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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.



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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.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spotlight - Iced

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.  Recognize the pen name?  I had done a poll asking for which of several names you guys liked, and Avery Daniels won.

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 know 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.
The audio book is in the pipeline and I will keep you posted on that.

I am just over the moon with getting this book done and published.  I will have some swag for a giveaway in the next few weeks.

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 15, 2017

Guest Author Post - Victoria Thompson

This is the 20th novel in the Gaslight Mystery series by my count, and around 20 romances.  Victoria Thompson is a prolific author, and an excellent one at that!  She is the recipient of the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, Edgar Award nominated mystery series, and an Agatha Award nominee five years in a row. Please welcome her to M&MM.

They Do Strange Things in the Bowery
“The Bowery, the Bowery! They say such things, And they do strange things On the Bowery! The Bowery! I'll never go there anymore!”

The words to the popular song from the 1891 musical A Trip to Chinatown tell you everything you need to know about the Bowery, which is both a street and a neighborhood in Manhattan. In turn of the century New York City, many neighborhoods had bad reputations, and the Bowery was among the worst. Originally, however, it was actually several miles outside of town. “Bowery” is an Anglicization of the Dutch word bouwerji which means “farm”, as the area contained many large farms in the 17th Century. When the City grew, it spread northward, and the farms gave way to residential lots where elite citizens built mansions. By the mid-1800s, those citizens had moved farther north, and Bowery became the eastern border of the notorious “Five Points” slum where all manner of evil flourished. To make matters worse, the Third Avenue Elevated Train ran above Bowery, turning the street dark even at midday. The neighborhood housed cheap bars, dance houses, brothels, and flophouses.

So what was a Society debutante doing there?

That’s what Private Investigator Frank Malloy and his new bride, Sarah Brandt, try to find out in Murder in the Bowery when the search for a missing newsboy leads them to the innocent debutant, a ruthless gangster, and a Bowery “guide” who takes rich men on “slumming” tours of the neighborhood. But none of these people is who or what they seem, and Frank and Sarah have to find the truth before a killer strikes again.

************
Former police sergeant turned private detective Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah are caught up in the strange world of a society woman who enjoyed flirting with danger but found death instead…

Frank Malloy’s latest client is well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. A suspicious Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman Estelle Longacre. Estelle’s risky behavior took a fatal toll but Frank can’t be sure if the company she kept is to blame or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate an underground web of treachery to find answers.

About the author Edgar® and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, is a May 2017 release from Berkley Prime Crime. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Find out more at www.victoriathompson.com. 
Follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author 
and on Twitter @gaslightvt




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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review - A Purely Private Matter

It is hard to come up with a unique book or character concept, especially for historical books.  But I think Darcie Wilde has joined the ranks of the few other authors who have succeeded in this task.  Rosalind Thorne (Rose Thorn!) is a wonderfully unique character in a unique situation to investigate the snooty haute ton of 1800s England.  

I reviewed the first book, A Useful Woman (click here), and we were honored to receive two guest posts (click here and here.)  Read on for my take on the second installment in this fascinating new series.

Author: Darcie Wilde

Copyright: May 2017 (Berkley) 384 pgs

Series: 2nd in Rosalind Thorne Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Character: Rosalind Thorne, former heiress now on the outskirts of society

Setting: Early 1800s (Regency,) London 

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "Rosalind Thorne has slowly but assuredly gained a reputation as “a useful woman”—by helping respectable women out of some less-than-respectable predicaments. 

Her latest endeavor is a tragedy waiting to happen. Desperate Margaretta Seymore is with child—and her husband is receiving poisoned pen letters that imply that her condition is the result of an affair with the notorious actor Fletcher Cavendish. Margaretta asks Rosalind to find out who is behind the scurrilous letters. But before she can make any progress, Cavendish is found dead, stabbed through the heart. 

