Saturday, October 20, 2018

Midnight Ink

Many of you may have already heard from Midnight Ink authors or Terri Bischoff, acquisitions editor at Midnight Ink. The publisher is closing after the spring/summer 2019 season. Staff at Midnight Ink will lose their jobs, and so many authors will have to try to find a new home for their books.

So, today, I'm posting a reminder. This doesn't represent all of the authors or books from Midnight Ink. Check the website. This just represents the books I've reviewed in the last year that were published by them. You might want to watch for these books or the authors. There are some excellent selections here.

Last Call by Paula Matter -

The Negotiator by Brendan DuBois -

Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett -

Big Woods by May Cobb -

Beyond the Pale by Clare O'Donohue -

Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark -

Scot Free by Catriona McPherson -

Deja Moo by Kirsten Weiss -

Other Midnight Ink authors, including award nominees, are Lisa Alber, Elizabeth Perona, Julia Thomas, Leslie Budewitz, Edith Maxwell, Nadine Neitman. There are many others. I'm sorry for Terri Bischoff, who acquired books by these authors. I'm sorry for the authors. And, I'm sorry for those of us who are readers.

Note to Midnight Ink authors: If you would like to write a guest post, in a positive vein, about your books or characters, or ask me to interview you for the blog anytime before next summer, please contact me. I'll be glad to discuss a date and topic with you. My email address is Your subject line should read Midnight Ink author. I might not get back to you immediately, but it will be soon after you write.  Good luck to all of you.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Winners and a Multiple Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Burning Ridge is going to Dianne C. from Elk Grove Village, IL, G.B. from East Lansing, MI, and Jane T. from West Linn, OR. Karen R. of Katy, TX and Sandie H. of Sarasota, FL won The Cats Came Back. The books went out on Wednesday.

This week, I'm giving away multiple copies of two mysteries. If you are a fan of debuts, you might want to enter to win Paula Matter's Last Call. It launches a terrific new character and series. Bartender Maggie Lewis is suspended from her job at a Florida VFW after someone kills an obnoxious customer, and sets Maggie up as a suspect. Since the local police never found her husband's killer, Maggie sets out to solve the case herself.

Die Me a River is the latest book in Denise Swanson's Welcome Back to Stumble River series. School psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd is on maternity leave with her newborn twins, but while she and her husband, Wally, are meeting with a priest about the christening, an explosion at the nearby bowling alley rocks the rectory. And, there's a body inside. As police chief, Wally is drawn into the investigation, but Skye does a little sleuthing of her own. There are all kinds of clues in this latest puzzle.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win Last Call" or "Win Die Me a River." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Oct. 25 at 5 PM CT.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What Are You Reading?

"On the road again." I'm actually traveling today and tomorrow, so I won't be around to discuss books. Instead, I'll be in the car for about 5 1/2 hours each way. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't take up the challenge. Let others know what you're reading or listening to. Maybe you'll have a discussion here. I hope you do. I'd love to catch up with it on Friday evening.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with an article. Jeff sent me the link from The New York Times for "12 Authors Write About the Libraries They Love". Of course, I found it moving. I hope you enjoy it.

I wish you a week of good reading!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

One of my book loving friends, Kay, blogs at Kay's Reading Life. She also comments on this blog on Thursdays when we do "What Are You Reading?" Kay recently suggested a book of essays called I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel. She mentioned it here, but she also reviewed it on her blog. I had to stop reading her review. I'll go back after I write this piece. But, she's right. This is such a perfect book for those of us who are avid readers that I bought four copies for friends.

Bogel opens by talking about this librarian's favorite question, "Can you recommend a good book?" The answer will be different for every reader, but it's a challenge to find your way to success. In chapter after chapter, she lists and addresses feelings readers share. Take the chapter "Bookworm Problems". Do you recognize any of these? "Your library holds all come in at the same time.""Your To Be Read list holds 8,972 titles, and you want to read every one. Your TBR list is unquestionably too long to finish before you die." "You have countless unread books at home, but you can't resist buying one more." Ah, the problems of a book addict.

How can you tear up reading about books? I managed, especially when I read the chapter "Take Me Back" when Bogel mourned that she didn't have the records for every library book she ever checked out. She says that list would capture where she was at various stages of her life, based on what she was reading. She knows even the titles and check-out dates would bring back memories.

Bogel's book is a small one, only 156 pages. But, for a reader, it's an affirmation of a passion. It's confirmation that we're not alone in that passion. There are kindred souls out there.

The dedication of I'd Rather Be Reading says, "For everyone who's ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping." I think it's for all of us who would rather be reading than doing anything else in life. (And, if you want to read an excellent review of the book, check out Kay's blog.)

Anne Bogel's website is

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. Baker Books, 2018. ISBN 9780801072925 (hardcover), 156p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

November Road by Lou Berney

Lou Berney acknowledges his mother's love of a good story in his introduction to November Road. He discusses the many ways she influenced this novel, from her claim he was conceived the night John F. Kennedy was assassinated to her stories of a road trip and an epileptic dog. That introduction is enough to suck readers into this surprising story. It's just too bad the introduction was only in the ARC, not the actual book. I read the ARC, but agreed to participate in the blog tour for November Road because I think this is the book you need to read this fall.

Frank Guidry loves his life in New Orleans. He has gorgeous women, great food, power and influence, thanks to his role as a lieutenant to the powerful mob boss Carlos Marcello. But, Frank isn't stupid. It doesn't take him long to realize Marcello had something to do with President Kennedy's assassination. And, Guidry himself delivered a car to a spot close to Dealey Plaza just two weeks earlier. As some of Guidry's connections disappear, he realizes he's a link between Dallas and New Orleans. And, Frank's as disposable as the other people employed by Marcello. He runs.

