Saturday, February 29, 2020

My Fair Latte by Vickie Fee

There's something about cozy mysteries involving old movies. I was a fan of Jeffrey Cohen's Double-Feature mysteries. I really enjoyed Margaret Dumas' humorous cozy with paranormal elements, Murder at the Palace. Now, we can add Vickie Fee's Cafe Cinema mysteries to that list with My Fair Latte.

Halley Greer is a broke, unemployed barista when she learns she inherited an Art Deco movie theater from her Great-Uncle Leon. She hadn't even seen him since she was eight, due to some sort of family argument. But, she's eager to see her property in Utopia Springs, Arkansas. The Star Movie Palace even comes with an apartment upstairs. It also needs some renovation, but Uncle Leon took care of that, too. He left a small trust fund to maintain the theater, and a small board of advisors to help. That small board turns out to be just the friends Halley needs, surrogate grandparents to hug, cook, and advise her. Along with George and Trudy, there's a group of other welcoming shop owners. And, when Halley's restored theater is vandalized just before opening day, they step in to help her a second time.

Kendra Williams, owner of the escape rooms across the street, suggests a musical for the grand reopening. George finds a projectionist, and Halley opens a coffee and wine bar as part of the concession stand. Opening night is grand with "My Fair Lady", until intermission when George whispers he found a dead man at the back of the theater. Halley knows so few people in town, she doesn't think she's involved. However, when she sees the victim's picture in the local newspaper, she reports to the police that she saw him staring in the windows at her the day the theater was vandalized. Now, she's the number one suspect.

But, Halley's new friends rally around her. George, Trudy, and Kendra team up with Halley to ask questions in town. They unearth stories of blackmail, arguments, unpaid rent, and tales of Jesse James' treasures that might be in caverns in the area. The victim may have a few more enemies than the police suspect.

My Fair Latte is an enjoyable mystery, a charming start to a new series. The best part of the book, though, isn't the Art Deco theater or the classic films. It's the appealing amateur sleuth and the supportive community of friends. Here's hoping the Cafe Cinema Mystery series has a long, successful run.

Vickie Fee's website is www.vickiefee.com

My Fair Latte by Vickie Fee. Henery Press, 2020. ISBN 9781635115796 (paperback), 252p.

*****

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


Friday, February 28, 2020

Winners and The Luck of the Irish Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Glen D. from Yuba City, CA won All the Best Lies, and Dianne C. from Elk Grove Village, IL won Behind Every Lie. The books are going out in the mail today.

If might seem a little early to give away books in honor of the Irish, but in order for them to be there for St. Patrick's Day, I'm holding the giveaway early. I have several copies of Sheila Connolly's mystery, Fatal Roots. Maura Donovan has been in County Cork, Ireland, for just about a year when several grad students show up at her home, wanting to explore the ringforts on her property. One of the young men disappears. While hunting for him, they dig up a man whose body provides answers to a local story with roots in the past.





Or, you could enter to win Carlene O'Connor's Murder in an Irish Cottage. Garda Siobhan O'Sullivan is on a short summer break, but when her garda fiance, Macdara, needs support, she's there. Macdara receives a call from his cousin, Jane, just saying she needs help. She doesn't tell him she found her mother dead in their cottage. While the villagers tell stories of superstition and wanting the two women out of their cottage, Jane has secrets, and doesn't really tell the garda where she was when her mother died of poisoning.





Which Irish mystery 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 line should read either "Win Fatal Roots" or "Win An Irish Cottage." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, March 5 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! As if you needed a reminder that it's the best day of the week around here. Let's talk about what we're all reading.

I love historical trivia. I can easily spend an hour or more going down historical rabbit holes. I might not have cared much for The Girl in White Gloves, but I spend quite a bit of time reading about the Grimaldi family of Monaco the other night while reading that book. I also enjoy a good obituary so Mo Rocca's book, Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, is perfect for me. I've only read a couple of the "Mobits", one about Thomas Paine, one for dragons. Now, you might not expect that, but according to Rocca, people thought dragons were real, so he provided them with a mobit. He provides obituaries for people who were overlooked or forgotten. It's a fun book if you enjoy history.


Are you reading anything as fun as Mobituaries? We'd all love to hear about this week's books.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

I can honestly say Kerri Maher's novel of Grace Kelly, The Girl in White Gloves, is one of the saddest
stories I've ever read. It's not that it's tragic. It's a tragedy that a woman who appeared to have everything never felt as if she was good enough. She spent her entire life trying to please men, from her father, to the older men she dated or loved, to Prince Ranier. I do know that Maher's book is a novel. And, she says it is not so close to "real events of real people's lives" that it's mistaken for a biography. Although it stars a real person, Maher admits she took liberties in writing the book. She created composite characters. She adjusted time lines to suit her dramatic needs. And, she didn't have many letters to or from Grace Kelly to use as a basis for the book.

So, what Maher chose to do was focus on Kelly's life as it pertained to the theater, to films, and then to Monaco. She chose to speculate about Grace Kelly's relationships with various men, including Ray Milland and Oleg Cassini. The book focuses on Kelly's emotions. She's an obedient, Catholic school girl, despite her affairs, always trying to please her father. And, that failure to please her parents, despite all of her success as an actress and then Princess of Monaco, is the shadow over the entire book. The Girl in White Gloves is actually about Grace Kelly's attempt to please men. Although the book talks about her close friends, she looked to her father, to the uncle she adored, a Pulitizer-prize winning playwright who advised her about the theater, to her teacher at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, who she brings home to her parents' horror. The book talks about her affair with Ray Milland, her hope to marry Oleg Cassini.

The story is not told consecutively. Some chapters of her life as Princess of Monaco are interspersed with chapters about her career as an actress. I can remember only one section that seemed as if Grace Kelly was happy, the time she spent in Africa when filming Mogambo. Throughout most of the book, she was struggling with her own insecurities and her various relationships.

Perhaps it's the romantic in me. I have no idea whether Grace Kelly actually loved her husband or any of the men she's associated with in the book. That really didn't matter to me. What I find so sad is the portrayal of her as an unhappy woman who was always trying to please men, but one who never found her own happiness. That's just tragic.

