Friday, August 31, 2018

Winners & No Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Nann H. from Winthrop Harbor, IL will receive The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes. Patty S. from Farmington, NM won A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder. The books are going out in the mail today.

There's no contest this week. I'm going to be at Bouchercon next Friday, so I won't be able to mail the packages to the winners. But, I already have the books picked out for next Friday's contest kick-off. I have all kinds of books ready to be reviewed next week. I hope to get pictures at both conferences I'm at this week. Watch for them!

Oh, and tomorrow? There's a large Treasures in My Closet post. I hope you'll come back to read it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What Are You Reading?

You know me. I tend to bounce around, picking something up and trying it, coming back to it later. That's how I do a lot of reading, other than when I'm reading for a review. Right now, I'm sampling a new book called American Theatre Wing: An Oral History: 100 Years, 100 Voices, 10 Million Miracles edited by Patrick Pacheco. It's a beautiful book with historical photos and gorgeous contemporary ones. It's about the 100 years of contributions made to the theatre world by a group that was originally started by playwright Rachel Crothers and six others in 1917, in partnership with the British Stage Women's War Relief. At the time I'm writing this post, I've only read the introduction written by Angela Lansbury. She was one of the beneficiaries of the joint group because the American group took in the children of English actors during the war, and she and her brothers were some of those children. You all know how much I love theatre. I'm going to enjoy browsing through this book.


What are you reading or listening to this week? I hope you're enjoying something! Please share.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen's latest Royal Spyness mystery has been out almost a month, but I just had a chance to read it.  Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding is a fun romp that wraps up the suspense so many readers have been awaiting. Will Lady Georgiana Rannoch finally marry the love of her life, Darcy O'Mara?

All along, there have been all kinds of barriers in the way. Georgie was in line for the throne, so the King has to allow her to marry a Catholic, but she'll no long be in the line of succession. And, neither Georgie or Darcy have much money, although she has a title and he'll inherit a castle in Ireland. And, now that the marriage has been approved, Georgie has to get a dress, a trousseau, and the pair have to find a place to live. And, Queen Mary wants the royal family and maybe some of the extended family invited to the wedding, and proposes Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret as bridesmaids. Oh, and don't forget that Georgie's mother and her grandfather both have wedding planned soon as well. Let's think about a circus.

Georgie and Darcy are getting desperate to find a small place to rent when her godfather comes through. Sir Hubert Anstruther was once her stepfather, and he made her his heir. He writes from Argentina to say she'll inherit his estate Eynsleigh someday, so she and Darcy might as well move there. He suspects something is wrong at Eynsleigh, though.

It certainly seems wrong when Georgie arrives. Where are the housekeeper and butler she expects to see? Why isn't the current staff competent? Something seems fishy at the estate. When there seems to be "a gas leak" in Georgie's bedroom, she suspects there might be a serious problem. If Georgie wants to make it to her own wedding, she might want to prevent her own funeral.

Rhys Bowen brings back all the beloved characters in this series. As I said, it's another fun book in this mystery series. Poor Georgie never has an easy time of it, but her many fans enjoy watching the charming amateur sleuth conquer the barriers on her way to happiness.

Rhys Bowen's website is www.rhysbowen.com

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen. Berkley Prime Crime, 2018. 9780425283523 (hardcover), 291p.

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




Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Have You Heard? - Victoria Laurie's Vision Impossible

Thank heavens Sandie Herron has a few posts for me to use when I get backed up with reviews or posts. I'm trying to finish a book, and I'm working on the large Treasures in My Closet post for Saturday. Today, Sandie reviews Victoria Laurie's audiobook Vision Impossible.