Suddenly, Rosalind is plunged into the middle of one of the most sensational murder trials London has ever seen, and her client’s husband is the prime suspect. With the help of the charming Bow Street runner Adam Harkness, she must drop the curtain on this fatal drama before any more lives are ruined."

Rosalind, as I mentioned, is a unique character in the historical setting. Beyond the murder, there is her long lost sister who Rosalind believes she has seen glimpses of around London.  Devon Winterbourne was her prior love interest when she was a full member of the haute ton but because of her now lessened circumstances she feels his continued affection is realistically out of reach.  Detective Adam Harkness appreciates Rosalind for who she truly is but because she is still somewhat a member of the upper class - theirs is a hopeless attraction.  Alice and George Littlefield, close friends and fellow former upper crust members who also feel on disastrous hard times now work (gasp) for the paper.  Alice remains a steadfast and good friend to Rosalind.  The cast of the murder suspects are murky and devious.  Well done.

The Regency era theater world is prevalent and deliciously scandalous (for that time period).  Plenty of twists and turns as everyone is hiding something of their true roles in the tableau.  The pacing, once the murder occurs, is steady and absorbing.  

The climax holds some masterful twists and the wrap-up a few surprises too.

Rich writing, complex characters, and down right good story weaving make this a top notch historical mystery.  I can't get enough of Rosalind Thorne and friends.

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

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

GREAT news!  I have finished my first cozy mystery.  I will be doing a cover reveal shortly.  The title is ICED and the series is the "Resort to Murder" mystery series.  


More details coming soon.  I will have a book launch and giveaways approaching too.  

I'm so excited.  Yay!




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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Author Guest Post - Darcie Wilde

Please welcome Darcie Wilde to our blog.  She visited us last year (click here,) and I reviewed the debut book in the Rosalind Thorne Mystery series (click here.)  I will be posting my review for the second book in the series shortly.  When not writing, Ms Wilde is reading, cooking, hiking, swimming, climbing things, raising her rapidly growing son.  


CRIMINAL CONVERSATION AND THE NOTORIOUS MRS. CAROLINE NORTON

There’s a lot to love about writing historical fiction. For starters, it’s a form of time travel. You get to go to new places and meet fascinating new people. You are also required to wrap your head around a lot of new ideas.

When I started thinking about my second Rosalind Thorne mystery, I knew I wanted it to center around adultery and “criminal conversation.” I thought I understood these ideas. I’d read a lot about the Regency. And well, wasn’t “criminal conversation,” or “crim. con.” just the polite phrase that the journalists of the time used?

As it turns out, no. Criminal Conversation is it’s own concept, and directly related to the idea of a wife being legally inseparable from her husband. In 1817, when A Purely Private Matter takes place, once a woman took marriage vows, she became legally, if not literally, flesh of his flesh. She couldn’t sign any contract, couldn’t hire any employee, take out a lease, appear in court as a witness on her own behalf, or anybody else’s, without his permission. This was because she was, legally, a limb of her husband’s body. Anything she did, he was doing, so he had to agree, and authorize it.

So, if you’re looking at things from this standpoint, if a wife has sex with somebody other than her husband, it becomes a little…weird.

First off, the outside sexual act becomes an assault on him, because he didn’t consent to the intercourse.

Ahem. Yes. Moving along.

But the intercourse also becomes theft. The other man stole something that belonged to the husband, that is, time and access to his wife. So, if the husband wanted legal recourse, what he did was sue the interloper in civil court for…wait for it…property damages. Not only that, but the wife was not only not expected to be in the court, she was not allowed to be there. This was not about her. This is about the husband, from whom something was stolen, and the (male) interloper, who stole it.

This meant that, among other things, accusations of criminal conversation could be used to drive a personal or business rival into bankruptcy, or just to blackmail him. Men could, and did, make spurious accusations about famous (and presumably wealthy) men when they were in need of ready money. Actors were a favorite target.

