The Convenient Cadaver – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

Today I’m happy to be presenting a review of The Convenient Cadaver, the first book in the Grandma Bertha Solving Murders series by Matt Ferraz. This was a delightful read and I’m glad that Matt contacted me and asked me if I would read and review it!

Book Cover: Grandma Bertha Solving Murders: The Convenient Cadaver - Setting is a bedroom or living room - blue striped wallpaper and hardwood floors - wooden cabinet and an elderly woman sitting in an overstuffed chair knitting

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links: Amazon

Synopsis

When Grandma Bertha moved to her son’s place, she brought along three dogs, several cases of beer and many, many horror film DVDs. While her daughter-in-law insists on the idea of sending Grandma Bertha to a retirement home, a dead girl appears near the house, shot three times in the back. Many years ago, Grandma Bertha let a murderer escape for not trusting in her own detective abilities. Now, armed with her wit and wisdom, she decides to solve that crime before the police. Could this crazy dog lady be a threat to a cold-blooded killer? And for how long can the family stand that situation?

Review

This was an absolutely delightful read! While it lacked that little extra pizzazz I like to bump it up to a 5-star read, it’s a very strong 4.5-star read!

I’m already completely in love with Grandma Bertha as a character. She’s smart, witty, a huge smart ass, and funny. The more we learn about her and her past, the more I love her. The rest of the characters in the book were well-developed. I do not like Lydia. I tried and tried to put myself in her shoes, but I just couldn’t do it. However, I also think that to a point, we’re not supposed to like her and Mr. Ferraz makes her difficult and demanding and easy not to like so I’d say that’s a success!

The plot line moves along at a decent pace. I never felt that it was too slow. While I successfully guessed part of the ending, there was part that was also a surprise to me. I don’t want to give it away tho’ so I’m not going to say anymore about that.

The setting descriptions were great. A great balance of just enough that I could imagine things easily and not too much.

I think what I loved most about this book was not just the mystery, which was interesting, but the fact that Grandma Bertha just is who she is. She doesn’t hide her true form.  She’s just herself even tho’ that makes Lydia and Todd frustrated with her. She’s not afraid to be her own person. Since that’s something I struggle with from time to time, it really resonated with me in this story.

I highly recommend this new cozy mystery and series. I’m excitedly awaiting the second book in the series!

Interview with Matt Ferraz

 

1) Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

I teach English to Brazilian kids in my hometown, and have plans to become a university lecturer. I actually took a masters in the UK, but have to validate it on Brazil to be able to pursue my academic career. But I like what I’m doing now, it’s more interesting than sitting in an office filling paperwork.


2) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Setting an aim is important to me, and I always do that, no matter what I’m writing. The Convenient Cadaver was written on a rush, because I was on the UK taking my masters and couldn’t afford flying home during the holidays. So I just wrote like crazy, always following a schedule. It works well for me.

Music doesn’t bother me that much, but I hate people chatting around me when I’m writing. I think it’s less because of the distraction, and more for knowing that they don’t respect my work enough to be quiet when I’m working, or at least go talk somewhere else.


3) Do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

A bit of both. When I start a book, I still don’t know the characters well enough to know how they are going to turn out. Some authors write profiles of their characters before they even start writing the book – I could never do that! It’d be like writing a symphony on the sheets without actually listening to its sound. What I do is I write about fifteen thousand words and only then start to outline. By then I know what I want to do with each character.


4) How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Fun fact: I got traditionally published in the UK and in Italy, but never in my home country Brazil. The closer I got was a publishing house that took two years to read my manuscript and then asked for 14.000 reais (around 4.300 dollars) out of my pocket to publish it!

My novel Killing Dr. Watson was released in 2016 by MX Publishing, an amazing British company that only deals with Sherlock Holmes-related books. Since my novel was built around Holmes fandom, they took me and did a great job with my book. While in the UK, I took a workshop about Amazon self-pubilshing and decided to try that with The Convenient Cadaver.

Thoughts of quitting? Not really. Writing is too deep inside me, and I couldn’t live without it. Sometimes I wish I was an engineer or an attorney so I could make more money than I do today, but I’d still be writing.


