Enjoy some Mayhem & Magic!

Our blog is meant to evoke fun with the magic of myths, folklore, movies and the mayhem of murder and madness. We have to keep it interesting so if you like different genres of movies and books then you're at the right blog. Our authors are a wide range of experts and our readers know what is top of the line in their favorite genres. Sometimes we post recipes that might be fun to try if a culinary author has one in her book that we think is especially yummy or one that Terri and I have created and want to share with you. Enjoy Guest Blogger Alice Duncan's monthly muse on her books and writing mysteries.

Plus you won't want to miss our book reviews, author interviews or our guest bloggers. So grab your favorite beverage then join us for some magic and mayhem! The good news is that you don't have to leave the house or your comfy chair. We have something for everyone's taste and every month we have a different topic for our bloggers: ones we feel that might be useful in your own writing and reader points of view. Not to mention, life in general. So join us and be sure to have a notebook handy as your to-be-read pile will grow as you add books, recipes, movies and t.v. series you won't want to miss. Not to mention folktales, myths or ideas you may wish to explore. Be careful what you wish for because on mayhemandmagic2 you just might find it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My library trip :Blog

On Tuesday, November 29th stopped in at the library to return library books. 
I happily discovered that there were a plethora of titles to choose from and here is the book I brought home to read.
1. The NIGHT AWAKENS (A MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA ANTHOLOGY) EDITED AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MARK HIGGINS CLARK. Paperback ISBN: 0-671-51918-6, 302 pages.
2. THIRTEEN GUESTS by J. JEFFERSON FARJEON (Historical Mystery Series) Price 12.95 A British Crime Classic. ISBN: 9 781464 204890 Poisoned Pen Press 286 pages.
3. Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton (An Agatha Raisin Mystery) Village Mystery Series. Hardcover Library Edition. ISBN: 978-1-250-05744-0 Price 25.99
4. ROCK - A-BYE BONES by CAROLYN HAINES (A SARAH BOOTH DELANEY) COZY SERIES MYSTERY. Large Print ISBN: 978-1-68324-178-2 Price 35.95
5. THE RACKETEER by JOHN GRISHAM (LEGAL THRILLER) HARDCOVER LEGAL THRILLER ISBN: 978-0-385-53514-4 Price 28.95
6. THE MISTLETOE MURDER by P. D. JAMES (HISTORICAL MYSTERY ANTOLOGy) With a forward by Val McDermid (LARGE Print) RANDOM HOUSE ISBN: 978-1-5247-0892-4
I am thrilled with these picks of books to read in December. My kindle is also loaded with some good short stories and mysteries.

Are there some books you think we should read this month?

Pam

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: Permanently Deleted by Amy E Lilly

Phee Jefferson is a small town librarian and her friend Nellie's husband is drowned in his pickle factory.  Worried that Nellie will be arrested, she and her sister set out to solve the crime.  Then Nellie disappears and things become ever more urgent.

I like Phee a lot.  She has a soft spot for animals - adopting a stray dog early in the book.  She is smart and determined and standing her guns with deputy Clint who she is dating and refuses to make a commitment.  Her sister on the other hand, I found a bit annoying.  She was determined to get involved immediately and often pushed reckless behavior.  She was great comic relief but in a bit predictable way.  

It is hard in cozies to not be too formulaic.  I found it slipping into those a bit in this book and my biggest frustration was the attitude that the investigation was a fun game.  Murder is a serious business even in cozies - or it should be.

That said, this book was quite funny, though the colloquialisms were a bit heavy handed at times.  I read some reviews where that seemed to be a negative for some people, and I can see why as it seemed a bit too much.

I did however, really enjoy the ride and will read others in the series.

Terri

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blog: My favorite time of the year

Good Evening,
My favorite time of the year is here. I love fall, halloween, leaves that change but most of all I love the plethera of books that are released.

Here is a few book that I can't wait to read:
BRAIN DEAD by ELAINE VIETS
HAMMETT HEX by VICTORIA ABBOTT
DEATH by TIARA by LAURA LEVINE
CROWNED and DANGEROUS by RHYS BOWEN
AUNT DIMITY & the BURIED TREASURE by NANCY ATHERTON
The ART of MURDER by ELAINE VIETS
PUMPKIN PICKING WITH MURDER by AURALEE WALLACE

As you probably know I spent the month of September at my daughter's home. The Blue Springs South Library is really wonderful but I had to return the books I checked out and didn't get the chance to read the last little bit of two books.
When I came home I went to my library. They had one of the books and I checked it out yesterday.
The other one I didn't see however I am sure they have it. Will look for it in the next two week because as you can tell I have a lot of fun books to read.

