End of the Year Wrap-Up – 2017

Even though we have a week to go in this year, I’m writing this post now because my best friend is coming to visit after Christmas and I don’t anticipate having time to write it then!  Here’s Goodreads’ view of my year in books.


Just going by this, I passed my Goodreads Challenge goal of 175 books, but I fell short of my Pages Read goal of 48,001-60,000 pages. I have listed a slightly higher total of pages, but then I usually go by how many pages Amazon says the item has. Either way, I’m still a bit short of my goal.  I’m still reading and who knows, I might make it, but I’ve got about 3000 pages to go, so I’m not so sure on that.

** UPDATE 12/30/17 – I have finished the Pages Read Challenge after all! Woo hoo! **

Other challenges I’ve managed to complete this year were:

  1. Read it Again, Sam Challenge
  2. E-Book Challenge
  3. Craving for Cozies Challenge
  4. Pages Read Challenge

I’m close to finishing my Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies challenge. I just need one more British Cozy and I’ve got an Agatha Christie lined up to read after Christmas.  The rest of my challenges didn’t go so well. It was a combination of reading too many books for review and just not having time to read others. So next year, I’m going to join fewer challenges and really try harder at clearing up some of my backlist of reading.

My life took some decent size turns this year as well.

I started a new position at my library. I’m now working in acquisitions/cataloging instead of on the public desks. It has been so freeing for me. My anxiety was thru the roof when I was on the public desks and I would actually call in a lot. Now, I’m not calling in nearly as much and I love what I do. 🙂  Cataloging was my concentration in library school so to actually be doing cataloging is wonderful. I love my co-workers, my boss, the fact that I can set my own hours as long as I get my 40 hours in each week, all of it. 🙂

I’ve also been working on deep cleaning and reorganizing my room. While I’ve gotten stymied with a few of my plans with this, I have time off for the holidays and plan to really crank it out and end this project! After that comes tidying up my art area in the basement so I can make art again down there. 🙂

I’ve made several new friends this year through blogging and am having a lot of fun with it, even if I don’t have quite as much time to post as I did before!

Favorite Books of 2017

Here’s a list of some of my favorite books that I read this year. I can’t choose just one, so here’s the top 11 in the order I read them, so the beginning of the year is at the top and the end of the year at the bottom (I tried to whittle it to 10 and I just couldn’t choose one more to cut out so 11 it is).

  1. Assault & Beret – Jenn McKinlay
  2. Smugglers & Scones – Morgan C. Talbot
  3. Wish – Barbara O’Connor
  4. Color Me Dead – Teresa Trent
  5. Be Light Like a Bird – Monika Schröder
  6. Star-Crossed – Barbara Dee
  7. Once Upon a Spine – Kate Carlisle
  8. The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
  9. World of Innocent – Nadine C. Keels
  10. Watching Glass Shatter – James J. Cudney
  11. The Dreamer’s Song – Lynn Kurland


Books I’m excited about for 2018

  1. Tempests & Slaughter – the start of a new series by Tamora Pierce, a young-adult fantasy novelist that I thoroughly enjoy.
  2. The Bishop’s Pawn – Steve Berry – love his historical/contemporary novels. He seamlessly blends old facts with a modern-day story line and then goes back and tells you what was real and what was fiction.
  3. The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden – the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. It was actually released this month, but I won’t get to it before January.
  4. Father Figure – James J. Cudney – I’ve read some early drafts and I’m super excited to see this get all polished up and published!
  5. A host of new cozy mysteries from Laura Childs, Jenn McKinlay, Vicki Delany, Meg Macy, Nell Hampton, Kate Carlisle and many more!

What books are you looking forward to in 2018 or are there ones you read in 2017 that you’re anxious to share with others? I’m always looking for great recommendations. 🙂


Life’s Way of Interrupting Things

As some of you know, I took a 5-day weekend this weekend to try and get furniture moved around in my bedroom and start working on putting things away in an organized fashion. Life had other plans for me.

Thursday night, my sister-in-law had a bit of a medical emergency. They went to the ER and she will be fine, but they had to admit her for a few days. Consequently, yesterday, instead of moving furniture that was coming out of my room, we all spent the day playing with my adorable niece and sweet nephew. Now, it’s not a hardship to spend time with the munchkins. At 4 and 2, they’re just a joy to be around. They’re inquisitive and smart and always wanting to know “What does that spell?” or “What does this go to?”

I noticed through all this that with my new job and the work I’ve done in therapy, I do much better at “going with the flow” and adapting as the situation needs.  Even a few months ago, I would’ve been upset that my plans were being messed with, even though it certainly wasn’t my sister-in-law’s fault. Yesterday, I just rolled with the changes and wasn’t upset. Maybe a little twinge of “Welp, there goes that plan”, but I wasn’t upset like I used to be. So yay for that!