I'm not sure what the intention was in Kerri Maher's novel The Girl in White Gloves. I hate to think of her as a woman who died too young at 52 without ever being happy in herself. As Maher said, the book suited her dramatic needs.

Kerri Maher's website is www.kerrimaher.com

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher. Berkley, 2020. ISBN 9780451492074 (hardcover), 384p.

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare

I'm reading a nonfiction book, a novel, and just starting a mystery right now. And, yet I read four historical romances over the weekend. So, I'm going to talk about Tessa Dare's three books, although the fourth in the series, The Bride Bet, won't be out until August.

Dare's Girl Meets Duke series focuses on four friends. Emma Pembroke, a seamstress, is featured in the first in the series, The Duchess Deal. The Duke of Ashbury has returned from war disfigured. Although he had a fiancee when he left, once she saw him, she dumped him. But, someone still owes Emma for the wedding gown she made. When Emma shows up at Ashbury's house to ask for payment, he decides she'll do for a wife. He needs an heir. He has a few terms, including no romance. Emma has other ideas if she's going to marry a man she doesn't even know and bear his child.





In The Governess Game, an infamous rake, Chase Reynaud, is desperate for a governess for his two wards. He admits the two girls "were incorrigible, morbid hellions" who hold daily, sometimes twice daily, funerals involving dolls and jam. Alexandra Mountbatten is mistaken for the new governess, but she's desperate for a job. She knows Chase isn't a proper gentleman, but she should be able to educate his wards.






Gabriel Duke owns the property next to Lady Penelope Campion's in The Wallflower Wager. Once he renovates it, he knows he'll make a tidy profit because people will pay to live next to Lady Penelope. However, that also means they'll have to live next door to a goat, a steer, hens, a hedgehog, and assorted other animals because Penny loves all creatures. He demands that she get rid of them. She insists he find them all homes. Not so easy.





The August release, The Bride Bet, will feature Nicola Teague, the fourth friend, and I'll certainly pick that up. The three books are all funny and steamy with hot sex scenes. They also feature interesting characters. The women are supportive of each other, although they come from different strata in society. While not all the men are noblemen, they do all have money. And, once they get to know the heroines in the books, they are supportive of the women who become their wives, and supportive of their wives' interests, whether the interests are animals or books. But, there are issues in their lives that, interestingly, Dare mentions on her website.

On her website, https://tessadare.com, Dare has a new feature, "Content Advisories". She started it in August 2019.  I haven't seen these on authors' websites before, but perhaps they are on other sites for authors of historical romances, or romances in general. Since I read many more mysteries than romances, I've never seen this before. But, it's worth mentioning. At one time there was a romance site that ranked sexuality in the books. It was quite helpful for librarians assisting patrons. Dare's "Content Advisories" are interesting. (If someone has seen them elsewhere, please let me know.)

I'm going to quote Dare's website so readers understand why, as a librarian, I'm interested in this feature. She writes, "These content advisories are offered for readers who want or need to avoid distressing content. Examples include (but aren't limited to) physical or sexual assault, domestic violence, pregnancy loss, character death, PTSD, child abuse, and other kinds of trauma."

Let me say, I have not read any dramatic examples of any of these in the three books I read. However, some of this content has been referred to, and characters suffer as a result, but it has not been dramatized in the three books I've read.

Dare goes on to say, "General notes: To varying degrees, all of my books include descriptive sexual content, drinking, and profanity. The occasional punch is thrown. Weapons are brandished. Attempted robberies and minor carriage accidents are not uncommon."

Are you still curious as to what specific Content Advisories are? Here the one for The Wallflower Wager.

"This book has lots of animals in it. None of them die."

"Potentially distressing elements include:
     Heroine with a history of child sexual abuse (discussed and remembered, but does not happen on
     the page)

     Heroine confronts her abuser (happens on the page)

     Hero with a history of abandonment and extreme poverty in childhood (mentioned)

     A duel is planned, but no shots are fired."


Actually, I'm impressed. Without having read any of Tessa Dare's previous books, I suspect she is an author who knows her audience and their concerns.

Not quite what you expected with today's review? That's okay. It's been a few years since I read historical romances. The books by Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean aren't what I remember of historical romances. As I said, I'm impressed.


Tessa Dare's website is https://tessadare.com







Monday, February 24, 2020

Have You Heard? Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle

I just didn't have time to read Cleo Coyle's latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Brewed Awakening, so I'm glad Sandie Herron listened to it. She can share her impressions of the audio book. Thank you, Sandie!

Brewed Awakening                                                               

Coffeehouse Mystery #18
Written by Cleo Coyle (Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini)
Narrated by Rebecca Gibel
Unabridged Audiobook
Blackstone Audio (12/3/2019)
Listening Length:  10 hours

Clare Cosi returns in the 18th entry in the Coffeehouse mystery series, but she isn’t quite herself.  She awakens on a park bench, aware of where she is and who she is.  However, she thinks she is about 10 years younger with a young daughter living in New Jersey, newly divorced from Matteo Allegro and having recently left her job at the Village Blend.  With no purse and no keys, she turns to the Village Blend for help, only to be welcomed into the open arms of her employees who tell her she’s been missing for days.

One observation made by the memory-challenged Clare is that everyone seems to be walking about staring at little screens in their hands.  The cell phone culture is in full swing, and it is unrecognizable to her.  Clare’s daughter Joy arrives at the hospital, a young woman, not a young teenager.  The doctor wants to isolate Clare so her memory can return without jolts of reality.  Those closest to her don’t agree with that protocol, especially Clare’s fiancé Detective Mike Quinn whom she does not recognize.  

As those around Clare put the pieces together, they realize that Clare’s former mother-in-law and current employer is a member of an exclusive ladies club called “The Ladies Who Brunch.”  Another of the women, a hotel heiress, invited Clare to taste wedding cakes.  Afterwards, the two took a walk.  Security cameras caught them strolling when a masked man abducted the hotel heiress at gunpoint.  Unfortunately, the cameras blacked out then, so it is unclear if Clare was also taken.  

