BLOG TOUR – Shadow Girl – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

Large Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt - July 31-August 13, 2017 - includes the author's photo and the book cover

4 out of 5 stars.

Hello! Today I’m hosting one of the first stops on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Gerry Schmitt’s new thriller, Shadow Girl. I’ll be including a review and an interview with the author!

Book Cover: Shadow Girl: An Afton Tangler Thriller by Gerry Schmitt, author of Little Girl Gone - Background is maroon with many small panes of glass and a silhouette of a girl.

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Synopsis

When a medical helicopter is blasted out of the sky, a dying tycoon’s hope for a heart transplant is dashed. But that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree that leaves Afton Tangler, family liaison officer, and the Minneapolis PD reeling. Vicious crime boss Mom Chao Cherry has sworn to avenge her husband’s death and recover her stolen narcotics – and nothing can stop her.

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Review

This was definitely a non-cozy mystery and definitely suspenseful, but I’m not sure I’d consider it a thriller. It didn’t really have the fast-paced story line that I’m used to having in a thriller. It moved along steadily, it just didn’t seem as fast-paced as most thrillers I’ve read. Overall, it’s a good book, but it wasn’t real fast-paced (tho’ it wasn’t slow either) and I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic, which is why I only gave it a 4-star rating.

This is my first book in the series and I will be going back to read the first one in the series at some point. I enjoyed the characters a lot. Max and Afton seem to play off of each other well as far as figuring things out. Technically, Afton’s not supposed to be doing that type of police work as she’s not officially an officer, but they work really well together so Max lets her tag along a lot more than he’s “supposed” to. They’re both well-rounded and developed characters. I think the more the series progresses, the more complexity we’ll see in them.

The plot line definitely was interesting! I was not at all bored reading this book which is a definite plus. It moves along steadily and has some sub-plots going on to help keep it moving along, but as I stated above, I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic for the suspense level throughout the book. I don’t want to spoil it though.

Overall, this is a well-written, good book and I would recommend it as a suspense novel if you’re at all interested in that genre. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your opinion on the ending!

About the Author

Author Photo: Gerry Schmitt - middle-aged white woman with blond hair and no glasses - wearing a black shirt and leaning against a stack of her books

 

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the just-released novel Shadow Girl, the second book in her Afton Tangler Thriller series. Under the pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In Gerry’s previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show.

 

Author’s Links: Webpage – Facebook

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Author Interview

Before I get on to the questions, I just wanted to say “Thank you!” to Ms. Schmitt for being willing to answer my questions! It’s always a thrill to me when authors agree to answer the questions I send out, whether through a blog tour or not!

Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Nope. I sold my ad agency to my business partner 14 years ago and never looked back. I’ve always been a professional writer, so switching to novel writing was very natural to me.


Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write sporadically?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I write every day, all day. I currently write 4 different series, the Afton Tangler Thrillers under my own name, and the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries under the pen name Laura Childs. So writing every day (and many evenings) is what it takes to get all this accomplished!


Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” your stories or do you feel like you’re in control?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Since I always begin my books with an 80 to 100 page outline, I always remain in total control. Also, since my books are all continuing series, I pretty much know what I need to do with my characters – how far I can push them or subject them to stress.

 


Q4: How did you break into the publishing world?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I had a dear friend who put me in touch with mystery great Mary Higgins Clark. Mary invited me to the Mystery Writers of American Symposium in New York and was kind enough to introduce me to several editors and agents. My career took off with zero rejections, thank goodness.


Q5: How many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Since I start with a tight outline, I really don’t do revisions as such. I begin my outline on a large sheet of paper and plug in all my actions, characters, and turning points. I transfer that to my computer and run the outline up to about 100 pages. When it feels right, I go back to chapter one and write my book straight through. Once I’m finished, I set the book aside for a couple of weeks, then I go through it 2 or 3 more times to punch it up. You know, there hasn’t been a thing written that couldn’t use a little punching up. And, yes, my Penguin Random House team takes over from there.


Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: For me, the easiest character to write is a villain. You can make them evil, conniving, greedy, angry, arrogant . . . all the sociopathic things that most people are not. And think about it, aren’t villains kind of fun? Think Hannibal Lecter. Or the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. See what I mean?

 


Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, etc. show up in your work?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Not yet. But if they misbehave, you never know . . .


Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical, who would you write about?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Coco Chanel. A claw-her-way-to-the-top orphan turned dressmaker who, at age 64, took a Nazi lover during World War II. Coco famously bragged: “When a woman my age has a chance to take a lover, she does not ask to see his passport.” Now that’s some kind of crazy!

 


Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I loved Golden Prey by John Sandford, The Girls by Emma Cline, and Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich.

 


Q10: What books have influenced your life most?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I’d have to say the Nancy Drew books I read as a kid. They just knocked me out and made me yearn to become a mystery writer. I mean, The Inn of the Twisted Candles or The Tolling Bell! How can you resist books like that?


Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book(s), who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I’d probably spend the day with Theodosia from the Tea Shop Mysteries. She could give me tea making tips. Lord knows, I could use some!


Q12: 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?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: To be honest, the only reviews I really look at are the ones that run in Publisher’s Weekly and major newspapers, and those tend to be quite favorable. I suppose there are occasional bad reviews on Amazon, but for goodness sake, people are entitled to their opinion. I’m certainly not wild about every book I read. And some books are so abysmal I don’t bother finishing them!

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Thank you again to Ms. Schmitt for being willing to answer all my questions and with some great answers! That wraps up my stop on the blog tour. If you’d like to visit other sites on the blog tour, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page with the list of blogs that will be featuring Ms. Schmitt’s book!

Medium banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt - July 31-August 13, 2017 - includes the book cover

 

Day of Secrets – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

Day of Secrets is the second thriller-type mystery from Daryl Wood Gerber and it is spectacular! It was incredibly suspenseful so I found myself having to read it in stages since anything too suspenseful can be difficult for me to get through (it depends on what else is going on in life), but at the same time, I didn’t want to put it down!

Book Cover: Day of Secrets by Daryl Wood Gerber - Background is grey - man is standing in dark colored clothing facing away from the audience. There's a gold locket in his hand.

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Synopsis

A mother he thought he’d lost. A father he never knew. An enemy that wants them dead.

At the age of five, Chase Day became an orphan. For thirty-one years, after a rebellious youth, he did his best to turn his life around and build a normal life—first as a Naval officer and then as a history professor at a boutique Bay Area college. Now, all that changes when he finds his mother, whom he thought had perished in a fire, dying from a gunshot wound. In her last breath, she urges him to find and protect the father he never knew. Where has his father been? Why has he never made contact? Can Chase discover why his family is a target before an unknown enemy destroys him?

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Review

Wow. That was the first word that came out of my mouth when I finished this book yesterday evening on my evening break. The second phrase was “Holy Toledo that was intense!” Both of which are dead-on accurate.

This was a pretty great read! I fell in love with the characters almost immediately. Chase is a great guy. He’s well-rounded and complex. He’s had a lot of crap happen in his life, but he seems fairly well-adjusted. Especially for suddenly having to deal with the fact that his mother wasn’t really dead, but now she is; his father’s alive and apparently in trouble; and his grandmother doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to tell him anything about these things.

This story moved along at a pace between steady and fast. It was fast-paced, but not so fast that you couldn’t follow the story line and/or got lost in the details. I think I described it to my mom as “a cliff-hanger on every other page”. That was a slight exaggeration, but not by much! The action in this book really keeps the story hopping!

I thought the ending was terrific. Things worked out the way they were supposed to and you got the feeling that all the major players were going to be alright after their run-in with the villains.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful thriller that doesn’t have a lot of gruesome, violent scenes! Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it!

*** Thank you to Daryl Wood Gerber for providing me with an ARC of this book. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

 

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Echoes in Death – REVIEW

3.5 out of 5 stars

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb is #44 in the In Death series and one that I have mixed feelings about. I love the series in general and re-read many of them. I haven’t decided whether this will be one of them or not.

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author, J.D. Robb - Echoes in Death. Top half of the cover is yellow with black, red, and brown splatter - Bottom portion is a nighttime look at the Flatiron building and surrounding building in New York City

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Brief Synopsis

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman―dazed, naked, and bloody―suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”…

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

(Source: Amazon’s description of the book)

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Review

I really don’t know how I feel about this book. Even after reading it twice (I always read them twice when they first come out because the first time through I simply devour them. The second time through, I’m able to take it a little slower and catch some details I missed the first time around), I’m still unsure.

While I enjoyed all of the non-crime related parts, I knew who the killer was early on, so the mystery itself wasn’t all that thrilling for me. Maybe I’m just too used to Ms. Robb’s writing style, but I knew who the killer was from the moment we met him. There was just something about him that made me say, yup, it’ll be you (and it was).