Some are library books, a couple I won and a couple were ordered.

I finished The SKELETON HAUNTS A HOUSE by LEIGH PERRY
I am always impressed with this series. As usual I hate it when the books ends.
Also I almost finished with MURDER IN the SECRET GARDEN by ELLERY ADAMS.
Once again I am thrilled with this series and will hate the last page of this book.

I have some books on my kindle that need to be read.

Now you know why I love fall because nothing is better than a dark and stormy fall evening where the leaves fall and I can delve into a mystery and leave all of my stress behind as I listen to the howling wind.

Having said this I am praying for everyone in the line of "Hurricane Matt" because real life mother nature is more to fear than any horror story.

Pamela

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Guest Blogger: Alice Duncan

Yay for October


The reason I’m yaying for October is ‘cause I get to visit California and see my friends and kids and one of my grandsons. In other to see the other grandson and his wife and children, I’ll have to go to North Carolina, which is considerably farther from Roswell, New Mexico, than California is. I aim to take a good picture of the house in which Daisy and her family live while I’m in Pasadena.

September was a pretty good month for yours truly, if you discount the fact that the physical therapist tried to kill me. With needles. Took me nearly a month to recover from his “dry needling” of my left glute, dang it, and he set my for-the-back-pain exercises back a long, dreary way. However, I can now walk the wieners and do exercises again (whoopee, but you gotta do what you gotta do).

I’ll get in touch with the folks who won copies of books in September in individual e-mails. If you’d like to enter October’s contest, I’ll be giving away audio copies of ANCIENT SPIRITS, in which Daisy Gumm Majesty and Harold Kincaid travel to Egypt and Turkey because everyone (except Daisy) thinks the trip will help heal her grief over losing her husband, Billy. Naturally, things go wrong, but Sam Rotondo rushes to Turkey and tries to save the day. He doesn’t quite succeed, but the day is saved anyway. Here’s the audio cover for ANCIENT SPIRITS, which is remarkably akin to the e-book and paperback cover for the same book. There’s even a link if you’re burning to hear it and don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won a copy. Denice Stradling, who’s narrated all of my Daisy books so far, does a terrific job, as usual, on this one:



















Another good thing happened in September. My wonderful publisher, ePublishing Works, has begun selling hardback copies of some of their books. Included in this hardback experiment is my latest Daisy book, BRUISED SPIRITS. I’m particularly fond of BRUISED SPIRITS, because it’s based on a real, live woman’s story (her story is extremely grim, by the way). The book deals with spousal abuse and kidnapped-for-the-sex-trade children. I have absolutely no idea how I can write funny books about stuff like that. Guess it’s a gift, if an odd one. If you have a special need for hardback copies of my books, you might be interested in this one:


Naturally, since hardbacks are expensive, feel free to purchase the e-book or the paperback. I’m not greedy. Much.

Oh! And if you’ve ever wondered what the White side-treadle sewing machine on which Daisy makes all of her clothes looks like, here it is. This is my machine, and I actually used to sew clothes on it for my daughters and me:



In the meantime, I’ve been madly editing Frontier Fiction books for Five Star and been having a whale of a time doing it. I love editing. It’s ever so much easier than writing, although I wish I had more time to write. But one has to earn a living for oneself and one’s hounds, don’t you know. I’ve been able to edit for some wonderful western authors and consider myself privileged because of it.

One of these days, however, I must finish the next Daisy book, SPIRITS UNITED (in which I murder a librarian, but only because Lynne Welch, former RWA Librarian of the Year and overall librarian extraordinaire, asked me to). I will finish it. Promise.

If you’re interested in visiting my woefully out-of-date web site, please do so at: http://aliceduncan.net/ . And if you’d like to be Facebook buds, just go to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925


Thank you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Forensics by Val McDermid

This book was what is says and more.  It delves into various forensic disciplines in depth and explores the history and development of each.  It stresses what is true and not true about each area and relates historic and recent cases where it has been applied.  Entomology, Blood Spatter analysis, DNA, Forensic psychology and Fingerprinting are just some of the categories.  The research is excellent and her narrative is very engaging and easy to understand.

