BLOG TOUR – Watching Glass Shatter – REVIEW & SPOTLIGHT

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5 out of 5 stars.

Welcome! Today, I’m beyond excited to be featuring a stop on the blog tour for my friend, Jay’s, new book, Watching Glass Shatter. This book is phenomenal! I don’t say that lightly. Yes, Jay is my friend, but the writing totally lives up to the hype and is well-deserving of a 5-star rating!

*** Also, this weekend, November 10 – November 14, the eBook version of Watching Glass Shatter is free on Amazon! You can check out this phenomenal book for FREE! ***

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Purchase Link: Amazon

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Synopsis

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death.

We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family.

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Review

Olivia and her sons and the rest of the characters are well-rounded, developed, complex characters. There were points where I wanted to “Gibbs’ slap” each of them in turn, but they’re all terrific characters. I can also identify with each of them in turn as they deal with the various pressures and secrets in their lives. Zach and Caleb are my favorites. They seem to have a hidden depth to them and I want to get to know them even more than we do in this book.

The character development in this novel is wonderful. We watch several characters go from being obsessed with their own lives and their own feelings, to the exclusion of others, to reaching out and enjoying the fact that they have a family to rely on. Everyone grows to some degree, some more than others, but everyone grows and changes a little in this book and it’s fabulous to watch.

The setting descriptions were slightly wordier than I tend to like, but they worked in this book. I didn’t feel as though they pulled me out of the story as setting descriptions sometimes do. I tend to prefer more basic descriptions, but the wordiness worked in this novel and it didn’t detract from anything at all.

The plot line is incredibly dramatic and amazing. How Ben’s secret affected Olivia, how the secrets of the boys affected their relationships in the family, everything was excellent. There was just the right amount of suspense for a dramatic novel without there being too much suspense.

All in all, I’m totally in love with this book and it’s definitely in my top 5 books of 2017. It’s phenomenal, amazing, and you really need to read it! I’m also very excited to hear that Jay’s planning on writing a sequel!

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About the Author

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 Jay wears many hats and has had a variety of experiences in life, all of which he combines into his writing. He grew up on Long Island, went to college in Pennsylvania, has lived various places and now lives in New York City. He spent about 15 years working in technology in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries, but writing has been apart of his life since he was a child.

In 2016, he left his work in the technology industry and started re-focusing on reading and writing which are his true passion. He’s written over 500 book reviews on Goodreads and he has a blog called This Is My Truth Now with over 3000 followers.

img_2917Outside of reading and writing, Jay’s interest include genealogy, cooking, and his 10-year-old Shiba Inu, Ryder. Ryder even has his own segment each week on Jay’s blog called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about Jay.

Watching Glass Shatter is Jay’s debut novel. His second novel, Father Figure, will be published in early 2018.

Author’s Links

 

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Thanks for joining me today! I’m so excited about this book! I hope you hop over to Amazon, pick up a copy and enjoy it! Thank you, Jay, for letting me be a part of your blog tour. It’s an amazing book!

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REVIEW – A Deadly Eclair

4 out of 5 stars.

Today’s blog post features a book that I’ve been reading to review but not a blog tour this time around! A Deadly Eclair is the first book in the French Bistro Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber and it’s a great start to the series.

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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Synopsis

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an eclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Eclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

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Review

As I said above, I think this is a great start to the series and I enjoyed it. I did have a little trouble getting into it, but once it caught my attention, I couldn’t put it down.

Our main character, Mimi, is great. She’s well-rounded, complex, and fun to read about. Her sidekicks, Heather, Jo, and Raymond are all great too. In fact, I almost like Heather and Raymond more than Mimi. Almost. 🙂

The setting descriptions were great, which I’ve come to expect from this author. She usually has a good balance of details and leaving some things to the imagination. I’m totally in love with the fact that the inn and gardens are based on Monet’s house in Giverny. Visiting Giverny is on my bucket list of “someday I’ll get there”. 🙂

The plot line was well done and well-written. I didn’t know who the villain was until very close to when they revealed it, which is always great in a mystery! I like mysteries that keep me guessing. 🙂

I really enjoyed this book. It didn’t quite have enough sparkle and pizzazz to put it over the top into a 5 star book, and it did take me a bit to get into it, but it’s a solid 4 out of 5 stars and I definitely recommend it for those who love cozies and/or other books by Daryl Wood Gerber! Enjoy it!

