Friday, May 31, 2019

A Shades of Purple Giveaway

This week, I'm giving away mysteries that come in shades of purple.

The Loch Ness Papers is Paige Shelton's latest Scottish Bookshop mystery. Even if you haven't read any of the previous books, you might enjoy this one as American Delaney Nichols, a bookseller in Scotland, investigates a murder connected to a man obsessed with the Loch Ness monster, while she prepares for her wedding. This is a fun mystery, that includes Scottish legend and history.

Or, you might want to take a chance on Gigi Pandian's The Alchemist's Illusion. Zoe Faust is a centuries-old alchemist, tired of running from her past. But, then she comes across a painting in which her mentor, who she thought had abandoned her, has been imprisoned. A local artist has been murdered, and the clue to the painting's hidden past has been stolen.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject heading should read either win "The Loch Ness Papers" or "Win The Alchemist's Illusion." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, June 6 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What Are You Reading?

I'm in New York City with my sister, Linda, and my best friend, Donna, right now. So, I'm probably
not reading at the moment. I'm going to rely on all of you to maintain the conversation and talk books. I'll check back to see the conversation on Saturday, if not before.

I can tell you the three books I took with me for the trip, spending time in airports, although Donna and I usually talk instead of reading. I'm excited about Heather Webber's July release, Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. They had me when they said for fans of Sarah Addison Allen. Magic, food, and a small Alabama town. I also have Susan Mallery's June 11th release, The Summer of Sunshine & Margot. It's about an etiquette coach, Margot Baxter, facing her toughest client. Bianca is an aging movie star, known for her shock-and-awe tactics, who must learn to be a diplomat's wife. Then, there's Margot's sister, Sunshine, the good-time girl determined to change her ways. And, of course, on a trip to New York, I took Lisa Grunwald's forthcoming book, Time After Time, because it's about a couple that meets at Grand Central Terminal. It's a love story with a touch of time travel. Let's face it. I might not get much read, but at least I'm prepared with books that sound appealing.

So, tell us all. What are you reading this week that appealed to you? Did the books hold up when you read them? I hope you all keep the conversation going!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Have You Heard? Donna Andrews' Six Geese A-Slaying

Sandie Herron stepped in for one more day while I'm gone, filling in with one of Donna Andrews' popular Meg Langslow mysteries. This is Six Geese A-Slaying, reviewed as an audiobook.

Six Geese A-Slaying                                     

Meg Langslow Mystery Book 10
Written by Donna Andrews
Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Unabridged Audiobook
Dreamscape Media, LLC (12/5/17)
Listening Length: 7 hours and 22 minutes

It’s holiday time in Caerphilly, Virginia.  Meg Langslow is coordinating the town’s holiday parade with her home as the starting point.  Since her husband Michael is still on the path to tenure, Meg volunteered, grudgingly, for the job.  Now it’s the morning of Christmas Eve and the parade participants are lining up. Twelve drummers drumming, eleven bagpipers piping, and so on are all represented.  A reporter from the Tribune is snapping photos of the preparations until he loses his camera, calling on everyone to find it. All thirty-seven save-the-birds members are ready to go in their goose costumes.  Meg keeps telling them they can’t carry their protest signs in the parade and that for the six-geese-a-laying float, only six of them can participate. Animals keep arriving to play their roles. The wise men are practicing their camel riding.  The choir is singing Christmas carols and complaining about the bagpipers playing Jingle Bells for the umpteenth time, The Boy Scouts have volunteered for clean up, including after the numerous animals. And the weather report calls for snow. 

The town’s curmudgeon who is to play Santa arrives in the nick of time to change into his costume in Meg’s pig shed just cleaned to hold the hand-painted sleigh.  Meg’s nephew Eric whispers to her that something is wrong with Santa. As she opens the shed door, she is taken aback by Santa’s appearance; there’s a stake through his heart.  

Thankfully Chief Burke is already at the parade site and rushes to the crime scene.  They want to preserve the crime scene, but they also don’t want word of Santa being killed to get out and scare the children.  Acting medical examiner Dr. Smoot has his usual difficulty entering the shed because of his claustrophobia. As the snow begins to fall, the parade does take off, on time, with Meg’s dad joyfully playing Santa.  What else could go wrong?