The person through whom I learned this was Mrs. Caroline Norton. Caroline’s big scandal was the way in which she publicly denied that she was scandalous, a position she maintained for decades. She held that her husband had no right to slander her, the courts had no business keeping her from declaring her innocence under oath, and that the very legal system was wrong to deny the fact that she was a thinking person with individual volition and interests. She took her case straight to the top, publishing an open letter to Queen Victoria herself.

She was, in short, my kind of gal.

Mrs. George Norton nee Caroline Sheridan, was not actually not a Regency figure. Her adult life, career and scandal stretched through that nameless time when England was ruled by “Silly Billy” William IV, and into the Victorian era. She was a successful author, lyricist, poet, sparkling hostess, popular party guest and habitué of fashionable literary circles.

Her husband, George Norton, was nowhere near as successful. Let’s be blunt. George was a failure. He had no money, no title or estate, and no occupation. He badgered Caroline to use her family connections to get him a position as a magistrate, which she did. He badgered her to make herself brilliant and famous so he could benefit from the reflected glory, which she did. He badgered her to write more and faster, because he needed the money. She did that too.

But none of that was enough. George continued to see himself as a failure, and he blamed Caroline. Blame eventually turned to suspicion. George was sure Caroline was having an affair, and he was sure he knew with whom — Lord Melbourne.

Seriously, George?

Yeah, well, okay there were a couple of indiscrete letters that might open themselves to misinterpretation if you were the kind of guy who was reading his wife’s mail…

What followed was sordid, drawn out, expensive and for Caroline, personally traumatic. George publicly labelled her an adulteress. He laid claim to all her earnings even while he booted her out of the house, and denied that he had any duty of spousal support (which was one of the very few points on which a wife could make a legal claim against her husband). He took (read: kidnapped) their children. And there was absolutely bugger all she could do about any of it, because he would not divorce her (remember, she’s a limb of his body, so she can’t amputate herself, he has to do it). So, Caroline remained legally his, so did all her stuff (seriously, she didn’t even have a legal right to the clothes on her back), all her money, and the kids.

So, Caroline did the only thing she could do. She wrote. She published political pamphlets describing her situation and that of women like her, including that open letter to Queen Victoria. And, when her husband did go to court, she went too. Which was unheard of. It was literally a one woman sit down strike. While the men were wrangling on who owed damages to who, Caroline positioned in the court where she could plainly be seen. More, she stood up and demanded to be heard. She had to be removed. More than once.

And she kept writing, in public and private, and arguing, and fighting. Even when she won on the personal front, finally obtaining from George a deed of separation that allowed her to keep her earnings and have custody of her children, she did not stop her campaign, but continued to argue for the rights of women.

Hmm. Maybe she was kind of scandalous at that.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Wilde for that eye-opening explanation of "criminal conversation" that is part of your second historical novel.  Wow! Just wow.




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Friday, April 28, 2017

Review - Occult and Battery

Today I review the second novel in a new series.  Although I hadn't read the first in the series, that didn't detract from this book.  It was easy to follow.  As far as I can tell Lena Gregory is a newly published author on the scene as well (congratulations !).  Read on to see my thoughts on this book.

Author: Lena Gregory

Copyright: April 2017 (Berkley) 299 pgs

Series: 2nd in Bay Island Psychic Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy with paranormal elements

Main Characters: Cass Donovan, former psychiatrist now owner of psychic shop

Setting: Modern day, Bay Island (near Long Island NY)

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion during it's grand opening as a Bed and Breakfast.

But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband Donald Larson shows up, along with his fiancée Sylvia—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then, after one of the owners is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.

Cass is a likable character, haunted by the death of one of her psychiatric patients and the betrayal of her husband and best friend. She is conflicted over whether she is psychic or just utilizing psychiatric skills to read people.  But the reader is given the indication that she is the real deal and hasn't fully accepted that fact yet.