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About the Author

Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Author Links

Visit Daryl or Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Daryl’s Blog – Avery’s Blog – Mystery Lover’s Kitchen – Killer Characters –

Facebook:   Daryl      Avery 

Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber

Goodreads:    Daryl Wood Gerber     Avery Aames

BLOG TOUR – Broken Promises – REVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars!

Welcome! Today, I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Broken Promises, the first in the Past Imperfect Mystery series by Anne Willow. I found this to be an easy, fun read and a good start to a new series!

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Purchase Link: Amazon

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Synopsis

Julia was in a search of a way out…a way back to herself. The passing of her favorite aunt sends her to the small artist town of Grand Marais, nestled along the northern coast of Lake Superior. There she starts to weave the tattered threads of a new life, rediscovering her love of sketching, while running the antique shop, Past Imperfect. Everything is finally going right. Until a mysterious package arrives, tucked inside is an ornate Victorian silver letter opener bearing the initials E.C. along with an even more mysterious note. Julia’s natural curiosity peaked, but before she can discover who sent the letter opener, it’s found embedded in Tom Peterson’s chest. The tapestry of her new life begins to unravel as she is named a prime suspect. Now, left with few clues and a past not willing to let her go, Julia works to solve the mystery and the murder.

Infidelity through time and a curse that only she can break – once she figures out how.

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Review

As I stated above, I found this to be a fun, light read and a good start to a new series. I really enjoyed our main character, Julia.  She seemed very well-rounded, complex, and even grew a bit of a spine in this book, which is good because while I, myself, am not the greatest at standing up for myself, I like the heroines in the books I read to be strong.

While she did take some risks in this book, they were thought out and not just off-the-cuff, who cares about the risk, moments. Also a good thing because I really hate heroes or heroines who are “too stupid to live” and are reckless with their sleuthing.

The setting seemed nice. I will admit to being slightly confused at first. I missed the little detail that we were in Minnesota. Michigan (where I live) also has a Grand Marais and it’s also on the shore of Lake Superior. However, it’s nowhere near Thunder Bay like the one in Minnesota so when I read that people were passing through on their way to Thunder Bay, I knew I’d missed something. I like the town and the store. For the most part I was able to imagine the settings. A tiny bit more detail would’ve been nice, but I’d rather an author err on the side of too little detail rather than too much.

The plot line was well-written and moved along at a decent pace. I did have some idea of the villain fairly early in the book, but the rest of the story kept me intrigued, so it didn’t really spoil it to know so early.

All in all, it was a fun read and I’d recommend it to cozy mystery lovers. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series!

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About the Author

Anne has always loved the North Shore, especially Lake Superior near Grand Marais. She lives there with her husband and two children. When bringing the Past Imperfect series together, Anne couldn’t think of a better place to have Julia’s shop. If you find yourself traveling through, stop by Artist Point, you may just find her sitting on the rocks.

Author Links

Blog – https://www.annewillowauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/annewillowauthor

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/cozymysteryanne

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17076742.Anne_Willow

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Thanks for joining me today for this stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour! If you wish to visit other stops, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page where there is a listing of all tour participants!

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BLOG TOUR – Much Ado About Murder – INTERVIEW

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Welcome to today’s stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan! Today I’m featuring an interview with Ms. Duncan and I’d like to say a big “thank you” to her for being willing to answer my questions! All of the pertinent information about the book, including Goodreads, purchase links, and a link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

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Interview with Elizabeth J. Duncan

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Q1: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: Not any more. I stepped down as a professor at Humber College, Toronto, in December, 2013, to write full time. I enjoyed teaching, but it felt like the right time to move on. I use the extra time to add a second book a year to my growing list of titles.


