Jan McCanless: A Touch of Humor from the Beryl’s Cove Mystery Author Friday, Jun 30 2017 

Just in time for Father’s Day: Jan McCanless, author of the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries, is known for her wit, and here’s her essay on her “new” inventions to lighten your day. Don’t miss her books, either, filled with the same humor, fun reading for all. Here’s Jan to bring a smile to your day:

I’ve just invented the neatest toy, it’s called a Hula Hoop!

How does the saying go, a day late and a dollar short? Describes my lifestyle to a ‘t.’ While I have never been accused of being lazy or slack, I have been known, sometimes, to be a wee bit slow to find out things. It only took me 15 years of owning my electric can opener to discover it was also a knife sharpener – – -who knew? I’ve owned a computer now for oh, about a dozen years, and this past weekend, I figured out how to use the printer – – – – I feel so empowered!

Having all this self confidence, and empowerment, I sat down and thought I would come up with a really peachy keen idea for a new toy. It’s a round, tube thingy, with a large hole in the middle, and you put it around your waist, wiggle your hips like you are doing the hula, and spin it all at the same time. I’ve dubbed it a Hula Hoop. I was very proud of my invention, until I applied for a patent, and what do you know? It’s already been invented, decades ago! Why didn’t somebody tell me?

All this slowed me down somewhat, but, never let it be said, I don’t have sticktoittiveness. I have come up with another great idea, this one even better than the Hula Hoop, and it takes less brain power. And, I can lay in my hammock while I enjoy it. I have always loved pets: dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, I love them all, and over the years have enjoyed the company of many animals. When we lost the last of our 4 cats, it coincided with some remodeling and redecorating we did, so, spouse and I decided that we would leave the pets to others. He’s getting too old for them anyway, but, there is a way to enjoy a pet without the mess and cleanup AND vet bills. It’s called a Pet Rock, and I have even made a box with holes in it to carry the pet rock around in. The holes are so it can breathe, doncha know.

I was so excited about my invention, I called the kids and told them about it. “What happens when the rock dies?” one of my smarter offspring asked. “Well then, I’ll invent the Pet Rock cemetery,” I told them. “Been done,” they offered. You know, I’m starting to resent all these patent people for their comeuppance; they obviously don’t know a genius idea when they see it.

I went back to my hammock, where I do my best “work”, and put my thinking cap on. I’m never at a loss for ideas, you see. In the meantime, one of my sons delivered a load of gravel for my garden, and, as he dumped it all in the yard for me, he shouted out that the pet rock I invented had ‘babies.’ I’m definitely going to have to speak to these kids about their attitude. In the meantime, I’m going to stick to writing, – – – -and my hammock.

There’s the old adage that says, what ‘goes around, comes around,’ so I’m sure my ingenious inventions will have relevance again someday.

My brother always had a way with words, he too, one enjoyed a brisk ‘sit’ now and then, and when told something, he would always offer these words of wisdom: “I wish you had said something before you spoke.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Carolyn Haines: Sticks and Bones Wednesday, Jun 28 2017 

Carolyn Haines returns with her next Sarah Booth Delaney cozy, Sticks and Bones. This time the southern sleuth examines a cold case that comes to light in a most unexpected way.

An old acquaintance comes back into Sarah’s life in the form of Frangelica McFee, known as Sister. Now a bestselling author who lives in New York, she woman is still as arrogant and downright cruel as Sarah remembered.

So she’s doubly dismayed when it seems Sister’s memoir is being filmed on location right in Zinnia Mississippi, and the film crew decides to hire Sarah to dig out the truth about he deaths of Sister’s mother and brother decades ago.

Of course, digging into deeply buried dirt is bound to upset the real perpetrator, whose secrets have lain undisturbed until Sarah gets involved. With her trademark humor and strong protagonist, it’s another wild ride with Sarah Booth and her cohorts around.

John Bainbridge: Villain Monday, Jun 26 2017 

Please welcome John Bainbridge, to tell us about his newest historical in his series of The Chronicles of Robin Hood. Don’t miss the special rate if you order in the next few days! Welcome, John:

As some of you know, when I’m not writing mystery stories, I write historical tales and my new one is now out. Here’s my latest…

Villain – the third in The Chronicles of Robin Hood series – is now available for pre-order on Kindle. Publication date is 30th June. The paperback is already available. Order before the publication date and you get either version discounted – the price goes up on the 30th.

