a woman and she used different methods to conceal it, the stories written by sidekick Watson being only one trick.


Author: Sherry Thomas

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Lady Sherlock Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild - Adult topics discussed

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Charlotte Holmes, disgraced upper class woman who creates the Sherlock Holmes identity

Setting: 1886, Devonshire and London England

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind."

Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, feminine, and too smart to be accepted easily in society. Olivia is her loving sister who knows her better than any other. Mrs. John Watson, a retired stage actress initially employs Charlotte as a ladies' companion but quickly becomes her sidekick. Lord Ingram Ashburton, a long time friend and first love, is the go-between for "Sherlock" and a police inspector.  Inspector Robert Treadles is a fan of Sherlock and his advice on several cases, but the case of three society deaths makes him want to consult with Sherlock in person.

In 1886 women were still expected to marry and produce children and weren't considered suited for deep thought or much past a simple painting and playing the piano. Into this setting Charlotte hits the scene with a whip sharp intellect, little desire for domesticity, and little regard for societal mores limiting her.  The setting is the era and it's impact that fashions a lovely - even cherubic looking woman - into the legendary Sherlock. 

The plot is mainly the making of Sherlock with a tantalizing murder mystery to show us how Charlotte deducts and leads the police while maintaining her cover as Sherlock.  The murder is clever and likely wouldn't have been uncovered or even suspected as a murder, if it weren't for Charlotte.  The pacing picks up once Charlotte finds Watson, so the beginning sets the stage.

You likely know how I love a suspenseful killer confrontation, but this was a killer reveal that explains the three deaths and the understanding is such a twist that it serves as it's own suspense.  The wrap-up introduces the re-imagined Moriarty that promises more twists on the established Sherlock mythos.  

This story is pure genius.  Charlotte is so counter to the image of Sherlock and yet it works beautifully.  I feel as though Ms. Thomas, to whom English is a second language, was born to write this and it will be her crowning character and series.

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have written and published my first cozy mystery - Iced (Resort to Murder #1) by Avery Daniels is on pre-sale for a whopping low price of .99. This low price will be for a limited time only.  The official release day is May 31st. 

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?

Preorder the kindle edition for .99 (click here.)  
Print book and audio 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, May 22, 2017

Author Guest Post - Julia Buckley

I reviewed the debut book in this new series, A Dark and Stormy Murder (click here) and just reviewed the newest release, Death in Dark Blue (click here.)  Now we are honored to have the author visit us with a guest post.

Horace Bick, The Grizzly Bear, and The Joy of Old Hardware Stores

Readers who enjoyed my first Writer’s Apprentice mystery, A DARK AND STORMY MURDER, don’t have to wait much longer for the sequel. DEATH IN DARK BLUE debuts on May 2. Since I don’t want to delve too deeply into the storyline and risk spoilers, I thought I’d talk a little more about Blue Lake, the fictional town where all the mystery happens.

Blue Lake is an amalgam of any number of Midwestern small towns I’ve visited, and even Bick’s Hardware has shades of other hardware stores I’ve seen over fifty years. One in particular stands out. It was a wonderful old store in Valparaiso, Indiana—my college town!—and I happened to wander into this place when I was twenty and searching, just before Christmas break, for family Christmas gifts. I had chosen my brother Christopher’s name in the family grab bag, and I wanted to buy him a saw and a flannel shirt (both on his list). So I walked the mile from campus to Valpo’s downtown strip, and I stumbled across an amazing place called Wark’s Hardware. The interior was dim, dusty, wonderfully fragrant of cut wood and mixed paint and varnish. Like Bick’s Hardware, Wark’s had shelves that went all the way to the ceiling, and in fact it had a dizzying effect, giving me a sense of vertigo until I adapted to the sheer volume of stuff on the walls.

It didn’t take me long to realize I loved the place, especially after asking Mr. Wark for some help and finding that although he hadn’t smiled much, he was quite friendly and attentive, and spoke in a scratchy voice that grew on me, too.  I bought a saw from him, and when my family came to pick me up a day later, I insisted that they visit Wark’s Hardware with me just to revel in its wonderful eccentricity.

