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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - August 2011

It is the first Monday of the month - time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.   Here are some books that have been reviewed around the web to help you stay cool in the summer heat. Below is the line-up.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review

Mysteries in Paradise reviewed Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves
Have you discovered the Vera Stanhope series? This is #4 in the series and an excellent read if you like British crime fiction.

Lynnette's Book World reviewed Self Made by M. Darusha Wehm
In Indie author/publisher M. Darusha Wehm’s second novel, released in January of 2010, we are introduced to a future world. One where day-to-day life as we now know it doesn’t exist and social activity takes place on the multitude of ‘nets’ and ‘boards’ designed by computer programmers.

Mysteries in Paradise reviewed The Diggers Rest Hotel by Geoffrey McGeachin
For me, Geoff McGeachin has hit on a winner with this new series and I hope we see more of Charlie Berlin. It appealed to me on several fronts - historical, crime fiction, Australia. 

How Mysterious reviewed The Silence of the Grave Arnaldur IndriĆ°ason

Mysteries in Paradise reviewed The Dark Vineyard by Marin Walker
I very much regret that I haven't read the first in this series, Bruno Chief Of Police. I'm going to remedy that as quickly as possible.

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

How Mysterious reviewed Crunch Time by Dianne Mott Davidson

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Books Can be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay

The Book Frog reviewed  Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
Mysterious David Loogan just wants to live quietly in Ann Arbor, his new home. Then his friend and boss calls him and says, "I need to see you. Bring a shovel." Oh dear.

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

How Mysterious reviewed Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley
Thoughts in Progress reviewed Wined and Died by Cricket McRae

Books and Beasts reviewed Brute Strength by Susan Conant
Holly Winter is back -- with her wonderful Malamutes -- to solve another mystery while keeping up with her writing, dog training and the never ending job of sweeping up hair ...

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Finger Lickin' Dead by Riley Adams

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Mysteries in Paradise reviewed The Wreckage by Michael Robotham
This is a great read, both for those who have been waiting for the next in this fractallated series featuring retired London detective Vincent Ruiz and clinical psychologist Professor Joe O'Loughlin, and for those new to Robotham's work.

Thoughts in Progress reviewed No Rest for the Dead by 26 bestselling authors
a spellbinding novel of murder and intrigue composed by the collaboration of 26 bestselling authors. Each brings their own unique style to the story but it flows smoothly as one incredible voice.

How Mysterious reviewed In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Author Interview

BlogHer gives us - Chant of Death: Interview with mystery writer and poet Diane Marquart Moore

Stuff and Nonsense gives us Jan Burke: Questions and answers
Click here for part 1

Click here for Part 2

ePublishing a Book gives us L.J. Sellers : The Interview
L.J. Sellers is the author of the famous Detective Jackson series. She tells us about how she finally succeeded as a writer.

Fair Dinkum Crime gives us an interview with Vicki Tyley
#10 in an Australian author interview series in which authors respond in their own way to a baker's dozen of questions.

Lynnette's Book World gives us an interview with Author Ivory Simone.  She talks about her novel ‘Havasu Means Blue Water’, living in Bangkok and the “legacy of injustice”

Writing Tips and Advice

The Daring Novelist gives us Thoughts on the Premise of a Mystery Series

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: The Cat, the Lady and the Liar

I hope you enjoy my neighbor Ken's book reviews because he is back with a cozy this week.  Ken loves mysteries and like me, he enjoys anything from suspense to cozies.  We go to South Carolina this week for our mystery - please join us.