If one is familiar with Donna Andrews’ writing, you already know that plenty can still go wrong.  The hilarity is not confined to the beginning of this laugh-out-loud mystery. The parade may make it to town, but then what, with the snow flying, and animals looking for shelter, and all the humans trying to make their ways home for Christmas?  

This book is number 10 in the Meg Langslow series, and it is a terrific parody of Christmas parades, oops, holiday parades trying to do it all.  Tie that with a good mystery with a few twists, and readers will find themselves smiling through the book’s surprise revelations nearing the end.  I thoroughly enjoyed this entry and highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Have You Heard? Julie Hyzy's Eggsecutive Orders

I'm on my way to New York City today, so Sandie Herron has stepped in with one of her Have You Heard? posts. It's her review of Julie Hyzy's audiobook of Eggsecutive Orders. If you haven't read this series, and enjoy cozy mysteries, I hope you check it out.

Eggsecutive Orders
White House Chef Mystery, Book 3                        
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios (February 11. 2014) originally published 1/5/2010
Listening Length:  9 hours, 18 minutes

White House Executive Chef Olivia “Ollie” Paras is glad spring has arrived and with it the promise of fun at the White House with the annual Easter Egg Roll event.  Ollie is also looking forward to her mother and grandmother arriving for a visit. When she arrives at work, the White House is responding to a tragedy; NSA big shot Carl Minkus collapsed and died after last night’s state dinner prepared by Ollie and staff.

With the cause of death unknown but seemingly connected to the dinner, the Secret Service shuts down the White House kitchen.  The chefs are sequestered and interrogated. Ollie reminds them that TV chef celebrities Steve and Cindy filmed an episode the prior day while dinner was prepared.  

This forced time off allows Ollie to take her family to visit her father’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery.  While taking a break, they run into Ruth Minkus, widow of the dead man. She yells at Ollie that she killed her husband.  Ruth’s son, an aspiring politician himself, hurries her off while a family friend apologizes to the women. The next day Ruth calls to apologize to Ollie and insist she attend the wake.  While there, Ollie runs into Howard Liss, a despicable journalist who publicly bashes Ollie one day and privately sidles up to her the next for help in finding out who is selling secrets to the Chinese.

Somehow Howard Liss has obtained Ollie’s cell phone number and calls her many times to plead for her help.  His schemes scare her, so she reports it all to her boyfriend Tom, who is on the presidential Secret Service detail.  Ollie is angry to find out that Tom’s boss has specifically assigned Tom to cover Ollie because of her propensity to become embroiled with trouble at the White House. Further, he is threatening Tom’s job based on Ollie’s behavior.  Too many people are badgering Ollie when all she wants is to go back to work.

I can only imagine how terrifying it might be to have a White House guest die in residence.  To make matters worse, the medical examiner needs days if not weeks to discover the cause. Ollie’s fear was palpable.  Her confusion was obvious as well. Who would need the White House executive chef to help find clues on the assassination of Chinese spies?  The story could have gone out of control, but author Julie Hyzy keeps things in check for a suspenseful, steady-paced twisting of plot lines.  Narrator Eileen Stevens has an urgency to her voice that definitely kept the story moving while she masterfully portrayed many characters. I had great difficulty putting this book down.  I immensely enjoyed it.

While I listened to this story on audiobook, I did not miss out on the free recipes included in the print book.  There is a PDF file attached to the audio file that includes them all for the aspiring chef.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Rag and Bone by Joe Clifford

I'll just say this right now. Jay Porter, the protagonist in Joe Clifford's series, has to be one of the sorriest people in a mystery series. He's alienated a number of friends, lost a business, lost a wife and son, all because he's obsessed with taking down the Lombardi brothers. Now, in the fifth book in the series, Rag and Bone, he has nothing except a thirst for revenge.

Jay Porter is back in his hometown of Ashton, New Hampshire after a year off the grid. He'd disappeared because he had been wanted for murder. But, men had been arrested for the crime, so he thought it was safe to return. But, what's he returning to? His ex-wife is remarried with a new baby. He lost his business, and the antiques he'd stored in a warehouse were sold for rent. He's still obsessed with Adam and Michael Lombardi who he blames for the death of his addict brother. An old friend and former flame, Alison Rodgers, offers him some work around her place. Alison and her husband ran a drug rehab. Now, they're divorced, and Alison sold the business to the Lombardis' CCC, Coo County Center.

Porter's convinced Alison was strong-armed into selling her business. He "knows" the Lombardis bribed judges to win support for their rehab, CCC. He also knows CCC was built on top of toxic dirt and the workers sickened and died.