Clare signed paperwork agreeing to the doctor’s treatment, but after a few days filled with questions and no answers, she is ready to say no and return into the fold of her loved ones.  Independently, they happen to agree, so when her former mother-in-law shows up to bust Clare out, Clare agrees with the plan, even though it means being driven all over New York and New Jersey with her ex-husband Matt and two baristas from the Village Blend to throw off the police.  Eventually, Matt and Clare escape to a place the police cannot connect any of them with to try and regain her memories.  When Mike Quinn joins them, the hunt for answers is truly on.  Not only are they searching for memories but answers to find the missing heiress and the solution to an eerily similar case.


Fast paced and well researched, I found this entry in the Coffeehouse Mystery series compelling.  While it could have digressed into many old memories over Clare’s past, the ones it touched on were current sensory events meant to provoke Clare’s memory and not rehash old events.  This kept the story fresh and vibrant.  The play between past and current lovers added more tension to this lively tale.  Rebecca Gibel did an excellent job narrating, creating different voices with various accents for the characters.  Definitely recommended.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O'Connor

If I hadn't read Carlene O'Connor's short story, "Christmas Cocoa Murder", I might have felt a little overwhelmed diving into the fifth book in her Irish Village Mystery series. That's really because Siobhan O'Sullivan is one of six siblings who run Naomi's Bistro, and it's not easy to keep the O'Sullivans straight. Although Garda O'Sullivan is supposed to be on a summer break, when her garda fiancé needs support, Siobhan is there in Murder in an Irish Cottage.

Siobhan planned to spend the ten days with her siblings and Macdara Flannery, but Macdara receives a frantic call from his cousin, Jane. She doesn't tell him she found her mother, Ellen, dead in their cottage. Because Jane is blind, Siobhan and Macdara aren't sure if she noticed the foam at Ellen's mother, an indication she died of poisoning. And, Jane doesn't really give them proof she was out of a town at a conference. Between Jane's secrets and the villagers' superstitions and stories, there are all kind of suppositions going around.

The villagers claim they knew there would be a death in the cottage because there had been previous ones. They told Ellen and Jane it stood in a fairy path, and they wanted to bulldoze the cottage. But, the women wouldn't listen. They tell stories of fairy rings, dancing lights and unearthly screams the night before Ellen was found. But, it wasn't fairies who poisoned Ellen, and dressed her in a red dress to lay her on her bed.

It's a tangled web to Siobhan and Macdara, and it isn't even their murder investigation. But, Siobhan went to the academy with one of the garda who is investigating, and she doesn't mind asking questions. She's also going to worry at the problem until the answers become clear. There's a killer on the loose, and Siobhan suspects one of the villagers.

Murder in an Irish Cottage is an atmospheric story, filled with descriptions of the countryside. The superstitions and stories just add to the atmosphere. I would have liked a little more character development of the O'Sullivans, but it's quite possible that occurred in earlier books. I haven't read them, so I"m just catching up. However, now that I've discovered Carlene O'Connor's Garda Siobhan O'Sullivan and the Irish Village Mysteries, I'll continue to uncover the secrets of this patch of Ireland.

Carlene O'Connor's website is https://www.carleneoconnor.net

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Connor. Kensington Books, 2020. ISBN 9781496719058 (hardcover), 304p.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Firewatching by Russ Thomas

I've been a fan of Ann Cleeves' series for years. Now, Russ Thomas' debut, Firewatching, introduces a police procedural with characters that are as tortured as hers, and complex plots that remind me of Cleeves' books. I'm already a fan of Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler.

Tyler often wondered if the one-man South Yorkshire Cold Case Review Unit was actually expected to solve cases, or if it was just a PR stunt. However, he had solved a few of those cases, so he pushed his way into one that could be high-profile. When builders knocked down a wall in an old house, they found a skeleton behind the wall. Until DNA results came in, they could only assume it was Gerald Cartwright, a prominent businessman who disappeared six years earlier. Detective Inspector Doggett already has a suspect in mind. Unfortunately, it's Tyler's one-night stand from the night before, Cartwright's son.

Tyler knows he'll be off the case if he reveals he knows the suspect. And, he desperately wants to work this case. So, he doesn't reveal his secret, although it won't take long for a smart detective to figure it out. But, Adam Tyler isn't the only one with secrets. Two elderly women, Edna and Lily, with connections to the Cartwrights, have secrets. Lily is even receiving blackmail notes saying "I know what you did." But, Lily herself doesn't remember what she might have done.

While the investigating team's interest is in the murder, a fire investigator brings multiple local fires to Tyler's attention. He's convinced those fires are connected to a fire six years earlier at the Old Vicarage, the house where the victim's body was found. But, what none of them know is the person setting the fires is building up to a dramatic conclusion while writing about each blaze and the history of fires on a blog. By the time they figure that out, their crime scene, suspects, and Adam Tyler may all go up in flames.

Firewatching is a dramatic story combining tortured characters, murder, and arson. Tyler himself is one of those troubled figures, tortured by his father's death and mother's disappearance. Those incidents are eerily similar to ones in the present investigation. But, he's a fascinating figure, another one of those detectives who lacks social skills while possessing keen investigative instincts.

If you appreciate Ann Cleeves’ intricately plotted stories with complicated protagonists, you'll welcome another British series into that collection. Tortured characters and the fires ignite a dramatic debut in Firewatching.



Firewatching by Russ Thomas. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2020. ISBN 9780525542025 (hardcover), 368p.

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

Friday, February 21, 2020

Winners and a Lying Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Charlotte W. from Covington, GA won The First Mistake. Dianne C. will receive the copy of First Cut. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away crime novels about liars. Christina McDonald's book is Behind Every Lie. "If you can't remember it, how do you prove you didn't do it?" Eva Hansen wakes up in the hospital after being struck by lightning, and learns her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street, but she can't remember what happened. Then she learns the police suspect her. It's only when she heads to her mother's former home to unravel her secrets that she realizes someone doesn't want her to know the truth. Eva doesn't know who to trust. Least of all herself.




