Sunday, September 30, 2012

November Treasures in My Closet

It's not that I'm hurrying November along. That means the election in early November, and we'll find out what happens with the libraries. I'm not looking forward to this. However, I am looking forward to the books in my closet. Let's talk about November's book releases.

B. Kent Anderson's Silver Cross is the sequel to Cold Glory. History professor Nick Journey and federal agent Meg Tolman team up after the murder of a friend of Tolman's. She finds a conspiracy hanging on a letter from Napoleon III to Confederate president Jefferson Davis.That letter was lost, and Tolman and Journey follow a treasure map into Texas. Horrifying acts of domestic terrorism erupt while Journey and Tolman search for an answer to a 150-year-old riddle.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas is Rhys Bowen's latest Royal Spyness mystery. Lady Georgiana lands a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton, a village like something out of A Christmas Carol. On her first day in town, a dead man fell out of a tree. On her second day, a second accident, followed by another on her third. Georgie doesn't quite believe the villagers that it might be the result of a long-standing curse.

Susannah Cahalan was an ambitious twenty-four-year old starting a promising career at a newspaper. One month later, she woke up in a strange hospital room, with medical records showing a month-long stay which she doesn't remember, one that showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Brain on Fire is the story of her descent into madness, and her family's refusal to give up.

Donis Casey's The Wrong Hill to Die On brings her characters, Alafair and Shaw Tucker, to Tempe, Arizona in 1916. Their ten-year-old daughter was suffering from a lung ailment, and the best chance for a cure was dry desert air. Once they arrive, Blanche begins to improve, but everything is not so well in sunny Arizona. And, when Alafair finds a dead man in the ditch, it appears the year isn't getting much better. (Casey will be appearing for Authors @ The Teague with Vicki Delany on Oct. 25.)

Aaron "Woodshed" Wallace thinks he's getting his big break from MMA promotion Warrior Inc., but first he has to make sure Warrior and its president don't get snuffed out by the yakuza, Japanese mobsters. In Jeremy Brown's Hook and Shoot, Woody has to use his mixed martial arts skills to help the president and his bodyguard stay alive.

A Death in The Small Hours is Charles Finch's latest Charles Lenox mystery. Sir Charles Lenox is at the pinnacle of his political career, and his career investigating crimes is years behind him. But, a trip to his uncle's estate reveals trouble in Plumley, where someone is bringing fear and suspicion to the village.

Christina Freeburn's Cropped to Death is a Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery. Former U.S. Army JAG specialist, Faith Hunter, returns to her West Virginia home to work in her grandmother's scrapbooking store, determined to lead a quiet life. But that life unravels when a friend is charged with mruder, and Faith supplied the evidence.

Ellen Hopkins wrote her novel, Collateral, in her poetic verse style. It's the story of a woman torn between love and war. Ashley grew up reading books and singing in a band, never dreaming of becoming a military wife. Then she meets a Marine named Cole, who doesn't fit the stereotype of an aggressive military man. For five years, their relationship survives deployments. When Ashley meets a man who shares her interests, she isn't sure she wants to live a life in the shadow of war.

How can I resist a book called Killer Librarian? Mary Lou Kirwin's mystery features Karen Nash, a librarian planning her dream trip to London, until her lover dumps her for a younger woman. She fantasizes about revenge as she takes off to London, where a fellow guest at a B and B drops out of circulation, permanently. When she learns her ex-lover is the target of a killer, she uses her skills to find answers.

Whitney Otto, author of How to Make an American Quilt, brings us Eight Girls Taking Pictures. The novel is inspired by the lives of famous female photographers. Otto weaves together eight vignettes to tell the story of women, larger-than-life characters and photographers who find satisfaction in their work, but also search for love.

Like Donis Casey, Mike Resnick brings his character to Arizona in Dog in the Manger. Down-on-his-luck private eye Eli Paxton is hired to find a missing dog, the number one Weimaraner in the country and current Westminster winner. The case isn't so simple, and the trail leads to Arizona, then Mexico, and then back to his hometown, Cincinnati.

After eight works of fiction, Richard Russo turns to memoir in Elsewhere. He relates the account of his life, his parents, and the upstate New York town they all struggled to escape.

And, the last book in my closet is Peter Tremayne's Behold a Pale Horse. In 664 A.D., Fidelma of Cashel is heading home to Ireland until upon arriving in Genua (modern day, Genoa), she learns one of her old teachers is close to death. She makes the dangerous trip to the remote abbey where he's dying. When she hears his last words, her most dangerous adventure is just beginning.

Do any of these November releases interest you? If not, wait until tomorrow for the November Hot Titles.




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker

In the previous post, Tace Baker told readers how she took so much of her life experience, added a murder and a few twists, and wrote Speaking of Murder, the book that was a finalist for the Linda Howard Award for Excellence earlier this year. Readers who enjoy stories set in the academic world might be drawn this story of a linguistics professor determined to find the killer of her star pupil.

Lauren Rousseau had just defended Jamal Carter when he had a run-in with the chair of the linguistics department at Agawam College. For some reason, Alexa Kensington was opposed to Jamal's thesis topic.She witnessed a second incident involving him and Alexa while another student saw him in an argument with a man on campus. When she finds Jamal dead, she knows there are a few people who might have disliked him. But, why was he killed? Who hated him that much?

Jamal's death knocks Lauren's life off kilter. And, her best friend, Elise, seems to be keeping secrets. Lauren becomes tangled up in her own search for answers, a search that endangers her dog, and threatens her. Baker's story is a complex, intriguing mystery.

I will admit, I had a hard time liking Lauren Rousseau. Although she truly cared for her students and friends, and went to great lengths to help people, her neediness bothered me. For that matter, it bothers her, and she doesn't understand it. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Zac, sometimes struck me as a little juvenile for a woman in her late thirties, as she pushed him away while wanting him when she wanted him to be there.

However, I did appreciate her relationship with the investigating officer in the story, a relationship that seemed to become more respectful as the case progressed. Lauren had a much more mature relationship with the police than many amateur sleuths do in books.

Speaking of Murder is a solid debut for Tace Baker. It's a complex mystery, with a storyline that offers a multitude of possibilities for the reasons behind a murder. Readers who enjoy the politics and secrets surrounding the academic world will welcome this new sleuth.

Tace Baker is a pseudonym for Edith Maxwell. Edith's websites are www.tacebaker.com and www.edithmaxwell.com

Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker. Barking Rain Press. 2012. ISBN 9781935460473 (paperback), 178p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book because she was doing a guest blog.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tace Baker, Guest blogger

Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Edith Maxwell as my guest blogger. I know it says Tace Baker on the title of this post, but Tace Baker is Edith's pseudonym. According to the biography on her mystery, Speaking of Murder, "Tace is an old-fashioned Quaker name, which seemed fitting for the author of a series featuring a Quaker Linguistics professor. Edith is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and its Guppies subgroup, and is on the board of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime." It's so nice to introduce you to  Edith (and Tace), a fellow Sister.