To Jay Porter, everything wrong in Ashton can be laid at the feet of the Lombardi brothers. He's searched for years for evidence of the Lombardis guilt. If Porter can't find the evidence, there are still ways to prove the Lombardis coerced people, bribed judges, built on toxic soil. What does Porter have to lose?

I can tell I'm not the right audience for Joe Clifford's Jay Porter novels. Although I've read and enjoyed some noir, I don't have a lot of sympathy for a man who spends seven years seeking revenge, and loses everything in the process. But, when I look at the praise heaped on Clifford's earlier books by David Morrell, Reed Farrel Coleman, and Robert Dugoni, I know there are other readers who will appreciate the gritty, depressing story of Rag and Bone.

Joe Clifford's website is

Rag and Bone by Joe Clifford. Oceanview Publishing, 2019. ISBN 9781608093267 (hardcover), 256p.

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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Summoning by Heather Graham

If you follow my blog long enough, you'll discover I'm crazy about Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series. Every book involves ghosts, most of them helpful, a romance, mystery, and history of a beautiful city.The Summoning takes one of those special FBI agents who can see or talk to ghosts to Savannah, Georgia.

Dallas Wicker knew he could communicate with ghosts from the time he was ten and a ghost in a Savannah cemetery helped him save a life and find the men who killed his mother. He also knew he wanted to protect and serve people. He's back in Savannah now, sent to check out two disappearances that may be connected to "officially" haunted places. One of those is the McLane House.

Kristi Stewart inherited the McLane House from her beloved great-uncle. She loves its history, and the story of its residents, Justin McLane who was hanged as a spy for the colonists during the Revolutionary War, and the tragic story of Monty McLane, a Confederate soldier said to have shot his wife and father when he returned home to find federal troops at the house. However, Kristi doesn't believe the Civil War story, and she doesn't believe in ghosts. At least she doesn't believe in ghosts until Justin and Monty appear and tell her they're worried, and want to protect her. When she runs from the house after seeing the ghosts, she runs right into Dallas Wicker's arms.

Wicker's cover story for his investigation in Savannah is that he's a private investigator looking into the death of a young man who was a friend of Kristi's. But, once he realizes she sees ghosts and is an expert on local history, he's willing to discuss his true purpose. He's there to look into the unexplained disappearances of two people who were concerned about crime in the city. One minute they were walking away. Then they were gone. Kristi and Dallas begin to suspect the disappearances may be connected to the McLane House and another house formerly owned by a family friend, the Murphy House.

The twenty-seventh Krewe of Hunters novel is as suspenseful and intriguing as the earlier ones in the series. It's always interesting to observe the reaction of a gifted individual who discovers they see ghosts. Kristi felt as if "Her world, her peaceful little world she had just been creating and coming to know and love, had been shattered." Dallas was shocked as a ten-year-old, but it's easier for a child to accept the gift.

As I said, there's mystery, ghosts, and romance. There's also humor, as anyone who is familiar with The Princess Bride will recognize when Dallas, just starting to fall in love with Kristi, responds, "As you wish." There's also the history of Savannah for those of us who appreciate those elements. Graham's characters and story are always well-developed. The Summoning is another success for Heather Graham.

Heather Graham's website is

The Summoning by Heather Graham. MIRA, 2019. ISBN 9780778369912 (hardcover), 319p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sconed to Death by Lynn Cahoon

It seems as if I missed a relevant murder or two because I picked up the fifth Cat Latimer mystery by Lynn Cahoon. But, I still enjoyed  Sconed to Death, the story of an author and amateur sleuth who runs writers' retreats from her Colorado Bed-and-Breakfast.

Cat's getting ready to host a group of cozy mystery authors when an already crazy morning is interrupted by the crazy bakery owner. Dee Dee Meyer is mad at Shauna, Cat's best friend, "house mother", cook and baker. She's accusing Shauna of stealing her recipes. To make it worse, she sets the health inspector on Shauna, making up a false health violation. Cat's just about had enough and heads to the bakery to confront Dee Dee. She doesn't get much of a chance to talk to her, and she never sees anyone else in the bakery. So, she's shocked when she learns the next day that a famous celebrity chef has been found murdered in Dee Dee's kitchen.