Bee Maxwell, owner and designer of a popular dress shop and close friend of Cass and comic relief of the series.  Fair warning, some of his behavior is a bit over-the-top.  
Stephanie Lawrence, married to policeman named Tank, is another close friend of Cass.  Luke, the love interest who is scarcely present since he doesn't live or work on the island. Ex-husband Donald is present through the weekend and we get a clear idea what a jerk he must have been as a husband. Beast, a puppy but giant sized Leonberger with no training that chews on and eats most everything in site. This is another comedy element - but I was too busy fretting over what he would destroy to enjoy the humor.

The old Madison estate, owned by the Wellington's was a great setting for a little creepy feel during the séance and the snow storm adds to the feel. I liked that extra touch plus the mild indications that Cass really was contacting somebody during the séance and her readings are truly psychic.  Although some aspects of the whodunit were more obvious, there is a twist that I didn't see coming.  Nicely done.  

I love suspenseful or tense killer confrontation/reveal and this was fast and suspenseful.  I liked the story and characters well enough, but the third person writing did seem to remove any sense of urgency for me.  Cass isn't perfect but makes an interesting heroine and her two sidekicks plus dog provide plenty of laughs for an enjoyable escape.

Rating: Good - A fun read with humor, give it a try 

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Purchase some wine here and a portion goes to the cat
rescue I support - win-win!
We have several to choose from: 
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Cabernet Sauvignon  
Chardonnay  
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Sauvignon Blanc  

  Each bottle features one of our sweet furry angels on the label.  This is a great gift idea for family, friends and co-workers! All of the wines are made with certified organic grapes and are vegan friendly.  They are good Chilean wines, I have tasted most of them!  The shelter gets a good percentage of each bottle sold, so buy a bottle now.
                                                Click here to buy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For the wine timid, get a copy of The Little Wine Guide.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hgz3hfh
B&N:  http://tinyurl.com/j97tc4j
Website: http://littlewineguide.com

Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne- 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 



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Monday, April 24, 2017

Guest Author Post - Lena Gregory

Welcome Ms. Lena Gregory, the author of the new Bay Island Psychic mystery series.  She lives on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.  As far as I know, she is a newly published author and this is her first published series.  

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Whether or not ghosts exist is a big debate in my house. My daughter and I firmly believe in ghosts, while my husband and one of my sons do not. My youngest son, Logan, who is only
six years old now, has no firm opinion yet, but he is part of the reason I believe so strongly. Of course, I had other…encounters before these, but that’s another story.

My younger brother, Chris, passed away when my son was only four months old. Chris and I shared a love of reading, especially mysteries, and I often feel his presence while I’m writing. Chris always had the best hair, thick, full, and loaded with natural highlights. And he always kept it long, at least past his shoulders, even after he became an air traffic controller.

Late one night—we don’t keep normal hours in my house—I was sitting on my bed writing.

My youngest, who was about two at the time, was lying across the bottom of the bed watching his iPad. He looked over, then past me, and frowned. “Who’s that?” he asked.

I turned around but didn’t see anything. “Who’s what?”

“That guy with the long hair?”

I jumped and spun toward the direction he indicated—because, you know, that freaked me out a little—but I still didn’t see anything.

He just shrugged and went back to watching his show as if nothing unusual had happened.

I continued writing, a little spooked but kind of comforted too. I’d always felt Chris’s presence, but Logan kind of confirmed it.

Four generations of my family lived in the same small town, and most of those who have passed on are buried in the local cemetery, so Logan and I often walk through the cemetery, and Logan collects rocks and sticks to leave on the headstones.

One day, while we were walking through the cemetery, alone, he pointed toward a small, closed, locked storage shed in the middle of the cemetery, not far from my mother-in-law’s grave. “I want to go in there,” he said.

“In where?” I asked.

“In that house where the lady just went.”

I’m not gonna lie. We left, then. Quickly. Because believing in ghosts in an odd, detached sort of way is one thing, but I can assure you, having your two-year-old point out a woman entering a locked building in a completely deserted cemetery is something else entirely.