*****

Thanks so much for asking me over, Lesa.

I (in my pseudonymic identity of Tace Baker) want to share with you all how I arrived at writing a murder mystery about a world-traveled Quaker linguistics professor, video forensics software, an antique boat shop going up in flames, and much more. It really boils down to Write What You Know.

I’ve had a long and varied past. We’re given long lives so we can do much with them, right? I’m a fourth-generation Californian who started my adult life living in Brazil as an exchange student for a year when I was 17. I used my subsequent BA in linguistics in the mid-70s to do a year’s stint as a car mechanic at a gas station where everybody assumed the owner was my father (and he wasn't). I went on to teach English in Japan for two years.

I then earned a PhD in linguistics in southern Indiana, spent a few years in high-tech in the Boston area, and spent a few more raising babies and organic vegetables north of the city. I attended a Friends (Quaker) Meeting on Sundays and started to write mysteries. I lived with my now ex-husband and (still-current) sons in West Africa for two separate years. When I reentered the paid work force, it was to write documentation for Avid Technology, a company that produces a video-editing application augmented for forensics by small police departments (and also used to win Oscars by big film studios). I also trained for and ran the Boston Marathon.

After fourteen years at Avid I was laid off in a so-called Reduction in Force while I was living in small-town Ipswich on Massachusetts’ North Shore. The first thing I did after polishing my resume? Wrote a short story of murderous revenge called “Reduction in Force” that was published in Thin Ice by Level Best Books in 2009. And then I realized I couldn't look for a job all day long. I might as well start writing a novel-length story. So I wrote what I knew.

My protagonist in Speaking of Murder is Lauren Rousseau, a Quaker linguistics professor. She’s a world traveler, and a runner with a boyfriend who is the local police department’s video forensics expert. She lives in a fictional town very much like Ipswich and befriends a fictional owner of the very real decrepit boat shop that actually burned down in Ipswich while I was writing the book. When she encounters her star student dead on campus, she’s compelled to seek justice for him.

Lauren Rousseau is younger and taller than me. She's slimmer and fitter, and is a real college professor, a job I never secured. But the research part of the book was a breeze because I’d already lived much of it.

Which fictional character’s experiences would you like to have in real life? Writers, which parts of your real life did you put into your books?

*****
Thank you, Edith!  Edith's websites are www.tacebaker.com and www.edithmaxwell.com

Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker. Barking Rain Press. 2012. ISBN 9781935460473 (paperback), 178p.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Winners and Vacation

Congratulations to the winners of the latest contest. Mitch Albom's The Time Keeper will go to Kathleen F. from Lake Zurich, IL. Charlotte W. of Covington, GA won M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

I'm leaving on vacation next Wednesday (and I REALLY need a vacation). I'm heading to Bouchercon, the mystery conference, home to visit my family in Ohio, and I'm doing two readers' advisory workshops in Pittsburgh while I'm gone. It will be a busy two weeks.

I will have blog posts, maybe not every day. But, I certainly want to tell you about Bouchercon! I just won't be having any contests for the next few weeks. The new contest will kick off on Thursday, Oct. 18.

In the meantime, happy reading!

Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont

Shelley Freydont mentioned in her guest blog the other day that she loved the town of Celebration Bay, the small New York town she created for her new mystery series. She's not the only one. Foul Play at the Fair launches a series filled with interesting characters, beginning with two wonderful ones, Liv Montgomery and her Westie terrier, Whiskey.

Liv Montgomery escaped from a job handling bridezillas and celebrities to move to Celebration Bay. She's the new event coordinator in a town where she can take her dog to work, stop in the bakery for a treat for Whiskey, and watch her assistant, Ted, yodel with Whiskey every morning. She loves the town and its people. So, when a murder at the close of the Harvest by the Bay Festival threatens the future of all the town festivals, Liv takes it personally. That doesn't mean just the end of her job. Closures could threaten the livelihood of all the townspeople who depend on the festivals since the town is now a tourist destination.

The identity of the dead man comes as a surprise to everyone, but a well-known victim in a small town means the police chief is yanked off the case. And, outside investigators don't care whose toes they step on. Liv cares about the future of Celebration Bay, and if she has to wheedle information from people, even the uncooperative owner of the local newspaper, she'll do it. Liv Montgomery is determined to use all her skills to save her new town from collapsing under the weight of innuendo and suspicion.

I read mysteries looking for good characters. Liv Montgomery is a terrific new amateur sleuth, competent, intelligent, with a few surprising skills. Freydont introduces an interesting cast of characters as residents of Celebration Bay, people who will be fun to see again in future stories. Foul Play at the Fair just leaves me wishing to return soon for more of Liv's adventures in a community that capitalizes on its small town atmosphere.

Shelley Freydont's website is www.shelleyfreydont.com.

Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont. Berkley Prime Crime. 2012. ISBN 9780425251553 (paperback), 298p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

October's Mysteries from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian

This month's video is all about Jinx, with a cameo by Josh. And, of course, it's about books. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Elephant in the Room



I really should be reviewing Shelley Freydont's Foul Play at the Fair today. Instead I'm going to discuss the elephant in the room. Why has my blog seemed sort of scattered lately?

I'm job hunting. And, many nights when I come home from work, when I'd rather be reading or working on my blog, I'm applying for jobs.

I warned my staff weeks ago that they should all start looking. There is a referendum on the November ballot in our town to repeal a sales tax that went into place in August. If that sales tax is repealed, the city has to come up with $25 million to cover the operating expenses for the next year. That means cutting city services.

Today, the staff and public saw for the first time a document I saw last Friday. Even when you know it's coming, it hurts to see it in print. The proposal going to Council tomorrow, along with other enormous cuts to make up $25 million, includes the recommendation that if the sales tax is repealed the two branches will be closed, the Main Library will be given over to an outside agency to run, and all 55 staff members in the system will be let go.

So, send good thoughts and prayers our way. What is a community without a library? For about twelve years, I've had a bumper sticker on my bulletin board, one I bought in Nashville. It says, "A city with a great library is a great city." I've always felt that way. I've given my heart to my library, to the community my library serves, to Authors @ The Teague.

If my blog isn't quite up to snuff, please forgive me. I still love my blog, and I'm passionate about sharing books with all of you. But, I'm trying to find another community to love. Anyone looking for a good supervisor, in whatever field? (I'm just terrific as a staff supervisor. Ask any of my staff over the years. And, I could probably bring an excellent publicist/writer with me.)

Oh, and an added note. I'm thinking outside the box.