Here’s what it’s about:

“AD 1203. Plantagenet England. VILLAIN is a gripping historical novel and the third installment of The Chronicles of Robin Hood. Robin of Loxley is in exile in the dark forests of the north, when a killing and a betrayal drive him back to his old battleground of Sherwood Forest.

A good man is slain and the full terror of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne is unleashed. With the King in Normandy and a people’s champion dead, only warriors outside the law are there to fight for the poor and desperate.

Outnumbered and surrounded by his enemies, Robin Hood is forced into waging a murderous campaign against the forces of evil.

Fighting against overwhelming odds, the outlaws divided and with a vicious warlord attacking the people of Sherwood, can Robin Hood and just a few of his men hold back the forces of oppression?

An exciting new historical novel by the author of Loxley and Wolfshead.”

To order just click on the link to pre-order the Kindle version. Look under “Books” for the paperback.

Please do share and tell your friends. Small publishers taking on the mighty publishing empire of Rupert Murdoch need word of mouth advertising.

For more details about my historical writing do check out my other blog at http://www.johnbainbridgewriter.wordpress.com

Christina Baker Kline: Oprhan Train Girl Sunday, Jun 25 2017 

Kline’s adult novels have been reviewed here, but Auntie M wanted to make mention of a wonderful middle grad reader, as many of you out there have young readers at home or may be looking for a gift for one. Great for summer reading, Kline’s Orphan Train Girl follows two storylines that overlap, and introduces real history in a version for this age group.

Vivian is now an adult living in Maine when young Molly comes to her to help her cleanup her attic, but before that, she was an Irish immigrant who was brought to New York and put on an “orphan train” that would take her to the Midwest and to a new home in Minnesota.

The real orphan trains existed between 1854 and 1929, carrying an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand children from the East Coast to the Midwest to being new lives. Many of them, like Vivian, were immigrants to the US.

As her story unwinds, Molly, who had resided in more foster homes than she should have, finds that she and the elderly widow have more in common than she could have imagined. Molly learns of other children Vivian met on the train, and she learns of the homes and adjustment Vivian has had to endure, even to having her name changed.

The lovely story included a brief history of the orphan trains at the end for young readers. A satisfying read for any age.

Brian McGilloway: Bad Blood: A Lucy Black Thriller Friday, Jun 23 2017 

Brian McGilloway’s Lucy Black series, set in Northern Ireland, returns with the compelling Bad Blood.

Not one to shy from controversial topics, McGilloway tackles Lucy’s latest case head on, when a community becomes overwhelmed with tragedy.

A young man is found in a park, dead from head wounds, and with a stamp from a gay club on his hand. Concurrently, a hate-speech pastor was heard spouting the advocacy of stoning gay people. Could the death be connected to his talks?

At the same time as Lucy and her boss, DI Tom Fleming, try to cool things off, a Gay Rights group become involved, showing up and demonstrating at the pastor’s talks, while a far-right group target new immigrants who’ve moved into the area.

There will be vandalism that escalates to assault, arson, and more deaths before Lucy and her team, who are undergoing their own stresses, can figure out who is behind the various issues. There are turf wars within the community, and an escalating drug problem that adds to the tension.

Set against the days leading up to the Brexit vote, this highly current and compelling thriller will have readers flipping pages as Lucy and her team try to figure out who is responsible for what, when she finds herself on the receiving end of some of the ugliness.

The complex plot all makes sense in this end in this enjoyable read that will have readers searching for others in the Lucy Black series.

Kristen Lepionka: The Last Place You Look Wednesday, Jun 21 2017 

Kristen Lepionka’s debut mystery, The Last Place You Look, introduces PI Roxanne Weary, daughter of a police detective who’s inherited her father’s keen instincts along with his affinity for alcohol.

This is not your typical, sweet protagonist, but a hard-drinking, sexually active woman who’s learning to deal with her grief after her father’s death on duty. When her brother Matt sends her a new client, she finds herself drawn to look for Sarah Cook, a young woman who vanished the same day her parents were murdered.

The man accused of those murders languishes in jail, and with his execution scheduled for two months down the road, time is of the essence to find the young woman who would know who really killed her parents. Brad Stockton has always claimed he’s innocent and refused to put any blame on Sarah.

Then Brad’s sister swears she sees Sarah at a local gas station, although police have long maintained Sarah was also one of Brad’s victims when something went wrong between the two young lovers. This prompts her to hire Roxanne in a last-ditch effort to prove her brother’s innocence.