Cat's uncle, the local police chief, warns her not to get involved in the investigation. She's to stick to her writing and her writers' retreat. But, she just can't help herself. She admits she loves a puzzle. And, Cat's a people person who just wants to help. In this case, she knows some of the suspects, including a college professor who was once her best friend. No matter how much research she does, though, asking questions at the university, digging through documents at the library, she has to admit the likeliest suspects have alibis.

I have to admit Cat isn't my favorite amateur sleuth. Her methods seemed scattershot. She was all over the place, and didn't listen to her uncle. She seems whiny and pouty at times, wanting her own way. However, I loved the writers' retreat aspect of the book. Because she brings in a different group of writers for each session, there are fresh characters in the books. None of these characters were suspects, but they served as resources and sounding boards. They also came with their own set of problems, which works well in the story. And, readers interested in the writing process will probably enjoy the sessions as much as I did.

Looking to retreat into a cozy mystery? Give Sconed to Death a try.

Lynn Cahoon's website is

Sconed to Death by Lynn Cahoon. Kensington, 2019. ISBN 9781496716835 (hardcover), 320p.

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Winners and NO CONTEST

Congratulations to the winners of the latest contests. Antiques Ravin' is going to Deanna S. from Lexington, KY. Jana B. from Vancouver, WA won The Bad Break. The books are going out in the mail today.

There's no contest this week. I'm going to be out of town at the end of next week, so won't be around to mail packages. Check back for the next giveaway to kick off on Friday, May 31.

There will be blog posts during the week, though. I have books to talk about, including a Treasures in My Closet post for June 1. Don't forget to stop by!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What Are You Reading?

What are you reading this week?

I've just started the 27th Krewe of Hunters book by Heather Graham. The Summoning is set in Savannah where Kristi Stewart opens a bed-and-breakfast although the building is supposed to be haunted. But, she doesn't believe in ghosts. FBI agent Dallas Wicker does. The agent is undercover for the Krewe of Hunters, investigating a suspicious death. But, Dallas has seen and talked to ghosts since he was a boy. Now, he has to find a link between a living killer and the dead.

As I said, I've just started the book. Once I have time to read it, it won't take long. You all know I love this series.

What are you reading this week? I hope you found something you love as much as I enjoy this series. If you didn't, I'm still interested.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Summer Mysteries (Thanks to Clea Simon)

I'm so happy that author Clea Simon misread an assignment from an editor. Because she already put all the work in, she offered us the list of summer mysteries. Perfect timing just before the holiday weekend. So, get ready to add to your TBR pile. There are quite a few treats on this list. Thank you, Clea.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? There are so many great books coming out. Here in the Boston area alone, we'll be celebrating Hallie Ephron’s Careful What You Wish For, (Aug. 6) and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Murder List (Aug. 20). On the cozy side, former Sisters in Crime president Leslie Budewitz has her Chai Another Day coming out June 11, and many others are due soon too. But recently I was asked by an editor to compile a list of summer mysteries and in my desperate attempt to pull together books that weren't by friends or that haven't been recently profiled on my own blog, I came up with the following. (Then I found out I had misread the assignment – he wanted books that were already out! Oops!). Anyway, here’s a small sampling of what I’m looking forward to, with an eye to every taste. Please let me know what you’re looking forward to – we’ve got time, at last, to indulge!

1. “One Small Sacrifice,” Hilary Davidson (out June 1)
 Author of the Anthony award-winning Lily Moore series launches a new police procedural series with NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling unraveling a complicated possible murder.
2. “Conviction,” Denise Mina, (June 18)
Newly single Anna McDonald tunes into a true-crime podcast for distraction only to realize that she knows what really happened – and she’s involved – in the latest grim psychological suspense from a Scottish master of the genre.

3. “Big Sky, ” Kate Atkinson (June 25) 
After an eight-year hiatus, Yorkshire ex-cop turned private investigator Jackson Brodie (with dog) surfaces in a quiet seaside village where a routine domestic case turns into something darker. 

4. “Paranoid,” Lisa Jackson, (June 25) 
Decades after Rachel Gatson accidentally killed her half-brother, her high school reunion – and a string of new murders – make her doubt her sanity in this bestseller’s latest psychological suspense.

5. “A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder,” Dianne Freeman (June 26)
The follow-up to the series’ multiple award-winning debut, this frothy, fun historical cozy once again has the American-born Countess of Harleigh solving a murder in Victorian London’s high society.

