Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Written in Stone by Ellery Adams


Written in Stone by Ellery Adams is the fourth book in the “Books by the Bay” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, November 2012

Olivia has a lot on her plate preparing for the Coastal Carolina Food Festival. When she hears the news of Munin’s untimely death, however, finding the murderer takes priority. The witch left behind a memory jug full of keepsakes that Olivia knows must point to the killer—but she’s got to figure out what they mean.  With handsome Police Chief Rawlings by her side, Olivia starts to identify some of the jug’s mysterious contents—and finds its secrets are much darker than she suspected. Now Olivia must enlist the help of the Bayside Book Writers to solve the puzzle behind the piece of pottery and put an end to a vengeful killer before any more damage can be done.

Any book that evokes all five senses is an awesome read. Ellery Adams takes us on a journey of self-discovering as the lead protagonist opens herself to love and feel love. Watching this journey had me quickly turning the pages in this mystery that I could not put down. Olivia is confronted with another murder and a past that was superbly written with plenty of twists and turns with an outcome that touched my heart. The camaraderie among this eclectic cast of characters brings you into their world and you never want to leave. Ellery had delivered yet another great adventure in Oyster Bay and I can’t wait for the next book in this wonderfully charming series.

 

 

--Dru


 

An Interview with Mary Welk


Pam: Mary how many books have you written? Tell us about your writing schedule?

 

Mary: I've written four complete novels in the "Rhodes to Murder" series, two novellas featuring Caroline Rhodes from the series, and multiple short stories, two of which also featured Caroline and her pals from the little university town of Rhineburg, Illinois. I built the other short stories around vastly different characters. Those stories have appeared in the anthologies Chicago Blues; Blondes in Trouble and Other Tangled Tales; Mayhem in the Midlands; and most recently, Dark Things II: Cat Crimes.

 

Due to my work schedule, I used to be a night owl, writing late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. Since retiring, I hit the pillow a lot earlier. Now I write in the afternoons and early evening. 

 

Pam: Do you have some favorite minor characters?

 

Mary: Caroline's main sleuthing buddy is Carl Atwater, a professor of history at Rhineburg's Bruck University. He's really a major character, though, as is antique dealer Maddy "Mad" Moeller, Caroline's closest female friend in Rhineburg. I think my favorite minor characters are the half dozen or so ladies who live at the Rhineburg Boarding House and Home for Gentle Women. They first showed up in The Rune Stone Murders, the second book in the series, where they were engaged in a somewhat nefarious practice aimed at augmenting their Social Security income. These fine ladies made a return appearance in The Scarecrow Murders where they led the town's women in a protest march that ended in a battle with their elderly male counterparts. They will certainly appear again in upcoming stories.

 

Pam: Are you currently writing a new book? When will your next mystery be released?

 

Mary: I recently finished writing Haunted Hearts, the second Caroline Rhodes novella and a Halloween mystery. It was published in late October as a follow-up to the novella Framed, which appeared as one of three stories by different authors in the book Hearts & Daggers, released this past Valentine's Day. In Framed, Caroline falls for Paul-Henri Girard, a dark eyed handsome gambler who's made his fortune playing poker at tournaments in the U.S. and Europe. Haunted Hearts continues the story of their growing romance while also telling the story of Caroline's first murder case years earlier. Next up for publication is a Christmas short story and a spring anthology of short stories. Right now, though, I'm happy to announce the December 2012 release of the mass market paperback edition of A Merry Little Murder by Harlequin/Worldwide. A Merry Little Murder is a Christmas holiday mystery and the first book in the "Rhodes to Murder" series. Harlequin will be publishing the other three books in the series as mass market paperbacks in 2013-2014.

 

Pam: Since you have been an author for a while, I bet you have some really great writing advice to share with us?

 

Mary: My best advice is to edit, edit, edit before you send out your work to be read. Make a list of words you frequently use without even realizing it, words like "just", "always", "really", "that", etc. Do a word search for those kinds of words and replace them. Eliminate "that" and "was" as often as possible. Use strong active verbs to describe action. Instead of saying "She went out of the house", write "She hurried/ran/stumbled/tip-toed/etc. out of the house". Keep the action moving to avoid dead space in the story. And do your research. For example. if your character goes camping in Minnesota, make sure you don't describe the forest as full of palm trees. Find out what kind of trees grow in Minnesota forests and use the correct names for them.

 

 

Pam: Now for some fun questions. What is your favorite movie, dessert and if you can narrow it down your favorite book?