With all the tv shows, movies and documentary series regarding crime, I think this is a fantastic read to see what they are all talking about.

Terri

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Guest Blogger - Elaine Viets -On Going Dark Again

Going Dark Again
By Elaine Viets


           After 15 years of writing cozy and traditional mysteries, I'm back writing hard-boiled, forensic novels. I'm writing the darker Angela Richman, death investigator mysteries. Brain Storm is the first mystery in this new series.
            A death investigator works for the medical examiner's office. At a murder, the DI is in charge of the body. The police handle the rest of the crime scene.
          Angela is a death investigator in mythical Chouteau Country, Missouri, stronghold of the overprivileged and the people who serve them.
          My death investigator mysteries aren't too gory – not like Patricia Cornwell's "I boiled my dead boyfriend's head." This series is more like the TV show Forensic Files, without the commercials.
          I've come home.
          My first series, the Francesca Vierling newspaper mysteries, was hardboiled.  Then, when the publishing division was wiped out, I switched to the traditional Dead-End Job mysteries, featuring Helen Hawthorne. The Art of Murder, the 15th novel in the series is just out. I also wrote ten cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mysteries.
         
          I love both series, but wanted to write dark mysteries again. But I didn't want to do another police procedural or a private eye with a dead wife or a drinking problem. Other writers had done those and done them well.
          But death investigators were a profession many readers didn't know about. Janet Rudolph, founder of Mystery ReadersInternational, agreed. She believes Angela Richman is the only death investigator series. Last January, I passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University. I wanted the training – and the contacts – to make the new series accurate.
          Now that I'm writing dark again, my writing has changed. Here's what happened when I jumped from cozies to hard-boiled
          My characters can cuss. Angela Richman's best friend and colleague is Katie, Chouteau County assistant medical examiner Dr. Katherine Kelly Stern. Pathologists tend to be eccentric, and Katie is based on a real pathologist who’d perfected the art of swearing. Her profanity was a mood indicator. I could tell how angry she was by whether she used "fricking," "freaking," or the ultimate F-bomb and how often she employed these and other cuss words. Oddly enough, when she swore, the words didn't sound offensive.
          Katie cusses with style and grace in Brain Storm
          Body counts.  In cozy and traditional mysteries, the murders take place offstage. In the new death investigator series, readers aren't forced to take a blood bath, but they will see crime scenes and forensic procedures. They'll get a firsthand look at the sights, sounds, even the smells of death.
          Real weapons. In cozy mysteries, when Josie Marcus battles killers, she resorts to “domestic violence," using kitchen tools, gardening equipment, and whatever she can grab for weapons.
          Helen Hawthorne in the Dead-End Job mysteries is a little bolder. She's armed with pepper spray to take down killers, though in Checked Out she did get sprayed
with her own weapon.
          In Brain Storm, when Angela confronted the killer, she was in an office, surrounded by the standard supplies: wastebaskets, chairs, coffee mugs, letter openers. I was prepared to have Angela grab one, when it dawned on me: Wait! This isn't a cozy.


         I can use firepower.
          So Angela shot the killer in the head. It felt so good.

          Brain Storm is on sale as a trade paperback, audio and e-book amzn.to/2awPsIe
           
                Win an autographed hardcover of Elaine’s seventh Dead-End Job mystery, Clubbed to Death. http://elaineviets.com/index.php?id=contests












Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: Need by Joelle Charbonneau

In Notttawa, High school students receive requests to join
NEED, a new social networking site.  They get to ask for something they need and then they are requested to complete a task and then what they asked for is provided (not always in the way they expect).  Soon all the students are participating and some are getting new iPods and other goodies.  Then the tasks they are asked to do become darker and some kids are dying.

The main character, Kaylee, asks for something that is truly a need (not a want) - a kidney for her sick brother.  What it will take for that to happen is worse than she could have imagined.

Labels
This is a wonderful story told from the point-of-view of many of the teens.  It makes you think of the differences between wants and true needs and what people are willing to do under the cloak of anonymity.  I loved this book.  It made me think while enjoying the ride.