Q2: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I don’t have a specific time to write, and to be honest, I’m not as disciplined as I should be, or would like to be. I do set quotas. When I’m writing, it’s 1,000 words a day. When I’m editing, I’ll set a page count. I don’t often have radio or television playing while I work, but now that you suggested it, I’ve just tuned in to a music channel for some soft instrumental background music.


Q3: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I know the basics of the story before I type the words Chapter 1. I know quite a bit about the victim, something about the killer, and a lot about the sleuth. I know why the murder was committed and have a pretty good idea how. I wish I could outline, but I just can’t see that far ahead. An author I admire (thriller writer Barry Lancet) described that part of the process as like driving from LA to San Francisco at night. You know your destination, but can’t see much beyond the headlights. A lot of my best ideas don’t surface until I’m at the point in the story where I need them. And I love when the characters take over and do the heavy lifting. Then the story starts to make sense in way that’s right for their world.

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Q4: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: My path to publication was unusually, exceptionally smooth. In 2008 I won the St. Martin’s Press, Malice Domestic competition, with included a one-book contract with St. Martin’s. The Cold Light of Mourning, first in the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales, was published the following year. That was my first attempt at fiction writing so I had no rejections, and no reason to think about quitting. I was, and am, fortunate in the way my publishing journey began and has continued.


Q5: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: It’s hard to say how many revisions, because I revise as I go. I don’t blaze through one draft, then start over at the beginning and revise everything. But a good guess would be five or six, including rewrites based on the editor’s and copy editor’s suggestions. There will always be words, sentences, and paragraphs to improve. I keep revising until I run out of time. Everything would be better if you had more time.

I have a few people who read early drafts and make helpful suggestions, and I’m grateful for their input and willingness to help.

Q6: 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?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I’m afraid if I answer the question I’ll give too much away! So I’ll just say I can’t think of anyone who was a real life inspiration for this particular villain.

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rupert in glassesQ7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: No one I know has ever ended up in one of my books as a fully developed, recognizable character, but I met someone this summer who very well might! However, bits and pieces of people I know show up all the time. Something I find interesting that someone said, or a situation they described, could very well end up in a book.


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

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: Lady Macbeth. She’s one of the most intriguing and least explored characters in literature. I’d love to have a chat with her over a nice cup of tea and a Scottish shortbread.


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

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: While I still love books, and have what I call ‘ book greed’ – I want to own them and read them — I don’t read as much as I used to. There just seem to be too many other demands on my time and my attention span seems shorter. And this at a time when there are more wonderful books available than ever before! I can’t remember the last book I read that I would describe as “great”. So may I tell you what’s coming up on my To Be Read list that I’m really excited about? The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware,  Japantown by Barry Lancet, and The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

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Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: The summer I was 13 my father gave me a boxed set of three books that were an odd combination to be bundled together: Black Beauty, Anna Karenina, and a collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories. These were the first adult books I read, long days lying in a shaded hammock at the cottage … a horse, a married Russian aristocrat, and a detective. I chose the detective.


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

Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I would spend the day with Rupert the corgi, who lives with my amateur sleuth costume designer Charlotte Fairfax. Rupert and I would enjoy several long walks, and a short nap. And there would be treats! The best days are the ones you spend with a lovely dog.


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. Duncan’s Answer: There are two kinds of reviews: reader reviews and professional reviews, like those that appear in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and newspapers.  Occasionally I brace myself to read a few. I appreciate and enjoy good reviews from readers but professional reviews tend to carry more weight.  For some reason, a negative review, no matter the source, stings more than a positive review makes me feel good. I don’t respond to reviews, even when they are factually wrong. I have incorporated suggestions into future work. If someone tells me they like something, I try to deliver more of that. If they don’t like something, I’ll leave that out the next time.