I'm the one flexible person in the library system. I've lived and worked in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Florida and Arizona. There's nothing keeping me here, as Jim said when we left Florida. I don't HAVE to be a librarian, as much as I love it. I've done authors' programming. I'm the twitter manager for our library system, and I spend a great deal of time using social media. I will say, I'm an excellent supervisor and manager of staff. I'm just looking for another position with people who are as passionate about their job as I am, and as are all the staff I've worked with over the years.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shelley Freydont, Guest Blogger

I always enjoy the appearance of a new mystery series. Shelley Freydont's mysteries have dealt with dance companies, and Sudoku. Now, she takes us to a New York town, Celebration Bay, a town that celebrates its seasonal festivals. Today, I'm welcoming Shelley Freydont as guest blogger, the author of Foul Play at the Fair, the first Celebration Bay Mystery. Thank you, Shelley.

Freydont -Foul Play at the Fair

I love to write about small towns. They’re such great places for murder. Miss Marple has Saint Mary’s Mead, Jessica Fletcher has Cabot Cove. And I chose to place my new mystery series in a small upstate New York town called Celebration Bay. 

Its name may be a clue to the kind of town it is.  Here’s what happened. “When the cannery closed, throwing the whole town out of work, the inhabitants of Celebration Bay didn’t despair. They threw a party—and invited the whole county.  It was so successful they did it the following year, added a strawberry festival and Oktoberfest and a new industry was born—tourism.  Now everyday is a holiday in Celebration Bay.:"

Isn’t that just the kind of town you’d like to live in, with the kind of people who are resilient and industrious and know how to make lemonade out of a closed cannery? It is for me, and I’d like you to meet some of the inhabitants.

Celebration Bay has become so successful as a family destination town that they decided to hire a professional event organizer.

Enter Liv Montgomery, Manhattan event planner extraordinaire.  Liv is sick of the bridezillas, the mad men, the desperate housewives, the anything but sweet sixteens.  So the job of event organizer in a small, rural town sounds like just the new lease on life she needs. So she packs up herself and her Westie terrier, Whiskey, and moves north.

What happens next?

Liv rents a carriage house behind a big Victorian house owned by Miss Ida  and Miss Edna Zimmerman, two retired school teachers. They’re very kind, are great dog sitters, and have even been known to develop a lesson plan for investigating. Whiskey has his own yard where he loves to play, but you can imagine what the neighbors think when Liv goes to the door and calls, “Whiskey! Whiskey!”

Liv and Whiskey walk to work each day.  And you won’t catch Liv in four inch heels—ever.  Though she may have gone overboard on the plaids, corduroys and hiking boots she ordered from an on line catalogue.

Each morning she stops at the Apple of My Eye bakery for breakfast, usually of the sweet variety. (Lucky for Liv she’s a runner, though she hardly has the time to exercise with all her new duties.)
Next stop is the Buttercup Coffee Exchange where her new BFF dispenses lattes and tea for Liv and her assistant Ted, a man of a certain age and a mysterious past.

Everyone in town is friendly and helpful, when they’re not being stubborn and cantankerous. Well almost everyone.  There is Janine Tudor who used to be the town’s event person. She blames Liv for taking her job, which is so not true.  Liv merely answered the ad and they hired her. Janine’s a successful real estate agent, but her second job is trying to make Liv’s life miserable.  She’s good, but not as good as those  bridezillas and mothers of the bridezillas Liv used to deal with.  Still it would be nice if she’d just give it a rest.

The only other problem child—oops did I say that?— I meant person, is Chaz Bristow, editor of the local newspaper, the Celebration Clarion.  He has the body of a surfer, the mind of a mensa and is about as shallow as a bird bath.  He was an investigative reporter in LA, now he’s just lazy.  He thinks breaking news is the beginning of fishing season.

Mainly, Liv just tries to ignore him.

Now if she could just do something about those pesky murders.

Foul Play at the Fair is out this month.  I hope you’ll enjoy the folks of Celebration Bay as much as Liv, Whiskey and I do.

*****
Thank you, Shelley! I hope we all enjoy Celebration Bay. And, good luck with Foul Play at the Fair.
Shelley Freydont's website is www.shelleyfreydont.com

Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont. Berkley Prime Crime. 2012. ISBN 9780425251553 (paperback), 298p.




Sunday, September 23, 2012

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

The ARC of Lisa Genova's new book, Love Anthony, has a quote from USA Today. "Picking up anything written by Genova is quickly becoming a no-brainer." I feel the same. Whether she writes about Alzheimer's, Left Neglected Syndrome or, now, autism, she doesn't really write books about conditions. Genova writes about women, and how we cope with life. And, time after time, she writes her way into my heart.

This time, she takes readers to Nantucket for a year, into the lives of two women who are trying to find answers in their lives. Olivia Donatelli was just coming to grips with her son's autism when he died. When Anthony died, her marriage died as well, and she's left adrift, seeking a place to grieve, returning to the beach on Nantucket where Anthony would happily gather white stones.

Beth fell in love Jimmy Ellis when she was vacationing on Nantucket, and she never left. She set aside her dreams of writing, married, had three beautiful daughters, and lived with a man who lost his job scalloping, and became a bartender. Sometime in their fourteen years of marriage, something happened. They changed, and Beth no longer knows who she is without being Mrs. Jimmy Ellis. She turns back to her writing, and that writing leads her to answers, for her own life, and for Olivia Donatelli.

What do you need in life to feel wanted, to feel happy, to feel safe, to feel loved? Genova asks her characters, and her readers, to ask themselves that question. Her characters find it a difficult question to answer. It takes a boy with autism to force them to look inside their own hearts for the answers. It's those questions that Genova asks, using a condition or syndrome to ask them, that makes her such a powerful writer. She brings her women to life, with all their flaws and weaknesses, and shows that those flaws and weaknesses can also be their greatest strengths.

Genova's first novel, Still Alice, was moving and powerful. With each book, Lisa Genova probes a little more into women's lives, needs and souls. Love Anthony, with its questions, will just add to her reputation as a writer of beautiful, moving stories of tragedy, loss, and triumph in life.

Lisa Genova's website is www.lisagenova.com

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova. Gallery Books. 2012. ISBN 9781439164086 (hardcover), 309p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.




Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recap: Jeffret Siger at the Poisoned Pen

Although I recap the events at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, sometimes the bookstore livestreams those programs, and they are archived so you can see them later if you'd like. Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen, welcomes viewers to the livestream program. When Jeffrey Siger recently appeared to discuss his latest book, Target: Tinos, the program was livestreamed, and it is available here, https://new.livestream.com/poisonedpen, if you'd like to view it.

Jeffrey Siger and Barbara Peters
Peters was crossing paths with Jeffrey Siger. She was leaving for Europe the next day, and he was back in the U.S. He spends the summer in Mykonos, Greece. Poisoned Pen Press is Siger's American publisher. His first book, Murder in Mykonos, was already the number one English bestseller in Greece when Peters became his editor. She threatened him, saying other publishers were going to want his books, and she'd hunt him down and kill him if he went elsewhere. Siger, who had already retired at the time, asked her if they offered me a bundle of money, "What would I do, retire from my law practice and move to Mykonos?"