6. “The Paper Bark Tree Mystery,” Ovidia Yu (June 27) 
The steamy Singaporean summer of 1937 smolders when private detective Su Lin’s ex-boss is murdered in a case involving diamonds, race, and political unrest in this third evocative Crown Colony mystery.

7. “The Whisper Man,” Alex North (June 27) 
A widowed father and his young son move into a strange house in a town haunted by the memory of a serial killer in this truly creepy debut thriller.

8. “The Chain,” Adrian McKinty (July 9) 
To ransom her kidnapped daughter, a mother must kidnap another child, whose parents must then do the same, in this fast-paced, nightmarish thriller from the award-winning suspense author.

9. “Lady in the Lake,” Laura Lippman (July 23) 
Having bolted from a stale marriage in 1966 Baltimore, Maddie Schwarz has transitioned from housewife to crusading journalist, heedlessly seeking the truth about a missing woman in this New York Times-bestselling author’s latest standalone.

10. “The Hounds of Justice,” Claire O’Dell (July 30)
In O’Dell’s second strikingly engaging dystopian Sherlock Holmes pastiche, Dr. Janet Watson once again joins covert agent (and fellow queer black woman) Sara Holmes in infiltrating an extremist group.

11.  “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,” Olga Tokarczuk, (Aug. 13) 
This Man Booker International Award finalist veers from straight mystery into fantasy as Janina, the local crank in a Polish resort town, takes a break from astrology to investigate a murder.

12. “The Swallows,” Lisa Lutz, (Aug. 13)  
Best known for the humorous Spellman Files books, Lutz follows up her thriller “The Passenger” by going very dark with this tale of revenge and secrets at a New England prep school.

13. “Play With Fire,” William Shaw (Aug. 13) 
In his fourth series outing, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen can’t get into the swing of 1969 London, but with his pregnant partner Helen Tozer’s help he tackles the murder of a high-society call girl.

14.  “Thirteen,” Steve Cavanaugh (Aug. 13)
Conman-turned-defense attorney Eddie Flynn uses the crooked system against itself, but he’s out manipulated when he’s brought into a Hollywood star’s murder trial in this legal thriller. 

15. Anne Cleeves “The Long Call” (Sept. 3)
With her usual stunningly deft prose, Scottish master Cleeves (“Vera” and “Shetland”) debuts Detective Matthew Venn, who returns to the North Devon evangelical community he once fled when a body washes up on the beach.

A former journalist, Boston's Clea Simon is the author of more than two dozen mysteries, most recently A Spell of Murder (Polis), Cross My Path (Severn House), and Fear on Four Paws (Poisoned Pen Press). She can be reached at

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Meanderings and Muses

Because I don't have a book review for today, and I'm saving some of Sandie Herron's posts, I'm going to refer you to my friend Kaye Wilkinson Barley's blog, Meanderings and Muses. Kaye and her husband, Donald, just returned from their dream trip to Amsterdam and Paris. In her last couple posts, Kaye provides advice as to what to pack, and introduces readers to a small corner of Amsterdam. I'm sure there are beautiful photos to come in the following days. Check out Kaye's posts. Meanderings and Muses

Monday, May 20, 2019

Back Home

I'm back from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I made a quick weekend trip that was supposed to happen in February, but I'm sure it was better travel-wise that I went in May.

I had a ticket for a first time event at the Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale. Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess were to perform there, with conversation and piano by Seth Rudetsky. 

I saw Ramin Karimloo four times as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I saw him twice in Anastasia, where he originated the role of Gleb. My sister and I saw him in concert with his band in Columbus, Indiana. And, she and I went to Washington, D.C. to see him in the short run of Chess. 

Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess played the Phantom and Christine in the 25th anniversary Phantom of the Opera filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. My family all saw Sierra Boggess in It Should Have Been You on Broadway. She originated the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway. And, she and Ramin starred in Love Never Dies.

Both Ramin and Sierra have appeared on Seth Rudetsky's Broadway cruises. For this show, he had conversations with them, and played the piano while they sang. Those were fun conversations, stories of their careers, tryouts, their childhoods, successes and failures. And, of course, songs, some just beautiiful and others funny, including "Summer Days" from Grease.

I had a perfect seat, second row, center, and no one sat in front of me. And, I felt bad during the meet-and-greet after the show when I told them I had seen both of them on Broadway, and hoped to again. Ramin said, "Me, too", and made a crying face. I didn't mean to make Ramin Karimloo cry.

