Friday, July 29, 2016

Winner and a Monkeewrench Giveaway

Congratulations to Page I. from Fairview, NC, the winner of Unholy Code.

I have a terrific book to give away this week. If you wait for what seems like years, as I do, for the next Monkeewrench novel by P.J. Tracy, it's time! The publicist is giving away a copy ofThe Sixth Idea. The peaceful Christmas season in Minneapolis is shattered by murder.  Winter vacation for Homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth is over when two online friends, who planned to meet for the first time, are found dead, several miles apart. And, then a woman comes home to find two dead men in her apartment. Magozzi and Rolseth suspect she's a target as well. As crimes accumulate, the two detectives find a link and their search leads sixty years into the past. It's time to call in the computer experts known as Monkeewrench.

If you would like to win the copy of The Sixth Idea, email me at Your subject heading should read "Win The Sixth Idea." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, April 4 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Once Upon a Wine by Beth Kendrick

Who doesn't need a book to make you smile and laugh right now? Beth Kendrick's novels always make me smile. They feature strong women, witty conversations, and romance. And, you won't find any harder-working woman than Cammie Breyer in Kendrick's latest book, Once Upon a Wine.

Cammie had dreams. Her dreams at twenty-two would lead her to California to open a restaurant. She left behind Ian, the farmer who loved her, but also loved the farm that had been in his family for generations. Seven years later, when her cousin, Kat, calls, her restaurant is gone, she's broke, and she comes home. Her aunt, Ginger, bought a vineyard in Black Dog Bay, Delaware, and needs the help of family.

None of these three women know anything about growing grapes to make wine. When Ginger overcame cancer, she cashed in her retirement and bought her dream, a vineyard. Kat, a professional skateboarder, hasn't told her mother or cousin that she is taking a break from her marriage. She's going through a personal crisis, and doesn't know what she wants in life. And, Cammie? She's without an apartment or a job. So, she's determined to make the shabby-looking vineyard profitable. Cammie knows a farmer who might give her advice.

Kendrick's stories are always romantic and fun. The women are strong and hard-working. And, there's always an adorable dog. Jacques, the French bulldog, was a former champion turned farm dog. Like all the women he lives with, he has to change his life. And, Jacques is the first one to accept the change with joy and alacrity. He not only symbolizes the changes, he comes to symbolize the entire vineyard.

Witty conversation, humor, a cute dog. And, for those who don't know Black Dog Bay, "Black Dog Bay is the 'best place in America to bounce back from your breakup'." Once Upon a Wine is all about bouncing back in life. It's fun. It's joyful. It's perfect for this summer.

Beth Kendrick's website is

Once Upon a Wine by Beth Kendrick. New American Library. 2016. ISBN 9780451474193 (paperback), 324p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to participate in a book tour, with no promises for a positive review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Circle

I'm not going to talk here about the Presidential race.  But, I am going to end with a note about politics. It comes from a circle of belief. I'm reading Beth Kendrick's novel Once Upon a Wine right now. It's a romance, but it's also a story about three strong women of different ages who come together when one buys a vineyard. Although I say on my blog that there's an emphasis on crime fiction, I also read and review women's fiction. And, in both crime fiction and women's fiction, I tend to read more books written by women than men. Why?

Strong women. My mother tells me how proud she is of what I do. My father, the father of three daughters, always pushed me to do my best. Although he was kidding, he used to say he hoped all three of us were successful in life so we could support him in his old age. He didn't live to see the three of us succeed in our chosen fields.

Strong women. Why do I like Nora Roberts' books? She features strong career women. Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters are the same. Julia Spencer-Fleming's Rev. Clare Fergusson is former military and a priest. Everyone knows how much I love Louise Penny's books. Armand Gamache would not be the person he is without the support of his wife, a librarian. There are strong women in Penny's books. I rave about Steven F. Havill's books featuring Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman, who holds that job while handling motherhood and daughterhood. And, how many cozy mysteries feature women who step up to find a killer? My favorite fantasy novels are Tamora Pierce's books with women as heroines. Meg Wallace in Madeleine L'Engle's books was a favorite, the girl who went to rescue her brother. Even Belle in Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney character. She went off to save her father.