It seems like a cold case destined to go nowhere, until Roxanne links Sarah’s disappearance to another of her father’s cold cases. And then a third body is found, and Roxanne is scrambling to get ahead of a serial killer, while the local police thwart her every move.

Readers will feel Roxanne’s frustration and her grief as she tries to sort out her own tumbled emotions at the same time as she solves a decades-old crime. Readers will look forward to a sequel featuring the gritty PI.

A tense and suspenseful thriller, Lori Rader-Day says of Lepionka: “A talented new voice and a character worth following anywhere she trespasses.”

Susan Kandel: Dream a Little Death Monday, Jun 19 2017 

With a sparkling protagonist, Susan Kandel introduces readers to Dreama Black, immortalized forever in a rock song, in Dream a Little Death.

To say Dream has experienced an unusual upbringing would be an understatement. Her free-spirit grandmother and still-hippie mother, both rock groupies, raised her to be independent and to explore her sexuality, and that she does.

But Dreama is also trying to get ahead in her business, providing custom tours to private groups of LA’s neighborhoods, specifically designed depending on the group’s forte, so it’s difficult for her to turn down a five figure offer to set up a tour for music producer Miles McCoy’s fiancee’.

Noir is Dreama’s forte, and readers will learn about many of Dreama’s favorite places and how they tie in to the story in a big way. But this is a mystery, and there will be murders before it’s over, with Dreama finding her own life in danger while she tries to figure out her own love life.

The characters are larger-than-life and spring off the page, accompanied by Dreama’s witty observations. When McCoy’s fiancee shoots herself during an onstage performance, it’s deemed a suicide attempt–or was it murder?

This is a fast read with more than a touch of humor, and an insider’s look of Los Angeles and its varied neighborhoods, alongside a cracking good plot.

Tom Walsh: Bless Me Father Sunday, Jun 18 2017 

Bless Me Father is a classic “who done it?”

It’s a story of love lost and love found amid contemporary social issues of homelessness, addiction, and bringing the untouchable to justice. Cloistered conversations in the confessional are sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous. It is a modern-day crime mystery with character depth, a forbidden love, and a resurrected cold case.

Early readers have described the debut novel of Tom Walsh as thrilling and entertaining. Parts of the story echoes themes such as: the forbidden love of “The Thorn Birds;” the scandal of “Spotlight;” and the mystery of crimes long past of “Mystic River.”

It’s a definite page-flipper and a worthwhile read.

Tom’s earliest education began in parochial schools in San Francisco. At 19 he took a summer job in the motor pool two floors underground at a large public utility. He finished his Management degree at night at St. Mary’s College of California and by the time he left the utility company 20 years later, he had ascended the management ranks, regularly meeting with company officers on the top floor. During that time, he honed his skills in writing business proposals while contributing articles to trade publications and company newsletters.

Outside of work and school he wrote and performed music with a rock band in clubs around Marin and Sonoma counties. Continually seeking new challenges, he took management positions in Bay Area startups that developed innovative consumer electronics. He saw the start-up environment wane and was asked to return to the utility now during bankruptcy. Then as a self-employed consultant he assisted utilities, consumer electronic start-ups, and companies in the food industry. Somewhere along the way he was also the owner-operator of a popular restaurant. All the while, Tom’s artistic endeavors continue to be freelance journalism and music.

Tom is married with two children and lives in Sonoma County.

Joanne Guidoccio: Too Many Women in the Room Thursday, Jun 15 2017 

Please welcome Canadian author Joanne Guidoccio, whose mystery Too Many Women in the Room has the tag line: Eight women–eight motives to kill a lecherous photographer! Don’t miss her special giveaway at the end of her discussion.

Joanne is going to share what she’s learned about prologues:

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Whenever I’ve asked a writing instructor or workshop facilitator about prologues, I’ve encountered a variety of negative facial expressions—everything from a wince to a frown to a quick shake of the head. And the following responses: Agents hate prologues; Readers will skip to the first chapter; Prologues = Information Dumps.

One instructor offered a ray of hope: Use only if the prologue adds an interesting and integral layer to the narrative.

Interesting and Integral…Definitely a challenge and one I decided to tackle in my new release, Too Many Women in the Room.