In Joanna Schaffhausen's All the Best Lies, FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one unsolved mystery, who murdered his mother years earlier. Baby Reed lay in his crib near his mother when she was stabbed to death more than forty years earlier. The trail is so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up on the case. Then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origin, his mother, and his adoptive father, a state senator. Unable to trust his family, Reed enlists a friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway to join his quest in Vegas. Far from home, the two rely only on each other to trace Reed's twisted family history, knowing they'll uncover a vicious killer who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years.


Which crime novel 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 Behind Every Lie" or "Win All the Best Lies." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, Feb. 27 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Thursday. How many times have I told you it's my favorite day of the week? Let's talk about what we're reading this week.

Today was my deadline for reviews, so I'm reading nonfiction. It's a break from a straight crime fiction diet. I'm reading Janice Kaplan's The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World. Kaplan is the author of The Gratitude Diaries. Naturally, I haven't had much time to get into it, but  it's a little startling. How about the comment that 90% of Americans believe that geniuses are always men? Or, when asked to name a genius, people mentioned Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs. Great women? In one survey, the only female genius anyone named was Marie Curie. I'll admit, I'm as guilty as others on that last one. But, I certainly wouldn't have said geniuses are always men. I think this book is going to be an eye-opener. In just looking at chapter headings, Kaplan mentions RBG, women scientists, Nobel Prize winners, and Geena Davis. The book is quite readable, too.

So, what are you reading this week? I'm sure I'm not the only one who is curious.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tina Kashian, Guest Author

Tina Kashian, author of the cozy mystery, On the Lamb, in guest author today. Although I reviewed it on Monday, here's the blurb for the book. And, don't forget to check below the recipe for a giveaway!

Lucy Berberian is busy preparing her family’s Mediterranean restaurant for Easter on the Jersey Shore—but a batch of sweets is to die for . . .

Bikers are thundering into the seaside town of Ocean Crest for the annual Bikers on the Beach gathering that raises funds for injured veterans. It’s a big boost for the Kebab Kitchen, as well as for local businesses like Melanie Haven’s candy shop. But Melanie is about to find herself in a sticky situation.

When Melanie and Lucy attend a beach bonfire, a local landlord is found dead after apparently choking on a piece of salt water taffy. Melanie, who was known to have a contentious relationship with the victim, is quickly skewered as the prime suspect. But Lucy is determined to prove her friend’s innocence before the real killer coasts free . . .

*****
Thank you, Tina, for taking time to write a post today.



Thank you for inviting me to chat with your readers about my new release, “On the Lamb.” It’s the
fourth book in my Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean mystery series.

I grew up in a family-owned restaurant in New Jersey, and my Kebab Kitchen Mystery Series is set in a Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey shore. In “On the Lamb,” Lucy Berberian is a recovering lawyer who returns to Ocean Crest, NJ and her family’s restaurant, Kebab Kitchen. Managing a restaurant is hard work and when Lucy is invited to a beach bonfire with friends, she’s excited for a night out.

But things take a turn for the worse when a disliked, local landlord shows up on the beach and gets in a screaming match with one of Lucy’s friends, Melanie Haven, owner of Haven Candies on the boardwalk. And when that same landlord is found dead on the beach after apparently choking on a piece of Melanie’s salt water taffy, Melanie is in a sticky mess of trouble. It’s up to Lucy to investigate and help her candy maker friend before salt water taffy disappears from the boardwalk forever.

Many scenes in the series take place on the Jersey shore boardwalk. I vacationed at the Jersey Shore as a kid and we continue to visit with my two girls every summer. Which made me wonder about the history of salt water taffy. 

This type of candy is a favorite on the Jersey shore boardwalk and originated in Atlantic City. Salt water taffy doesn’t include any salt water, but is made from lots of sugar, butter, corn syrup, and flavoring. It’s cooked, cooled, and then pulled and stretched to make the candy softer. During a storm in 1883, the name, salt water taffy, was coined after David Bradley’s candy shop was flooded with ocean water and all the taffy was soaked in seawater. Bradley told a customer that all he had was “salt water taffy,” and the name stuck.

When we visit the Jersey shore boardwalk every summer, we watch the taffy stretching machine in the window of the boardwalk candy stores. The two original candy stores, Fralinger’s and James’ candy shops, are still in business, and we buy salt water taffy and fudge from each every summer.

I’m sharing a Mediterranean recipe for lamb kebabs from my own family’s restaurant below (the lamb is featured in “On the Lamb” as well!)



Angela’s Lamb Kebabs with Tomato Sauce
2 pounds leg of lamb or beef tenderloin, boned, with fat removed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2½ tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
2½ tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1 onion sliced

Tomato Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1 diced onion
2 beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Place meat in bowl. Add tomato paste, oil, paprika, cayenne, lemon or vinegar, and onion. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To prepare the tomato sauce, heat butter in a skillet. Sauté onions till lightly golden. Add tomatoes. Cook for 10–15 minutes. Add paprika, salt and pepper.

Thread meat onto skewers. Grill the skewers over a charcoal fire. Turn the skewers until the meat is cooked on all sides. Pour warm tomato sauce onto a platter and place cooked kebabs on top. Enjoy!

For a chance to win a signed, print copy the first book in the series, HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE, please share. What is your favorite candy? (U.S. Residents only to win).


Buy Links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PP9nEd
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/32xK10y
Google Books: http://bit.ly/33Gbkao
iBooks: https://apple.co/2palpgI


Author Bio:
Tina Kashian, previously published as Tina Gabrielle, is a bestselling author, an attorney, and a mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and the first book in her Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean mystery series, Hummus and Homicide, spent six weeks on the B&N bestseller list. Please visit her website at www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!




Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day

You know what I like about Lori Rader-Day's suspense novels? She takes ordinary women, and puts them in unusual situations, but gives them the intelligence and abilities to solve their own problems. The Lucky One introduces two lost young women who find unexpected answers in the middle of lies.