Vision Impossible                                                                   

Series:  Psychic Eye Book 9
Written by Victoria Laurie
Narrated by Elizabeth Michaels
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 11 hours and 55 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: July 5, 2011
ASIN: B005ACDTQ0
***** stars
Offered a way to help “save her country,” new civilian profiler for the FBI Abby Cooper does not really want this opportunity, until she hears all the details and learns that her boyfriend Dutch will also be involved.  She accepts the mission and begins some grueling training on self defense, how to attack and how to stop an attack, basically taking “spy lessons.”  She also has to adopt a disguise so that no one will know who she is or that she is psychic.
While she’s been learning to take care of herself, Dutch has been involved in the case undercover as a buyer for a new technology.  A special military camera can detect people’s auras, just as Abby can do.  However, the owners of this camera have, as reference, the aura of every major political and military leader in the world.  This could lead to chaos in the wrong hands.  Those currently in possession of the camera have loaded it into a drone aircraft that can hover and when it finds the aura of the target person, it can shoot poison darts that kill within minutes.
The new weapon is being auctioned off at a weekend extravaganza in the Canadian wilderness where the men show off their muscles while their ladies are gorgeous females dripping off their arms.  Not literally but those are the attitudes behind the formal wear worn in the evenings.  The auction is held at one man’s estate which is very difficult to reach, even by plane, and is defended on all sides, since it occupies an island.  Abby attends on the arm of a diplomat while Dutch attends as a potential buyer.  They are not mated or paired together so they must work out a way to communicate without anyone becoming suspicious.  They must stop the sale of this camera.
This adventure had more “meat” to it and more to follow with identities and counter identities, pairing of couples together who really belonged elsewhere.  Escape from the mission is just about impossible, so things can’t go wrong without dire consequences.  I very much enjoyed this very suspenseful episode in the lives of Abby and Dutch.  I found it very interesting to learn just how much training is involved to become a “spy” with the espionage and counter espionage.  Always one factor balancing a counter measure.  It really helped Abby see just how valuable on a grander scale her own perceptions could be.
Elizabeth Michaels reads beautifully, reading each character as distinct from others plus handling the foreign accents of all the foreign buyers of this weapon quite well.  Being the ninth book in the series she has read, I have become very comfortable with her voice and her portrayals of the main characters. 

All in all, a suspenseful and dangerous episode in the life of Abby Cooper, civilian profiler for the FBI and secret spy to save world leaders and their countries.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Swift Vengeance by T. Jefferson Parker

I thought T. Jefferson Parker's second novel featuring PI Roland Ford was terrific. Swift Vengeance is a fast-paced story that is all too plausible. This was my first one of Parker's books, so I can't compare them to earlier ones. I found the characters well-developed, a little quirky, and fascinating. It was a page turner.

Ford first met Lindsey Rakes in a casino when the drone operator for the Air Force was a heavy drinker and gambler, trying to escape her day job. Two and a half years later, when she turns to him for help, she's trying to get her life back together again. She lost custody of her son due to her lifestyle, and now she's desperate to regain her ex-husband's trust and share custody. But, that won't happen if she turns a threatening note over to the FBI. Rakes has received a note signed "Caliphornia" that threatens her with death by decapitation. She's a little worried that a man she once dated is behind the threats. Ford offers her one of the casitas on his property that he rents to a small group of friends and family, "the Irregulars". He keeps one for emergencies, and Lindsey's threats from a stalker seems like an emergency.

Even before the first death, Ford contacts an acquaintance, FBI agent Joan Taucher, who is based in San Diego. Taucher was a new agent stationed in San Diego when the 9/11 terrorists were connected to that city. Now, the tough woman spends her time trying to catch other terrorists before they can attack. But, even on the day Lindsey Rakes reaches out to her former crew, it's too late. One of the men she worked with has been gruesomely killed in his own home. Lindsey, Roland Ford, and Taucher all trace Caliphornia's threats back to the crew's remote targeting and killing of terrorists.