Author:  Leann Sweeney

Copyright:  April 2011; Obsidian (Penguin Group); 257 pages
Series:  #3 in The Cat’s in Trouble Mysteries
Sensuality: N/A
Mystery sub-genre:  Cozy
Main Characters:  Jillian Hart, cat quilter, and her sleuth-cats Chablis, Merlot, and Syrah
Setting:  Modern day, Mercy and Woodcrest, South Carolina
Obtained Book Through:  Publisher supplied in exchange for honest review

The description on the back of the book does a good job of providing the premise of the book:

When cat quilter Jillian Hart tracks down the owner of a gorgeous stray cat, the trail leads her to none other than fabulously wealthy, undeniably quirky Ritaestelle Longworth.  The gossips are questioning Ritaestelle’s sanity, and the high-society grande dame isn’t helping matters with her wild accusations that someone is drugging her to keep her away from her beloved cat.

Before Jillian can get to the bottom of Ritaesteel’s charges, a body turns up in the lake behind her house – and her cat Chablis discovers Ritaestelle standing nearby.  Can Jillian’s three wise cats aid her in solving a mystery with roots that are decades old?  Jillian knows from experience that to find the purr-petrator, she’ll have to prick up her ears and follow the paw prints straight to to a killer….

This was a fun and enjoyable book.  Leanne Sweeney really knows and understands one of our most beloved and mystical friends – the cat.  Many of us cat lovers know about the quote from an unknown source, “In ancient Egypt, cats were worshiped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this.”  

Jillian’s three cats contributed much to the heart of this story.  They provided some clues without prematurely divulging the ending.  Isis, the lost and found companion to Ritaestelle, displays another aspect of feline mentality.  She has a habit of getting stuck in baskets and drawers.  From the book:
    “I carefully extracted Isis from the cabinet drawer while Tom crouched beside me and petted my cats.

     I said, ‘Isis apparently thinks she’s thinner than she actually is.  Maybe her whiskers are too short.  Whiskers should warn a cat about whether they’ll fit into a space.’

     ‘ I get the feeling that Isis does what Isis wants, regardless of the consequences,’ he said.  ‘Sounds like a little criminal, if you ask me.’

     I held her up and looked into her green eyes.  ‘Is he calling you names?  Doesn’t he know you’re a goddess?’  I smile and set Isis down.   She strolled away as if nothing had happened.

     I said, ‘Why do cats act like they had no part of an embarrassing situation?  Is it that little human section of their brain at work?’

     ‘I haven’t gotten stuck in a wicker basket or a drawer lately, but I’d pretend it was no big deal if my peers were watching,’ Tom said.

     I laughed.  ‘Guess I would, too.’”
The story line of this whodunit is well developed, plausible, and believable.  All the necessary ingredients are incorporated.   There is mystery, murder, suspense, and plot twists.  A wide variety of possible culprits, including ne’er-do-well relatives with means, motives, and opportunities to commit murder add to the story’s intrigue.  The hints, clues, innuendos, and misdirections, including the use of small town gossip, keeps the reader guessing right up to the surprising end.  A very satisfying read.

I will add Leanne Sweeney to my list of favorite mystery authors.

THANK YOU so much Ken for another welcome book review.

I found this very funny video featuring two cats who carry on a conversation.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Dagger Awards & Poisen Pen Giveaway

The Crime Writer's Association has announced the winners of the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award earlier in the year.

According to the website:
The Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing, was presented to bestselling historical author Lindsey Davis during a glittering champagne reception at the newly-reopened Savoy Hotel, London. Davis is the creator of the well-loved ancient Roman private eye Marcus Didius Falco, and widely recognized as the godmother of the historical crime genre.

At the same ceremony, Arnaud Bamberger of Cartier UK announced that this would be the final presentation of the award that Cartier would sponsor. The decision marks the conclusion of one of the most longstanding literary prize sponsorships.  This will make those that have been awarded even more precious.