The big question of WHY?  who is behind it, is very unexpected.

Terri

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

Erika is at work again, in London after an investigation went very wrong in Manchester where her husband was killed.  A girl is found frozen under the ice who turns out to be a wealthy doctor of a powerful and rich family.  The family wants to control the investigation's direction and Erika is having none of it and as she digs deeper, she finds it isn't just the one murder she needs to worry about but several.

I liked both Erika and the supporting team members (Particularly Moss) and it was a solid read.  

Sometimes I didn't agree with her choices (like hijacking a press conference) but that is what makes intriguing characters.

Terri


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

MAYHEM AND A WRITER’S LIFE
(The Story of Daisy Gumm Majesty, etc.)

2002 was when I was stricken with the greatest idea of what I laughingly call my writing career: Daisy Gumm Majesty. Daisy was born in my own home city of Pasadena, California, and still lived there with her family. The first book was set in 1920. What’s more, Daisy earned her living as a phony spiritualist, because she could make more money doing that than she could doing any of the other work designated for women at the time, and she had to support her war-injured husband Billy. I wanted the books to be historical cozy mysteries. Amy Garvey, my editor at Kensington, told Linda Kruger, my agent, that she and the late, great Kate Duffy, one of the big muckety-mucks at Kensington, loved the idea for the books but that they thought the books didn’t have enough mystery in them. Therefore, they asked me to remove the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance (because the heroine was already married) and they’d market them as romances. I did, they did, and the books tanked. The books were STRONG SPIRITS (I got a complimentary letter from a copy editor for that book) and FINE SPIRITS.

Kate Duffy actually called to apologize for the poor marketing of my dearly beloved “Spirits” books. I appreciated her phone call but was crushed that I wouldn’t be able to write more Daisy novels. I’d already begun thinking about a series featuring survivors of the Titanic disaster, which I told Kate about during that telephone call. She was enthusiastic, so I worked up proposals for a series of three books. Since the “Spirits” books bombed, the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take a new name. It was thus that Anne Robins (my two daughters’ names) was born.

I was in a dreadful funk over the demise of Daisy and had a hard time writing the first Titanic book. Amy Garvey had gone the way of all good editors (she left Kensington and began writing her own books), and I was turned over to Hillary Sares. Hillary was wonderful, and she helped me very much with A PERFECT STRANGER, the first book in the series. After A PERFECT STRANGER the other books come more easily:

A PERFECT ROMANCE (which is my favorite of the series, being in the nature of a romp. Also, the heroine of the piece was rich, a state that was beginning to appeal to me more and more), and

A PERFECT WEDDING

I suggested A PERFECT AFFAIR and A PERFECT DIVORCE, but Hillary didn’t think those would go over well.

About that time a writing buddy, Mimi Riser, asked if I’d be willing to pen a book or two for a new publisher, New Age Dimensions, which had been established by a friend of hers. Feeling abused and mistreated, I penned another historical cozy mystery (a MYSTERY, darn it!) set in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1923. You can see that I’d somehow managed to get myself stuck in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating era, but I’m not quite sure why I like to stick around in it so much. At any rate, PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND was published by NAD in 2005, and I also wrote its sequel, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL. These books starred Annabelle Blue, who worked at her family’s mercantile store in Roswell, and featured Phil Gunderson, Annabelle’s erstwhile boyfriend, whom Annabelle dragged along with her into various adventures. Unfortunately for all of us who were connected with NAD, it was financially crushed by Hurricane Wilma in the great hurricane epidemic of 2005. So there I was, stuck with PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL and no place to put it.

Since I was still mourning the loss of Daisy Gumm Majesty and was really sick of writing sex scenes, I started writing LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, yet another historical cozy mystery, this one set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926. Mercy Allcutt, the heroine of the book, was kind of a consolation prize for me after the death of Daisy. Again, Kensington didn’t think the mystery a big-enough element in the book. They were probably right, but I was lost again.