Roland Ford had been coasting after his wife's tragic death a couple years earlier. His most recent case involved a lost cat. Now, he has a purpose, a reason to get involved in an important case. He says, "I'd felt needed. Needed to protect. To prevent. To vanquish. Nothing better than being necessary....I'd been called again, and was soon to be deployed. My crusade. Roland Ford, paladin."

There's that white knight riding in to save the day, a common trope in detective novels from Chandler to Robert B. Parker's Spenser. In this case, "Roland" was a military figure, one of Charlemagne's paladins. It's a perfect name for the good man who stands up for threats against people and the country.

Swift Vengeance is a riveting story. Looking for a gripping book? Try this one.

T. Jefferson Parker's website is www.tjeffersonparker.com

Swift Vengeance by T. Jefferson Parker. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2018. ISBN 9780735212695 (hardcover), 353p.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Widower's Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer

Jonathan Santolofer's book, The Widower's Notebook, is a memoir. The author of The Death Artist and Anatomy of Fear did not write an instructional manual as to how to survive grief. It's a very personal account of the sudden death of his wife, Joy, and his own struggle with grief and his emotions around her death.

Joy Santlofer was "only" scheduled for outpatient surgery on her leg, but a day later she was dying. What caused it is not the focus of the book, although it took her husband over a year to learn what the cause of death was. And, that's an unusual story in itself. But, at the time Joy was dying, her husband could only watch in panic as the paramedics worked on her, rushed her to the hospital, and then she was gone. Jonathan Santlofer needed comfort after she was gone, but he couldn't ask for it. There was "a stance I maintained for months, the strong man who needs no one." He and their daughter, Doria, were united in loss, but neither could share their feelings. And, Jonathan shut down and used his art and his work to get him through days and months and several years. But, he never shared his feelings with friends.

Santlofer says he had unexpected moments of paralysis, sadness, or confusion. He already had tendencies toward depression, so that was not unusual. He forced himself to "act normal". And, he had feelings of guilt, not just grief, because he had seen his wife dying, and wasn't there ten minutes earlier, and wasn't able to save her.

Is death of a partner and grief the same for men and women? Everyone's is different, but Santlofer observes that women are allowed to grieve for a longer period of time, while men are told to move on and get over it. At a dinner party, he said men are stuck as "grieving men who are not allowed to openly grieve, yet condemned if they do not grieve enough".

As I said, this is Jonathan Santlofer's memoir. He does make a few comments about those "friends" who don't acknowledge the grief or loss, who met with him, but wouldn't even mention Joy's name. He couldn't ask people to talk about her, but they didn't acknowledge the loss of the woman he had loved and been married to for over forty years.

The Widower's Notebook is not a step-by-step guide as to how to get through the first days, weeks, months, years. It's one man's story. But, he has one point to which I will certainly agree. We all grieve in our own way. The words about "time heals" and "closure" may sound ridiculous, and cutting to a new widow or widower. Everyone has to cope in their own way. And, what he says should be a new mantra is the only point that pertains to all of us who have lost a spouse or partner. "You are doing the best you can."

Jonathan Santlofer's website is www.jonathansantlofer.com

The Widower's Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer. Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143132493 (paperback), 260p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Saturday, August 25, 2018

No Post Today

Hi! I was out of town all day yesterday, so there's no blog today. Check back tomorrow, please!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Winners and A London Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Lisa W. from Rochester, IN won The Night of the Flood. Daniel M. from Weymouth, MA will receive Ten Year Stretch. The books will go out in the mail on Saturday.

This week, I'm giving away two mysteries set in London. Let's start with a fun Victorian mystery, Dianne Freeman's A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder. Frances Wynn, an American-born wealthy young widow encounters the pleasures and scandals of a London social season. She's been accused of Killing her philandering husband, although he died in his lover's bed. But, together with the neighbor who helped her move the body, she's caught up in the investigation of a mysterious burglar who's stealing from London's elite. It's a fun mystery that is so good it calls for a sequel.