5) In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

I revise the first draft about three times before giving it to my best beta reader: my fiancée Alana. Then I need to have it edited and proofread – which is crucial, for I’m writing in a second tongue. I have a wonderful editor, Makenzi Crouch, who does that for me.

Line of blue, red, and green sharpened pencils
© Graphic Garden

6) A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

How to answer this without spoiling the ending? Let’s say I don’t like villains who do bad stuff just because they’re evil. My villains are people who have qualities, but that are put in a situation where they have to do evil things.


7) Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

Grandma Bertha is actually a composition of my two grandmothers and my friend Silvia. From my Grandma Edite, I took the whole situation of having an older relative living in one’s house, and how that can be difficult but also nice and funny. The tender relationship between Grandma Bertha and her grandson is taken from me and my Grandma Eva. And from Silvia, who sadly passed away before she could read the book, I took the part of an old lady who loves beer, dogs and horror movies.


8) If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

My dissertation was about the life of a Russian painter named Elizabeth Shoumatoff, who escaped Russia during the February Revolution and became a painter for hire in the United States. She did the final portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – he had a stroke posing for her and died shortly after! I have a ton of material on Elizabeth, and hope to write a book on her one day.


9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie this year, specially the Miss Marple novels. The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side and The Moving Finger are my favorites. I also read Colm Toibin’s amazing novel Brooklyn, which became a great movie with the talented Saoirse Ronan.


10) What books have influenced your life the most?

Stephen King’s books have always been very important to me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I’d be a writer today. Books like IT and Four Seasons made me realize that being a writer was not only a possibility, but a beautiful thing to aspire. Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile was also a landmark for me – the first novel for grown-ups I ever read. And we had a series of books in Brazil named Coleção Vagalume (Firefly Collection) which I devoured when I was a kid. They had everything, from adventure to sci-fi, mystery and even political thriller for young teens!

Line of blue, red, and green sharpened pencils
© Graphic Garden

11) If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day? 

I’d like to spend some time with Lydia, Grandma Bertha’s daughter in law, sit down with her and listen to what she had to say. My readers usually think Lydia is a pain, but I think she’s going through a lot of pressure and could use a friend.


12) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

I read them very quickly, and usually just once. It’s enough for me to see something that needs to be improved on the next one, and also what I have done right so far.


13) Do you have any hobbies? What are they?

Not really hobbies, but I do have a ton of obsessions. They come and go. I do have a collection of porcelain penguins, if that counts.

 


14) Do you like to travel? What has been your favorite location so far?

I’ve never been much of a traveler, but I did some trips while I was living in the UK. The coolest place I’ve ever been, by far, was Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home town, where I went to watch Hamlet on the stage. That was a blast! I had plans to visit the locations where the Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford were shot, but that didn’t work out. But now that I’m back in Brazil, there’s no shortage of beautiful places to go!

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

This is an incredibly great middle grade fiction book about a young girl with her first stirrings of a crush on a girl and all the confusion that comes with that and trying to figure things out.

Book Cover: Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee - purple background - two girls, one dressed as Romeo and the other as Juliet, dancing in the foreground

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Synopsis

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

 

Review

I thought this was an absolutely wonderful book and a delightful read! I read about this book on Facebook when the author posted something about being asked to tone down her presentation in a school in a conservative town. Immediately, I seeked the book out on Amazon and bought the Kindle version.

Our main character, Mattie, is a very complex character. She’s not liked by the “popular” crowd, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much. Instead, she has her friends Tessa and Lucy to hang out with and she’s okay with that. Until she meets Gemma at a costume party the “popular” crowd was having that she wasn’t actually invited to.

The settings in this book had great descriptions without going overboard. The plot line moves along at a steady pace. At no point did I think that it was moving too slowly or too fast.

Part of what I loved about this book is that at first, Mattie doesn’t even realize she has a crush on Gemma. When someone points it out to her, it still takes her awhile to work through her feelings and decide for herself. I like that the author showed us the fact that Mattie was struggling.