Siger started by saying he was an artist first. He was a sculptor, and won a national art award at fourteen. But, his father told him, do something so you won't have to work hard and go to work at 2 in the morning like I do. So, he went to college, planning to become a doctor. But, he fell in love with political science and became a lawyer. And, one night, after he was practicing law, he called his father at 2 a.m., and said you told me to do something so I wouldn't have to go to work at 2 in the morning. I listened to you, and here I am, at 2 in the morning, still at work.

Jeffrey Siger loves Greece and writing. He walked away from his law firm to move to Greece and write there. People asked, "How can you walk away from that money?" He said you have to decide what makes you happy.

Thirty years ago, Jeffrey went to Mykonos for the first time. He immediately felt at home. Siger's friends are locals. They want his books to succeed. They tell him things, and ask if they're in the books. When Jeffrey decided to write he made three vows. He promised he wouldn't write fluff - it matters. He would tell the story as it must be told. And, he doesn't take cheap shots.

Peters said they had been at a library earlier in the day, and she assured the audience that most of the violence and sex scenes in Siger's books are off scene. Siger said he is honored that he's been asked to go back to his college and speak. But, he was asked by the English Department. He took freshman English. But, he learned to write as a lawyer. He said when it comes to scenes, he believes it's better to have the reader's mind create the violence or fear, rather than to tell them what it is. He used an example, pointing to a television. I could tell you that the most terrible thing in the world is behind that screen, and your imagination will create all kinds of terrible things. But, if I tell you what is behind the screen, then you'll say, oh that isn't as bad as all the other things I could imagine. So, there's only some violence and a little sex actually described. He said he actually tones down the cursing because with the Greeks, it may be every other word. And, men are always screaming back and forth at each other in Greece. Siger's theory is, if it doesn't further the story, it's out.

Siger writes about murder in Greece. As Peters said, Siger's Murder in Mykonos was already the #1 bestselling book in English in Greece when he came to Barbara. He was writing about Mykonos. She said he was tapping into ancient Greece, while writing about modern Greece. His latest book, Target: Tinos deals with religious mania. His second book, Assassins of Athens, was about hubris and politics. He said it dealt with the way the Greeks react with their government. Sadly, it came to pass. The Greek press called him prophetic. Jeffrey said that was instead of saying, "Burn the witch."

He said there's so much to inspire you in Mykonos. When he watches a sunset, he wonders what the ancients thought when they were looking at the same scene. And, he said it was about the same. In about 250 B.C., give or take some years, husbands on Delos sent their children and wives off to Mykonos to escape the sailors. They were even then trying to escape tourism. Now, it's just the opposite. They leave Mykonos.

It used to be said there were 365 churches in Mykonos, one for every day of the year. Actually, some count as many as 1400 churches. In order to get electricity to a house, it needed to be a church, and then it was church property. There's a deep-rooted connection to Greek Orthodoxy there. The people are deeply committed to the Church. Prey on Patmos, the third book in the series, centered on the church. That commitment goes up to death. Once a person dies, they are interred for two to three years. Then, they brush off the bones, and they are put in a box put into the wall of the family church. There used to be a trap door, and they'd open it, and drop the bones in.

Don't underestimate the Greeks' deep commitment to the Church. All events are focused around the Church. It has a central role in Murder in Mykonos. And, Prey on Patmos deals with Mount Athos, that exists as it did 1500 years ago. There are twenty monasteries there. The monks live as they did 1500 years earlier. There are no women, not even female animals except hens for eggs. However, there have been a few issues. There was a major scandal three to four years ago. A monastery was tied into a land swap for property that had been taken for the Olympics that had then been transferred to the Church. The abbot was arrested on Christmas Eve, and put in jail.

There is a problem with writing on the edge of current events. You can be overran by current events. Jeffrey Siger had finished a book when, before the book was due out,  Michael Lewis came out with an article in Time that dealt with Siger's subject. He now calls that book 3 1/2, because he and Barbara Peters agreed they couldn't publish it then because it would look like he was writing about the events rather than predicting them. Peters said the book had Sparta in the title. It dealt with trafficking, sex and labor, and it was all set to go. A year before the book was due out, a man in Tunisia burned himself to change the world. Siger's characters had done the same. Barbara, his editor and publisher, said it looks like we've borrowed from the headlines.

Target: Tinos deals with how cultures deal with immigrants, but, fortunately, the current events dealing with that happened after the book came out, and was reviewed. Siger just finished the next book, and he thought the premise was unique. He had finished it, and a friend called to say the same event happened in Greece, but he's not telling what it was because readers won't realize it.

Peters told us that Target Tinos was named one of the best summer reads in the New York Times. Siger had one of his best reviews from the New York Journal of Books. It said he is "one of those rare writers whose finger is always on the pulse of modern day upheavals." He tackles subjects other authors avoid. One of the Greek papers said there are 10 million Greeks. Half of them think they're writers. Why did it take a foreigner to write it?

Siger has friends in government and business. He doesn't speak much Greek, so they talk to him in English. After they're daily business, they will tell it to him straight, in the bars. He has a scene in the new book when a man says someone is putting together a deal to put a topless bar in Mykonos. And, then it happened there at the harbor, that someone wanted to put in a topless bar. It's the perfect place. But, the people of Mykonos said no.

Target: Tinos has lots of action, an ongoing romance, and a treasure hunt.The story involves a church on Tinos, the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. And, Andreas Kaldris is getting married the same week as he's working on the case. This church is the Lourdes of Greece. A million tourists a week visit, some of them crawling uphill to get there. This "Vatican of Greece" isn't even owned by the Greek Orthodox Church. It's owned by a private foundation. Much of the foundation's revenue is used to benefit the people of Tinos. It's used for schools, roads, and to support the Greek Orthodox Church. The titular head of this church is the bishop, but locals actually decide who does what with the money. Barbara mentioned that medieval pilgrimages were actually religious tourism.

Jeffrey told us Tinos is beautiful, and there are fifty villages there. If you take a tour of the Peloponnese, he recommends Tinos, because the fifty villages are all so different. Tinos is the third or fourth largest island in the Cyclades. It's bigger than Mykonos. The island survived the Turkish Occupation. They made alliances with the Venetians, then a deal with the Turks. Outsiders finally came in when there was infighting on Tinos, and the alliances fell apart.

Target: Tinos opens with two incinerated bodies, wrapped in a flag. The press goes crazy until they find out the bodies were gypsies, and then all attention disappears. The book deals with how people react to immigrants. Then, Siger read to us from the book.

Siger said he tries not to talk about the weather in the first line. He thinks the opening should set the scene and direct where you're heading. He's a seat of the pants writer. An idea hits him, and he writes. He finds the first paragraph the most important. It sets him on the course where the book is going, even if that paragraph doesn't end up in the book. The first line of the book is "Revenge or Death". "Freedom or Death" is the Greek motto.