The second mystery is set in 1914 when Joanna Black and her son witness a man fall from a building.   Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes introduces her to the elderly Dr. John Watson and his charming son, Dr. John Watson, Jr. They invite her to become the third member of their investigation, although Joanna harbors her own mystery. She's the product of a one-time assignation between the now dead Sherlock Holmes and the clever Irene Adler. And, Joanna has inherited her parents' deductive genius.





Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. I'm shortening the titles for the subject lines to make it easier. Your subject line should read either "Win A Lady's Guide" or "Win The Daughter." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, Aug. 30 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What Are You Reading?

I've met this month's deadline for mystery reviews, so I'm doing a little reading for myself at the end of the week. I haven't finished The Widower's Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer yet, but I will shortly. I have a few books to pick from, of course (ha - a few). I did pick up a debut novel today at the library. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson is written in the form of letters between a professor in Denmark and a farm wife on an English farm. They're brought together by a shared interest in the Tollund Man. Because I looked it up, I'll share a link with you. (Yes, I know it's Wikipedia, but I find that a good place to start, and then I can branch out.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tollund_Man


We'll see if that's really where I end up. What are you reading this week? What books or audiobooks have caught you're attention? We'd love to know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Little Comfort by Edwin Hill

I'm not into creepy characters and thrillers. Occasionally, I read one, sometimes by accident. And, I don't like women and children in jeopardy books. If you like books with menacing atmospheres and intense scenes, you might want to try Edwin Hill's debut mystery, Little Comfort.

Hester Thursby is a librarian at Harvard, but she's on leave right now. Her best friend, Daphne, took off one night while Hester and her partner, Morgan, Daphne's brother, were out with friends. And, Daphne left her three-year-old, Kate, with Hester and Morgan, saying she'd be back in an hour or so. Months later, Hester is still acting as stay-at-home mom, a job she doesn't feel up to handling. She does have a little side business though. Hester, using her skills as a librarian, is very good at tracking down missing people. When Lila Blaine shows up, Hester assumes it will be easy to track down Lila's brother, Sam. He ran away from home twelve years earlier.

Despite the lack of an online presence, Hester is able to find the twenty-seven-year-old. He lives right there in Boston with the man he ran away with, his best friend, Gabe. But, Sam doesn't want to be found. Sam and Gabe have lived all over the country. While Sam cozied up to wealthy marks, trying to take them for money, Gabe stepped in to rescue him whenever the person or their family became wise to them. Now that Sam has found a new wealthy woman in Boston, Hester could jeopardize all of his plans. And, Gabe, who only wants a house and family and a normal life, develops a fascination with Hester. Hester's little side job could threaten her life and Kate's.

Hester may be a librarian, but she's certainly not always responsible. She takes Kate with her when she's working. But, she's not the only irresponsible one in the book. Morgan dumps Kate on Hester because he doesn't know how to cope. And, everyone in the book lies. In fact, poor Kate is the only likable one in the story.

Little Comfort is a violent, intense story with dislikable characters. There's little comfort for the reader when faced with this troubling story.

Edwin Hill's website is www.Edwin-Hill.com

Little Comfort by Edwin Hill. Kensington, 2018. ISBN 9781496715906 (hardcover), 304p.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis

Are you a fan of older sleuths? If you like Rita Lakin's Gladdy Gold mysteries or J.C. Eaton's Sophie Kimball ones, you might want to try Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis.

When Poppy Harmon's fourth husband, Chester, dies, the retired actress is stunned to learn he left her penniless. She has no practical skills. Once, though, she did assist a private investigator turned screenwriter with some of his plot ideas. Maybe that qualifies her to be a PI?

Poppy gets her California license, and together with her best friends, Iris and Violet, she opens The Desert Flowers Detective Agency. Then they discover no one wants to hire three sixty-year-old women as PIs. But, Poppy's daughter is dating an actor, and she asks him if they can put his face on the website. However, Matt wants to be more than the face of the agency. He becomes "Matt Flowers" detective, which only enrages Poppy's daughter.