This is an incredibly great book for tweens and early teens who may be struggling with their sexuality and what all those feeling are inside. Yet, it’s not at all preachy or condescending. The author does a really great job keeping a balance between examining what Mattie’s feeling without the sole focus being on just her sexuality. There’s a good balance between other things in life too, her schoolwork, her play rehearsals, etc.

I highly, highly recommend this middle grade fiction for all ages really. It was incredibly well written and a wonderful, delightful read.

Book Tag: Why am I a Reader?

This is a slightly different type of post. Today I’m participating in a Book Tag. Book tags are fun ways to learn more about the blogger and to tag other bloggers. They each come with questions to answer and then you get to tag other bloggers and get them to answer the questions. Honestly, they’re sort of like chain mail, but they’re fun and I enjoy learning about other bloggers and the person behind the blogs I’m reading, so many bloggers participate in them. 🙂

This Book Tag is called Why Am I A Reader? I’ve seen this book tag done on a couple of blogs (including this-is-my-truth-now). The farthest back I’ve been able to trace the tag is to Thrice Read.

1) Choose one word that would describe you as a reader.

Hmm… tough one. I’m going to go with eccentric. I’m not a conventional reader. You don’t find me reading a lot of the literary bestsellers. I read what I want, when I want to. I don’t care too much about whether it’s “high-brow” literature or not. If it holds my attention and is written decently, I’m good.  Also, while I read a lot of different genres, I am somewhat picky in what I read. There are certain topics that I generally won’t read about (graphic descriptions of abusive relationships, zombies, vampires, etc.). I’m typically very loyal to authors that I enjoy, while finding it harder to pick up new authors (sometimes – sometimes I’m excited about picking up new authors. I’m an enigma).

2) What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

I think it was more a series than one book. Little House on the Prairie series. I learned to read at an early age (3 1/2) and I don’t necessarily remember the very first books I read, but I remember being excited when my reading skills were finally good enough that I could borrow the Little House books from my grandma. 🙂 I was so excited to be reading them! I think that was in first grade.

3) Hardcover or Paperback?

It depends on the book for me. There are some books where I own hardcover copies that I want to keep looking nice while I have paperback copies that are cheaper/easier to replace for my actual reading copies. Yet, there are some books I buy the hardcover right off the bat as my reading copy because I don’t want to wait for the paperback version to come out.  I’ve also grown to enjoy eBooks more. While nothing will ever beat holding that paperback (or hardcover) in my hand, the convenience of having my eBooks available on my phone does come in handy. Plus, most of the books that I read through NetGalley come as eBooks, so I’ve had to get used to them.

4) How has reading shaped your identity?

Reading has been mostly how I’ve learned things in my life. As a child, I was a voracious reader (I am to an extent today as well, but let’s face it, children don’t have to worry about work and bills and housework too much). I know a lot of random facts because I’ve read them somewhere. It’s my way of staying connected to a world without having to be “in” it and social all the time.

5) What book do you read when you want to be comforted?

It depends on why I need the comfort. If I’m anxious, re-reading favorite books is the way to go (depending on my mood it could be re-reading romance, a cozy mystery, fantasy, whatever sounds good). If I’m sad, I tend to choose picture books that will make me laugh, like “Press Here” by Herve Tullet (it’s one that you must read out loud and follow the directions, otherwise it loses its “magic”). 🙂

6) Who influenced you to be a reader?

My entire family. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts & uncles, cousins, etc. My mom has always been a reader along with my maternal grandma and grandpa and my paternal grandma. My dad has become more of a reader as I’ve gotten older. They all encouraged me to read. I didn’t really need much encouragement tho’!

7) Describe your dream reading lounge.

A room with floor to ceiling bookshelves (with ladders) arranged in an organized fashion (one of the few areas that I’m picky about things being in order). A comfy bay window seat for days I wish to read in the sun. Comfortable sofas and footstools or recliners. A small refrigerator for holding flavored waters (still) and iced tea. Blankets for cuddling up with when it’s cold. Basically think of the library in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and then add some really comfortable sofas/chairs to sit in and carpeting to help soften noise.

8) What book changed the way you saw the world?