There are a number of holy days when people flock the Tinos. On August 15, there is an influx of gypsies. The Virgin Mary is sacred to gypsies. They camp out on Tinos, and many people don't even come that time of year. The gypsies have a strong affinity for Tinos. Siger said he doesn't want to deal with stereotypes.

Peters told Siger he took a brave step with his series, one many authors avoid. Kaldis has been romancing a woman, and they get married. Some say a series loses tension that way. Siger joked that he's been divorced twice, so there is tension. He said the marriage was the natural next step. Kaldis is evolving in life. And, they had a child out of wedlock. It was time. He doesn't know where the marriage is going though. Some people live independent lives as husband and wife, and they are so busy, they only see each other on holidays.

Barbara Peters said they are crime books, but they're funny, with a lot of humor. Jeffrey admitted he has the same warped sense of humor as the Greeks. They say he's as crazy as they are.

According to Peters, Siger's next book should be out next fall. They're trying to coordinate the publishing schedule with Jeffrey's time in the U.S. He spends six months in Mykonos, and six months in the U.S. He said he's lived on Mykonos for six years, but he's been going there for thirty. This is the first September he hasn't been there. He doesn't live there year round because he has family here, and he's an American, and likes his country. Siger told us April to October in Mykonos is great. His friends are traveling from December to February anyways, or they were until recently. The financial crisis in Greece has had a deep impact.

Mykonos has three things going for it. It has ocean breezes. There are two dozen gorgeous beaches. And, there's the light from the birthplace of Apollo, Delos. He chooses to live in Mykonos, but he could live anyplace. Mykonos is the number one island for vacations in Europe. It's a party island.

Before wrapping up the program, he did discuss the problems in Greece, saying the unemployment in Greece is 24%. It's higher among young people eighteen to twenty-four. At the moment, they're trying to bring togehter coalitions to decide how to make the $11.5 billion they have to have in order to get $400 billion in debt forgiven. They have to do it. And, in answer to a question, he said Greece is till paying for the burden of the Olympics.

This was only the second time I heard Jeffrey Siger speak, but it's always fascinating to hear him talk with Barbara Peters about Greece, books, and writing.

Jeffrey Siger's website is http://www.jeffreysiger.com/

Target: Tinos by Jeffrey Siger. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781590589762 (hardcover), 259p.












Friday, September 21, 2012

Homework

It's 8:30 p.m. here on Thursday night as I write this. On Wednesday, I attended a city committee meeting that ran from 1 to 4. Today, I attended a board meeting from 11 to 1. I'm on the board of the American Automotive Institute as a representative of the library and the education community. That was followed by a meeting that ran from 1:30 to 5. I finished the giveaway for this week when I arrived home, talked to my Mom, and now I have homework for a committee meeting from 9 to noon tomorrow. Needless to say, I haven't opened a book in two days. And, as you can tell, I haven't had enough time to sit down and write the recap of Jeffrey Siger's appearance at the Poisoned Pen. (I have some great pictures to share.)

But, here's what I did Thursday night instead. Homework. Love you all. Talk to you tomorrow, with that recap

.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Winners & Bestseller Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Louise Penny's Still Life will go to Shirley W. of Victoria, TX. And, Liz M. from Brookline, MA will receive G.M. Malliet's Wicked Autumn. I'll put the books in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I"m ending the summer giveaways with a bang. Instead of mysteries, I'm giving away two current bestsellers. Mitch Albom's The Time Keeper is number one this coming Sunday. His fable introduces the man who first discovered time and became Father Time. More important, it's a fable that asks readers to look at how they value time in their lives.






Or, you could win an ARC of M.L. Stedman's debut novel, The Light Between Oceans. It's the story of an Australian lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby, and keep it. It's a story in which there are no right answers.

Which bestseller would you like to win, The Time Keeper or The Light Between Oceans? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Please send them to me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject headings should read either "Win The Time Keeper" or "Win The Light Between Oceans." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

The contest will end on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6 PM PT. And, a special note. Since I'll be leaving for two weeks in Ohio on Oct. 3, this will be the last contest until Oct. 18th. Good luck!

Cats and a box

I had no time to do a blog for today. No lunch = no reading. Then, I went to the Poisoned Pen to see Jeffrey Siger. My recap of that will be up tomorrow.

So, I'll give you cats and a box. I blog for VibrantNation.com, and a number of us received an enormous box in the mail with a product in it. Nice, but I only review books. However, Josh and Jinx thought the box was pretty nice.

Just right for one cat (Josh)


Jinx watches as Josh checks it out

"I know there's room for two!"


(You'd rather see cats once in a while anyways.)

Giveaway tonight at 6 PM PT. Check out the blog then.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Recap: Target: Tinos by Jeffrey Siger

I'm off to the Poisoned Pen tonight to see Jeffrey Siger, a Poisoned Pen Press author who writes wonderful mysteries set in the political world of Greece. Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore, promises an evening filled with politics as well as mystery. I'll be recapping the program in a couple days. So, to remind you about Siger's series, I thought I'd repeat my review of his latest book, Target: Tinos. I originally reviewed it on June 27.

*****

Jeffrey Siger's Chief Inspector Kaldis series has everything I enjoy in a police procedural series; well-developed characters, clever banter between the cops, and interesting crimes with unexpected twists. However, like the other books, his latest, Target: Tinos, has something so many others don't. Siger adds his knowledge of Greece, its politics, history, and beauty, and that knowledge makes Target: Tinos stand out from other police procedurals.

It's just two weeks until Andreas Kaldis' wedding to socially prominent widow, Lila Valdi. Bad timing for a crime on the island of Tinos, home to the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, the Lourdes of Greece. The remains of two men were found in a burnt out van. They had been chained, wrapped in the Greek flag, and left with a note, "Revenge or Death." With the play on Greece's national slogan, the media was in an uproar, and Kaldis' boss wanted him to make sure the investigation was handled properly. As head of the Greek police's Special Crimes Division, Kaldis has the authority to investigate anywhere.

After the victims are identified as tsigani, gypsies, the media disappears, and Kaldis' boss wants the case to disappear as well. The government is afraid some members of the E.U. would use the murders, possible hate crimes, as a reason to end financial aid to Greece at a time when Greece was desperate for assistance. But, it's too late. Once Andreas and his team have their teeth into a case, they're not going to let it go just because it's politically wise. Kaldis doesn't care who the victims are. Someone has been killed. And, once the team discovers there might be a larger crime target, and that minority groups have been paid to move to Tinos, they're not going to give up, even when the threats hit close to home.

In this case, threats do hit close to home. As Lila prepares for their wedding, Andreas must also prepare with more security than expected. It's the society wedding of the summer, and Kaldis doesn't know if he's a personal target because of his investigation on Tinos, or the gathered government ministers and other prominent business and social leaders might be the target of terrorists. He refuses to change the wedding to a private ceremony, seeing that as a victim of terrorism.