I believe in, and respect, strong women. My grandmothers were strong women. My mother is one. I admire both of my sisters. My friends, beginning with my college roommate to my best friend here in Evansville, my female friends across the country are all strong women who have overcome obstacles. It's a circle. I was encouraged by strong women and a father who supported them. I read about strong women. I firmly believe that women can change the world in positive ways.

So, all of my background, my family, my reading, my profession leads me to support and want women in office. It's why I gave to Emily's List when I watched all those women on stage yesterday. We need strong women.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Speaking of Murder by Les Roberts with Dan S. Kennedy

I've been a fan of Les Roberts' Milan Jacovich mysteries for years. They're set in Cleveland, and it's evident from the details about the city that Roberts loves Cleveland. And, Milan will remind mystery readers of Robert B. Parker's Spenser. It's been fascinating to watch the changes in Milan over the years. Now, Roberts utilizes Dan S. Kennedy's expertise to bring a motivational conference to town.
Speaking of Murder is a mystery, but that conference is perfect fodder for dry humor.

Jacovich has a two-person security company with a younger employee, Kevin O'Bannion, K.O. They're hired to provide extra security at the Renaissance Hotel while VIP motivational speakers are in town. But once a top-rated speaker is killed, Milan and K.O. are out of a job. And, then Victor Gaimari, godfather of the Greater Cleveland Mafia hires them. He and Milan have a history going way back. But Victor has interests to protect, and he wants Milan asking a few questions.

Milan and K.O. aren't investigating the murder. That's up to Milan's significant other, homicide detective sergeant Tobe Blaine. But, they have a full cast of characters to talk to. There's the television doctor with the trophy wife, the talk show host who has a laundry list of people she puts down on her radio show, the actress who now talks about her reincarnations. Milan and K.O. have a number of people to antagonize.

Milan and K.O. take turns talking about the investigation. It's fascinating to hear the viewpoints. Milan is an aging investigator, streetwise, and with an edge. K.O. is thirty years younger, a man who did three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has an attitude. He's good at what he does, but he's quick to anger. "Whatever he said aloud was either sarcastic or angry - or both."  Roberts is astute in giving Milan a younger assistant, a different viewpoint.

Speaking of Murder has dry humor, a little politics, an interesting mystery. The portrayals of the motivational speakers is spot-on. And, for me, the book still has that special love of Cleveland.

Les Roberts' website is

Speaking of Murder by Les Roberts. Gray & Company, Publishers. 2016. ISBN 9781938441844 (hardcover), 257p.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Other Blogs and Tributes to Great Mystery Authors

I'm interrupting my regular blogging to link to several blogs that are important to me right now. Many of you may already know the news about author Bill Crider. He shared the news of his cancer on his own site, Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine. Here's the link: 

Bill's not going to be able to tour for his August Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Survivors Will Be Shot Again. Please keep his book in mind as you plan your August purchases.

For a wonderful tribute to Bill Crider, please check out Janet Rudolph's website, Mystery Fanfare.

In recent weeks, I've had fun posting "Every Summer Has a Story", on The Poisoned Pen's blog. Those were posts by authors in which they picked three to five crime fiction titles to recommend for summer reading. This past weekend, Carolyn Hart had two posts that were perfect with that theme. The Mystery Writers of America Grand Master wrote a lengthy piece in which she picked some of her favorite clever mysteries. It's always an honor to post one of Carolyn's pieces. I admire her knowledge of the mystery field. If you'd like to check out the two-part piece, go to, and then click on Blog.