More recently The longlist for the 2011 CWA Gold Dagger was announced. The eight authors in contention for this year’s coveted prize are, in alphabetical order:

Tom Franklin - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (Macmillan)
Lucretia Grindle - The Villa Triste (Mantle)
Steve Hamilton - The Lock Artist (Orion)
Mo Hayder - Hanging Hill (Bantam Press)
Michael Koryta - The Cypress House (Hodder & Stoughton)
M. J. McGrath - White Heat (Mantle)
A.D. Miller - Snowdrops(Atlantic Books)
Denise Mina - The End of the Wasp Season (Orion)

The longlist for the 2011 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger was announced. The eight authors in contention for this year’s coveted prize are, in alphabetical order:

Charles Cumming - The Trinity Six (HarperCollins)
Frederick Forsyth - The Cobra (Bantam Press)
Michael Gruber - The Good Son (Atlantic Books)
Steve Hamilton - The Lock Artist (Orion)
Chris Morgan Jones - An Agent of Deceit (Mantle)
Craig Smith - Cold Rain (Myrmidon)
SJ Watson - Before I Go To Sleep (Doubleday)
Don Winslow - Savages (William Heinemann)

The longlist for the 2011 CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger was announce for previously unpublished authors.The eight authors in contention for this year’s coveted prize are, in alphabetical order:

Conor Fitzgerald - The Dogs of Rome (Bloomsbury)
Sam Hawken - The Dead Women of Juarez (Serpent’s Tail)
Elizabeth Haynes - Into the Darkest Corner (Myriad)
Erin Kelly - The Poison Tree (Hodder & Stoughton)
Rosamund Lupton - Sister (Piatkus)
Danny Miller - Kiss Me Quick (Robinson)
SJ Watson - Before I Go To Sleep (Doubleday)
Jason Webster Or the Bull Kills You (Chatto & Windus)

Michele Rowe wins the 2011 CWA Debut Dagger for the opening chapters of her first novel What Hidden Lies. The judges described Michele’s story as “Fluid and descriptive writing with an attractive setting.”

Rory Clements has won the Ellis Peters Historical Award 2010 with Revenger, published by John Murray.

I also wanted to share about something special that Poisoned Pen Press is doing to benefit libraries.  Libraries enrich communities in many ways yet they are facing some very tough financial times as well.  During the American Library Association's Annual Conference Poisoned Pen Press announced the four libraries that would get $500 in books from the publisher. 

Robert Rosenwald, Poisoned Pen Press Publisher and President, commented, "In this age of budget cuts and library staff reductions, Poisoned Pen Press felt compelled to offer a special promotion for libraries. It was an honor to give back to the library community, a community that has supported Poisoned Pen Press, its mission, and its catalogue of titles, for nearly 15 years. We extend our congratulations to each of these winners and our special thanks to the loyal and dedicated librarians for their service to readers and communities across the country."

Let us all keep in mind what our local libraries have done for our communities. 

I want to share this video featuring a cat, two apples and scary music!  Warning, you may cry from laughing.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: To Sketch A Thief

I had reviewed the first novel in this new series just last month (click here.)   I simply could not wait any longer to read the second book and share it with you.  

Author:  Sharon Pape 

Copyright:  June 2011; 293 pages

Series: 2nd in the Portrait of Crime Mysteries  

Sensuality:  n/a

Mystery sub-genre:  Private Detective, Paranormal

Main Characters:  Rory (Aurora) McCain - a police sketch artist

Setting:  Modern day, Suffolk County New York 

Obtained Book Through:  Publisher for honest review

Rory is now working full time as a private investigator.  She is also adjusting to living with the ghost of 1878 Federal Marshal Ezekiel Drummond, aka Zeke.  He is old fashioned, stubborn and cantankerous.  Dogs and Ghosts don't get along well together so when a stray dog shows up at the house, Rory is quick to take it to the house listed on the tags.  This good deed brings her to the murder of Brenda, the dog's just deceased owner.  Brenda's other pet, a Maltese is missing.  Hobo, the mixed breed, comes home with Rory which makes Zeke unhappy.

A friend of Brenda's hires Rory to investigate a rash of pure-bred dog thefts on the thought that Brenda died from a dog theft gone wrong.  Rory will work the dog theft angle while the police work Brenda's death.