With Matt's face as the face of the agency, though, business starts to boom. An aging actress hires the team to investigate when her jewelry is stolen from her house at the Palm Leaf Retirement Village. The women are sure they can handle the case, and Matt's willing to be their front man. Then, Poppy finds the body of the actress' old rival, a woman whose tell-all memoir promises scandal. Is The Desert Flowers Detective Agency up to finding a burglar and a killer?

Hollis (Death of a Country Fried Redneck) is actually Rick Copp, a screenwriter who uses his Hollywood knowledge of 1980s television for this slightly amusing cozy mystery. The trio of friends are likable sleuths. There's a surprising twist that I never saw coming, and it's really a shock in a cozy mystery.

Rick Copp's website is www.rickcopp.com

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis. Kensington. ISBN 9781496713889 (hardcover), 320p.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Feckin' Book of Everything Irish by Colin Murphy and Donal O'Dea

I know it was actually a joke when a friend gave me The Feckin' Book of Everything Irish. He said he saw it, and thought of me. But, it really is a fun, informative book, filled with quotes, definitions of Irish words and phrases, jokes, cartoons, recipes, and even the words to traditional Irish songs. It's great craic (fun).

The authors "translate" Irish slang, and tell readers how it's traditionally used in conversation. Of course, they could be putting us all on, but I recognize enough of the words and phrases to doubt it. The definitions are fun, especially when they then use the words to make fun of the government. For instance, let's take the word "bowsie". According to the authors, it's a noun, "Person (esp. male) of very disreputable character. A useless good-for-nothing. (usage) 'Is there anyone in the government who isn't a bleedin' bowsie?'" Or take the phrase "If he went to a wedding, he'd stay for the christening." It means he overstays his welcome. Even with a whole section devoted to phrases, there's still a glossary of terms.

There are quotes scattered through the book from some of the great Irish figures. Sometimes the quotes are serious; often they're humorous. The authors quote Oscar Wilde, Mary Robinson, Richard Harris, Edmund Burke, Kenneth Branagh, James Connolly.

Of course, a book with that title can be a little crude and rude. There's a whole chapter "A Guide to Sex and Love", that can be crude at times. The authors even make fun of the traditional songs. For instance, according to them, "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" was written by a German-American while living in Illinois because his wife was "always whingeing about going back to the old sod". Other songs included are "Danny Boy" and "The Black Velvet Band".

There's also a section that includes recipes for everything from Irish stew and spud soup to scones and Irish coffee.

Looking for some good craic? Try an evening or two of The Feckin' Book of Everything Irish.

The Feckin' Book of Everything Irish by Colin Murphy and Donal O'Dea. Fall River Press. 9781435167322 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book as a gift.




Sunday, August 19, 2018

Have You Heard? Victoria Laurie's A Glimpse of Evil

It's time to share another one of Sandie Herron's reviews for those of you who enjoy audiobooks. This time, it's the eighth in Victoria Laurie's Psychic Eye series, A Glimpse of Evil. Thank you, Sandie.

A Glimpse of Evil                                                     

Series:  Psychic Eye Mystery Book 8
Written by Victoria Laurie
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 28 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: July 6, 2010
ASIN: B003VXKC2O
**** stars


It's almost too much to believe that Abby and her FBI boyfriend Dutch would both find jobs in the same FBI office in Texas as opposed to Michigan AND be followed individually by home contractor Dave, Dutch's old best friend from the police department, while Candace preceded them there and had already bought her condo as had Bryce, Dutch and Abby's boss. They all arrived separately but coincidentally for all different reasons.

It felt a lot like old home month, but the office was a new environment for Abby. She was working with the cold case squad, and by weeks' end had reached the group's goal for the year! Abby didn't do that alone nor did she claim to. However, her boss Bryce, also Candace's boyfriend although they both were too unsteady to admit that, changed the group's methodology in that same first week.