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Thank you again to Ms. Duncan for being willing to answer my questions today! Here’s other information about the book! Below that is a banner with a link to the main tour page if you wish to visit other sites on the tour!

Much Ado About Murder: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery
by Elizabeth J. Duncan


Much Ado About Murder: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover 265 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683313250
E-Book ASIN: B071RR32NZ

Purchase Links: Amazon – Amazon.caB&N

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Synopsis

Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.

Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?

With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.

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Author Links

Website: www.elizabethjduncan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/elizabethjduncan

Twitter: @elizabethduncan

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250th Post – Some of my Artwork

This is my 250th post as a blogger! Wow! I can’t believe I’ve made that many posts and that people actually read them!

I’ve had a couple of people asking me to post some of my artwork, so I thought it’d be a great way to celebrate 250 posts! When I make art, sometimes I simply color adult coloring book pages. Sometimes, I make crazy shapes, color them in, and as I’m making these shapes, the artwork just speaks to me on what it should be so then I choose colors accordingly. Sometimes I do decoupage or paint ceramics. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of my decoupage or my ceramics, but I do of my coloring/drawing.

Here’s a couple of my recent coloring pages:

 

Both of these coloring pages are artworks by Selina Fenech, an Australian artist whom I absolutely love. The one on the left is titled Within the Coffin and is from Selina’s Gothic coloring book. The one on the right is called Her Special Place and is from Selina’s Magical Minis coloring book. Selina has many coloring books available including one that’s just ponds and flowers which I really enjoy.

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I’ve also found a coloring book group to be a part of on Facebook. Joanna Campbell Slan, an author I like, set it up and it can be found here. Below are two of the pictures I’ve done from there.

I’m actually in the process of coloring a few more of the “Breathe” picture so I can give them to important people in my life who need the reminder to “breathe” from time to time.

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Now to share some of my “original” artwork. I’ve never been real good at drawing. If I practice for hours and hours a day, I’d get to the point where I was good, but never great. So, instead, for probably 20 years or more, I’ve made my own type of abstract art. Sometimes, I have a set palette of colors in mind when I start; a set concept for what I want it to represent. Sometimes I don’t know until I get started with it and then I will get a sense and tailor my color choices around that sense. All of these, I already had the concept in my head for what I wanted it to represent. Even still, the shape of the various shapes and the colors aren’t chosen ahead of time. That all happens in the moment.

This first one is all about anger and rage. This one I did as I was processing my feelings from our annual Staff Day. We had a speaker from the police department and at he was talking about gun laws and things like the open-carry laws in Michigan and how libraries aren’t considered protected spaces like schools are. I was doing okay with all that. Then all of a sudden he switched over to active shooters, including videos. There was a complete lack of warning about content of videos. I made it out of the room and didn’t see any of them, but I didn’t make it to the lounge quick enough and I heard the whole first video. I was livid that no warnings had been given about it. There was no “if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to sit here” warning like there was the first time we had active shooter training. It seriously triggered me (and I later learned that it also triggered some others with PTSD). This artwork came out of processing those feelings and triggers.

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The blue is due to the fact that often when I’m angry and raging, I cry. Messy, ugly crying. Thank god for great co-workers and friends. Also, thankfully, the speaker AFTER the police department was incredibly funny and that help break up some of the tension that was still there after all the ugly crying and breathing to stay grounded.

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The first of the following two I did at Staff Day as well. I had actually started it before the active shooter surprise. It’s simply supposed to represent fall and all the brilliant colors we see in fall.  The second one I decided to do after fall. It’s winter, but I’m not that pleased with how it turned out so I’ll probably do another one soon.

The white I have currently isn’t real great. I need a new Prismacolor white. A few months ago, for one of my programs at work, I used my white pencils to trace shapes on black paper. Most of my white pencils were pretty much obliterated during that, including my Prismacolor white.

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Thanks for joining me a special 250th post! I’ve got a couple of reviews coming up this week for you and other stops on blog tours as well.