The kiddos slept here at Grammy & Papa’s last night. It worked fairly well, though there were a few tears. My brother picked them up a little while ago and will spend the day with them and they’ll sleep in their own beds tonight. We may very well have them tomorrow too, which is again, not a hardship to play with them. 🙂

My dad and I did go get my new bookshelves from my co-worker’s house today, so they’re in the garage when we do get a chance to move things around, but that will be some other time. Maybe Monday, maybe not since we might have the sweet munchkins then too. If not Monday, then maybe next weekend.

Even though it means my room isn’t getting completed this weekend as planned, it’s still been a pretty good first 2.5 days of my 5 day weekend. 🙂 I hope the rest of you are having a good Saturday!


Good morning! Today I’m hosting another Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. This time, I’m spotlighting Crepe Factor by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran. Purchase links and a link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway are at the bottom of the post!

Crepe Factor
by Laura Childs
with Terry Farley Moran


Crepe Factor
(A Scrapbooking Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
14th in Series
Berkley (October 3, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425266717


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The Winter Market in the French Quarter is in full swing, but murder isn’t taking a holiday in the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Parchment and Old Lace

The holidays are a busy time for scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand—but not so hectic that she doesn’t have time to enjoy browsing the booths at the Winter Market with her best friend Ava. The last thing the ladies expect to see is a lurching man stabbed by a serving fork, dying in front of them.

The victim is loathed restaurant critic Martin Lash, who posted his scathing reviews on the Glutton for Punishment website. And the prime suspect is New Orleans restauranteur Quigg Brevard—who was seen giving the critic a tongue-lashing minutes before someone stuck a fork in him. An old flame of Carmela, Quigg asks for her help, which does not please her current beau, Detective Edgar Babcock, to say the least.

Before her relationship is the next victim, Carmela needs to find a murderer who had no reservations about punishing the culinary curmudgeon…

Scrapbooking tips and recipes included!


Praise for “Crepe Factor”

CREPE FACTOR is truly a fun, fun read!
~Cinnamon, Sugar and Little Bit of Murder

Another wonderfully crafted installment in the Scrapbooking Mystery series!
~ Lisa Ks Book Reviews

I had such fun reading this one.
~A Chick Who Reads

I love the friendship between Carmela and Ava they are great together. I also love how the girls worked with Moony and Squirrel as well. Such a great team of friends.
~Community Bookstop

…the mystery in this book is what kept me reading. It was really engaging and intriguing.
~Bookworm Cafe



About The Authors

laura-childs-from-facebookLaura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura’s Links:

Webpage – http://www.laurachilds.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31


Short-listed twice for The Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran is delighted to introduce mystery fans to the Read ’Em and Eat café and bookstore, which debuted with Well Read, Then Dead. followed by Caught Read-Handed and Read to Death released in July of this year. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is playing games and reading stories with any or all of her grandchildren.

Terrie’s Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terrie.moran.9

Blog: www.womenofmystery.net

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/23186092-terrie-moran


Purchase Links:

AmazonB&NGoogle BooksKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway


Thanks for joining me today on this latest Great Escape Virtual Book Tour. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below, which will take you to the main tour page with a list of participants!

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Good morning! Today I’m hosting yet another stop on a Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. I love participating in these! They introduce me to all sorts of new authors and give me a chance at reading favorite authors’ new works before they’re published.  Today’s spotlight post is for In the Stars by Zanna Mackenzie, the first in the Amber Reed Mystery series.



Purchase Links: Amazon

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One desperate phone call is all it takes to turn Amber’s previously dull day into one speeding scarily out of control!

Amber Reed’s at work making up the horoscopes for the local newspaper and wishing for some excitement in her life, when she gets a phone call offering her just that.

Plunged into the middle of a celebrity murder investigation she’s desperately trying to convince the scarily handsome special agent assigned to solve the case that she can help him catch the killer.

Amber’s soon battling something far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined – and it has nothing to do with the equally scary chemistry fizzing between her and special agent Charlie.

Is it Amber’s wish for more excitement in her life which has landed her in big trouble – or is her fate written in the stars?


Praise for “In the Stars”

Danger and romance heat up the pages of this intriguing mystery.
~Laura’s Interests

Amber is a great heroine. She is very loyal to her friends, as evidenced by her undertaking to help out in the investigation into the murder of her college-boyfriend-turned-movie-heartthrob (Ennis’s) brother (Joel), even though it initially is out of her comfort zone and eventually downright dangerous!
~Back Porchervations


About the Author


I live in the UK (Derbyshire/ Leicestershire border) with my husband, 5 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever-expanding library of books waiting to be read

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is my ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, I can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on. I love it when the characters in my novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot.

I enjoy walking the dogs, gardening and reading.

Links to webpage: www.zannamackenzie.co.uk

blog: www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberReedCCIAMysteries/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZannaMacKenzie

 GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6927649.Zanna_Mackenzie


All Books in the Series


Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page at Great Escapes Book Tours where there is a list of all participants!