I think I have to say Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It’s one thing to read about discrimination and Jim Crow laws in a history book. It’s another thing entirely to read about it as it’s happening to specific characters. That brings it home more than a history book ever could.

9) What defines your life as a reader?

Two words. Freedom and feast. I have the freedom to read what I want, when I want for the most part. Then there’s the fact that there is a feast of literature out there just waiting to be fed upon. No matter what genre(s) one prefers, there’s a host of new choices being produced each year and I’m thankful that I have the freedom to pick which ones I want to devour out of that feast.

10) What are your favorite quotes?

I have many, many quotes that have meant different things to me at different times. I’m including five (5) here that I prize above the rest.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou


“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J.K. Rowling,  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts, Tears of the Moon


She looked at him gravely. “You cannot call back the river that has already flowed past you, Ruith. All you can do is be grateful for where you are in it.” – Lynn Kurland, Spellweaver


“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
― Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Poems of Arthur O’Shaughnessy (also used in the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”)

Jamie Quinn Mysteries #1-3 – REVIEWS

First of all, my sincere apologies to the author, Barbara Venkataraman, for taking so long to read these three books in the Jamie Quinn series and get the reviews written. I’m so sorry it has taken me so long.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Book Box Set Cover - Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, Box set Books 1-3: Death by Didgeridoo; The Case of the Killer Divorce; Peril in the Park; all written by Barbara Venkataraman - background is black with the three book covers and orange writing.

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links: AmazonB&N

Photo of a didgeridoo - an Australian aboriginal instrument - wooden with a beaded pattern along the center of the instrument

Book #1 – Death by Didgeridoo – 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

Review

This book was a good introduction to the series. It’s fairly short, almost more of a novella than a novel, but it moved along at a steady pace and gave us a good introduction to the main characters of the series.

So far, I really enjoy the characters. Jamie’s great and reminds me a lot of myself. Duke is over-the-top but in a totally believable, realistic way and I love him. All of the main characters seem to be well-developed. They’re perhaps not complex yet, but that’s mostly because we’re just now meeting them. I imagine the more books there are in the series, the more we’ll see them develop.

All in all, it’s a good start to the series!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

Book #2 – The Case of the Killer Divorce – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.

Review

I didn’t enjoy this second book as much as I did the first. I felt like the pace was almost too fast. It was hard for me to keep up with what was going on. This is another shorter book, more of a novella than a novel.

It’s not a horrible book. The mystery plot line is interesting and so is the sub-plot of Jamie trying to find her father. However, I’m glad this one was sandwiched in between two much better stories. If this was the only story I had read of the series, I may not have continued with it.

However, the sub-plot of Jamie trying to find her father is important to the overall story arc, so I do recommend that you read this book, even tho’ it’s not as good as the first or third.

Park scene with people walking dogs, sitting on benches, walking with children or as couples.

Book #3 – Peril in the Park – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

Review

In my opinion, this is the best out of all three books. It feels as though Ms. Venkataraman has finally found the “groove” and the writing is flowing more smoothly. This book was more a full-length novel instead of the shorter novella length of the first two.

In this book, we see lots of the interpersonal relationships between the main characters grow and change. The mystery is fascinating and while I had some idea of the villain before the end of the book, I wasn’t certain until it was revealed.

I really enjoyed this third book and I’m looking forward to the fourth in the series, which I have on my Kindle, but it may be some time before I can get to it. June and July are already pretty full with books to read for review. 🙂

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

*** Many thanks to Barbara Venkataraman for providing me with an e-copy of these books. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

AWARD: Sunshine Blogger Award

I’ve been mostly offline the last couple of days due to playing with my adorable niece and sweet nephew on Wednesday and then having a weather-related headache yesterday (Thursday). I’ve kind of kept tabs through the WordPress app and my email on my phone, approving a few comments and such, but mostly I’ve been offline.

I’ve come back to a wonderful surprise of my FIRST award as a blogger!! Thank you to Jay @ this-is-my-truth-now for nominating me for this award! You should definitely check out his blog as well. I’ve been following his blog for about 6-7 months now and I really enjoy it! I’ve included Jay’s answers to the questions he was given at the bottom so you can get to know him a little more too!