Wark’s is no longer there, and it’s likely that Mr. Wark is no longer with us, either, but the store lives in my imagination. The great thing about writing is that we can borrow bits and pieces from every memory that we have. We then embellish those memories with our own little decorations. For example, there was no giant grizzly bear at Wark’s Hardware, but I did see a lot of things like that when I visited South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. I decided to borrow this bit of whimsy and place a giant stuffed Grizzly in the porch lobby of Bick’s Hardware, and that Mr. Horace Bick, showing a bit of humor, placed a sign in his clawed hands that said “Bick’s is Best.”

In addition to my love of hardware stores, I am mad for antique shops. My husband and sons do not share this love, and so I am often a lonely wanderer on family vacations, trying to suss out likely-looking places that might hold dusty treasures when all the boys are ever looking for is a good hamburger joint and perhaps a place that sells guitars. Some of my cool antique shop finds have also made it into Bick’s Hardware, but I’m thinking that in a future book I might just let Lena wander into an antique shop and get lost in the wonderful objects that take her to other times and places.

Thanks for reading! Book two is available for pre-order now. Here’s the Amazon link. https://tinyurl.com/ksl6oxc

Oh, and assuming I write about one, what’s a good name for an antique shop? 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Buckley.  A good name for an antique shop... Aged Memories,  Aged Whispers...Whispered Memories


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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review - Death in Dark Blue

I reviewed the debut novel, A Dark and Stormy Murder (click here), and was honored to have a guest post by author Ms. Buckley (click here) that shares her love of Gothic books.  I hope you enjoy this look into the second book of this new series that specifically gives homage to the classic Gothic books of Mary Stewart and others like Victoria Holt and Phyllis A Whitney.


Author: Julia Buckley

Copyright: May 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Writer's Apprentice Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Lena London, new writing assistant to a best-selling author

Setting: Modern day, Blue Lake Indiana

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover:  "In the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana, Lena London is settling into her dream job, but someone is making her life a nightmare…

Things are beginning to go right for Lena. She’s got a new job assisting suspense novelist and friend, Camilla Graham. She lives rent-free in Camilla’s beautiful, Gothic house. She even has a handsome new boyfriend, Sam West.

After being under attack by the media and his neighbors, Sam has recently been cleared of suspicion for murder. Journalists and townsfolk alike are remorseful, and one blogger would even like to apologize to him in person. But when she’s found dead behind Sam’s house, Lena must dodge paparazzi as she unravels the many mysteries that threaten to darken the skies of her little town and her new found love with Sam."

The gang from the debut book are back.  Lena is back as Camilla's assistance, Sam is looking for his missing wife Victoria with new clues, Policeman Doug Heller is moving on from Lena, BFF Allison and hubby John make a few appearances, and of course the animals - Lena's cat Lestrade and Camilla's German Sheperds Rochester and Heathcliff.  Belinda Frailey, the research librarian extraordinaire, is the breakout character in this addition to the series. 

Blue Lake in the winter adds a gray and blustery atmosphere to contrast with the Greek Iles search for Victoria. The invasive nature of paparazzi adds to the isolated feeling of the cold.

The plot kept a good clip between the popular blogger's death and the ramping-up sub plot of finding Victoria - who is likely held against her will. 

The two part climax is suspenseful and delivers quite a twist in the second part.  The scope is big and bold with the international search for the missing Victoria.  The wrap up promises that the intensity will continue in the next book.

I enjoyed this novel more than the debut book.  Lena seemed more cohesive and stronger and Sam is emerging from his snarly tendencies as he finds townspeople accepting him.  Ms. Buckley stepped up her game on the plot and it has certainly paid off.  There are many emotions that run deep throughout the story that provides some poignancy.   

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


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My first cozy mystery ever - Iced (Resort to Murder #1) by Avery Daniels is on pre-sale for a whopping
low price of .99. This low price will be for a limited time only.  The official release day is May 31st. 