Target: Tinos offers the best of all crime novels, combining crime and surprising twists as Siger continues to make Andreas Kaldis a realistic figure, expanding on his personal life. Those who have read the books before will appreciate the return of familiar characters: Tassos, the chief homicide investigator of rhte Cyclades Islands, Yianni Kouros, Kaldis' assistant, Andreas' secretary, Maggie, who knows where all the bodies are buried, and Lila Valdi, the woman Andreas loves, who is intelligent and provides one of the keys to the mystery. The team surrounding Kaldis brings these books to life.

However, these mysteries couldn't exist without Jeffrey Siger's knowledge and love of Greece's past and present. He includes background of the Greek War of Independence, Church history, Tinos' history, and the current economic issues of Greece in Target: Tinos. Siger's books have a richness lacking in many mysteries. Target: Tinos just adds to Jeffrey Siger's reputation as a storyteller who can bring a country, and a mystery, to life.

Jeffrey Siger's website is http://www.jeffreysiger.com/

Target: Tinos by Jeffrey Siger. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781590589762 (hardcover), 259p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer

Today is release day for Susan M. Boyer's debut mystery, Lowcountry Boil. And, it's quite a debut. This terrific traditional mystery has been nominated for both the Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, Mainstream Category (unpublished division). Anyone who enjoys a solid traditional mystery set in the South will be glad Henery Press, a small independent publisher, recognized Boyer's ability.

Meet Liz Talbot, the private investigator who is the sleuth in Boyer's Liz Talbot mysteries. For six years, she's been a partner with Nate Andrews in Talbot & Andrews, a private investigative firm in Greenville, South Carolina. Her grandmother's unexpected death sends her home to Stella Maris, a small sea island near Charleston. But, when her brother, the local police chief, tells her Gram was murdered, she packs up to move to the house she inherited, and find a killer.

There's nothing like a small town for gossip. And, an island community is even worse. In a town where long-time residents are members of the city council, Liz finds herself caught up in local politics, local secrets, and murder. If the spirit of her long-dead best friend wasn't whispering in her ear, Liz would have a harder time keeping up with the soap opera of estranged lovers, disinherited family members, and land grabs. As she searches for answers, she has to remember one cardinal rule of life on the island. "It was all about the land. Protecting the land was a religion in our world. Land was power in our world."

Boyer has introduced readers to a strong-willed new private investigator with a love of family, friends, and home. Liz is perfectly at home on her southern island with her golden retriever, Rhett, her gun in her Kate Spade handbag, and grits for breakfast at the local restaurant. While she uses colloquialisms such as "Rhett woke fine as frog hair", she's a shrewd sleuth who loves technology. Liz Talbot is a Southern Belle for modern times and modern mysteries.

Humor, a little romance, a charming location, and an intelligent detective with a few idiosyncrasies. Top it off with a murder mystery with a host of suspects. Lowcountry Boil might be Susan M. Boyer's first mystery, but it's an outstanding debut. Here's hoping Liz Talbot mysteries become a staple in the mystery field.

Susan M. Boyer's website is www.susanmboyerbooks.com

Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer. Henery Press. 2012. ISBN 9781938383045 (paperback), 408p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte

Anyone who feels manipulated and trained by their cats will feel a little smug after reading Bob Tarte's Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home. Most of us aren't quite as beaten into submission as journalist Tarte is. Of course, he and his wife have an entire menagerie, not only these six cats.

Tarte and his wife, Linda, live in Michigan, where, if you believe his account, he spends most of his time cowering in the house away from society while trying to figure out how to outsmart the cats. And, it's not working. Bob and Linda already arranged their house and sleeping arrangements around the schedules for three cats, when a fourth, Frannie, showed up in their yard. And, as anyone who has had three cats knows, what's one more? Tarte tells how a young boy who didn't like cats ended up as a man who begs for the attention of all of them.

Some of the stories of the cats are funny, including Moobie's attend at coping with an Elizabethan collar after a cancer scare. Or maybe I should say, Bob's attempt at coping with the collar is funny. In most cases, it's Tarte's behavior that adds the humor to the stories. The cats just know how to outsmart him.

Even for a cat lover, the book became a little repetitive. However, their are wonderful cats in this book, along with some amusing stories. And, it just reinforces my belief that cats are smarter than we are, and train us well. And, Bob Tarte certainly let his six cats run the house in Kitty Cornered.

Bob Tarte's website is www.BobTarte.com (Oh, and the six cats have their own advice column on the site.)

Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2012. ISBN 9781565129993 (paperback), 288p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday's TBR Pile


Well, Josh has his reading cut out for him today. I'm sure his TBR (To Be Read) pile is no bigger than some of ours.

 It's Sunday, a catch-up day for all of us. I'm off to see Les Miserables live for the third time, my favorite show. But, I've been reading a debut novel, Rosanna Chiofalo's Bella Fortuna. It's a story to sweep you away to an Italian-American community in New York, and on to Venice.

Where are you off to today with your book? We might want to go along if you tell us what you're reading.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn

Anyone who loves dogs should try the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn. It's hard to resist Chet's narration as he tells of his adventures with Bernie Little in the Little Detective Agency. And, Chet is at the top of his game as Bernie's partner in A Fistful of Collars.

Bernie has issues with the local government in the Valley so it comes as a surprise to him when he's recommended to the mayor's office for a job. The mayor has plans for the future of the film industry in the Valley. It means big money when a film company wants to shoot Wild Horseman there. And, it means big money for Bernie, $3000 a day just to keep Thad Perry, the star, out of trouble during the filming. But, Bernie doesn't like the looks of some of the people involved with Thad, and Chet isn't crazy about Brando, Thad's cat.

Bernie only has to keep Thad Perry out of trouble for twenty-one days of filming, but who's going to keep Bernie out of trouble? His reporter girlfriend, Suzie, has moved on to a better job, so Chet's the only one working with him as they follow one of Thad's assistants to a shady side of town. And, when Chet and Bernie find two bodies, they know something in Thad Perry's past has brought trouble to the Valley. Once again, it's time for the team to ride to the rescue.

Spencer Quinn's mysteries have a few appealing features that continue to draw me back. I appreciate Bernie's view of the Valley. He understands its history and the value of water, and Chet knows "the dry dusty scent of the desert." Bernie Little an interesting man, a little weak when it comes to women and money, but a man with a fascinating history.  But, the main draw of these books is Chet. He's loyal to Bernie, the person he sees as the smartest man in any room. But, Chet is a dog. And, he often forgets what he's doing when he's caught up in the life of a dog or the nation as he refers to the brotherhood of dogs. Chet is an unreliable narrator because he'll go off on a tangent, forgetting what is happening in the case, or even in his present surroundings. It may be more important to chase a cat, gnaw on a treat, or mark his spot. But, don't worry. He may be lost in his dog world at times, but Chet will always be there for Bernie as the two detectives get their culprit.