For the second book in the series the characters are developing nicely.  I feel like I know Rory better after this book, and I am growing fond of her.  Of course Ezekial Drummond is still a headstrong entity making her life difficult, but I really appreciate how we see them both trying to make their situation work.  Hobo is a great addition to the cast and I already adore him. 

Don't let the plot of finding dog-nappers fool you.  Rory receives threats and one threat is carried out.  There are some tense scenes and "whodunit" is not very cut and dry.  This series is enjoyable for its engaging mystery and interesting characters with humor and a few twists.  I was very tempted to list this as a cozy because it really is even though Rory is a PI. 

One feature I liked in the first book continues in this one.  Occasionally a chapter is devoted to Zeke's last investigation that got him killed.  Rory is trying to help solve this for Zeke since his own unsolved murder appears to be keeping him here.

Often times a second book after a successful debut novel is hard to pull off.  I am happy to report that I felt this book was a great follow up and definitely consider myself a fan now

I think the following commercial is funny so I wanted to share with you.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Fill in Blank Game II

Let's try another game this week. I am going to list partial titles and you try to fill in the blanks. 

All the books are by the same author which is a clue. At the end of the titles, supply who the author of all the books was. I will give you a hint that these are not new books - they have been out for a while.  This should be a challenging game for mystery buffs!

You are on the honor system playing this - try completing this without the aid of the internet.  In a few days I will fill in the blanks and you can post how many you got right in the comments.  I did this in a very low tech sort of way :-)

1) The Siamese Twin Mystery

2)  Halfway House

3) The American Gun Mystery

4) Calamity Town

5) Cat of Many Tails

6) The Case of the Seven Murders

7) The Origin of Evil

8) The Scarlet Letters

9) The Finishing Stroke

10) The French Powder Mystery

The Author of all these books is Ellery Queen


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Review: Black Ghosts

My book-loving neighbor is back with another review.  Welcome "neighbor Ken" back to share about a novel full of intrigue and suspense.  Sounds like this is a great book.

Author:  Victor Ostrovsky  

Copyright:  May 3, 2011; 452 pages 

Sensuality:  Violence

Mystery sub-genre:  Suspense, Intrigue

Main Characters:  Edward, an officer with Alpha 27, a specialized and covert unit of U.S. Military Intelligence

Setting:  Modern day, Russia and USA 

Obtained Book Through:  Publisher supplied in exchange for honest review

Convicted of treason, Russian General Peter Rogov, imprisoned in Siberia, makes an explosive and daring escape assisted by his henchmen.  This mastermind then puts into play his nefarious plans to kill the Russian president, take over the Russian government, hijack the U. S. president, place the USA under nuclear attack, and attain global domination.  He re-activates the Black Ghosts, a group of KGB operatives and a shadow army placed throughout the Russian government in case of a coup during the Cold War.  Unfortunately, several spies and U. S. government officials are aiding and abetting the general.

Larry, a CIA agent, who is assisted by the beautiful and intelligent Natalie, becomes aware of these plans, but he is shot and seriously wounded.  Needing help, he calls on an old friend.  Edward is trying to enjoy the quiet, simple life in Grantsville, Utah, mainly by baking croissants at his restaurant, rather than facing the dangers of the world as an officer with Alpha 27 (a highly specialized and extremely covert unit of U. S. Military Intelligence).

Not knowing who to trust, but becoming more fully aware of the ruthless, brutal reality of Rogov’s actions, Edward brings his team of fellow warriors together and embarks on his own plans to neutralize the dastardly Rogov and his Black Ghosts.  Along the way, he connects with people who become unlikely allies.

This is one great book!  Couldn’t put it down – started reading it at dusk and finished it at dawn.  Black Ghosts has it all.  It’s full of military action, strategy, and tactics, and counter strategy and tactics.  There is mystery, intrigue, action and adventure, deception, betrayal, spy vs. spy, and twists and turns.  The characters, plots, and sub-plots are well developed, believable, and realistic.  The author presented detailed expertise, knowledge, and understanding of various military, governmental, and political structures including their clandestine organizations and actions. 