The Rules:

1. Thank the person/persons that nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.

3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.

4. List the rules and display the award

Large gold and yellow sun with the words "Sunshine Blogger Award" written in the center of the sun.

Here are the questions Jay asked me and my answers. He really asked some that made me think, so it took me a while to answer all of these. 🙂

1) Where were you when you realized what career you wanted to pursue? Explain.

Well, I originally thought I wanted to be a teacher. I was only 5 when I decided that, but it was something I worked toward right up until I got to my student teaching and went “Whoa… I like small groups of children, but I’m not so keen on this large group of children”. After that I floundered a bit (about 5 years), until I started working as a page (book shelver) for Ann Arbor District Library here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I decided shortly after beginning there that this was definitely what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now I have my library science degree and I’m searching for a librarian position while working in a non-degreed position at AADL.

2) What age do you want to live to, and why?

As long as my physical health stays steady and I can stay independent, I think I’d like to live to around 90.  That would be old enough to see my adorable niece and sweet nephew’s children (if they have any) have children. I’d like to see that.

3) What book character most annoys you? Explain it.

I don’t know as there’s a specific character that annoys me the most, but there is a type of character that annoys me the most. Those are heroines who are what I call “too stupid to live”. These are heroines who really aren’t heroines, they’re just damsels in distress with window dressing. These are characters, often the amateur sleuth in a cozy mystery, but the archetype shows up in other genres as well, who are constantly getting themselves into situations where they need rescuing because they didn’t bother to think about the danger before they jumped head-long into the fray. They go looking for trouble and they annoy me beyond reason. I will often stop reading a series because of heroines like this.

4) What are your least and your most favorite of the 50 states? Explain.

Hmmm… this is a hard choice. I have not visited very many states, so I’m sure I have a least favorite.

My favorite is Michigan, my home state. Michigan has so many great things to offer. We’re surrounded by the Great Lakes, plus there are a lot of inland lakes, so there’s incredible opportunities for swimming, canoeing, boating, water sports, fishing, etc. We’re also full of wooded areas which make for great hiking and hunting (if you’re into hunting. I like wild game, but I don’t hunt myself). The Upper Peninsula (the U.P. to native Michiganders) has almost 200 waterfalls which make for some gorgeous hiking and road trips. We also have two Big Ten conference schools, plus several smaller, equally good, schools.

As far as weather goes, yes, northern Michigan (both the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula) can get pretty harsh, but for the most part, we have decent weather. We don’t have earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, or even very many tornadoes. We do get some tornadoes each year, but not nearly as bad as Kansas or Oklahoma. Summers can get hot and humid in the southern portion of the state, but many residents have somewhere “Up North” that they can escape to on the weekends, whether it’s a family cottage or simply a quick weekend trip to Traverse City or Mackinac Island.

Michigan also has a wide array of cultural attractions, museums, venues for live music, etc. Detroit is now the only city to host all four major league sports teams (NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB) within the city limits. I’m proud to call Michigan my home.

I suppose, if I have to pick a state that’s my least favorite it’d be New York state. New York‘s a beautiful state, don’t get me wrong. It’s the home of my best friend, but it’s not Michigan and that means my best friend is 300 miles away from me when one of us is not visiting the other. I don’t like being that far from her. If New York state was right next door to Michigan like Ohio is just south of us, I’d be happier, but 300 miles separate us and that sucks.

5) Where do you go when you need to feel comfortable, and why?

At home, you can usually find me on the couch in the living room. My bedroom doesn’t have room at the moment for a sofa or some other sort of place to sit other than my bed, which hurts my back to sit on. I’m very particular about “my spot” too. Think of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and his obsession with his “spot” and you’ll understand my obsession with “my spot”. I literally do not know where else to sit if someone’s sitting in my spot. Yes, I’m weird.

6) What book do you most want to see made into a movie? Explain.

Once Upon a Winter’s Night by Dennis McKiernan, or some other version of the folktale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I absolutely adore this folktale. I have since the first time I read it back in my undergraduate years. It’s a great book/folktale and I think with the things they can do with makeup and CGI, this would make a fabulous movie.