 

Mary: I have several favorite movies, some old, some newer. I'd have to say Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes are two of my all time favorites along with that oldie but goodie Arsenic and Old Lace. My favorite dessert is cherry pie and peppermint ice cream. As for my favorite books, almost anything by Fannie Flagg. I absolutely loved her books Welcome to the World, Baby Girl and A Redbird Christmas. Flagg is a true storyteller who writes with an honest and sympathetic voice, which makes her characters as true to ordinary life as possible. My second favorite author is Terry Pratchett. I adore his Discworld series.

 

Pam: Mary do you ever get the chance to read books by your favorite authors?

 

Mary: Oh, yes. I'm currently reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett and just bought his book The Last Hero.

 

Pam: What would you like to say to your readers?

 

Mary: I hope readers will try the "Rhodes to Murder" series. I write inter-generational mysteries, meaning I have characters ranging from their mid-twenties (Caroline's three grown children) to middle age (Caroline and Maddy) to senior citizen (Carl Atwater). I love the interplay between people of various ages, and I enjoy writing mysteries that show their various abilities. To see all my books and shorts stories, please visit my website at www.marywelk.com or my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/marywelk. Thank you!

 

Pam: Since it's the holiday season...this year what do you want for Christmas?

 

Mary: That's easy! I'm hoping to get a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I'm been hinting about one for weeks, so hopefully my kids heard me.

 

Pam: In parting as an author what are you looking forward to in 2013?

 

Mary: More time to write! It's been a very busy year in our household. Hopefully, 2013 will be a less hectic and more peaceful year. Thanks for asking such great questions. I've enjoyed being interviewed by you, Pam.

 

 

 

 

--
The "Rhodes to Murder" mystery series



 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon


Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon is the third book in the “Magical Dressmaking” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, October 2012

Designing a holiday fashion show set in the town’s most prominent historic mansion seems like a job tailor made for dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy. But with the mansion’s restoration still in progress and threatening weather on the horizon, she’s feeling on pins and needles more than reveling in holiday cheer.  Having volunteered to play Santa in this year’s festival, Dan Lee Chrisson was ready to move on after his divorce—until Bliss became his final resting place. Discovering his body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. She’ll need plenty of help from friends and even her late great-grandmother’s spirited sleuthing if she’s to have a ghost of a chance of catching a killer who’s just jumped to the top of the naughty list.

Harlow is pulled into the latest murder when her spiritedly meemaw tells her the accused is innocent and she needs to help them. Using her inquisitiveness and the clues that presents itself to her, secrets comes uncovered and the truth sets everyone free.  I love the pace and the way this lighthearted whodunit flows from beginning to end. It was very enjoyable and I love the characters, especially Harlow and her family with their magical charms. Harlow is surrounded by a superb cast of characters that includes her family, Gracie, Josie and Will. The dialogue is entertaining and I love their small town of Bliss, Texas. I look forward to my next visit with the Cassidy in this delightfully charming series.

 

 

--Dru


 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review - The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase's world changes when strange things start happening and her young brother is replaced by a Changeling and she learns her best friend is none other than Robin Goodfellow aka Puck.  As she goes into the Nevernever to rescue her brother, she learns her father is Oberon, king of the Seelie Court and that a war is brewing with her caught in the middle.  her quest takes her through strange and terrifying adventures as she learns there is a whole new brand of Iron Fey deadly to both the Seelie and Unseelie courts.

Great adventure and characters kept me engrossed.  This is the first book in the Iron Fey series. Look forward to the next one.

Young Adult Paranormal is a field that has just exploded in recent years, mostly because of the success of Harry Potter and Twilight books.  But it is fascinating to me.  And exciting.  I would have loved all these options when I WAS a young adult!  But nonetheless, I still love reading them and am enjoying this creative explosion of faeries and witches and shifters, vamps and so on!  Keep it coming!

Terri

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Fire Engine Dead - Sheila Connolly



Nell Pratt runs a nonprofit in Philly.  And after a fire destroys the collection of the local Firemens Museum, she gets involved in discovering who the arsonist is via her conenctions inthe museum community. 

Connolly does a great job telling the history of firefightingfrom Benjamin Franklin on.  It is a subject I have always been fasincated by since the insurance agency I worked for back in the late 90s/early 90s.  They had their own fire musuem of historical items that firefighters came in for other areas to see.  It was really cool and I thought of it a lot while reading this book.  The collection's losses and the sadness of the museum for their losses as well as the spirit of the firefighters in rebuilding the collection were all very believable to me.