Victor Ostrovsky was a Lieutenant Commander in the Israeli military as well as a member of the elite Mossad.  He utilizes his experience and knowledge to great advantage.  I rank him among some of my favorite authors such as Clive Cussler, Dale Brown, and Web Griffin.  I will definitely to be seeking out his other books to read.

Thank you so much "neighbor Ken" for another great book review.  

I found this fascinating video on Victor that reveals his love of painting!  Not only is this man a good author but he is a painter that infuses intrigue into his artwork for captivating, even haunting pictures.


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Monday, July 11, 2011

Author Interview: Toni Kelner

Today we have award winning author Toni Kelner joining us for an interview.  Ms. Kelner gives us a peek into her writing world and big news concerning her mystery series.  Please welcome Toni Kelner.

- Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?

None of the above.  I start with the characters, usually the main character, and the milieu.  For Blast from the Past, I already had Tilda Harper from the previous books in the series, and I added in a movie production and comic books.  And a bit about kids' TV shows.

- Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?

I outline only to order, which is to say if the editor requires one.  What I prefer to do is make a bunch of notes, and then as snippets of dialog and scenes come to me, I start putting them down.  When I've got enough snippets, I put them into a new file, order them appropriately, and start filling in the gaps.  It's not very strict organization, obviously.

- I enjoyed Tilda's character.  What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write?

For a lot of the details, I just develop the character as I write, but I have to "hear" the character's voice before a story or novel comes to life for me.  I'll give an example.  I've just started work on a new series. I was intending to use a young woman character, possibly still in grad school.  So early twenties.  But I just couldn't hear her.  Then my editor suggested an older character, perhaps with a young teenaged daughter, and within a few hours, I could hear them both talking.  Then I came up with a background that fit that voice, using some of the bits I'd been trying to use before, only now they worked.  I don't know how tall she is or what color eyes she has or anything physical, but I'm not worried about that stuff.  It's the voice I need.

-  Do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?

I very rarely listen to music while I write.  Blame it on poor hearing combined with too many other people around.  I do have an office with a big desk to work at.  (My husband shares the office, but not the desk.  And definitely not the computer!)

About the only pre-work rituals I have are playing a game or three, either on the game site or on Facebook, and checking e-mail.  But it's hard to say if those are rituals or procrastination.

-  I found the topic of Comic Books and the culture around them fascinating.  What was your inspiration to use Comic books in the story?  What research did you do?

Why comic books?  I just like them.  I read comics as a kid, then picked them up again in college.  (One of my best friends and my then boyfriend were comics readers.)  My husband, daughters, and I like nothing better than a visit to one of our local comic book stores.  The store Tilda goes to--Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, MA--really exists, and the guy Tilda spoke to is the real owner.  (Which reminds me.  I should tell him he's in that book...) 

For research, I did some internet stuff and knew a bit already, but I got the nitty-gritty of indie comics publishing from my long-time friend Jerry Frazee, who published a comic called Nazrat back in the eighties.  (Jerry gets a shout-out in the book, too.)  He told me about the way pages were produced and how the contracts and such worked.

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

At the beginning of a project, I have a prewriting period where I'm doing research, jotting down notes for scenes and dialog and such, and just getting that all-important voice clear in my head.  The length of prewriting time depends on whether it's a novel or a story, but I do need that time even for the shortest of stories.  Then when I get into first draft mode, I have a word goal per day to meet.  Usually it's around 1000 words a day, but that varies on how late I am on my deadline.  Once the first draft is done, I take a month or more for edits, and to get my beta readers' input.  All in all, it usually takes about 9 months for a novel, though this varies pretty widely.

You see, I'm the stay-at-home parent for two girls with a husband who travels a fair amount for business, and they keep my schedule in a constant state of flux.  As in, "Didn't I tell you I need that book for English tomorrow?" and "Can I have a play date with Liam at our house today?" and "You'll need to take the girls to school next week because I have to go to Berlin."