7) What is your favorite type of weather? Explain.

I prefer fall/spring weather the best. Highs between 60° and 70° or 75°, partly cloudy so the sun is not overly glaring and it’s at an angle that won’t trigger my sun allergy. It’s the only time of the year I can actually go out in short sleeves.

8) What past life do you wish you had, and why?

I think I would’ve liked to have been a scientist or artist (or both) during the Renaissance period in history. There were so many new things and new knowledge being discovered during that period. I think it would have been fascinating to live then.

9) Which president would you want to meet? Explain.

I’m thinking outside the box and going with President Nelson Mandela. I admire the way he fought tirelessly to end apartheid in South Africa. He fought both peacefully and non-peacefully, while jailed and while free. He refused to back down on his own morals and principles in exchange for freedom. He was an all-around fascinating man.

10) How did you find out about WordPress? Details please… 🙂

I’ve known about WordPress for many, many years. I’ve tried twice before to put together a blog on WordPress of various things, but I just was never very good about updating it. About 2 years ago, I started reviewing books for various authors and review crews. After I joined NetGalley in the spring of 2016, I decided to try doing a blog yet again. This time, I had a better focus, reviews and other things about books and life in general and after floundering a little for the first 6 months or so, I’ve settled into more of a routine and have been blogging more regularly and building up more of a following. 🙂 I’m up to just shy of 70 followers here on WordPress, but I reach other 250+ on various social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn).  I’m having a lot of fun and really enjoying the books I’m reading as well as the writing process.

11) Where are you when you draft your blog posts? Explain!

Sometimes I’m at home sitting in “my spot” on the couch and using my laptop. Sometimes, I’m on my break at work, sitting in the backroom at a computer. Finally, sometimes, if it’s slow at work (I work as a desk clerk at Ann Arbor District Library), I’ll work on a draft or two or three. I work all evenings and often times, the closer it gets to 9pm, the slower it gets. While I’m not specifically blogging for my work, I do transfer reviews over to our online catalog if it’s something the library owns.

That’s all there is about me! Hopefully you feel as though you know me a little bit better now.  Thank you again to Jay @ this-is-my-truth-now for nominating me for this award!! It made me very happy and excited! 🙂


My Nominees

  1. Always Trust In Books
  2. Susan Loves Books
  3. Café Book Bean
  4. MJBReviewers
  5. Drizzle & Hurricane Books
  6. Birdie Bookworm
  7. Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews
  8. Nerdy Book Club
  9. Out of the Box Library Programming
  10. jenacidebybibliophile
  11. Ketchusifucan

Questions for my Nominees

  1. Not all of you are book bloggers, so please tell us what your blog is about and why you chose to blog about that.
  2. If you had to choose just one book to read for the rest of your life, not including holy texts or Shakespeare, what would you choose?
  3. Where is your favorite place to write your blog? At home? In a coffee shop or park? Why?
  4. If you could spend one day with anyone, realistic or fictional, who would you want to spend your day with and why?
  5. What hobbies do you have outside of blogging?
  6. Do you like to travel? If so, where is the one place that you really want to go and haven’t been yet? If you don’t, why don’t you?
  7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
  8. What fictional world (book, tv show, movie universe, etc.) would you like to live in the most and why?
  9. Who has been the one person outside of your family who has had the greatest impact on your life?
  10. Which song or songs (you may pick up to 3) have had the most influence on your life? Why?
  11. If you were given $100 to spend on something you wanted but didn’t need, what would you spend it on and why? Try to be specific. If you’d buy books, which books.

I copied/pasted Jay @ this-is-my-truth-now‘s answers below so you can get to know him a little bit too!

  • What is your favorite book from childhood/young adulthood?

 

  • If you were given $50 right now to spend on books, what books would you buy?
    • Origin by Dan Brown
    • A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
    • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

 

  •  What’s your favorite thing to do in the summertime?
    • Vacation to the mountains or hide from the sun!

 

  • Name one book that you really disliked reading or an author whose work you can’t stand?
    • The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy… don’t make me remember it, please! Go see my review if you need to know more.

