ANOTHER MANS POISON large banner640

Welcome! Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Blog Tour for Another Man’s Poison by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa. I’m featuring an interview with the author! Goodreads, Purchase, and Rafflecopter Giveaway links are located below the interview.


Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa

Question #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 no longer have a day job and am able to devout myself completely to writing, running errands, playing Spider Solitaire, watching Criminal Minds re-runs (isn’t Thomas Gibson an absolute hunk?), and on rare occasions cleaning.

Question #2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? I write every day, though many times it ends up sporadic. When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? I never set a word or page goal – I go more by “scenes” that need to be completed. How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing? I love listening to music while I write, especially if the songs are in sync with the character’s age or musical preferences. If the story takes place during a specific period in time, the 60’s for example, I’ll write listening to The Beach Boys or The Beatles.

Question #3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? My characters always hijack the stories, in addition to the story lines! Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you? Mostly I’m a “seat of my pants” writer. I sometimes write a rough outline, but I rarely follow it. When I write, the story goes off into different (and sometimes more interesting) directions!


Question #4: How did you break into the publishing world? I started off writing short stories for small literary magazines and publications. During that time, I thought I needed more writing discipline, so I applied to a local newspaper as a reporter. Based on a sample of a mock story I came up with, they actually agreed to hire me! How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Plenty! I kept a long list of rejections in Excel and still have it. I attach it to the emails I send to writing friends whenever they complain about how hard it is to get something published. Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful? I did quit writing for about a year, but it was impossible to never write again. Writers have to write, whether or not someone wants to read their stories or publish them. We’re born to write.

Question #5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? I go through at least three revisions. Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? I have one trusted beta reader, and two other writers who critique. As a group, we all critique/gently suggest/nudge/encourage and discourage each other. Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them? Absolutely! I don’t open the file for at least two weeks after I’ve finished a manuscript. Even with all that editing and critiquing, it’s impossible to catch every single error. Our minds play tricks on our eyes and we automatically insert words that aren’t there but should be. After that, I leave it to the publisher’s editing pros to pick up whatever might have been missed.

Question #6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. I have such a twisted, miserable dark side! There are so many things I’d love to do but won’t because it’s immoral or illegal. It’s so much safer to assign this bad behavior to a fictional villain/alter-ego. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it? As Another Man’s Poison is about a poisoning, there are plenty of real life, famous villains I used for inspiration. They are mentioned in the book after the crime is solved – but I’m not doing a spoiler!

line of jumbled short, fat pencils in red, blue, green, brown, yellow and purple
© Graphic Garden

Question #7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional? I’m sitting at my desk laughing my *ss off right this minute because all my relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, both living and departed, have shown up in my Jersey Girl series in one way or another. I am Colleen Caruso, even my newspaper editor tells me so. My mother is Colleen Caruso’s mother. Colleen’s siblings are mine. Ken Rhodes is my husband magnified. Colleen’s best friend is a combination of two of my closest friends. I use actual family names, occupations, and personality quirks! I’m sure my brother and sister want to strangle me for doing this – and wouldn’t that make a great story?

Question #8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why? I’d love to write about Molly Pitcher (a local hero in my Central Jersey area) or Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ve always admired very strong women, and it would be an honor to write about them.

Question #9: What are some great books you’ve read recently? I haven’t read much fiction lately, and rarely do when I’m working on a book. Last week I re-read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls when I learned the book was made into a movie. If you really believe you had it tough growing up, read this account of a frightening childhood and stop whining.


Question #10: What books have influenced your life the most? I can’t think of any book that actually influenced my life. I’ve read many that gave me a broader perspective such as 1984, Lord of the Flies, and The Color Purple. As for non-fiction, I re-read Man’s Search for Meaning periodically to remind me that you can survive just about anything if you have a reason to live.

Question #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? Aww! Ken Rhodes, without a doubt! And it wouldn’t be a day. I’d rather have a very long, lovely, sensuous night. You already know what I’d be doing.

Question #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 sometimes do read my reviews, and was surprised by some and honestly perplexed by others. I had one review that irked me, but I would never think of responding. Purposely miserable people aren’t worth the effort of a response.  Most of my reviews are, thankfully, positive and extremely funny. I was pleased that one reviewer loved a young cop in the Jersey Girl books, James O’Reilly, who is a secondary character, and he’s fast becoming her favorite in the series. I purposely modeled him using the personalities of my own sons (same age group), so it’s a thumps-up for my kids!

line of jumbled short, fat pencils in red, blue, green, brown, yellow and purple


GoodReads Button

Purchase Links: AmazonB&N

Rafflecopter Giveaway

line of jumbled short, fat pencils in red, blue, green, brown, yellow and purple

Synopsis of “Another Man’s Poison”

Has our Jersey Girl finally bitten off more than she can chew?
Crime reporter Colleen Caruso has an appetite for romance … and trouble. When someone tries to poison Ken Rhodes (her handsome boss and boyfriend), Colleen vows to hunt down the culprit and serve them up to the police. She’s whisked away into the scrumptious world of restaurants and gourmet food as she tangles with four culinary divas from Ken’s past.

