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Monday, September 28, 2020

Life In Books

I found this at Berries and Books Blog so I thought I would try something different.  

If you have a blog and are reading this, consider yourself tagged to do this on your blog.  If you don't have your own blog, you get to know me a little better and can give your answers in the comments.
1. Find a book for each of your initials

A – Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind
F – From Fear to Eternity by Michelle Rowen
H - Hexes and Hemlines by Juliette Blackwell


2. Count your age along your bookshelf – what book is it?
Mutti's War by M.J. Brett (a local to me author) and a true story.

3. A book set in your city/country
Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker

4. A book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to
Dressed to the Kilt (Scotland if you didn't get that hint!)

5. A book that’s your favorite color
Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?
Sword of Shannara and Huckleberry Finn, 

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?
It was a book for this blog, Marks of Cain by Tom Knox.  If you want to know why I disliked it, here is the review.

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?
House of Trump, House of Putin by Craig Unger (non-fiction)

Now for your answers.  I look forward to them!

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review - A Murderous Relation

I reviewed the first book, A Curious Beginning (click here), the third in the series A Treacherous Curse (click here),  and the fourth in the series A Dangerous Collaboration (click here).  I am just now getting around to reviewing the newest release in this exciting series.  

Deanna Raybourn

Copyright: March 2020 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 5th in Veronica Speedwell Mysteries

Sensuality: Period adult conversations

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Veronica Speedwell

Setting: 1888, London England

Obtained Through: Library Find

Book blurb: "Autumn 1888. Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to stop a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, and the proprietress, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve it from the club before scandal can break. 

Worse yet, London is being terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper—and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.  

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore╩╝s high-class brothel, where a body soon turns up. Secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family—and it is up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it is too late for all of them."

Veronica is larger-than-life, incredibly ahead of her time, stubborn, and highly intelligent with a sharp tongue and wit. In other words - incorrigible and great fun.  Stoker (Mr. Ravelstoke Templeton-Vane) is her sleuthing partner.  He is cranky and reclusive, and believes Veronica is the woman for him, even if she doesn't believe in romantic love or marriage.  Tiberius, Stoker's estranged brother, only has a small part in this outing - but it is enjoyable.  Lady Wellie has more page time in this book and she is hard to like but you begin to understand the weight on her shoulders.  Journalist J.J. Butterworth has a significant role in the story and is a welcome addition. Prince Albert Victor, who has been the subject of a few Ripper theories since around the 1970's, is portrayed well for such a controversial historical figure. Mr. Pennybaker, one of Stoker's taxidermy clients, is a breakout character.

The setting of Victorian London is always so real you can smell the coal smoke in the air.  Madame Aurore's scandalous brothel is atmospheric and titillating without being crass.  The fear over the Ripper murders becomes palpable, and for a brief moment Veronica believes she may have passed the evil incarnate on a foggy street in her adventure.  Very well done.

The plot is revealed as the adventure progresses and brings back a villain from an earlier book to reprise his plot against the throne.  The story veers and swerves as events develop and Veronica with Stoker by her side keep up the chase.  The pacing is well maintained throughout. 

The climax provided delicious tense moments like I adore.  This series sets a high bar for exciting climaxes and this book held up the tradition.  The wrap-up answered many questions and tied up remaining threads.  You will have to read it to find out about Veronica and Stocker's personal relationship - my lips are sealed.

Overall, this is yet another great Veronica Speedwell adventure placing the character in the stratosphere of unique and bar-setting heroines.  I particularly enjoy the characters, although the plots continue to be full of twists and turns.  It's the characters that endure long after the reading.  This isn't a Ripper story, the infamous serial killer is background only which is very effective.  With that said, she gives homage to the victims giving their lives context.

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

Here is a wonderful interview with the author about this book at The Poisoned Pen bookstore.  Remember those?

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Catching up

Hello fellow readers.  A lot has happened in just the past six months!  A pandemic, the U.S. west coast and Colorado are on fire, shootings, demonstrations with some flare ups, and oh yeah - there is a meteor I heard headed for the Earth.  And if that were enough, it is a contentious election year in the US.

Boy, oh boy.  That is a lot going on and a lot of stress-making factors.  Aren't you glad you love to read?  Reading, the healthy escapism, to the rescue.  I know I have been reading quite a lot.  Some guilty pleasures in there too (The Nikki Heat novels that tie into the old Castle series - I know I am really behind the times on that!)  Also, re-reading Discovery of Witches.

But I have been reading a good bit of mysteries too!  I have been tending towards historical mysteries.  I catch myself talking like Victorian era ("They know not what they say, me thinks" was part of a FB post!)  Sadly, I haven't been keeping up with my reviews though.  I hope to start doing better on that.

Since I am still staying home, I am trying to write again.  That got completely sidetracked with everything.  So I am beginning on the fourth Resort to Murder cozy mystery.  Here is a little teaser, it is set at a wellness resort outside Santa Fe.  Sadly, I haven't been able to do first hand research on this.  But I am enjoying getting back into a writing routine.  

Share if you have been reading more during this crazy time and if there are a few guilty pleasure titles in the mix.  :-)  Stay safe folks.

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Announcement: Join My Writing Class

I am teaching a class on pre-planning your novel.  For those who aren't an outline plot person but want a little structure to maneuver within.  

Check it out and join me!!!  
Prices $30- $40

This is a different approach rather than plotting. It is based on a combination of story and character arcs and 8 plot points with key scenes all novels will benefit from having. 

This method provides built-in aspects of pacing to keep from the dreaded sagging middle and some character development scenes in the process of loosely planning your novel. 

This process is a hybrid between full plotting and "pantsing" that gives a modicum of a road map with complete flexibility to adjust on the fly.  It works for all genres and can be employed at any time in your writing process.

Start date:  Sep 28, 2020 at 6:00 AM
End date:  Oct 25, 2020 at 5:00 AM
Registration end: date Sep 30, 2020

Week 1: Introduction of story arc, 8 plot points, and exercise
Week 2: Deep Dive of 8 plot points and exercise
Week 3: Introduction of character arc, key scenes, and exercise
Week 4: Deep Dive of key scenes and summary review.

I am looking forward to seeing you in class!!!

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