But first, I needed to get more information about the Uses and Misuses of Prologues. Here’s what I discovered:

Use a Prologue to…

• Provide information that is crucial to understanding the rest of the story. In Too Many Women in the Room, I needed to introduce the victim’s voice. Having written the rest of the novel in the first-person POV, I wanted the reader to be privy to the thoughts and feelings of the victim in his final hour.

• Provide clues. Red herrings are an important component of cozy mysteries. In Too Many Women in the Room, the initial crime scene contains vital details that form the basis for these red herrings.

• Hook the reader. If the actual crime doesn’t occur for several chapters, it is a good idea to whet the reader’s appetite with a prologue. But—and a big but—the interim chapters also need hooks to keep the reader engaged.

Don’t Use a Prologue to…

• Introduce a voice or tone that is not as engaging as the rest of the novel.

• Dispose of the entire back story. Much better to incorporate bits and pieces throughout the novel.

• Introduce an overly-dramatic voice and then switch to a much quieter voice.

Here’s the idea of Too Many Women in the Room:

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

And here’s some of that opening prologue:
He couldn’t believe he was following his wife’s advice. After twelve years of paying lip service to deep yoga breaths, mindfulness, and all the other New Age crap she espoused, he had finally found a use for it. His midnight run usually sorted out all the stress, but tonight was different. He still couldn’t shake the venom that had been directed his way.
To make matters worse, it had come from eight women, eight very different and very annoying women. He had bedded four, but right now he couldn’t imagine having sex with any of them. As for the untouched four, well, only one interested him, and it had nothing to do with her feminine wiles and everything to do with her healthy bank account.
He would have to take something to get through the night, something a lot stronger than his wife’s herbal teas. The remnants of an old Percocet prescription came to mind. Two capsules might do the trick. The thought of a panacea, albeit a chemical one, calmed his racing thoughts. A good night’s sleep would make a world of difference. And tomorrow, he would sort it out.
The light patter of feet distracted him. Definitely a woman’s gait. Her breath was even, neither shallow nor panting. Younger, maybe in her thirties. His pulse quickened, and a smile spread over his features. A welcome distraction. Just what he needed to erase the built-up stress. To hell with deep breathing, affirmations, and Percocet.

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne…
Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio


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Sharon Bolton: Daisy in Chains Wednesday, Jun 14 2017 

Sharon Bolton’s Daisy in Chains was previously reviewed by Auntie M. This is to let readers know that the intricate stand alone from the suspense writer known for her compelling, original plots is now available in paperback. If you missed it in hardcover, look for it now.

Just to refresh memories, here’s the original review, which received my “Highly Recommended” rating:

Daisy in Chains is Bolton at her finest, bringing an original plot to the mix in this twisty tale where each and every detail may have more than one meaning. It’s a masterful blend of sleight of hand and at the end, the reader will understand just how good a plotter and writer Bolton is–and clamor for her next outing.

We are introduced to Maggie Rose, the blue-haired writer and attorney whose specialty is reversing convictions for murderers. The books that come out of this have given her a nice house in the country, even while she shuns publicity and appears to be a loner.

Then she’s asked to investigate the case of a good-looking doctor, Hamish Wolfe, in jail for three or four murders, depending on who’s counting. What the victims all have in common is their body style, larger women whose heaviness has often caused them issues.

While an undergrad in Oxford, Hamish had a relationship with a heavy woman. There is the suggestion he filmed himself and his lover having sex, but the video has vanished, as did his girlfriend.

The police seemed to think this was reason enough for his suspicion when the newer murders occur and each woman was heavyset, with their bodies found in caves Wolfe is familiar with. They are his “type.” Forensic evidence places one of the dead women in his car. Game over.

Maggie agrees to see Wolfe but is cautioned by the detective who put him away, Pete Weston, that Wolfe is a dangerous, charismatic character. Stacks of letters from women who have fallen for his charms from afar arrive at his prison at the Isle of Wight daily. A group of misfits headed by his mother has formed a group to try to get his conviction overturned.

Maggie isn’t certain at all that she wants this particular case but finds herself drawn in. And then someone breaks into her house and leaves a strange message: He loves me.

Weston seems attracted to Maggie, a nice subplot as he’s going through a divorce and the man his own wife has left him for just happens to be his boss.

There’s a lot here and close readers will still be surprised at the twisted ending. Bolton successfully explores issues of body image as the tension heats up quickly and stays there. Life in prison, body image issues, and bullies, murder and mystery: it’s all here in letters and emails exchanged between various participants; and in the wonderful scenes between the well-drawn characters. Highly recommended.

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