Alice Fine was a victim, but she survived. She was kidnapped as a child, but her policeman father rescued her that same afternoon. He packed up the family, though, and moved them from the small Indiana town to Chicago, and he changed careers. Now, he's co-owner of King & Fine, a construction company, and Alice works in the office. Her father has always been there for her, hovering over her, and protecting her. However, after her broken engagement, Alice is chafing under the restraints of her father's watchfulness.

Alice spends her spare time browsing a website called The Doe Pages, looking for clues to missing people. She knows she was the lucky one, found and rescued while she was still alive. There are so many unidentified people out there. But, she recognizes one of them on the site. A missing man looks like the man she remembers as her kidnapper. So, she turns to her co-voluntteers on The Doe Pages to help her find answers.

Merrily Cruz is also looking for answers, after the police take her from her workplace to ask her about a missing man, one she only knows as Uncle Rick. She, too, has more questions than answers, and her mother won't tell her anything about the one afternoon she remembers when they visited Uncle Rick in Indiana.

What do two young women actually know about their distant childhoods? When Alice and Merrily actually meet, both women are reluctant to accept the other's reality as truth. What if everything you've ever believed about your own life is a lie? Who do you trust?

Rader-Day's protagonists are always ordinary women. Neither of them have superpowers or strengths to extract themselves from unusual situations. They rely on their own skills and a great deal of questions to find answers. And, they're unwilling to quit until they find satisfactory answers, even if the truth is uncomfortable. Once again, in her latest suspense novel, The Lucky One, Rader-Day has introduced unforgettable characters.

Lori Rader-Day's website is https://loriraderday.com

The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day. William Morrow, 2020. ISBN 9780062938077 (paperback), 400p.

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

On the Lamb by Tina Kashian

I remember when I read Tina Kashian's first Kebab Kitchen mystery, Hummus and Homicide. At the time, I felt as if she ticked off all the boxes for a cozy mystery. Now, with the fourth in the series, On the Lamb, it's a polished mystery. Kashian does an excellent job with an appealing cast of characters and a charming small town, touristy setting. If you're a fan of Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake mysteries, check out this series with its equally enjoyable cast.

Lucy Barbarian is the manager of her family's Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, at the Jersey shore. She's dating the chef, Azad Zakarian. But, she really needs an apartment that is not a bedroom in her best friend's home. Her brother-in-law, a realtor, finds an upstairs apartment in a house.The apartment with a view comes with a few strings attached. One is Eloise Lubinski, the eccentric landlady. The other is Eloise's smarmy nephew, Gilbert, who wants to put his aunt in assisted living so he can take over the house.

Lucy meets Gilbert for the first time when he shows up on the day she's moving in, accusing her of moving in on his aunt. The second time is at the bonfire on the beach during the annual Bikers on the Beach motorcycle rally to raise money for injured veterans. Gilbert causes a scene, demanding money from one of Lucy's fellow store owners. Melanie Haven, owner of Havens Candies, seems to hate Gilbert. But, when the man is killed on the beach that same night, Lucy knows Melanie didn't do it. She tops the police suspect list, though, and begs Lucy to find the real killer.

Even with Lucy's best friend, Katie, as her partner in criminal investigation, it's not easy to question all the business owners who seem to have a grudge against Gilbert. His personal and business life is strewn with enemies, from his wife who was on the verge of divorce, to his tenants in his condo complex, to his aunt. With all the clues pointing to Melanie, though, Lucy has her work cut out for her.

Now, the Kebab Kitchen series is just what it should be. By the fourth book, we're past that initial stage when the amateur sleuth is always a suspect. Now, it's just what I like, a cast of interesting friends, community members, and suspects in an enjoyable mystery. On the Lamb is a story of a small community turned upside down, then righted again when a killer is found. And, what can be any better for an ending that a celebratory dinner with family and friends?

To top it off, Tina Kashian shares her own family recipes at the end of the book. Those Armenian American recipes are as enticing as this mystery itself. I hope you accept my invitation to return on Wednesday when Tina Kashian is guest blogger.

Tina Kashian's website is www.tinakashian.com

On the Lamb by Tina Kashina. Kensington Books, 2020. ISBN 9781496726056 (paperback), 352p.

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

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

I actually had no intention of reviewing Julia Quinn's historical romance, The Duke and I. However, there are several reasons to discuss this one. It's an older book that originally came out in 2000, although this edition has the added 2nd epilogue. So, I was pleasantly surprised that the featured duke deals with a stuttering disorder that is an essential element of the plot. It's the first in the Bridgerton series. And, that eight volume series will appear on Netflix in 2020 as the Bridgerton series, under Shonda Rimes production company. Rimes is responsible for Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Julie Andrews will voice the unseen role of Lady Whistledown, whose scandal sheets are fun and important in the books. The Netflix connection is important enough that I thought I'd mention The Duke and I.

Simon Basset didn't return to England until his father died, and Basset became Duke of Hastings. Although the older duke had wanted an heir, when his son didn't speak until he was four, and then he stuttered, the duke rejected Simon. As much as the young man struggled and wrote letters to his father, and tried to speak properly, the few times they met the meetings were so stressful that both left, one in anger, the other feeling rejected. By the time Simon returned, his best friend from school, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, warned him he would be a catch for every husband-hunting debutante and their mother. Anthony knows, as the oldest of eight in the family, and a man with four sisters.

One of those sisters, Daphne, has been out for two years to the despair of her mother. Oh, the men like her, but as a sister or friend. They don't see Daphne as a romantic interest or prospect for marriage. After they both had some dreadful moments at a ball, Daphne and Simon hatch a plot. They're going to pretend to form an attachment. So, Simon will be safe from designing mothers because he has no intention of marrying. And, Daphne will attract other suitors. If a duke is interested in her, maybe they should be, too.

It's easy to see a problem coming along. Daphne starts to fall in love with Simon. Although he never wants to marry, Simon finds that he's jealous when other men court Daphne. Oh, there are going to be problems.