I have to say too that I liked Nell as a heroine in that she didnt take the foolish chances you see in a lot of cozies and she shared what she learned with the police.  And she is a fighter as well.
Pretty satisfying book

Terri

Interview: Marilyn Meredith


Marilyn Meredith Interview

 

Pam: Marilyn, how long have you been writing mysteries?

 

My first two books were historical family sagas based on my family. Once I’d finished, I wondered what I should write, and since I read mostly mysteries, I decided that’s what I should write. That was about 1984 and I’ve been writing mysteries ever since—though I’ve also written psychological horror, Christian horror, supernatural mystery, and a romance with a touch of the supernatural.

 

Pam: Tell us about your writing schedule and if it has changed through the years?

 

I’ve always tried to write in the a.m. because that’s when my brain is freshest. I edit in the afternoon or evening. In earlier years, I could be interrupted when I was writing and get right back to my writing. Now, it’s a bit harder to do that.

 

Pam: Let's talk about your latest book?

 

I always have two latest books and two books I’m working on. In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, it’s No Bells. Officer Gordon Butler falls in love, but the woman of his dreams turns out to be the main suspect in a murder case. He decides to find out the true murderer and clear her name even if it costs him his job. The latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is Raging Water. Tempe investigates a series of burglaries and the suspicious deaths of two women. The river floods the lower part of town displacing many and a mud slide cuts off the only road out of town and it’s probable that the murderer is trapped along with everyone else in Bear Creek.

 

Pam: In this holiday season what are you most thankful for and how will you spend your holiday?

 

I am most thankful for my husband and big family. I’m blessed to have 4 living children, 18 grandchildren, and 13 great-grands. We’ll be spending the holiday at home with some of our family joining us to celebrate. I still the main cook for all the big dinners.

 

Pam: Give us a piece of writing advice that has never let you down?

 

The best advice I can give everyone is to put your fanny in the chair and write. And my second best, is never give up.

 

Pam: Do you get the chance to keep up with  reading the books that you want to read?

 

I read a lot because I’m asked to review a lot of books. I like it because I read some dandy tales I probably wouldn’t pick for myself. I don’t really have as much time to read as I like, but I have books everywhere—including on my Kindle.

 

Pam: For fun would you share with us your favorite book, movie and dessert ?

 

I’ve read some wonderful books over the years, I don’t think I can pick just one. I loved Gone With the Wind, the book and the movie. I think the movie is the best one ever made from a book. I just watched it again recently and I still loved it. I can’t say the same for some other old movies I’ve re-watched. I love movies. I like to see them in the theater and on DVDs. As for dessert, ice cream is my favorite dessert—and I prefer chocolate.

 

Pam: Last question, what are you looking forward to in your career in 2013?

 

It would be nice to sell more books. A lot of people ask me if I make a lot of money, and the answer is “no.” However, I don’t write for the money, I write because I have to. With my series, I keep writing because I love my characters, they seem real to me, and I want to know what’s going to happen to them next. The only way to find out is to write a new book. So in 2013, I’ll have a new Rocky Bluff coming out at the beginning of the year called Dangerous Impulses and in the fall a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery called, Spirit Shapes.

 

Thank you so much for the interview.

 

Pamela

 

 

Visit my website at http://fictionforyou.com
and blog http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Available Now, No Bells, Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
Raging Water,Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

 

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Getting Old Can Kill You - by Rita Lakin

Goldy and Evvie get married in a double wedding and return from their honeymoon to find the gang has decided to go off on their own. They have formed their own PI agency and are taking classes. And not only that, they have added a new member to their team. Meanwhile in the complex, a woman from Arlene's past shows up to mend 50 year old fences only Arlene is not forgiving.

A fun and fast ride with favorite senior sleuths. I enjoyed everyone trying to find their fit in the new dynamics. And I truly felt sorry for Arlene and was completely satisfied by the solutions.

I always enjoy this series!

Terri

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy


  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Original edition (January 3, 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425245835


  • I love this series. This time, Ollie is forced to work with Sargeant (who she does not get along with at all) for a large birthday party for the Secretary of State. When checking out locations, they fins two bodies hidden in the kitchen of the potential venue site. And those two are White House employees. Once again, Ollie is involved in mysterious doings that threaten her life.

    The story is paced very well and the characters keep me interested. I like that Ollie does not play victim - she fights. AND she passes info along to the authorities as she should. An admirable trait in an amateur sleuth IMHO!


    Terri

    Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan


    Okey-dokey, so here’s what’s been going on in my household.