Charlotte Roy is stuck in the small town of Woodrow, Oklahoma, where she knows everyone, and everyone knows her husband is a drunk. Her enjoyment in life comes from toying with a camera given to her by her employer, and spending time with her two young daughters, Joan and Rosemary. But, Thanksgiving is it for Charlotte. She can't take it anymore when she has to plead for extensions at the bank, and her husband just drinks away their money. She takes the girls and the dog. And, she runs.

Fate brings Frank and Charlotte together when he passes her on the road after her car breaks down. He's heading to Las Vegas where he hopes an old acquaintance who hates Marcello will help him. Charlotte is on her way to California where she hopes to start over. Frank realizes the assassin looking for him won't be searching for a family man with a wife and two kids. Frank's scheme to pair up with Charlotte, to help both of them, doesn't take a couple things into account. Charlotte is intelligent and funny. And, Frank never thought he'd grow to care about his new "family". Now, Frank may have to make an entire family disappear.

Berney's latest novel is a compelling story that pulls readers right along the road with Guidry. There's humor and tragedy, and loss. The country's loss of innocence is reflected in the lives of Berney's characters. Then, Berney doesn't give readers the expected ending.

Lou Berney's book is about the loss of innocence, but it's also about the impact of a crime. It's a story of the impact of history. There's a point where one of the characters realizes it's too late to stop the changes of the time period, Civil Rights, women's rights. The country was swept along by those changes. JFK's assassination had the same impact. It swept up people all over the country, bringing changes. Frank Guidry and Charlotte Roy are just two of the people swept up in the impact of that crime. They were swept right along in the moving story of November Road.

Lou Berney's website is

November Road by Lou Berney. William Morrow, 2018. ISBN 9780062663849 (hardcover), 320p.

FTC: After I begged for a copy, the publisher sent one.

About November Road
• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 9, 2018)
Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.
Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.
A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.
Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.
For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.
It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.
Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.
Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.
And it might get them both killed.
Social Media
Please use the hashtag #novemberroad and tag @williammorrowbooks and @tlcbooktours.
Purchase Links
© Brandon Michael Smith
About Lou Berney
Lou Berney is the author of three previous novels, Gutshot Straight, Whiplash River, and multiple prize-winning The Long and Faraway Gone. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Find out more about Lou at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas

I've read the second, and now the third Lady Sherlock mystery by Sherry Thomas. I'm afraid I'm just not the right audience for these books, although I'm a big fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories and some of the pastiches. I found The Hollow of Fear difficult to follow at times, and I'm not as in love with Charlotte Holmes as many readers are. As I said, though, I think I'm not the right audience.

When Charlotte Holmes helps her half-brother escape from men who are after him, she senses there is a plot in motion. Her sister, Livia, is an unwitting pawn. Livia annually visits Mrs. Newell, a distant relative. When the cisterns fail at Mrs. Newell's house, all her guests move to Lord Ingram's estate, Stern Hollow. Livia is aware that all society speculates about Charlotte's friendship with Lord Ingram, guessing that it's more than friendship. Then Livia, along with two of the worst gossips in London, find Lady Ingram's body in the estate's icehouse.

The Chief Inspector sent from Scotland Yard does everything in his power to prove Lord Ingram killed his wife. At the same time, Charlotte goes undercover as Sherlock Holmes' brother to discover the truth about the murder.

This third in the series picks up exactly where A Conspiracy in Belgravia ended. That may be confusing to readers who have not read the books. It's leisurely paced, with careful development of the elaborate storyline. While it's an atmospheric story, it's also a thought-provoking view of the expectations and roles of women in Victorian England.

Fans of the series, and readers of Doyle's canon, especially The Valley of Fear, will appreciate the intricately plotted mystery. Others may find it difficult to follow. I'm not a fan of slow-moving novels that take a while to unfold. As I said before, that's my problem, not an issue with The Hollow of Fear.

Sherry Thomas' website is

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas. Berkley, 2018. ISBN 9780425281420 (paperback), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received my book to review for a journal.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

If you read my blog on Thursday, you might have read Ron Charles' Washington Post review of this book. It was funny. But, I read Mitch Albom's The Next Person You Meet in Heaven. It's really directed at the same audience that made The Five People You Meet in Heaven a #1 bestseller.

In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Eddie, a maintenance man at Ruby Pier amusement park, died saving a little girl from a cable that snapped on a ride. Now, twenty-five years later, Annie, that little girl, is a nurse. She's also a newlywed, for one day. That's not a spoiler. The author makes it obvious with an hour-by-hour countdown that it's the last day of Annie's life. But, throughout the book, readers meet the five people (used loosely) who changed or affected Annie's life. Readers see Annie's view of every situation. Most times, Annie thinks she made a mistake that caused a tragic result, but she's blocked out the accident that permanently damaged her hand. Annie views her life, even in death, as one big mistake.

Yes, I'll admit the book is overly sentimental. I found myself tearing up over a story about a dog. Albom's words are excessively flowery at times. Even before I read Charles' review, I thought this book was unnecessary. The first book seemed to have set the pattern, and, in some ways, this seemed repetitive. It was a totally different story, with a twist in the end. But, it still felt as if I had been on this journey before.

As I said, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven has a built-in audience. I'll be curious to see if or where it lands on the bestseller lists, and how long it stays there. It just wasn't as original as the first book.

Mitch Albom's website is

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. Harper, 2018. ISBN 9780062294449 (hardcover), 213p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book