- What in your background prepared you to write mystery novels?

I guess it was being a technical writer, writing software documentation.  You start out with a mystery:  "What is this product and what does it do?"  You go around to the programmers and question them, just as if you were talking to suspects and witnesses.  Those programmers lie or omit things, just like suspects and witnesses would:  This feature will work by Tuesday, and we aren't going to change any of the field names.  Trust me."  And when it's all done, the result is a piece of fiction.

Otherwise, it's just a matter of loving to read mysteries.

-  Who is your favorite Mystery character? 

Oh, you ask the tough ones!  I'll go with Sherlock Holmes, though Archie Goodwin/Nero Wolfe, Amelia Peabody, and Lord Peter Wimsey are in there, too.

-  Which author has influenced or inspired you the most?

Another toughie, and one that's hard to answer.  Probably Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton.  Not so much in what or how I write, but they were the ones who introduced me to science fiction, which took up the greater part of my reading life for many years.  That lead to wanting to write.  Throw Isaac Asimov in there, too.  His introductory essays in The Early Asimov were the first things I read about writing.  Asimov gave the impression that he thought that if he could learn to write, anybody could.  I figured I was somebody...

The most visible influence those guys have on my writing is probably world-building.  I like writing about worlds-within-worlds:  comic books, movie making, carnivals, and so on.  That translates to my urban fantasy stuff, too.

In mysteries, I pay homage to Dorothy Sayers and Elizabeth Peters and Charlaine Harris and Barbara Paul and Margaret Maron and a never-ending cast of writers who give me inspiration and something to shoot for. 

- How did you get your first break to getting published?  Was it at a writer's conference or mailing a query letter?

The ubiquitous query letter.  I wrote the manuscript that evolved into Down Home Murder, and shopped it around for about a year.  Around the time I was about to give up and stick it in a trunk, the amazingly generous author Sarah Smith offered to read it for me and gave me twelve pages of suggestions.  I didn't take them all, but I did totally rewrite the manuscript.  Then I hit the query trail again, and got an agent with the sixteenth query letter.  (Though if you count the first round, she was actually number sixty.)

Though to be honest, I did publish poetry before that.  I had a dozen limericks published in DRAGON Magazine.

- What are you currently reading?

The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout.  I've read and reread all the Nero Wolfe books many times--they are so much fun.

- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don't write chronologically.  This confounds a lot of other mystery writers, who don't understand how I keep the plot straight in my head.  I think it comes from working with programmers who never developed a product in order.  I had to document what was working first, not what came first.  Similarly, I write what is working for me that day.

-  If your "Where Are They Now?" Mysteries were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in your character's roles?

As it happens, there is an option on the books for a series, and when I met with the producer holding that option, she asked me the same question.  And it was kind of embarrassing to admit that I have no clear idea.

My former agent once suggested Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto on NCIS as a good Tilda, and I think she would do a fabulous job.

-  Do you have anything you would like to share about your next book in the series?

Actually, Blast from the Past will be the last in the "Where are they now?" series.  This is both bad and good. 

I really enjoyed writing about Tilda and there are so many more milieus I would like to have explored--I was thinking about voice actors for cartoon series and maybe a cult movie like Rocky Horror Picture Show next, and was hoping to go to Comic-Con and write it all off as research.  But the sales on the books weren't great, so...

The good news is that Berkley Prime Crime and I have just made a deal for "The Family Skeleton" series, in which itinerant college instructor Ruby returns to her family's home and has to confront the family skeleton.  Whose name is Sid.  Unlike most family skeletons, Sid is ambulatory and lives in the attic.  Ruby and Sid team up to solve Sid's murder.

This is all very early and preliminary--up until earlier this week, Ruby was named Georgia and worked as a locksmith--but I can definitely hear Sid talking to me!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Kelner. Great interview.