It was a magical evening. I'd do it again.

And, of course, Ramin Karimloo received a standing ovation when he sang "Music of the Night" to his Christine, Sierra Boggess. Magic.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Have You Heard? Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef

Because I'm on my way home today from a quick out-of-town trip, Sandie Herron stepped in with a Have You Heard? post. She reviews the audiobook, but, of course, you can always pick up the book itself. Today, she's reviewing Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef.

Hail to the Chef                                                                              
White House Chef Mystery, Book 2
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios (February 11, 2014)
Listening Length:  9 hours, 2 minutes

Thanksgiving is only days away.  Executive Chef Olivia Paras is meeting with the First Lady when a Secret Service agent abruptly escorts them into the bunker along with the First Lady’s nephew Sean.  Ollie concocts a delicious lunch for the three from rations and freeze dried food. Hours later they rejoin others in the White House and learn it was a faux bomb that set off the alarm.

Returning to the kitchen, Ollie resumed working with her staff only to see lights flash and hear a scream.  She rushes toward the sound and finds the head electrician electrocuted. Ollie does what she can until the medical staff arrives.  No one seems to know why this happened.

Ollie is working late when the First Lady calls her to prepare an informal dinner for three.  Co-owners of a medical research facility with the First Lady are trying to coerce her into selling it.  A heated discussion over dinner ensues with Ollie privy to all of it. She knew from her time in the bunker that the First Lady’s nephew Sean is against the sale, as is the First Lady, but pressure from others is mounting.  Ollie is as shocked as others when a Secret Service agent appears in the room with bad news. Sean is dead, possibly by suicide.

Teaching everyone on staff about explosives and how to spot them is difficult to squeeze into the holiday schedule.  After working late one night Ollie is walking to her apartment from the Metro when she is attacked by two men. Showing up to work the next day with bandaged hands, she cannot prepare food so gets Christmas decorations out of storage.  When she puts the empty boxes back, she notices a box out of place. Inside she discovers an incendiary device and evacuates everyone in the area. Secret Service takes over once alerted. Ollie’s training is paying off; the bomb was live.

At this point I could not put this book down.  I listened to over half the book without a break.  I was enthralled with the action and how tension mounted, especially as the opening of the White House for all to see the decorations approached.  All of the plot lines turned out to intersect and twine around each other until an explosive conclusion. This is an excellent mystery that made sense, was substantial, realistic, and full of suspense.

Eileen Stevens did a superb job narrating.  Her style is quite clear and precise without bringing any attention to herself with deep breaths or swallowing.  Her portrayal of several distinct voices was excellent. I couldn’t believe how she could switch from narrator/Ollie to the male electricians and Secret Service agents.  The transition to the Southern drawl of the First Lady was astounding.

I very much enjoyed Hail to the Chef, and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' Cockatiels at Seven

Sandie Herron has done a terrific job organizing her reviews so they are easier for me to access. Thank you, Sandie, for sharing your review of the ninth Meg Langslow mystery. Cockatiels at Seven was reviewed from the audiobook.

Cockatiels at Seven
Meg Langslow Mystery Book 9
Written by Donna Andrews
Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Unabridged Audiobook
Dreamscape Media, LLC (April 18, 2017)
Listening Length: 7 hours and 18 minutes

When her friend Karen drops by with her two-year-old son Timmy asking that Meg Langslow babysit “just for a little while,” Meg takes on the challenge.  After all, what’s so hard about playing with a toddler?  Meg puts away the blacksmithing project she’d just begun in preparation for a craft show, and goes through what Karen left with Timmy, finding several sets of clothes, diapers, bedding, Timmy’s favorite blanket, and a bedraggled stuffed kitty named Kiki.  After dinner, Timmy is still with the Langslows, and Karen isn’t answering Meg’s phone calls. 

When Karen hasn’t shown up for Timmy by morning, Meg begins to investigate.  Taking Timmy with her, she starts her search by visiting Karen’s workplace in the financial offices of the college.  A paranoid supervisor is more intent o
n where Timmy’s hands are going than talking about Karen.  Later a co-worker pulls Meg aside and confides that something is seriously wrong.  Police are raiding Karen’s rundown apartment when Meg arrives.  She chides Chief Burke for treating Karen like a criminal when she is missing.  Karen’s ex-husband had supposedly left town, but perhaps he has taken her.  Could Timmy be the target of kidnappers?  Could Karen be hiding from bad guys?  Could she be a bad guy?