Spencer Quinn's readers may return for his fun mysteries, the setting or the characters. But, I'm willing to bet most of us picked up A Fistful of Collars because we're big fans of Chet the dog. And, Bernie may have a fascinating past, but there is a secret or two to uncover about Chet's life in future books as well. We can't wait until Chet's past comes back to bite him.

Keep up with Spencer Quinn, Chet and Bernie at ChetTheDog.com.

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn. Atria Books. 2012. ISBN 9781451665161 (hardcover), 309p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book after I requested it.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Well, Thursday and Sandie's Latest Elevator Pitch

Some Thursdays just don't work out, so I'm glad you're all patient. By the time I get home from work, do the book giveaway, post it on DorothyL and Twitter, email the winners, and pack up the books, I can finally eat dinner around 7 PM. Then, I'm "supposed" to finish a book and get it blogged. That didn't work this week. Here's what I'm finishing, and I'll review it as soon as I get it done. It's Spencer Quinn's latest Chet and Bernie mystery, A Fistful of Dollars. I had hoped to get to the Poisoned Pen on Saturday to see Spencer Quinn and William Kent Krueger. But, instead I'm attending a community meeting on Saturday, invited to represent the library.

Since Sandie already discussed one of the authors I'm missing on Saturday, I'm going to use her elevator pitch about the Chet and Bernie books. She'll give you a little background, and I'll be following up with a book review. Thanks, Sandie!

******
Sandie's Elevator Pitch



Photo: Pub Day! A Cat Was Involved. An e-story all about how I met Bernie. Available for download all over the place!
Chet and Bernie must have become sidekicks in 2009 since that’s the year Bernie’s Little Detective Agency began.  Chet failed to graduate from the police academy, but he’s got a nose to sniff out trouble … and the tasty morsel.  Beginning with DOG ON IT, this series of fast-paced and funny books is narrated by Chet, Bernie’s canine partner and best friend.  After Bernie got divorced and lost custody of his son, Chet started riding shotgun for stakeouts in Bernie’s beat-up convertible.  Two very different authors give two fabulous blurbs:  “Spencer Quinn speaks two languages -- suspense and dog -- fluently. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and in a few places terrifying. My sincere advice to you is to rush to your nearest bookstore and put your paws on this enchanting one-of-a-kind novel.” --Stephen King   and from Cathleen Shine:  “I love this book. I devoured it in one night. It is like Philip Marlowe working for Mma Ramotswe from The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency spun out by Charlotte on her beautiful web.”
Readers will be instantly captivated by Chet’s doggy ways and his endearingly hard-boiled voice. Full of heart and occasionally prone to mischief, he is intensely loyal to Bernie, who, though distracted by issues that Chet has difficulty understanding, is enormously likeable himself, in his flawed, all-too-human way. There’s genuine suspense and intrigue, combined with humor and deep insight into the bond between dog and man.  So far they’ve been through five adventures penned by Spencer Quinn who is really Cape Cod’s author Peter Abrahams who lives with his dog Audrey.
The Chet and Bernie Series: 1-DOG ON IT, 2-THEREBY HANDS A TAIL, 3-TO FETCH A THEIF, 4-THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, and this week (9/11) published 5-A FISTFUL OF COLLARS also includes an e-book short story original published in August: A CAT WAS INVOLVED.  Remember back to when Chet failed the leaping test at the Police Academy?
*****
You can keep up with Spencer Quinn, Chet and Bernie at ChetTheDog.com.

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn. Atria. 2012. ISBN 9781451665161 (hardcover), 309p.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winners and The Penny Effect

Congratulations to the winners of this week's contest. Pat R. of Avon Lake, OH won the copy of Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery and Kay S. of Georgetown, TX  won Cleo Coyle's A Brew to a Kill. I'll notify Cleo, and she'll be sending the copy of A Brew to a Kill. I'll mail The Beautiful Mystery tomorrow.

This week, I'm going to offer you mysteries connected to Louise Penny.  First, I mentioned I had an autographed copy of Penny's Still Life, the first book in her Armand Gamache series. This is a mass market paperback that I bought and had Louise sign when she was here at the beginning of the month. If you haven't yet started the series, I urge you to start with this book. If you're already a fan, now is your chance to have a copy of the book that introduced Armand Gamache and the village of Three Pines. This book went on to win the New Blood Dagger, the Arthur Ellis, Anthony, Barry and Dilys Awards.

In an interview with Lenny Picker in Publishers Weekly in August, author G.M. Malliet talked about the influence of Louise Penny on Malliet's publishing career. On Facebook, she said I owe it all (almost) to Louise Penny. If you'd like to read the article, here's the link, http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/53519-cozy-fan-tudor-pw-talks-with-g-m-malliet.html. Maybe more important to you is the opportunity to win a copy of Malliet's first Max Tudor mystery, Wicked Autumn. Tudor is a former MI5 agent turned Anglican priest and sleuth. In Agatha Christie territory, it's a woman in the traditional English village of Nether Monkslip who is found murdered, and Max steps in to sort through the villagers who disliked her. The second book in this series, A Fatal Winter, is due out next month, so now is your chance to win this one.

Which book would you like to win, Still Life or Wicked Autumn? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject headings should read either "Win Still Life" or "Win Wicked Autumn." Entries from the U.S. only, please.

All entries need to be in by 6 PM on Thursday, Sept. 20 when I'll pick the winners using a random number generator.




Sandie's Elevator Pitch - William Kent Krueger Follow-Up

Following up on my news quip on Friday, I wanted to let you know that William Kent Krueger’s book TRICKSTER’S POINT spent its first week listed as number 12 on the New York Times bestseller list.  Congratulations Kent!!


 I thought I would share just a bit more about him to celebrate…

“At nineteen, I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway. I read everything by him and about him. In the course of my reading, I stumbled onto a couple of pieces of information concerning Papa's lifestyle that I tried to incorporate into my own way of being. First of all, Hemingway never wore underwear. Well hell, I thought, whatever was good enough for Papa was good enough for me. Right away I discovered that Hemingway must have been made of sterner stuff, and I went back to wearing my beloved Fruit of the Looms. But I also learned in my reading that Hemingway's favorite time of day for writing was at first light. I gave it a try. And I liked it.”