While writing Cass’s story, I tried to keep that debate in mind. Cass sort of believes in ghosts, but she doesn’t believe she actually talks to them. She thinks she uses years of psychiatric training and her uncanny ability to interpret people’s feelings to form a logical opinion and turn it into a “reading.” Of course, her customers think otherwise.

Her friend, Stephanie, believes completely.

Bee is another story. He swears he doesn’t believe in any of that mumbo-jumbo, but he really goes out of his way to avoid anything otherworldly. So, is he a true non-believer, or is he terrified ghosts might actually be real? I’ll leave it up to you to figure it out.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think and if you’ve had any experiences that contributed to your opinion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Gregory.  Well, I spent a few years growing up in a haunted house - until my mother couldn't deal with the stuff that kept happening and we moved...quickly.



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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review - A Frying Shame

This is the third entry in the Deep Fried Mystery series.  I reviewed the debut novel, Fillet of Murder (click here), the second book, Out of the Dying Pan (click here), and also was fortunate to have Ms Reilly provide two guest posts (click here and here).  I confess that I have been a fan since the first book, but by the third book in a series we really get an idea of how the series will fare in the long run.  Check out my thoughts.



Author: Linda Reilly

Copyright: April 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Deep Fried Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character: Talia Marby, new owner of a Fish 'n chips shop-Fry Me A Sliver.

Setting: Modern day, Berkshires Maryland

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The town of Wrensdale is abuzz with excitement when Steeltop Foods sponsors a cooking contest to promote its new product, the Flavor Dial. With a $25,000 prize at stake, all the contestants are on edge, including Talia Marby, owner of Fry Me A Sliver. She hopes her mini deep-fried apple pies (recipe included) will win her the money to pay off the renovations on her restaurant. But when Norma Ferguson - long-time resident with a nasty demeanor and widely disliked - wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more.

After Norma is found dead at her cooking station and one of Talia's employees is knocked unconscious, the police suspect a losing contestant got a little too hot under the collar. Now it’s crunch time as Talia works to catch the killer and clear the contestant's name before another cook gets burned.

Talia is kind-hearted and compassionate as well as nosy. I find her easy to identify with. Ryan Collins, an old high school classmate now a software designer, is her boyfriend and I continue to appreciate the break from the cop-boyfriend cliche. I have to say that there just isn't enough of Ryan and Talia on a romantic side, seems the sizzle died once they started dating. Molly is a fill-in employee while Lucas recovers and she is a good addition too. Best friend Rachel from the first book is back in a larger role and I enjoy her character. The new police detective, Patti Prescott is front and center - haranguing Talia to not even think of getting involved.

The plot is classic cozy material with the suspect's secrets coming out and emotions running high. Pacing is steady as the investigation progresses. The climax has some excellent suspense that I enjoy so much.

One thing I would like more of in the story is the Berkshires integrated as part of the story. I enjoy when the setting becomes a character and I think the Berkshires would easily be a great character. I would like to see more romance rather than seeming like an already settled-in couple. These aren't huge deals and certainly not deal breakers, but they would make it shine more. This is another great addition to the series and a sure bet for cozy lovers.

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I share this because I believe in this shelter and rescue that
specializes in hard-luck or special needs cats.  I have volunteered here since 2014 and believe in the cause.

Purchase some wine here and a portion goes to the cat
rescue I support - win-win! 
We have several to choose from:
Merlot 
Cabernet Sauvignon 
Chardonnay 
Malbec
Carmenere and 
Sauvignon Blanc 

  Each bottle features one of our sweet furry angels on the label.  This is a great gift idea for family, friends and co-workers! All of the wines are made with certified organic grapes and are vegan friendly.  They are nice Chilean wines, I have tasted most of them and they are all good!  The shelter gets a good percentage of each bottle sold, so buy a bottle now.
Click here to buy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For the wine timid, get a copy of The Little Wine Guide.


This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes
savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hgz3hfh
B&N:  http://tinyurl.com/j97tc4j
Website: http://littlewineguide.com

Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne- 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 




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