BLOG TOUR – A Cajun Christmas Killing – GUEST POST


Hello! Today I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for the novel A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron. Ms. Byron sent me a guest post to share with you. Links to the book on Goodreads and purchase links can be found at the end of the post.

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

Ellen Byron’s Guest Post

I’m not just a mystery author, I’m a mystery reader. In a big way. I read pretty much all of Agatha Christie’s novels by the time I was fourteen. My favorite current authors are Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen, and G.M. Maliet, to name just a few. I try to read one book by every mystery author I befriend, so my TBR is through the roof! Well, through the virtual roof since I’m trying to adapt to a Kindle to save space and money. But my all-time favorite book is a classic – Wuthering Heights. I spent a good number of years with a literary crush on Heathcliff. Until recently, that is…

 Here’s how I came upon the book. When I was a moody, disaffected teen who could have used a heavy dose of anti-depressants, my family vacationed in Vermont. We eventually happened upon The Haunted Mansion Bookshop. Housed in a spooky Victorian home across from a cemetery, the used bookstore was run by a man with only one arm. As I wandered through the dusty, packed aisles, the one-armed man approached me and used his remaining arm to hand me a book. “I think you’ll like this,” he said. The book was Emily Bronte’s classic tale of passion, Wuthering Heights, and boy, was he right. Emily Bronte’s gothic romance blew me away. I fell madly in love with Heathcliff, the passionate, brooding breakout star of the novel. Could there be a hotter literary hottie? Not to fourteen-year-old me.

But my attitude toward Heathcliff recently changed. I re-read Wuthering Heights because I wanted to use my personal obsession with the book as back story for a character. And the way-older-than fourteen-year-old-me had a completely different reaction to the original anti-hero. Heathcliff is a horrible human being! He’s physically and emotionally abusive, callous, cruel, and basically a stalker. I realized he made a terrible role model for sexy male love interests in my books. It was sending the wrong message to my characters and readers. So Bo Durand, the eye candy in my debut novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, may look a little like Heathcliff with his jet-black hair and deep brown eyes, but he’s sensitive and kind. Women attracted to him had better be prepared to take a back seat to Bo’s autistic son, Xander, the light of the divorced detective’s life.

Still, Emily Bronte’s passionate prose never ceases to move me. And when you’re together as long as Heathcliff and I were, you can’t just go cold turkey on each other. He’ll still color my characters.  My men will always be a little mysterious. Occasionally, one or two may brood. I could never do a total 180 on the relationship because then the men in my books could become something that Heathcliff never was: boring.

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


I’ve been a television writer for (puts hand over mouth to hide how long) years. Mostly I’ve written for sitcoms like WINGS and JUST SHOOT ME. I recently finished a lengthy gig writing the animated Nickelodeon series, FAIRLY ODD PARENTS and BUNSEN IS A BEAST. I’ve written pilots for all the major networks and some cable ones as well. People often ask me what the difference is between writing for television and writing mysteries The answer? Everything.

First of all, I have a partner for writing television – we’re a female writer/producer team and that’s how we’re marketed by our reps. My CAJUN COUNTRY MYSTERY series is totally my own thing. But if I sold it to a network or studio, my writing partner and I would pen the script adaption of it together.

Writing for television is a social occupation. Writing novels is solitary. Although I’ve done dramas, my career has mainly been in comedy, so I’ll focus on that. As a sitcom writer-producer, I’m part of a staff that can be anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen or more writers offering various levels experience. I’ve worked on staffs that have fifteen writers. We work as a room to break stories. With most shows, once a story is broken, it’s assigned to someone on staff who goes off and writes a first draft. If there’s time in the production schedule, the writer will get notes and do a second draft. The entire staff then punches up the script, adding jokes, fixing story problems, etc.

When you’re in production, you’ll have three trains running – a story train, a production train, and a rewrite train. Multi-camera shows like BIG BANG THEORY are almost like plays. You go to run-throughs, and then come back to the writers room to rewrite based on what worked and what didn’t. There’s a studio run-through and a network run-through, and you have to address the notes given by the various executives. Then you shoot the show before a live audience. Sidebar: (BIG BANG THEORY follows a model where scripts are group-written in the room by the staff.)

My mysteries are totally my babies until they go to the publisher. It’s just my computer and me until I have a draft I want to share with beta reader friends. Once that’s polished, I send it to the publisher, who responds with developmental and copy-edit notes. I get to revise and polish up until the book goes to print – and now with e-books, I’ve even made changes a year after publication!

I love having the combination of both writing experiences in my life. It provides a wonderful balance, and exercises different parts of my brain. Have I mentioned I also write plays and am a freelance journalist? But we’ll save that for another post…

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

Thank you for joining me today for a stop on the Great Escape Virtual Book Tour for A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron! Below are the purchase links, a link to Goodreads, the Rafflecopter Giveaway, and the Author’s Links. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, click on the banner at the very end and that will take you to the main tour page which will provide you with a list of tour participants.


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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Author’s Links


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