     

    Before my September 11 lumbar surgery, I had a dog problem in my house that cost about $250. Then my car died. Another $250. Then my air conditioner died. $250. I began to think, “How the heck am I going to get through this month, pay the utilities, buy food, take care of the hounds and cover my insurance co-pay?” And then, out of the blue, three of the kindest, most generous women-writer friends a person can have, Norah Wilson, Bonnie Vanak and Pamela Clare, sent me money! They just sent it to me! God bless them all. It’s because of Norah, Bonnie and Pamela that I was able to weather one of the worst experiences of my life without losing everything I own.

     

    Anyhow, on September 10 (which would have been my daddy’s 108th birthday, had he still been alive), my dear friend Ann Wilmer-Lasky drove me to Albuquerque, where we stayed overnight with some more dear friends, Marcia Fish and Larry Anderson. Then the next day we went to the University of New Mexico’s Neurosurgery Unit.

     

    I was told to expect a four- or five-hour “minimally invasive lumber laminectomy.” Well . . . ten hours later, I woke up in the recovery room (I guess) to see my 16-year-old Austrian neurosurgeon smiling up a storm and saying, “Oh, my, you gave us such a challenge!”

     

    Goody gumdrops.

     

    Evidently, in order for a neurosurgeon to minimally invade something, there has to be a space to invade. The discs in my lower spine (on the right) had bonded together (guess they were pals), and were locked in a clump. They had to get out the band saws, drills, power tools, and stuff like that in order to get ‘em apart, scrape the junk off them, put spacers between them, and screw them in place. I grew a whole inch after that! Mind you, I’d shrunk four inches, but still, at least I’m back to being a whole five feet tall. I used to be five-three, dang it.

     

    The first two days after the surgery I wanted to be dead. Honest to God, I’ve never experienced anything like that. I don’t know how nurses do their jobs. I’m rather a non-difficult sort of person, but I was lying in bed (truth to tell, I was bent of in half, ‘cause they had to put 60 pillows under my legs and crank the bed back up so that I was . . . well, bent in half). Worse, I lay or folded there and moaned. Out loud. Couldn’t help myself. How humiliating.

     

    But, boy, did I come away with an appreciation of those nurses! They not only provided me with ice chips (‘cause I couldn’t swallow w/o them), but they cleaned me after I threw up all the water from the ice chips. And they never scolded! They just said, “Not a problem. That’s why we’re here. We’ll just change this bedding and get a new gown on you and wash you up,” while I cried. The first few days after that operation included not a single one of my finest moments. However, I gained a GIGANTIC respect for the nurses who take care of people like me. I had never, ever, once, considered what nurses have to go through in order to deal with post-op and other types of patients.

     

    Not only that, but the doctors and nurses gave me a whole bunch of great drugs (morphine, Valium, oxycodone, etc.). One day I decided to tell my grandson, Dai, who’s an Army Medic and has been nursing for years, how much I appreciate nurses like him who take care of people like me, so I telephoned him in Fort Bragg. Emily, my granddaughter-in-law, answered the phone and assured me she’d tell Dai I’d called to appreciate him. I thought it was around noon. It was more like around midnight. Heck, I was on drugs, y’know?

     

    Then there were the food trays. Since I was bent in half, they had to plant the tray on my folded knees, which lifted the tray above my head so I couldn’t reach anything on it. Not that I was hungry, ‘cause I wasn’t. I did manage to snag some soup and drink it out of the bowl a couple of times. Once the massive muscle spasms and throbbings in my right leg began to subside (the neurosurgeon had had to cut through the muscles of my right leg in order to have at the clumped-up discs), I was able to lose some of the pillows under my legs, and the bed back could be lowered some, so that by the time I felt like eating something, I could actually get at it.

     

    Then there were the other fun things that happened. During any surgery, I guess they have to stick tubes down your throat and tape your face to the operating table. Well . . . ten hours is a long surgery, and my throat didn’t react too well to having that stupid tube stuck down it for so long. There was a whole lot of coughing going on for quite a while. That was nothing to the worms on my face, though. I guess my skin had reacted to the tape they’d used to tie me down, and my face itched. When I reached to scratch, felt big, wormy lumps. I asked a nurse about them (I LOVE nurses), and she said, “Oh, you just had a reaction to the tape. We’ll give you some Bacitracin, and you rub it on, and those rashes will go right away.” She was right, bless her.

     

    I think people visited me, although I’m not sure. I spent the first two days in ICU, weak as a sick kitten, mainly because I’d become grossly anemic. Had to have three blood transfusions. Lemme tell you, when you’re that anemic, even lifting an eyelid is a chore.