The characters are absolutely delightful in the first in the series. With such a charming family, it's easy to see why the series was picked up by Netflix. But, I'd rather read the books. It's fun to see the protective older brothers. Violet, the Bridgerton mother, is a force to be reckoned with. She's smarter and funnier than her children give her credit for. The chapter notes from the scandal sheet, "Lady Whistledown's Society Papers", give forewarnings of what's going to happen. Those are witty and clever, and everyone in the ton, in society, eagerly awaits the gossip. And, of course, there's Simon Basset. The messages in this book about children who stutter and how they suffer are powerful messages. With this edition, and the inclusion of the 2nd epilogues telling about the characters twenty years later, that message is enforced, with notes about love and patience.

I'll be returning to the Bridgertons world. It's timely to review Julia Quinn's The Duke and I.

Julia Quinn's website is www.juliaquinn.com

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Avon, 2000, 2015. 408p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book




Saturday, February 15, 2020

Hill Women by Cassie Chambers

Part memoir, part family history. Whatever you want to call Cassie Chambers' book, Hill Women, it's a beautiful story told with love, respect, and pride. While the subtitle is "Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains", it's the story of strong women who supported each other, supported others in their community, and encouraged women to find their own path.

Owsley County in eastern Kentucky is one of the poorest counties in America. Cassie Chambers' mother grew up there, and her extended family lives in the hills there. While outsiders see the poverty, the drug addiction, the dependence on disability payments, Chambers respects the people for their hard work. She says there's a fire that fuels so many women in rural Kentucky. She says people broke their bodies in tobacco fields and coal mines to make a living. "We don't take time to see it: the hope in the poverty, the spark against the dreary backdrop, the grit in the mountain women."

Cassie saw that grit in her Granny and her Aunt Ruth, two women who worked so hard so Cassie's mother could go to college, to be the first one in her family to go to college. While Chambers' Granny married at fifteen, and her Aunt Ruth was forced to drop out of high school because of her health, they pushed Cassie's mother to go to Berea College, to leave their small community, and to find something beyond Cow Creek. Cassie's mother met her husband at Berea College. She graduated, and used her education to benefit children. Her husband went on to become an associate dean at the University of Kentucky. And, Cassie, who spent her childhood commuting between her young parents' home in Berea while they finished school, and her Granny's home in Owsley County, became a lawyer. She graduated from Yale College, the Yale School of Public Health, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School, where she was president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, a student-run law firm that represents low-income clients. She now works with domestic violence survivors in eastern Kentucky.

But, before she became a lawyer to return to her roots and help her fellow Kentuckians, Cassie Chambers loved the family and the roots that took her back to Appalachia. She honors the people who made her journey and her life possible. She tells the story of her Granny's life, her mother's life, and her own life in this moving book.

Hill Women made me angry at times, angry at some of the laws that are written to defeat the ordinary people trying to get divorces, attain child custody, leave partners that abuse them. But, it also made me cry several times with the courage shown by some of the women in the book, along with the story itself. Hill Women is a beautiful, loving tribute. In the last four years, following the publication of Hillbilly Elegy, there have been other books that examined Appalachia. Let's be honest. It's not a story that can be told in one book. Everyone is not the same, and one book can't, and shouldn't, represent the entire region. Cassie Chambers' book is the story of the women she knew. There's so much love and pride in this book that it's hard to read it, and not hope that it represents the best in people, loving, hard-working people, no matter where they live or where they come from.

Cassie Chambers' website is www.cassiechambers.com

Hill Women by Cassie Chambers. Ballantine Books, 2020. ISBN 9781984818911 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, February 14, 2020

Winners and Suspense at "First" Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. The copies of Bound for Murder will go to Teresa W. from Ida, MI and Joni W. from Nappanee, IN. Patty T. from Dillsburg, PA won Careless Whiskers. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I'm giving away suspense novels featuring "First"s. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell join forces for First Cut. Dr. Melinek herself was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, so she brings her expertise to this novel about Dr. Jessie Teska, San Francisco's newest medical examiner. She's making a fresh start in a new city. But, an opioid-overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Her surgeons urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving drug dealers and Bitcoin brokers.





Or, maybe you want to win Sandie Jones' First Mistake. "The first mistake could be her last. Alice has a wonderful life with her second husband, a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house. Life might have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan's arrival in her life gave her back her happiness. Then, when she met Beth, her best friend, it was the icing on the cake. But soon, she begins to wonder if her trust has been misplaced.






Which "First" would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. You can email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win First Cut" or "Win First Mistake." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway ends Thursday, Feb. 20 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Thursday! My favorite day of the week. Let's talk about what we're reading or what we read in the last week.

I'm reading Hill Women by Cassie Chambers. It's a beautifully written book about the women of Appalachia, told with love and pride by the granddaughter, daughter, and niece of some of those strong women who have learned to survive in one of the poorest counties in rural Kentucky. And, the author? She's the daughter of the first one in her family to go to college. She herself grew up in eastern Kentucky, graduated from Yale College, the Yale School of Public Health, the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School, where she was president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, a student-run law firm that represents low-income clients. Then she received a Skadden Fellowship to return to Kentucky and do legal work with domestic violence survivors in rural communities. As I said, what makes it good is the love and pride she has for the women in her family, and the women of this region.

What are you reading this week? It's time to talk about those books!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

"Beauty and the Beast" has always been my favorite fairy tale. And, with the Disney version, what book lover can forget that library? It's just one more reason to fall in love with the beast. And, what do you do with a rogue who bribes the heroine with books? Then he tells her, "You are better for every book you've read." But, in society in England in 1833, "No one likes a female with ideas."The Rogue Not Taken is Sarah MacLean's first in her Scandal & Scoundrel trilogy, but it will remain one of my favorites with the library in this one, and a heroine who wants to own a bookshop.

Sophie Talbot is the youngest and least interesting of the scandalous Talbot sisters. But, when she pushes her cheating brother-in-law, a duke, into a fish pond, the ton turns its back on her. So, she flees. She begs a ride home from the notorious Marquess of Eversley, but he turns her down. So, she does what any needy woman would do. She buys the livery right off of Eversley's footman, and hops on his carriage to get a ride to her own home. But, the carriage is heading to the north of England where the Marquess' father is supposedly in ill health.