Oh my gosh - Blast from the Past is the last of the "Where Are They Now" mysteries!  I just got into the series and there are no more to look forward to. But, I will definitely be checking out the new series.

Great news on the option for a TV series - I am looking forward to it. I think Tilda would be great as a TV character.

I found this video featuring Toni as a back up singer along with Charlaine Harris.   Toni is the one with the yellow scarf.  They are called Blue Muse and The Boomettes seen here performing "My Babe" at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the release party for Delta Blues, a short story collection edited by Carolyn Haines.  What a hoot.  I had to share this gem!


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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review - Hexes and Hemlines

This week we go to San Francisco for murder with a snake motif.  I have reviewed the first in this series "Secondhand Spirits"- click here, the second "A Cast Off Coven" - click here, and interviewed the author - click here

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: June 2011 (Signet) 314 pgs

Series: 3rd in Witchcraft Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Character:  Natural witch Lily Ivory, owner of a vintage clothing store called Aunt Cora's Closet

Setting: Modern day, San Francisco

Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review.

Malachi Zazi is murdered in his apartment after a Serpentarian dinner party he hosted.  The Serpentarian society is all about flaunting superstitions. Zazi's apartment is filled with bad luck signs, like a broken mirror.  A shard from that mirror was used to stab Malachi.  Inspector Carlos Romero calls Lily in as a consultant because of the strange aspects in the case.  But Lily's involvement infuriates the local top-dog witch, Aidan Rhodes, and gets her employee and dear friend hexed.  Lily doesn't back down.  In fact, hexing her friend was the biggest mistake the killer ever made.  

I have followed this series since the first book and I feel each book was better than the previous.  Lily's character is opened up a bit more in this book.  If you have read any of the others you know Lily has traveled the world and feels she is an outsider until opening her vintage clothing shop in San Francisco.  Even though she was close to her grandmother, she can never go back to her.  In this book we get a flashback of what happened to force her to leave and why she can't go back.  That was an important part of Lily and her story.  Lily also shows her protectiveness to the only friends she has ever had.

An interesting development in this book is Lily wanting to complete her education by pursuing her GED and also her education on her powers and the paranormal world.  But everybody is against Aidan being her teacher.  More is revealed about Aidan and it seems he has ulterior motives that aren't in Lily's best interests.

As always, Lily's familiar (part Gargoyle, part Goblin who takes the shape of a potbellied pig around people) is good comic relief.  A character introduced in the book just prior called Sailor returns in this book and a little more is revealed about his sad past and how devious Aidan is to take advantage of his situation.  Sailor has a lot of potential that is just beginning to be tapped and I am looking forward to seeing how this character is utilized.

The plot was interesting.  I thought I knew who the killer was but I was wrong.  I never did figure out the motive on my own.  So it was a good mystery that gave me a fun time figuring out the killer and the motive.  The confrontation with the killer was surprisingly handled.  If you don't want vampires and ghouls, this cozy mystery with witchy touches is definitely worth a try.

Since the story involves superstitions - I just couldn't resist including the classic song "Superstition".

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - July 2011

It is the first Monday of the month - time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.   

It is also the Fourth of July holiday in the U.S.  I hope everyone's holiday was fun and safe.   

Below is the line-up.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review

The Book Resort reviewed Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Booking Mama reviewed Fallen by Karin Slaughter

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed The Secret of the White Rose by Stefanie Pintoff

Book Dilettante reviewed Night on Fire by Douglas Corleone

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Debbie's Book Bag reviewed Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett

Booking Mama reviewed A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals reviewed Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Sketch Me If You Can by Sharon Pape

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews reviewed Finger Lickin' Dead by Riley Adams

Debbie's Book Bag reviewed Graced Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison

Pudgy Penguin Perusals reviewed Unraveled by Maggie Sefton 

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Endless Night by Agatha Christie

Pudgy Penguin Perusals reviewed Blood Trust by Eric Van Lustbader

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews reviewed The Tender Mercy of Roses by Anna Michaels

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