On the other hand, I think the book showed us something really important as far as how much Eve has grown and healed from her childhood since she met Roarke. Earlier in the series, this case would have caused much more heartache and trouble for Eve than it actually does. Yes, there are times when she just needs to “lose it” as she says to Roarke, but it doesn’t devastate her like it would have in the past. That’s a huge positive for Eve and an indicator of just how much Roarke’s love and Dr. Mira’s help/love has helped her heal.

Due to the nature of the crime and the type of victim the killer was targeting, I was semi-glad Mavis and Leonardo were out of town, but I still missed them. Mavis is such a whirlwind of energy and I think Eve could have used Mavis’s ability to distract her from a case. Hopefully they’ll be back in the next book!

All-in-all, I think it’s definitely a book that’s good for the underlying story arc of Eve & Roarke’s relationship, but the mystery itself isn’t one of the better ones of the series. Hence why it only gets 3.5 stars from me.

About the Author

J.D. Robb, author - Middle aged woman with short brown hair, reverse teardrop shaped face, standing on a busy New York City street wearing jeans, a black shirt and a long black leather coatJ.D. Robb is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling In Death series and the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. The futuristic suspense series stars Eve Dallas, a New York City police lieutenant with a dark past. Initially conceived as a trilogy, readers clamored for more of Eve and the mysterious Roarke.

(Source – J.D. Robb’s Author Page on Goodreads)

Rum Luck – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

Rum Luck is the first in the Bar on the Beach mystery series by Ryan Aldred and it does not disappoint in the slightest!

rumluck

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Brief Synopsis:

Ben Cooper’s wedding has been called off, but he and his friend, Miguel, decide to take the non-refundable plane tickets and hotel and get away from the hustle and bustle of life in Toronto. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned when Ben gets overly drunk one night and ends up purchasing the bar he’s drinking in. When the owner is then murdered that same night, Ben ends up the main suspect. Their friend, Victoria, who is a lawyer, flies down to Costa Rica to help them out and ends up staying.  Now, on top of figuring out how to keep the bar solvent and open, the friends need to find out the real killer before one of them is the next victim!

Review:

I started reading this yesterday on my day off and I could not put it down at all. In fact, half of the things I planned to do yesterday didn’t get done because I could not put the book down!

The characters are wonderful. I fell in love with all of them almost immediately. Victoria’s no-nonsense demeanor and knowledge of the law helps when dealing with the police and other legalities of purchasing a business. Ben, once he’s sober, is intelligent and kind, willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Miguel has his secrets, but he’s certainly loyal to his friends, including the beautiful Ana, the victim’s niece. While we don’t learn a lot of their back story, we learn enough to understand where they are coming from in this book. I’m hoping that we learn more about them as the series continues. They’re definitely complex characters and wonderful ones at that.

There’s maybe a little more descriptions of settings than I normally would like, but it’s just right for the context. Describing another country is not always an easy thing.  Mr. Aldred does it with ease. I could easily envision what the streets and buildings are like in this coastal Costa Rican town.

The story line is very fast-paced, but manages to be so without being confusing. Sometimes when a book moves quickly, it’s easy to miss details that are important. I never felt like I missed anything, the story just moved along very quickly. It was very action-driven.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, fast-paced, action-driven mystery. I cannot wait for the next book!

[I received a free e-copy of this book from the author through NetGalley. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own.]

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The Highwayman: A Longmire Story – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

Book cover with Silhouette of a man at the end of a dark tunnel & text

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Synopsis

When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago. With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman.

Review

The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson is an absolutely riveting tale in the Longmire series. It’s a novella, but the amount of action and suspense in the book keep you on the edge of your seat. I actually finished the story in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down!

Even tho’ everyone is familiar with the characters, there is still plenty of good character development within the story. I don’t believe that anyone would need to read the rest of the series in order to understand what is going on in the novella. There is enough background and character development within the story to provide all the information one needs to enjoy it.

The settings are described “just right” in my opinion. I like setting descriptions that provide enough for you to go on, but leave some things to your imagination. These descriptions are not too wordy, but you get the idea of what the area is like and how the granite walls can easily block communications.

I would highly recommend this novella to anyone who already enjoys the Longmire series, whether they read the books or watch the TV show.

(I received a free copy of the e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review. My review was not influenced by this and all opinions and conclusions are my own.)