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?

Preorder the kindle edition (click here.)
Print 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.



Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review - Where the Dead Lie

I have been following this series since the sixth book in the series and became an instant fan.  I have even been going back and picking up the first books.  I have reviewed When Falcons Fall (click here), Who Buries the Dead (click here), Why Kings Confess" (click here), "What Darkness Brings" (click here), "When Maidens Mourn" (click here), and "Where Shadows Dance" (click here).  We were also honored to interview C.S. Harris (click here.)  As a side note, I also reviewed a modern thriller, The Archangel Project (click here) by this author under the pen name CS Graham.  Let's see how the series is doing now that we are into the twelfth book.

Author: CS Harris

Copyright: April 2017 (Berkley) 347 pgs

Series: 12th in Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series

Sensuality:  Serial killer subject matter, children victims

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Detective

Main Characters: Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) a veteran of the Peninsula wars with Napoleon and a nobleman.

Setting: 1813, London England

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From book cover: "London, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is no stranger to the dark side of the city, but he’s never seen anything like this: the brutalized body of a fifteen-year-old boy dumped into a makeshift grave on the grounds of an abandoned factory.

One of London’s many homeless children, Benji Thatcher was abducted and tortured before his murder—and his younger sister is still missing. Few in authority care about a street urchin’s fate, but Sebastian refuses to let this killer go unpunished.

Uncovering a disturbing pattern of missing children, Sebastian is drawn into a shadowy, sadistic world. As he follows a grim trail that leads from the writings of the debauched Marquis de Sade to the city’s most notorious brothels, he comes to a horrifying realization: someone from society’s upper echelon is preying upon the city’s most vulnerable. And though dark, powerful forces are moving against him, Sebastian will risk his reputation and his life to keep more innocents from harm..."

We have Sebastian and new wife Hero front and center again.  But Hero is dealing with emotional upheaval with her seriously ill mother and can't assist in the investigation. Sebastian, newly a father, takes this case particularly personal as his heart breaks for these unfortunate street children meeting evil ends. Sebastian faces emotional issues with his father too.  

Gibson, Sebastian's dear friend who essentially performs the duties of a medical examiner, joins the cast again still fighting his personal demons.  Hero's father Jarvis is somehow involved - even if it's the possibility that he could know the killer's identity but doesn't divulge it for his own manipulations, which causes tension to build even further with Sebastian.  They seem to be building to an explosive show-down at some point.  Tom is especially at risk because he fits the profile of the abducted children and Sebastian tries to keep him safely at home, which Tom takes offence to being excluded.  Homeless former soldier Rory Inchbald and street kid Toby Dancing are just a few of the many sad people Sebastian interviews.  Then there are the people who try to aid the street children Reverend Filby and Icarus Cantrell.  Cantrell, aka The Professor, is considered a fence for stolen items and is the breakout character in this novel.

The subject matter is a bit darker than the usual with many atmospheric touches to ratchet the tension rather than dwell on details of the killings.  Abandoned factories, back alleys, brothels that cater to more sadistic tastes, and so forth are the myriad of settings.  

The plot exposes the calloused side of society towards the defenseless without being preachy. I do have to say that the multiple visits to the same suspects seemed (IMHO) to slow the action a bit.  The climax was filled with tension and danger, a real nail-biter.  This particular story leaves the reader with a threat close to Sebastian's family that will no doubt be carried into the next book.  

This addition to the series is a little darker than prior books in the series.  But I didn't feel it was gruesome rather enough to get a sense of the torture done.  That said, because the victims are children I am giving a trigger warning.  This book in the series shows considerable emotional changes for both Sebastian and Hero, a seemingly impossible to solve serial killer, and dark brooding settings.  I feel it is a well crafted story although rather somber.

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

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My first cozy mystery ever Iced (Resort to Murder #1) by Avery Daniels is on pre-sale for a whopping low price of .99. This low price will be for a limited time only.  The official release day is May 31st. 

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?

Preorder the kindle edition (click here.)
Print 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.


Bookmark and Share

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