Bryce immediately saw the value in Abby's skills. He had her prepare a lecture/lesson for the squad to show and teach her intuitive ways. No one showed up. However, they all went the following week when she taught them how to gain access to their own feelings. With the interactive fashion of "show and teach," the group was much more enthusiastic.

Candace and Abby began working a case of three missing and likely dead pre-teen girls. It became entangled in a dangerous accident, distraught friends, and an ex military man. A group back at the squad was working another case that Abby also felt was at some turning point at the same time. The excitement and anxiety ratcheted up and up.

I can only tell you that the solution caught the eye of several higher ups who want Abby to save her country. How? I think we have to read onward to find the answer.

Sandie Herron

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett

I think I'm getting a little tired of the escapades of Stephanie Plum-like characters. Although Kellye Garrett's second Detective By Day mystery,Hollywood Ending, is set in Hollywood, apprentice private eye Dayna Anderson and her best friend, Sienna, are a little too Stephanie and Lulu for me.

After solving a hit-and-run case, former commercial spokesperson Dayna Anderson wants to become an apprentice in training to cop turned private investigator Aubrey Adams-Parker. She thinks she’s found the perfect case when Lyla Davis, spokesperson for the upcoming Silver Sphere Awards event, is killed at an ATM. Dayna’s boyfriend, hot actor Omari Grant, had been at that ATM just minutes earlier. Dayna teams up with her best friend, Sienna Hayes, a reality star wannabe, and uses her wiles and connections to probe the social media secrets of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Some people have secrets worth killing for, and Lyla Davis seems to have known them all. Dayna’s soon caught up in Hollywood gossip, while trying to push Aubrey to become licensed as a PI so she can continue her own adventures. Dayna’s schemes are sidetracked when she realizes she’s picked the wrong person as a killer. In Hollywood, what’s one more false story?

In Hollywood, everyone has an angle. Sienna always wears red, and even hires a paparazzi to follow her around and take pictures. It's all about publicity, gossip blogging, who's dating who. And, so much of the world is pretend. All the deception makes it hard for Dayna to get an angle on the killer. Then, there's the mysterious Z who keeps showing up "to help" as Dayna's investigating.

Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum will feel right at home with the outrageous mistakes and sexy men. Garrett spent eight years working in Hollywood, including writing for Cold Case. The author’s insider knowledge of Hollywood adds to the humor. Maybe I'm just not interested in clothes and shoes and makeup and Hollywood celebrities. I'm the wrong audience for Hollywood Homicide.

Kellye Garrett's website is www.kellyegarrett.com

Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett. Midnight Ink, 2018. ISBN 9780738752976 (paperback), 312p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received Hollywood Homicide to review for a journal.



Friday, August 17, 2018

Winners and Story Collections

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Jane N. from Vashon, WA won These Honored Dead. Suzanne R. of Nashville, TN will receive A Tale of Two Murders. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away two interesting collections - mystery stories. The first one, The Night of the Flood, is a novel told in stories. E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen edited the collection about the night Maggie Wilbourne was to be executed in Pennsylvania. A group of women protesting the execution struck, blowing up a local dam and flooding the town of Everton. Fourteen new authors wrote chapters in this engrossing book, authors such as Jenny Milchman, Wendy Tyson, Alan Orloff and Hilary Davidson.






Ten Year Stretch celebrates a decade of crime fiction at CrimeFest in England. Twenty brand new stories were commissioned to celebrate the anniversary. Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller edited the collection. The original stories were written by authors such as Maj Sjowall, Simon Brett, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin and Jeffery Deaver.

Which collection would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win The Night of the Flood" or "Win Ten Year Stretch." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, August 23 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What Are You Reading?