King, the Marquess of Eversley, refuses to be tricked into marriage. And, when he finds one of the Talbot sisters accompanying his carriage, he's sure she's there to ensnare a duke. That isn't Sophie's intention. She only wanted a ride home. But, now that he's heading north, she'll take a ride to the last home she remembers fondly, from when she was ten years old. But, carriage wheels, guns, pickpockets, and mad doctors have a way of interfering in the plans of a marquess and a wandering Talbot sister.

Every time I read one of Sarah MacLean's historical romances I think it can't be as good as the last one. And, I'm down to the last two that she's written. But, her scoundrels are not as wicked as they could be, and the heroines are intelligent and funny. In fact, on her website, MacLean writes of her heroic males, alpha males who are also feminists because they encourage the women in the books. The reader will catch on about King before Sophie does. The combination catches fire in stories that are witty and sexy.

And, then there's that library. "And he opened the door to reveal the largest, most beautiful library she'd ever seen. The room was cavernous, taking up two stories on all sides, with a glorious wrought-iron balcony that ran the perimeter of the room...And all that before the books, stretching for what seemed like miles, shelves and shelves from floor to ceiling, in deep reds and greens and browns and blues. More books than a person could read in a lifetime. But she could try." (sigh)

Sarah MacLean's website is www.sarahmaclean.net

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean. Avon Books, 2015. ISBN 9780062379412 (paperback), 419p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Buried to the Brim by Jenn McKinlay

Well, Jenn McKinlay's Hat Shop mysteries have gone to the dogs. I mean it. The sixth book in the series, Buried to the Brim, is fun, one of Jenn's best books. And, it's set in the world of dog shows.

Scarlett Parker and her cousin, Viv Tremont, own a high class hat shop, Mim's Whims, in Notting Hill. Viv designs the hats while Scarlett does the publicity and deals with the customers. Scarlett's fiance, Harrison Wentworth, brings his beloved Aunt Betty to them as a customer. And, Betty brings her corgi, Freddy. Freddy has been runner-up three years in a row at a charity dog show. Now, if Betty and Freddy have matching hats, they just might take first place.

Scarlett falls in love with Betty and Freddy, and the night before the dog show competition is to start, they all attend a cocktail party with Betty and Freddy in their hats. Unfortunately, Betty confronts the major sponsor, blaming him for Freddy getting sick the previous year on his dog food.  The next day, Betty has another confrontation when she's told her registration was lost and she and Freddy can't participate in the dog show. Viv takes care of that. She registers Scarlett to handle Freddy in the dog show.

And, Freddy shows Scarlett how beautifully he handles agility, until he finds the body of the dog show sponsor. It isn't long before the police hear about Betty's argument with the man, and focus on her as a suspect. But, Scarlett isn't going to let that nice woman be railroaded by a bunch of snarly dog show people.

Buried to the Brim was delightful. I loved the corgis in the book. Scarlett came through with flying colors, as an amateur sleuth and a dog handler (although Freddy really handled her). There's an inside joke in which Jenn McKinlay's husband makes a cameo as a dog handler, an American who is kind to Betty. The characters, the dogs, and the entire mystery is just a treat, deserving of a glass bowl trophy.

Jenn McKinlay has been writing more romantic comedies lately, well-written, enjoyable ones. But, she dedicates this book "for every reader who asked me to write another Hat Shop Mystery. Your devotion to the series inspired me to write just one more...for now." Let's hope Buried to the Brim really is just the last one "for now".

Jenn McKinlay's website is www.jennmckinlay.com

Buried to the Brim by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime, 2020. ISBN 9781984804723 (paperback), 290p.

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


Monday, February 10, 2020

Beautiful World Australia by Lonely Planet

Did I tell you I'm going to Australia this year? Well, we can't see the entire continent in ten days. We're concentrating on New South Wales and Tasmania, but Beautiful World Australia, a Lonely Planet book, covers the entire continent.

It's a stunning collection of photographs of the continent, organized by states and territories. There's just a short caption on each page, so it's worth reading the final section of the book, Photo Captions. I found it interesting that the photos were all credited to various photographers via Getty Images. And, the photo captions told more about each picture and area of Australia. I guess it just surprised me that Lonely Planet put the entire book together using those photos. (You can tell how long it has been since I looked at one of the gorgeous Lonely Planet books.)

What struck me as I looked at all the pictures was the vast variety of landscape. It shouldn't have. I've been in most of the states in the U.S., and, even in Arizona where I lived for eight years, there's everything from mountains to deserts. Perhaps it was the sudden change in the pictures in this collection, with a photo of a gorgeous bright blue bay right next to a vast scrubland. And, these pictures are grouped together, as I said earlier, by state and territory. That made the contrast in landscape more startling.

Even if you're not going to Australia, Beautiful World Australia is perfect for armchair travel. The photos are gorgeous. I definitely recommend you read the photo captions, though, as you go along. The book, and the continent, will mean so much more to you with a little background.

Beautiful World Australia. Lonely Planet, 2019. ISBN 9781788682985 (hardcover).

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

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Murder at the Capitol by C.M. Gleason

Murder at the Capitol is C.M. Gleason's third Lincoln's White House Mystery. She writes of Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the war with images I never really thought about. D.C. was really a small town in 1861, and a southern small town even more than it was a northern town. That never dawned on me. It was a town filled with spies, southerners, Union troops waiting to go to war, and people with opposing viewpoints about slavery. It was a diverse city, on the eve of civil war.

Independence Day, 1861 provided an opportunity for bands and parading troops. It was also a time of parties and revelry. But, sometime during the night, Piney Tufts, a Southern sympathizer, snuck into the Capitol building. On July 5, people arriving to view Congress in session were greeted by a crane with a man's body hanging from it. Sophie Gates, a wannabe journalist, insisted someone send for Adam Speed Quinn, President Lincoln's investigator. While most thought Tuft's hanged himself, Sophie suspected murder from the beginning.