Meg continues to follow clues with the help of her large extended family.  Meg’s brother Rob has been slowly moving into a third floor bedroom and has been missing for blocks of time.  Meg’s dad and her newly discovered grandfather, Dr. Montgomery Blake, renowned zoologist, have been hiding some finches on the third floor and snakes in the basement.  Meg learns of an old bird farm out in the country next door to a relative of Karen’s husband.  Just what has her father been up to?  Meg seems to be one step ahead of Chief Burke at every new discovery.

Babysitting alone is topic for a funny mystery, but Donna Andrews has expounded on this theme in so many ways.  Embezzling, kidnapping, killing, and real estate schemes round out this zany story.  While being hilariously funny, this ninth outing of Meg Langslow and family are a tad less madcap.  With the welfare of a child at stake, the investigators are following all leads.  They can’t control the trouble they get into checking them out! 

Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Winners & Humorous Mystery Giveaways

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. A Deadly Turn is going to Kara M. from Adrian, MI. Headlong goes to Trish R. of Decatur, GA. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I have humorous mysteries to give away. Antiques Ravin' by Barbara Allan puts antique
dealers Vivian Borne and her daughter, Brandy, into the middle of an ill-fated Edgar Allan Poe festival. Vivian is now county sheriff, so she's called in when some businesses in Antiqua are broken into. But, when bodies are found, the two realize someone is recreating Poe's mysteries.

Or, you could win Jill Orr's The Bad Break. Riley Ellison gave up her job at the Tuttle Corner Library for the world of print journalism. When her former co-worker Tabitha finds her soon-to-be father-in-law dead, Riley is asked to write the obituary. Then, when they discover Tabitha's finance's knife sticking out of his father's chest, Riley finds herself with a murder investigation to cover as well.

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 Antiques Ravin" or "Win The Bad Break." Please include your name and address. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 23 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

What Are You Reading?

Are you reading or have you read any of the Anthony Award nominees? The award nominees were announced yesterday, and they will be voted on, and presented at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas on November 2. Before you tell us what you're actually reading, here's the list of Anthony Award nominees.

Bouchercon 2019 — “Denim, Diamonds, and Death” — will present this year’s Anthony® Awards in five categories at the 50th annual Bouchercon® World Mystery Convention to be held in Dallas, October 31 to November 3. The Anthony Awards will be voted on by attendees at the convention and presented on Saturday, November 2.


Best Novel 
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown and Company)
November Road by Lou Berney (William Morrow)
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur Books)
Sunburn by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
Blackout by Alex Segura (Polis Books)

Best First Novel
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)
Broken Places by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver (Pegasus Books)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (Ecco)

Best Paperback Original Novel 
Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow Paperbacks)
A Stone’s Throw by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Best Short Story 
“The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough (blogazine, August 20, 2018)
“Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (November/December 2018)
“Cold Beer No Flies” by Greg Herren, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July/August 2018)
“The Best Laid Plans” by Holly West, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)

Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work 
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Mastering Plot Twists: How To Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure To Captivate Your Readers by Jane K. Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)
Pulp According to David Goodis by Jay A. Gertzman (Down & Out Books)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

The Anthony® Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (rhymes with “voucher”), a well-known California writer and critic who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times Book Review, and also helped found Mystery Writers of America. First presented in 1986, the Anthony Awards are among the most prestigious and coveted literary awards. Bouchercon®, the World Mystery Convention founded in 1970, is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization celebrating the mystery genre. It is the largest annual meeting in the world for readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction. 

So, what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

This past weekend, I actually read an eBook. I don't often, but Karin Slaughter and Lee Child teamed up for a short story, Cleaning the Gold, and I can handle reading short stories digitally. Best of all, for those of you who don't care to read eBooks, it will be available as a paperback next week.

Slaughter's character, Will Trent, is an investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation based in Atlanta, but his boss sends him to Kentucky to work on a cold case. More than twenty years earlier, there was a shooting of a policeman in a small Georgia town. That policeman just died, so now it's a murder investigation. And, the local librarian described a man that fits Jack Reacher's description.