     

    After my blood count and blood pressure (which kept shooting into the stratosphere) leveled off, they moved me to another room, and I remained with the hoi-polloi until Marcia and Larry came to pick me up on September 17. My instructions for recovery were simple: walk and rest. Easy-peasy. Until I fell over some doggie steps and landed, WHOMP, on the surgery site on my right leg. I had the most gynormous hematoma you can possibly imagine from that piece of idiocy. It was so big, it pooched out my ever-so-fashionable muu-muu. My wonderful friend Patricia took me to the ER here in Roswell, where I was X-rayed and found to be still in one piece. The following Thursday I had an appointment with the neurosurgery folks in Albuquerque, to which my cousin Lois and (again) Patricia accompanied me. I couldn’t drive ‘cause of the drugs. Since I obviously couldn’t even walk, this was a wise precaution. The neurosurgery assistant took out the staples holding my back together, so now I have a little, albeit quite long, set of railroad tracks running up my lower back. I’m trying to decide if a tattoo will add anything to the gorgeosity of my scar.

     

    Then last Thursday Lois drove me to the neurosurgeon (Google her if you don’t believe me when I tell you she’s a 16-year-old Austrian. Her name is Martina Stippler, and she’s fabulous) Dr. Stippler found I’m doing quite well, everything’s holding together, and she was particularly pleased with the way I could bounce right up out of chairs and stuff. Guess all that exercising I used to do did something besides ruin my body. I still can’t fetch my 25-pound dog, Giblett, from Kari in Fort Stanton, because I’m not supposed to lift more than ten pounds, and Giblett, due to a genetic malformation, has to be lifted. He comes with a handle (his harness) but he still weighs more than I’m allowed to lift. I’m sorry, Kari, although I know Giblett’s having a wonderful time with you. The best news they gave me, however, during that visit was that I am not to begin an exercise program yet, but to “walk and rest.” I can do that :-)

     

    Then, late in September, something totally dreadful happened to my winner-picking-wiener dog, Rosie. I don’t know what it was, but she came into the house one afternoon with her face smashed in. Honest to God, it was horrible. Up until that time, Rosie had been a happy, healthy, jolly 14-year-old wiener dog. But I had to have her put to sleep. Broke my heart. I held her in a soft blanket while she was sedated, and then, when she went to sleep, they gently moved her to the table, and I petted her while the doctor injected her. Lord, it was awful. I miss Rosie SO MUCH. I’ve looked over every inch of my back yard (which has a six-foot fence around it) and can find nothing to account for the state of Rosie’s face. She looked as if someone had hit her with a sledge hammer.

     

    Um, what else . . . Honestly, the surgery and its aftermath sort of took precedence over most other things in my life, although I was pleased that both FALLEN ANGELS (mystery category) and GENTEEL SPIRITS (historical novel category) are finalists in the New Mexico Book of the Year Awards Contest. Since I belong to the George C. Scott school of contest appreciation, it took some overcoming for me even to enter the books, but I did it anyway, and I aim to go to the banquet on November 16, too, what’s more. Another dachshund-rescue lady, Janet Johnson, is attending the banquet with me, and it should be fun. I don’t expect to win, as my books aren’t what you might call mainstream fiction, but it’ll still be fun, and it’s delightful to meet other authors and stuff.

     

    Then there’s the book I’ve been writing all year long. Unfortunately, there have been huge gaps in between the times I can work on it, because every other week or so I’ve had a surgical procedure or had to go to Albuquerque (have I mentioned that Albuquerque is 200 miles away from where I live, and there are NO specialists in Roswell? Well, it is and it’s true. Grumble). Fortunately for me, two fabulous women whom I’ve only met on-line, Lynne Welch (former RWA Librarian of the Year) and Sue Krekeler (teacher extraordinaire and, thank God, reader and editor) have agreed to beta-read SPIRITS REVIVED, so I can maybe finish the stupid book when I’m able to sit down and DO it. There are so many wonderful people in the world. On the news we hear about the creeps, but not everyone is a creep, thank God!

     

    Oh, and several of my books are being made into audiobooks! With luck, they’ll be available on Audible.com eventually. So I guess life isn’t all throbbing pain and grief over lost dogs, although there’s still a lot of that going on.

     

    And I’m holding a contest this month! I skipped last month because I was recovering, but I’ll be giving away copies of GENTEEL SPIRITS and FALLEN ANGELS. What the heck. If you want to enter, just send me your name and home address (alice@aliceduncan.net) and I’ll throw your name into my special contest doggie dish. Not sure who’s going to take over winner-picking duties from Rosie, but someone will do it, I’m sure.

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