If I hadn't wanted to share the news about Bill Crider, and ask for prayers or good wishes for him, I never would have mentioned all of these sites. Many of you know my husband died six years ago from cancer. Let's send all our support for Bill. We need miracles in life, and he needs our support.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Killing in Amish Country by Gregg Olsen & Rebecca Morris

What do you look for when you read true crime? I seldom read it because I read some that went into too much graphic detail as to the crime itself.  If I read true crime, I guess I want it to be like Law & Order, the investigation followed by the trial. Authors Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris do not go into graphic detail in A Killing in Amish Country. In fact, the book is almost a treatise on the Amish lifestyle, or at least on the sect called the Andy Weaver Amish. One man couldn't stand the rules, but couldn't stand life outside the sect. The result was murder.

Before Barbara Weaver's murder in 2009 in Apple Creek, Ohio, "There had been only two reported murders among the Amish in America in more than 250 years." When the young mother of five was shot in her bed, the first question asked by those who knew her was, "Where was Eli?", her husband. Although those in their community didn't know the extent of his sins, he had been shunned twice, and forgiven twice. He had moved out, ran around with other women who he met on the Internet. The men who went fishing with him didn't know he'd had a long-running relationship with Barb Raber, the taxi driver he hired regularly. Eli Weaver, who called himself the "Amish Stud", just found his wife in the way.

It was the text messages and computer searches that caught the attention of the investigating officers. It wasn't too long before two people were arrested for aggravated murder. But, the authors and others question whether the person who received the longest sentence was actually guilty. And, through the victim's letters to family and her counselor, Barbara Weaver's voice is heard as it wasn't heard in the courtroom.

A Killing in Amish Country has an introduction by crime fiction writer Linda Castillo, who writes about the Amish. It has an Afterword by  Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Professor of Anthropology who also writes about them. Olsen and Morris point out that the Amish practices may have kept Barbara Weaver in a marriage when she should have left. It is a fascinating study of the Amish way of life and beliefs. This murder and the subsequent trial shook up a few people in the community, and there may have even been a few changes as a result. But, was the right person found guilty? The authors don't seem convinced.

A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-Blooded Murder by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris. St. Martin's Press. 2016. ISBN 9781250067234 (hardcover), 288p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Margherita's Notebook by Flumeri & Giacometti

I'm usually not a fan of translations. Quite often, I feel as if something was lost, and the book doesn't resonate with me. But Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti is translated from the Italian, and it's beautiful. It's lush and atmospheric, filled with life and food. It's a richly detailed, romantic novel, just what it should be.

Margherita Carletti's bad day came in threes. Her horoscope warned her. She didn't get the job her husband, Francesco, set up for her. And, when she went to get the mail, she found two unpleasant notices. The first was an eviction notice from their apartment in Rome. The other was Meg, who she thought was her husband's English tutor, but turned out to be more than that. Actually, it wasn't such bad news. "Why does Francesco always come before everything else?" No more. Margherita was able to make Francesco's favorite meal, pack her car, and leave him with a light heart.

Heading home to Roccafitta was the best thing Margherita had done in years. Rome wasn't for her. Instead, she could cook with a light heart, hoping to reopen her mother's restaurant someday. She just has to find the money to do it. When her best friend, Matteo, finds her a job as an on-call chef, she thinks it's perfect. But, then she discovers she's cooking for Nicola Rovelli, a wealthy entrepreneur. And, she already had a run-in with the man she sees as too ambitious and egotistical. Worst of all, he can't appreciate good food if he buys frozen items. And, Margherita is through with men who think they come before everything else.

Margherita's Notebook was everything I hoped it would be when I saw the cover. It's a sensual story about food and romance, Italian life, the countryside, the music and dance. Margherita is a spirited woman with a goal and determination, but along with that spirit comes passion. The book includes an extensive collection of recipes, recipes Margherita prepares for Nicola. The food sounds wonderful, but it's Margherita's passion for food, for cooking and good ingredients, for savoring food and life that makes the recipes sound wonderful.

If you can't pack your bag and head to Italy, Flumeri and Giacometti will introduce you to the Italy you expect, romantic, sensual, full of food and life and love. Margherita's Notebook is called "A Novel of Temptation". Oh, it is.

Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti. Washington Square Press. (2013,2016). ISBN 9781476786025 (paperback), 308p.

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