After someone pulls a few strings, Trent is sent to Fort Knox where he's assigned a physically taxing job working next to Jack Reacher. Trent may be tall, but Reacher is taller and bigger. Neither man is much for conversation while they spend their days cleaning and moving gold bullion. But, when Reacher tracks an officer, and Trent follows Reacher, they have a discussion. Jack Reacher also has a case. He's looking into an officer who is an enforcer when someone gets over their head with a loan. But, this man enjoys picking on women and children.

While both men are interested in a resolution to their cases, it soon becomes clear there is something seriously wrong at Fort Knox. If they team up, Trent and Reacher might be able to handle the trouble without throwing the entire country, and the world, into chaos.

Cleaning the Gold is a short story designed for those of us who are already familiar with both characters. There's little introduction because there's none needed for fans of the two bestselling authors. Just settle in for an entertaining story if you pick up the book.

Karin Slaughter's website is

Lee Child's website is

Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child. Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN 9780008358938, 120p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Roger Wall, Guest Author

When Wiley Saichek of Saichek Publicity asks if I'll host a guest author, he usually suggests that the author write about libraries. Wiley knows how much I appreciate those types of posts.

Today, I'm hosting author Roger Wall, whose novel, During-the-Event, is speculative fiction. Here's Wall's biography.

Roger Wall lived throughout the United States before ending up at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied fiction writing. He lives in New York City and the Catskills. During-the-Event is the 2018 Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction selection. Visit his website at

Here's the summary of During-the-Event.

For D.E., only two certainties exist: his grandfather is dead and life will never be the same.    
During-the-Event is a dystopian adventure that roams across a fallen United States, introducing an unforgettable cast of characters along the way. In the near future, climate change has ravaged the United States, leading the government to overcorrect through culls and relocation. Those who survive the mandated destruction are herded into “habitable production zones,” trading their freedom for illusions of security. The few who escape learn quickly that the key to survival is to stay hidden in the corners of the country. For seventeen years, During-the-Event, or D.E., has lived free in a pastoral life with his grandfather in North Dakota. But when death reaches their outpost. D.E. is forced on a journey that will change his life—and reveal surprises about his past.
Once taught that strangers are only sources of pain, D.E. must learn to trust the people he meets on his journey. During-the-Event is a soaring coming-of-age story that grapples with achingly familiar issues: coming to terms with loss and loneliness, finding what our identities really mean, and searching for love in an often strange and bewildering world.

Thank you, Roger, for taking time to write the following post.

Books and libraries, then and now

As a child, books, except for the Bible and two sets of encyclopedias, were not omnipresent in our household. The Bible was a source of stories early on, as was perhaps an anthology of children’s stories. My elementary school bookshelf didn’t contain literature, though, but a collection of manuals on how to survive in the wild. It’s hard to believe anyone actually tested this information, or used it; I read it as adventure writing. It stoked my imagination for grand backyard adventures.

When I was fourteen, I read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. It wasn’t a school assignment but the first novel I bought on my own—a maroon paperback from a mall bookstore. I read it one Friday night, alone in bed.

I suppose I liked what a lot of people like about the book: the first person voice, the disgust with phonies, and the adventure of trying to be seen as an adult in a New York that no longer exists. Salinger’s personal mythology, a hermit in the Vermont woods who shunned people and wrote, also appealed to me.

In college I sought out libraries for their tranquility and privacy, an escape from group living and dormitories. Yet, it wasn’t until I began going to the library with my own child that I came to appreciate the book-lending service of libraries. Once or twice a week we spent a few hours in the Philadelphia Free Library before loading the stroller with the allowable limit of books. My son never minded walking home.

For a few years in New York I made a home in NYU’s Bobst Library. Early in the morning or during academic breaks the Bobst Library was quiet, and the stacks were filled with rarities. Once I found a book from the early twentieth century about the country Chad, with hand-drawn maps of exploration routes. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t in a rare book collection. Now I wonder if it has been sent off-site for deep storage or scanned into a digital file with the original thrown out to make room for more computer terminals and collaborative work areas. A realtor once stood in my apartment and pointed to the bookshelves. “Books,” he said, “you don’t see many of them anymore. It’s a nice touch.”

Most recently two of my favorite authors published books. Haruki Murakami (Killing Commendatore) and Michael Ondaajte (Warlight). Both of these works share the characteristic of creating realities that the reader can’t resist occupying. A another book, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, also achieves this state, as does HernanDiaz’s In the Distance.

Roger Wall - Credit Heather Phelps, Lipton Photography