When Krueger and his wife moved to St. Paul, she went to law school, and a block from his home he found “a café called the St. Clair Broiler that opened its doors at 6:00 a.m. I began rising at 5:30 to groom and prepare for the day, then I'd hit the Broiler and spend an hour or so writing before I hustled off to my job that kept food on the table and a roof over our heads. Mostly I wrote short stories, some broilerof which were published, and couple of which won awards. Writing longhand in cheap wire-bound notebooks in booth #4 at the Broiler became for me a part of the magic of the creative process.
"Although I write full time now and don't have to get up at the crack of dawn, I still do.  The St. Clair Broiler and I have separated, not because of anything on their part, but because I moved. I still live in St. Paul, but such a great distance from the Broiler that it would be a difficult commute to write there every morning. I still do all my creative work in a coffee shop; it’s just a different coffee shop and… it's still the best time of every day. Not only am I dreaming in those hours, I'm fulfilling the dream."

*****
 William Kent Krueger's website is www.williamkentkrueger.com

Trickster's Point by William Kent Krueger. Atria. 2012.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Last Wool and Testament by Molly MacRae

Possibilities! I just love a new mystery series with wonderful characters and so many possibilities for future books. And, I'll admit I don't often read craft mysteries because I am the least crafty person in the world. But, Molly MacRae's first Haunted Yarn Shop mystery, Last Wool and Testament, drew me in. And, once poor Kath Rutledge's life unraveled before my eyes, I had to continue.

Kath's troubles started even before she arrived in Blue Plum, Tennessee for her grandmother's burial. She was running late and was stopped for speeding by Deputy Cole Dunbar. A speeding ticket, and then he had the nerve to refer to her Granny as Crazy Ivy. Then he dropped the bombshell that her death was convenient. It seems a man in town, Emmett Cobb, had recently died of poisoning, and Dunbar suspected Kath's grandmother.

Fortunately, Ivy McClellan's employees and friends from her fiber and fabric shop, the Weaver's Cat, don't suspect Ivy. And, Kath is going to need all the help she can get. She'll even accept help from a depressed ghost who haunts the house where Kath ends up staying. Why isn't she staying at her Granny's cottage? It appears that Ivy sold the cottage to Emmett Cobb, and now his son owns it. Just one more shock for Kath. But, no matter how upset she is, she's determined to clear her Granny's name. And, since the ghost has a personal stake in it, she has an unexpected ally. And, Kath may need those allies when Dunbar questions her when her Granny's house is broken into, and another death occurs.

I'll admit I guessed who the villain was early on. But, that didn't destroy the enjoyment of this mystery because the cast of characters is so delightful. Kath, even in mourning, is spirited, angry and determined. There's a strong group of supportive artists, the fiber and needlework artists who make up a group called TGIF, Thank Goodness It's Fiber, that meet regularly at the Weaver's Cat. That group is filled with interesting characters, from Ardis, the store manager, Mel, who owns a wonderful bakery/cafe to Ernestine, who is almost blind, but is still knitting, working, and driving. And, it was hard for me to resist Thea, the librarian. She's loud, and fun, and even when knitting hats for preemies, she picks a literary theme, red and white striped for The Cat in the Hat.

So, start Last Wool and Testament for the mystery. But, if you guess who the killer is, you'll want to continue reading for that wonderful cast of characters, the magic of the Weaver's Cat, and the possibilities for the future. There are still secrets to unravel in Kath Rutledge's life, and mysteries that Ivy McClellan left for her granddaughter to discover. Molly MacRae leaves us with possibilities.

Molly MacRae's website is www.mollymacrae.com

Last Wool and Testament by Molly MacRae. Obsidian. 2012. ISBN 9780451237828 (paperback), 337p. (paperback)

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Molly MacRae, Guest Blogger

I always enjoy introducing authors to readers, but today it's even nicer. Molly MacRae is not only a mystery author, she's a fellow librarian. And, for twenty years she managed an independent bookstore. What's any better than author, librarian, and bookstore manager?

Molly MacRae has written short stories, two previous mysteries as well as mystery dinner plays. Now, she's launching The Haunted Yarn Shop mystery series with Last Wool and Testament. It's a pleasure to welcome Molly MacRae as guest blogger today. Thank you, Molly.






Putting the Woo-Woo in the Wool

Knitting, weaving, a cat, chocolate, crocheting, more chocolate, and a . . . ghost? When an editor at Penguin asked if I could write a cozy mystery series – maybe with a ghost – I said sure. I mean, given that chance, who wouldn’t? I did wonder, though. Ghosts? Me? Could such a creature be lurking in the dusty corners of my mind? Apparently yes, because from somewhere out of my head, the ghost in Last Wool and Testament materialized. Who knew being haunted could be so much fun?

Maybe “fun” isn’t the right word, though. This ghost isn’t exactly the life of the party. She’s depressed and she looks like . . . that is she’s . . .  Well, she isn’t easy to describe. I’d ask her speak for herself, but it takes her awhile to warm up to people.

Ghost: Oh sure. Ignore the ghost in the room.

Me: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were here. Did you want to participate in the blog?

Ghost: It’s very sad when your friends make fun of you.

Me: I wasn’t making fun of you.

G: Yes you were. You said I don’t warm up to people. Of course I don’t. I’m stone cold dead.

M: I didn’t mean . . . Let’s start again. Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

G: No. I’ll just sit in the corner and moan.

M: Um, okay. (She does that a lot, bless her heart. I’ve never known anyone who could make herself look so much like a heap of dank, dingy rags as this ghost. Maybe if we tiptoe over this way she won’t notice.)

G: Yes I will. Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m dead to the world.

M: Sorry.

G: Or that my manners died with me. They aren’t even ailing, as yours seem to be. You didn’t even tell the readers that I’m the main character in your book.

M: But that’s because you aren’t. Kath is.

G: Hmph. At least I’m more interesting than Aramis or TTFN.

M: Her name is Ardis and the group is TGIF – Thank Goodness It’s Fiber.

G: I thought it was Take Time for Noodles.

M: You’re being silly. They could’ve named themselves Take Time for Needlework, though.

G: Or Take Time for Napping or Nitting.

M: Knitting starts with a k.

G: I was talking about nits.

M: Now who’s being rude? I think we should thank the readers for stopping by, invite them to visit you in LAST WOOL AND TESTAMENT, and wrap this up.

G: Only if I can be the one to sign us off. I’ll do it the way Walter Cronkite always did it. You give me my cue, okay?

M: (Pretty much all she knows about modern life she learned from steeping what’s left of her brains in endless television. Whatever you do, don’t ask her about Gunsmoke or Law & Order.)

G: GIVE ME MY CUE!

M: Okayokay. Cue.

G: Beam us up, Scottie.

M: Oh for . . .

G: We’re beamed up. Stop talking.

M: And that’s the way it is for Kath Rutledge who inherited her grandmother’s yarn shop in Blue Plum, Tennessee. Thanks for stopping by and if you see Kath, wish her luck with her new “situation.” She’s going to need it. 


Thank you, Molly! I hope readers stop by tomorrow when I review Molly's Last Wool and Testament

Molly MacRae's website is www.mollymacrae.com

Last Wool and Testament by Molly MacRae. Obsidian. 2012. ISBN 9780451237828 (paperback), 337p.