Trouble is, Colleen doesn’t know when to turn down the heat.  Is this Jersey Girl’s investigation a recipe for disaster? Or will the poisoner get their just desserts?

line of jumbled short, fat pencils in red, blue, green, brown, yellow and purple

Thanks for joining me today for this latest blog tour stop for Another Man’s Poison by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, just click on the banner below. The banner will take you to the main tour page with a list of all participants!

ANOTHER MANS POISON large banner184

Blog Tour – Debbie De Louise Books – REVIEWS


Today, I’m excited to bring you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Debbie De Louise’s Cobble Cove Mystery series. Currently there are three (3) books in the series and I will be reviewing all three today!

Line of small rocks and pebbles all jumbled together

Book  #1, “A Stone’s Throw”: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book Cover: A Stone's Throw - background of a brick-paved walkway/street with shadows of two people walking.
Cobble Cove #1

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links Book #1: AmazonB&N 

Synopsis – Book #1

Widowed librarian Alicia Fairmont needs answers… After her husband is killed in a hit and run accident, Alicia travels upstate to his hometown of Cobble Cove, New York, hoping to locate his estranged family and shed light on his mysterious past. Anticipating staying only a weekend, her visit is extended when she accepts a job at the town’s library. Secrets stretch decades into the past… Assisted by handsome newspaper publisher and aspiring novelist, John McKinney, Alicia discovers a connection between her absent in-laws and a secret John’s father has kept for over sixty years. But her investigation is interrupted when she receives word her house has burned and arson is suspected, sending her rushing back to Long Island, accompanied by John. Back in Cobble Cove, cryptic clues are uncovered… When Alicia returns, she finds a strange diary, confiscated letters, and a digital audio device containing a recording made the day her husband was killed. Anonymous notes warn Alicia to leave town, but she can’t turn her back on the mystery—or her attraction to John. As the pieces begin to fall into place, evidence points to John’s involvement in her husband’s accident. The past and present threaten to collide, and Alicia confronts her fears… Has she fallen in love with her husband’s killer?

Review – Book #1

This was a great start to the series. We got adequately introduced to the characters and some of their back stories; we visited main locales of the upcoming series; and we were introduced to the author’s style of writing.

The characters in this series are definitely interesting. They’re fairly well-rounded. We learn some of their back story, but not enough to make them completely flat in the future. They’re complex and definitely each have their own issues, but they’re interesting.

The mystery was totally interesting and had lots of great twists and turns that I didn’t see coming! I didn’t know who the villains were until they were revealed. For the most part the book moved along at a steady pace, though there was one point where it dragged slightly.

All in all, a great start to the series and I look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.

Line of small rocks and pebbles all jumbled together

Book Cover: Between a Rock & a Hard Place by Debbie De Louise - white woman with long blond hair and a red pea coat standing against a cement block wall with a cement staircase behind her.
Cobble Cove #2

Book #2, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”: 3 out of 5 stars.

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links for Book #2: AmazonB&N


Librarian Alicia McKinney has put the past behind her… Two years ago, Alicia discovered both a terrible truth and lasting love with John McKinney in the small town of Cobble Cove, New York. Now a busy mother of twin babies and co-author of a mystery series, Alicia couldn’t be happier.

Alicia’s contentment and safety are challenged… Walking home alone from the library, Alicia senses someone following her, and on more than one occasion, she believes she is being watched. Does she have a stalker? When the local gift shop is burglarized, the troubling event causes unrest among Alicia and the residents of the quiet town.

John and Alicia receive an offer they can’t refuse… When John’s sister offers to babysit while she and John take a much-needed vacation in New York City, Alicia is reluctant to leave her children because of the disturbances in Cobble Cove. John assures her the town is safe in the hands of Sheriff-elect Ramsay. Although Alicia’s experience with and dislike of the former Long Island detective don’t alleviate her concern, she and John take their trip.

Alicia faces her worst nightmare… The McKinneys’ vacation is cut short when they learn their babies have been kidnapped and John’s sister shot. Alicia and John’s situation puts them between a rock and a hard place when the main suspect is found dead before the ransom is paid. In order to save their children, the McKinneys race against the clock to solve a mystery more puzzling than those found in their own books. Can they do it before time runs out?