I really only read the first two pages of this book. I'm reading mysteries again for next Wednesday's deadline. But, I started Jonathan Santlofer's memoir The Widower's Notebook. It's not going to be easy to read the story of his wife Joy's sudden death, and his attempt to push through the grief. There are eleven quotes from other authors at the front of the book. Andrew Solomon's comments were the ones that summed up the book I'm expecting to read. "The Widower's Notebook is a searing rendition of the complex relationship between men and grief - an intense despair that is too often starved for words. This chronicle of devastation is itself devastating, a deeply powerful and unflinchingly honest report of how painfully and strangely life continues in the wake of a sudden, tragic death."


I don't mean to start your day on a somber note. But, that's what I'm starting to read. What are you reading or listening to this week?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

An Interview with Paula Matter, author of Last Call

I've been waiting to read Paula Matter's debut mystery, Last Call. Readers of the blog know my schedule -  read frantically for deadlines; crash; read for myself for about a week; repeat. I'm looking forward to getting to this book. In the meantime, I asked Paula if she'd answer interview questions. She was kind enough to agree. Thank you, Paula. (And, if you read the entire interview, you'll discover an opportunity to receive a signed copy of Last Call.)


Paula, would you introduce yourself to readers?    


Hi Lesa, thanks for having me visit your awesome blog! I guess I’ll just offer my official bio: Paula Matter is the author of the Maggie Lewis mysteries which take place in a small town in North Florida. Paula’s short crime fiction stories have been published in USA and German anthologies. After losing her job as a catering server, Paula decided instead of getting yet another job as a waitress/bartender/activities director/etc., she’d tackle her mystery novel again. Last Call is her debut novel.

Originally from Miami, FL, Paula kept moving north until she settled in north central Pennsylvania. A proud mom of one son, she lives with her husband The Saint, and worthy-not-spoiled rescue dog in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Tell us about Maggie Lewis.


Maggie is younger, taller and nicer than I am. Actually, we were the same age when she appeared in another novel I’d written some years ago. My critique group loved Maggie, who was a somewhat minor character. She was funny and feisty. My agent at the time couldn’t sell that book. When I came up with the general idea for Last Call, I knew Maggie had to be front and center.  Readers of Last Call are saying they like how real she is, and how she develops from being sort of surly and sad to having more control over her life. 

Tell us about Last Call, without spoilers.

The story takes place in North DeSoto, FL (a fictional town based on a few places in Florida I love) where VFW bartender Maggie Lewis is framed for the murder of her least favorite customer. Financially strapped, Maggie's suspended from her job after being questioned for the murder of tattle-tale Korean war veteran Jack Hoffman. She's not taking any chances on the police looking too hard for the real killer. They still haven't solved the last murder in town: Maggie's husband's. Maggie must produce enough evidence to clear her name, get her job back, and find the real killer--or she'll end up behind the wrong bars.

What can you tell us about the next Maggie Lewis book?

In Last Supper, Maggie will be working as a cook at Sally’s Diner. If you’ve read Last Call, you’ll appreciate the irony.  Despite some minor mishaps in the kitchen and money still being tight, Maggie starts to regain her sense of security…until her least favorite customer persnickety spinster Helen Pritchard comes down with food poisoning after eating at Sally’s Diner. When an outbreak of salmonella sickens several patrons, and the Health Department shows up at their door, it becomes clear that someone is out to sabotage Maggie’s boss and close down the diner. With the help of her tenant, newly licensed PI Michael Bradley, Maggie must track down the culprit before he kills more than just the business.

Midnight Ink is a well-respected publisher. Tell us about your publishing journey. Everyone’s is different. How did you learn they were going to publish Last Call?

Oh, what a fun journey this has been! I still pinch myself. I’m waiting for the call or email that says, “Oh, we’re sorry. We meant to publish Paul Mather’s book.”

My fabulous editor Terri Bischoff rejected it , but with a list of suggested revisions. If I revised and resubmitted, she’d take another look. I revised, sent it back to her. Six months later, Terri emailed me saying she wanted some more info that she could share with the acquisitions team. I responded very professionally with “Wait, what?! You liked it?” Then I sent her what she wanted. A few weeks later, I received a three book contract. 