And then true tragedy struck when Linda Kruger decided to retire from agenting in order to care for her then two-year-old son Tyler. What, I ask you, kind of priority is that???? I was horribly crushed and didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately, by that time I’d begun editing for Five Star, a publisher that primarily targets libraries. Since I figured what the heck (a recurring theme in my life), I asked if I could submit a book to then. I was told I could, but that just because I edited for them didn’t mean I had any special pull and that my books had to be vetted just like anyone else’s. That was okay with me. By that time, I’d decided I didn’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of the reading public and that it didn’t matter that I have a niftier turn of phrase than, say, Dan Brown. Mind you, I respect and admire Dan Brown, and even sort of liked the Da Vinci Code. The point is that he’s rich and I’m not, so that tells you how much writing skills mean in the overall scheme of things.

Luckily for me, the other Five Star editors, those who read my manuscripts, seemed to have liked them, because Five Star has published:

LOST AMONG THE ANGELS,
CACTUS FLOWER,
SIERRA RANSOM,
ANGEL’S FLIGHT,
FALLEN ANGELS, and
THANKSGIVING ANGELS

And then—glory hallelujah!—Five Star bought the third book in my Daisy Gumm Majesty series, HIGH SPIRITS. Not only that, but they also took on the fourth through the seventh books in the series, HUNGRY SPIRITS, GENTEEL SPIRITS, ANCIENT SPIRITS and SPIRITS REVIVED.

And then, on a whim, I sent Five Star PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL, the sole survivor of my New Age Dimensions days, and Five Star decided to publish it! Therefore, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL was published some time in 2011. Since the book is set in Roswell, New Mexico, which pretty much looked in 1923 exactly as it looked in 1883, the twenties didn’t do a whole lot of roaring there, but Roswell’s citizens did their best. After PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL came PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW. I don’t know if I’ll write any further PECOS VALLEY books. I’m getting old and tired, and writing really doesn’t pay for itself. The only good thing so far about my writing life is that I can now supplement my social security income via my editing work for Five Star, which pays ever so much better than writing ever did.

A caveat to that last statement: A couple of year ago, Jeanne Glidewell, whose books I used to edit for Five Star, told me about ePublishing Works, run by the amazing team, Nina and Brian Paules. They’ve taken over my Daisy books, and have since published DARK SPIRITS, SPIRITS ONSTAGE, UNSETTLED SPIRITS, BRUISED SPIRITS, and will publish SPIRITS UNITED if I ever finish writing it. They’ve also repackaged some of my old historical romances and my historical paranormal romances.

By the way, I never wanted to write paranormal books. I was asked to do so by Berkley, and one (if one is me) doesn’t argue with one’s publisher.

Also, bless their hearts, ePW is taking over my Mercy Allcutt books, although there’s some kerfuffle about the rights to the last Mercy book, THANKSGIVING ANGELS. By the way, FALLEN ANGELS, Mercy’s third book, won the New Mexico/Arizona Book of the Year Award for mystery/suspense. I belong to the George C. Scott school of contest-dom and don’t generally hold with writing contests. That’s because I honestly don’t think you can successfully judge all books in the same manner as you can, say, oranges or lemon-meringue pie or Girl Scout cookies or whatever. I prefer Samoas. Other folks love Thin Mints, you know? Every writer has his or her own voice. Some folks like a particular author’s voice and stories, and some people don’t, and there’s no accounting for taste.

And that, as you’re probably pleased to know, is it for this month’s blog. Whew! That was long.

If you’d like to enter my September contest, during which I’ll let you pick whatever book you want if I have it (that I’ve written, of course), send me an email at alice@aliceduncan.net. Also, please visit my web page at http://aliceduncan.net/ and my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Thanks!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: Brain Storm by Elaine Viets

Angela Richman is a Death Investigator whose life is upended when she suffers a series of strokes after being misdiagnosed and sent home by Dr. Gravois.  While she is recovering in the hospital, he is murdered and the chief suspect is Dr. Tritt who is the surgeon who saved her life after Dr. Gravois' misdiagnosis.  Everyone at the hospital despises Tritt because he is not part of the tight knit society that Gravois was.  

Angela is determined to find the real killer and clear Tritt's name despite the resistance of everyone around her.  All the while, trying to recover.

This book is a character study as much as a solid mystery.  Angela's journey is an intense exploration of recovery and the emotional roller coaster that comes with it.  She is smart and driven and ultimately a survivor.

I was emotionally invested in her story more than I have been in a long time!

I was also fascinated by the information about death investigators and their role.

Terri