 

  •  If you could meet any literary character, who would it be and why?
    • Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. She embodies all the things I love!

 

  • What are you currently watching on tv (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc (that you would recommend?
    • Grace and Frankie, Younger, Young & Hungry, How To Get Away With Murder, Kimmy Schmidt, Great British Baking Show, Falcon Crest, Scandal, Modern Family, The Real O’Neals, SNL, Schitt’s Creek, Downward Dog, Mom, Life in Pieces, Who Do You Think You Are?

 

  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
    • Time Travel

 

  •  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
    • Teacher, Architect or Writer

 

 

  • What’s the weirdest or most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
    • I tend not to eat things unless I know what they are, but I have tried frog’s legs. They were OK, nothing to write home about! 😛

 

  • Which character in a book do you think is most like you?
    • In about 25 years, Qwill from the “Cat Who” book series! LOL

Grilled, Chilled, and Killed – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Grilled, Chilled, and Killed is the second book in the Big Lake Murders series. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. While it didn’t have that extra pizzazz that throws it up to a 5-star read for me, it was still delightful.

Book Cover: Lesley A. Diehl - Grilled, Chilled, and Killed - Tropical background with flamingo silhouette and an alligator - grill, fire and spatula in foreground.
Big Lake Murders #2

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links: Amazon

BBQ Graphic - Letters are brown with little flames around them

Synopsis

It seems as if Emily is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbecue cook-off dead and covered in barbecue sauce in a beer cooler. She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong. Lewis’ denigration of Emily’s speculations is condescending enough to stimulate her dormant snooping skills. As the two of them go on their separate paths to find the killer, Lewis’ old partner, Toby the dirty, tobacco-spitting cop interferes in the investigation leaving Lewis with the wrong man in jail. Killers, bootleggers, barbecue and feral pigs—it’s a lethal game of hide and seek in the Florida swamp.

Graphic of silver and red grill utensils - spatulas and skewers

Review

I enjoyed this installment in the Big Lake Murders series. It was a delightful read. This installment finds our characters dealing with Emily finding a murder victim at the local barbecue cook-off.

I really enjoy Emily as a character as well as the others in these books. I think she’s quirky and fun. She does occasionally get herself into trouble, but she usually at least takes one other person with her so she’s not going into dangerous situations without backup.

I did know who the villain was way before the end of the book, but it wasn’t too disappointing as the parts of the book outside the mystery were also very interesting. The plot line moved along better in this one than in the first book. I didn’t have any time where I felt it was going too slow.

I’m definitely looking forward to the third book in this series!

BBQ Graphic - Letters are brown with little flames around them

Blog Tour – The Connecticut Corpse Caper – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents "The Connecticut Corpse Caper" by Tyler Colins - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes a picture of the author and the book cover

4 out of 5 stars

Hello! Today I’m honored to bring you a stop along the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for the book The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins. Not only will I be featuring a review of the book, but I will also be presenting an interview with the author, Tyler Colins!

Book Cover: A Triple Threat Mystery - Book 1 - The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins - Three computer-generated women standing in front of a mansion or several story building
Triple Threat #1

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Long tree branch with cluster of two pinecones and evergreen stems at the right end of the line
©Graphic Garden

Synopsis

The antics of seven inheritance recipients during a week-long stay at a haunted Connecticut estate are detailed by Jill Jocasta Fonne. The will of a deceased relative, wacky Aunt Mat, stipulates that if anyone leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining. As it happens, one does leave permanently when he dies hours after arrival. Disappearing corpses, hidden passageways, and ghoulish pranks have Jill and best friends, Rey and Linda, seeking clues as to the person responsible for the mysterious goings-on. Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling-and mayhem-begin.

Graphic line of pine cones and pine branches with needles
©Graphic Garden

Review

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is the first book in the new Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. It’s a good, solid start to the series.

I like the three main characters in this series, though in this first book, they were just three of several viable murder suspects and potential victims. I think Rey, Jill, and Linda will make an excellent private investigative team and I look forward to reading more about them. I did know who the villain was fairly early on – or at least one of them. It was nice to get to see that I was right in the end, though.