Adam Quinn, a one-armed frontiersman, came to D.C. as part of Lincoln's security team. However, the President quickly discovered that the nephew of his old friend, Joshua Speed, was an astute investigator. He had teamed up several times with Sophie Gates to search for a killer. He's called to the Capitol, and then enlists a friend, a free black physician, Dr. George Hilton, to help with the body. By the time a second body is found near the Capitol, Hilton has been attacked, rescued by a Southern woman, and Sophie has been enlisted to search for a blackmailer.

Gleason packs as much history into this riveting mystery as she can. There was construction going on in the Capitol, so there was a reason for a crane. There were female spies in D.C., and the author introduces a real one as well as a fictional character. She does an excellent job with the historical details, and mixing actual figures with the fictional ones. And, she brings the characters and setting to life with this story of a city on the eve of war.

Do you read mysteries for the characters? You'll appreciate Adam Quinn, Sophie Gates, Dr. Hilton, several spies, and their backstories. If you appreciate historical settings and background, Murder at the Capitol provides a fascinating backdrop. It's a setting that is dirty and loud and sprawling, just perfect for the time period. Even if you haven't read the first in this series, you can jump right into Murder at the Capitol. If you're ready for a compelling historical mystery, I'd recommend this one.

C.M. Gleason's website is www.cmgleason.com

Murder at the Capitol by C.M. Gleason. Kensington Books, 2020. ISBN 9781496723987 (hardcover), 288p.

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




Saturday, February 08, 2020

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

Do you know what I love about Sarah MacLean's historical romances (well, other than everything)? One Good Earl Deserves a Lover: The Second Rule of Scoundrels, the second in her Rules of Scoundrels series, is the funniest one I've read yet.
Each one is so different. The characters are all unique, with unique problems and backstories.

Cross is one of the partners in The Fallen Angel gaming hell in London. When Lady Philippa Maybury shows up in his office, he's intrigued by her intelligence. He's convinced she's mad, though. Why else would his partner Bourne's sister-in-law, be standing in his office, unchaperoned, asking him to ruin her two weeks before her wedding? Pippa says she's heard in the ladies' salons that he's a proper rake, "most proficient in coitus", and she requires a research assistant. It seems Pippa read the Book of Common Prayer in preparation for her wedding, and she has to research "carnal lust and appetites". She's even happy to pay him, laying out her proposal in detail.

Poor Cross. While she sees "a very tall, clearly intelligent, obviously fascinating man", he feels as if the beautiful blond with intriguing fingers is stalking him across his own office. She wants answers. Unfortunately, when he turns her down, she wanders through the building and answers the door when someone pounds on it. Digger Knight, the owner of a rival gaming hell is there to blackmail Cross, but Cross first has to rescue an innocent Pippa from his clutches. No wonder Cross is often clutching at his hair when Pippa is present.

After a family tragedy, Cross has worked diligently to overcome his past, while retaining a reputation for wickedness. But, Digger Knight knows his family secrets and his background. And, Cross is unwilling to reveal that past to Pippa even though she doesn't believe in lying. When she returns with her ongoing demand for knowledge, he's reluctantly drawn into the role of "research associate", after making her roll dice, while telling her the Second Rule of Scoundrels, "Only wager if you can win." And, the time comes when Pippa Maybury takes winning into her own hands.

MacLean dedicates this book "For girls who wear glasses." And, there are comments throughout the book that she needs them in order to see. But, Cross sees her as "his brilliant, bespectacled bluestocking". She is brilliant. There are comments about her scientific interests, her quest for knowledge. Pippa is a fascinating woman, with so much book knowledge, and, at times, so innocent and trusting when it comes to life.

While Sarah MacLean's men are handsome with interesting backgrounds, it's her women who stand out. In this book, Pippa talks about the power men have and how poorly they use it. She knows how she would have sought education, if she'd had that kind of power. But, there's one scene in which the brilliant Pippa turns the gaming hell world on its head, and uses her knowledge for power. Pippa is everything you could want in a complicated heroine.

While I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, I'll be buying One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. Pippa makes me laugh with joy and astonishment.

Sarah MacLean's website is www.sarahmaclean.net

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean. Avon (HarperCollins), ISBN 9780062068538 (paperback), 376p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, February 07, 2020

Winners and a Library Lover's Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Mary H. from St. Louis, MO will receive Catriona McPherson's Strangers at the Gate, and Virginia D. from Tempe, AZ won The Long Call by Ann Cleeves. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away mysteries for library lovers. I have a couple copies of Victoria Gilbert's Bound for Murder, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Library director Amy Webber's friend Sunny Fields is running for mayor. But, there's a skeleton in the family closet. Sunny's grandparents ran a commune back in the 1960s on the organic farm. When human remains are found in their fields, Sunny's mayoral plans are fading, and Amy worries about her friend's grandparents. Not only are they suspects, but some of their hippie friends are perishing one by one.




Or, you could win a hardcover copy of Miranda James' latest Cat in the Stacks mystery, Careless Whiskers. I know I gave a copy away recently, but how can you resist the Maine Coon cat, Diesel, librarian Charlie Harris, Charlie's family, and a theater connection? The curtain might just come down on Charlie's actress daughter if he can't find the person who killed her co-star.







Which library lover's mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both titles, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win Bound for Murder" or "Win Careless Whiskers." Please include your name and mailing address. You can't win if I don't have both. The giveaway will end Thursday, February 13 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday, and I'm curious as to what you're all reading. My book is really one that appeals to my family. However, if you're interested in genealogy, I'm sure you've already found books through Amazon. I spent part of last night talking with my Mom on the phone, telling her about my book.

Some of you may remember the family trip I took last year with my Mom and sisters. It was a "family history" trip to Connecticut, to cemeteries and the Wadsworth Atheneum. The book, A Sea-Dog of Devon, is about the same side of the family. It's the story of my eleventh great-grandfather, Admiral Sir John Hawkins, who lived 1532 until 1595, and died at sea off the coast of Puerto Rico. It was written in 1907. Fascinating, but really only to my family.

Hopefully, you're reading something we'll all be interested in. Tell us what you're reading, please.