What has been the most exciting moment in relation to your book?

A dear friend took a photograph of Last Call on a bookstore shelf. She--if I’m allowed to name drop, Ramona DeFelice Long--then posted the photo on Facebook. It was my first “in the wild” sighting! I’d love to see more of them. Whoa. Lesa, may I have a giveaway? I’ll give one person (US only, please) a signed copy of Last Call if a photo of my book is taken and posted on my Facebook author page.  Include your name and the location of where the photo was taken. I’ll leave it up to you if you want to take a selfie with the book. The winner will be randomly selected within one week after this interview is up on Lesa’s blog and the giveaway starts.  https://www.facebook.com/PaulaMatterAuthor/  

What authors influenced you?

Oh, what a difficult question to answer! There are so many for different reasons. In no particular order: Hallie Ephron, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Scottoline, S.J. Rozan, Carlene Thompson, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Linwood Barclay are the ones who come immediately to my mind. The suspense, settings, characters are all well written. 

What author do you think is underappreciated?

Annette Dashofy. Her Zoe Chambers books are magnificent.

I’m a public librarian, so I always end interviews in the same way. Tell us a story about your experience with a library or a librarian.

Oh, I wish I could remember her name. I’ve wanted to contact her over the years to thank her for contributing to my love for reading. She was the librarian at my elementary school. After I had read every single age-appropriate book on the shelves, my teacher took me by the hand and led me to the librarian. She spent so much time with me looking for just the right book. I remember vividly the smile on her face when she pulled the book off the shelf. The book was Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski.



Thank you, Paula! 

Paula Matter's website is https://paulamatterbooks.com

Last Call by Paula Matter. Midnight Ink, 2018. ISBN 9780738757827 (paperback), 288p.




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

I'm breaking all my own blog rules by reviewing Hank Phillippi Ryan's standalone two weeks before release date. But, Trust Me, you're going to want to pre-order this suspense novel. If it's handled correctly, this should be this summer's Gone Girl. Ryan has been on the bestseller lists, but Trust Me should be her breakout novel, the one readers will remember.

With that kind of lead-in, now I have to say Trust Me is a difficult novel to summarize without spoilers. It's been over a year since Mercer Hennessey's husband and daughter were killed in a tragic accident, but she's still in mourning. So, it comes as a shock to her when her former editor, Katherine Craft, calls her and asks her to take on a book assignment. She wants her to watch the trial of Ashlyn Bryant, a mother accused of killing her toddler daughter, once known as "Baby Boston" when the body was still unidentified. If Ashlyn is found guilty, and everyone seems to assume she will be, Mercer will have just a short time to finish the book. Katherine wants her to tell a narrative nonfiction story, as Truman Capote did with In Cold Blood.

Can one grieving mother tell the story of one who doesn't seem to show any remorse or grief? It's a difficult assignment for Mercer, one that brings back so many of her own memories of her husband Dex and daughter Sophie. But, who better to tell the story of Ashlyn and Tasha Bryant?

Ryan expertly manipulates the characters and the reader in this unconventional, disturbing novel. The complex characters drive the story of twisted truth. What is truth? Ashlyn Bryant, the accused murderer, talks about that. "What she said was the truth as she understood it. I understand it kind of seems like two truths. But two truths can exist at the same time, you know? It's true to her, if she truly believes it."

"Two sides are offering different versions of the same story." Trust Me. The reader has to turn pages rapidly, hunting for the final answers to this complicated story with so many possibilities. Hank Phillippi Ryan's latest novel deserves accolades. Trust Me.

Hank Phillippi Ryan's website is www.hankphillippiryan.com

Trust Me by Hank Pihllippi Ryan. Forge, 2018. ISBN 9780765393074 (hardcover), 400p.

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