This book really needed the more in-depth style of setting descriptions and Ms. Colins delivered beautifully. There was only one time I was a little confused about which secret passageway led to which room, but for the most part, Ms. Colins’ descriptions made it easy to follow.

I felt the plot line dragged a bit here and there, but it wasn’t horrible. It was, however, part of the reason I only gave the book 4 stars instead of 5. All in all it was a decent start to the series and I do look forward to reading more from this author.

*** Thank you to Tyler Colins for an ARC of this title. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

Long tree branch with cluster of two pinecones and evergreen stems at the right end of the line
©Graphic Garden

Interview with Tyler Colins

First, let me say a huge “Thank You!” to Ms. Colins for being willing to answer my questions. Enjoy!

  • Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?
    • I work in HR, handling contractors.  To be perfectly frank, I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t not enjoy it.  It’s not very challenging, but it has its moments; I do learn new things, which is great.  And I’m very grateful that it pays the bills.

  • Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

    • I try to write a little every morning before the work day begins and either aim for a scene or a revision/edit of a previously written scene.  Little bothers me when I’m writing (I can usually tune things/people out).

  • When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

    • I never have an outline because I know it will never be adhered to, but I always have an all-encompassing idea/image in mind.  My characters have definitely (!) hijacked many scenes—in fact, some have even rewritten them.  <LOL>

  • How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

    • I broke in by e-publishing.  The traditional route seemed limited.  Rejections from publishers and agents were growing wearisome (and they don’t do much for the ego, I must say).  I’m no James Joyce, but my writing isn’t bad, either.  I believe I have [good/fun] stories to tell.  . . . No!  I’ve never thought about quitting—ever.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve and it’s who I am.  To stay hopeful and focused, I keep the faith and tell myself that if it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Everything has its time.  Patience and perseverance—and belief—are musts.

  • In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

    • Many!  It’s the editor in me; a scene, a book, has to feel right and everything has to tie logically together.  Yes, I have set aside books . . . and I’m glad I have.  They now serve as fodder for new ones.  And one I put in a drawer nearly two decades ago (my, time does fly), I am now revising and placing on Wattpad in weekly installments.

  • A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

    • For The Connecticut Corpse Caper, the villain came easily.  The book had been written as an ode to all those wonderful, fun/funny B&W mystery movies I’d grown up with.  I applied some typical villain traits, but the characters really “created” themselves.

  • Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional? 

    • All my characters are truly fictional.  I don’t know why, but I’ve never been inclined or inspired to develop one based on someone I know.

  • If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

    • A great question!  Wow.  I suppose I’d like to write about a pirate, a real or fictitious one.  They’ve always intrigued me, rogues that they can be.

  • What are some great books you’ve read recently?

    • Given my full-time job, and taking care of Mom, and trying to get my own books written, I find it very difficult to read any these days (and I was always an avid reader).  The last one I read, though, was by Janet Evanovich. I thoroughly enjoy her Stephanie Plum series; the characters and situations are crazy-funny.

  • What books have influenced your life the most?

    • In terms of my writing, I’d have to (again) say that Nancy Drew put the mystery-solving bug in me at a very young age.  I always wanted to be a detective like her, and now, I guess I am.  J

  • If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

    • Another great question!  I’d probably want to spend the day with Rey; she’s brash and melodramatic, and isn’t scared to say what’s on her mind.  She’s also willing to do whatever is necessary to get a job done, even if it means some B&E.  I think I’d like to do something totally “girly”, something I don’t normally do, and that would be spending an afternoon at the mall with her (that gal is one heckuva shopper).

  • Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

    • I’ve only had one so far, but I’ve not really put myself out there yet.  I’m trying to get a blog going (that’s a story in itself) and make a Facebook page related to my Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes less static.  I have so much to learn, though, and time is so limited.  But it will come.  And, hopefully, so will the reviews—be they good or bad.

 

Once again, I’m very thankful that Ms. Colins was willing to answer my questions! I hope you all enjoyed today’s stop on the tour. To get a list of tour participants, click on the banner below.

 

Medium banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents - The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes book cover