Review – Book #2

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as I did the first one. For one thing, one of the issues they mention in the description of the book doesn’t even happen until the book is 3/4 of the way done! I was super disappointed in that. Plus, I felt like the ending was a little too convenient and not at all realistic.

The characters are mostly the same and that’s nice. It’s nice to see one of the characters from the first book make a reappearance in this book in a different capacity and as a seemingly different person.

The story moved along at a decent pace, I just was very disappointed that the one piece of the story line happened so late in the book. Usually something that’s in the description of the book happens more towards the beginning of the book.

This book just wasn’t as good as the first, but the interpersonal relationship growth in the book is important so if you’re going to read the series, I do suggest you read it and not skip it.

Line of small rocks and pebbles all jumbled together

Book Cover: Written in Stone - Cobble Cove Mystery #3 by Debbie DeLouise. Photo of a Siamese cat laying on a stone wall with the lettering over top in yellow.
Cobble Cove #3

Book #3 – Written in Stone: 4 out of 5 stars

Add to Goodreads button

Purchase Links for Book #3: AmazonB&N


Alicia McKinney is confused . . . Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?

Cat vs. Dog . . .  After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?

Alicia is worried . . . While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.

When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.

Will they survive . . . or is their ending written in stone?

Review – Book #3

This book I felt was in between the first and second as far as quality. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it wasn’t as bad as the second.

The mystery was far more interesting than the second one, but didn’t have as many twists and turns as the first. I still wasn’t sure who the villain was until it was revealed, but I was pretty sure who it was NOT.

The portion of the book dedicated to the sub-plot of the library cat, Sneaky, going missing was well-done. It didn’t detract from the original mystery, but it wasn’t an annoying little thing either.

The one thing that really got to me by the time I got to this last book was the main character’s emphasis on her weight. Now, I will say that I’m predispositioned for this to be something that gets on my nerves, but I felt like it was just mentioned too often. They live in a town where she walks almost everywhere, so she’s getting a lot of exercise, and yet she’s constantly talking about her weight and watching the sugary desserts and this and that. I’m all for eating sensibly. I may be fat, but I do try to eat more healthy than I ever have before, but I also do not see the point in completely depriving oneself of desserts (unless you have a food allergy or diabetes or something like that). And if she lives in a town where she’s getting that much exercise, then she shouldn’t have to worry about eating dessert or a donut a couple of times a week.

That’s a topic I can easily get on a soapbox about, so I’m going to stop now. This book was definitely better than the second. If there’s a fourth, I’ll read it. 🙂

Line of small rocks and pebbles all jumbled together

About the Author

Author, Debbie De Louise - middle-aged white woman with glasses, shoulder-length brown hair and a big smile. She's holding a cat on her lap and wearing a pink t-shirt.Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her published novels include Cloudy RainbowA Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone. Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Cobble Cove Mystery #2) has been on the Amazon bestseller list for cozy mysteries. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres and a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace. She is currently seeking agent representation for her psychological thriller, Sea Scope. Debbie lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

Author Links




Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:

Books for Reluctant Readers – Middle Grades (Ages 8-12/13)

A few weeks ago, a mother who reads my blog sent me a message through my contact me page and asked if I could do a blog post about good books for an 11-year-old reluctant reader (male). I decided to take the idea and “run” with it. I decided to make a series of posts of books and series that appeal to different age groups, particularly ones that are favored by reluctant readers.  This particular one covers that middle grade area (approximately ages 8-12/13). I will later create a post for younger readers (ages 4-8) and teen readers (ages 13-19). These lists will be for all genders, that way you can spot good reads whether they’re traditionally aimed at boys or girls.

I cannot take all the credit for this list. I found some of my recommendations on various lists on Goodreads, I had a huge amount of help from the members of the Facebook Group: ALA Think Tank, and I also conferred with one of our youth librarians here at Ann Arbor District Library. I’m very thankful for Laura’s and the Think Tank group members’ suggestions! I’m not as familiar with middle grade fiction as I am books for the younger grades (something I’m trying to remedy!). Without all of those who chipped in with their ideas, this post would have never come about!

Individual Suggested Titles for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

The above titles all have one thing in common – they all contain short bits of information that can be read a little bit at a time. There are other “fact” books that middle graders and tweens like such as the Guinness Book of World Records and the World Almanac.  There are other books similar to Two-Minute Mysteries as well such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or even the Encyclopedia Brown & Choose Your Own Adventure series, though those maybe be too “easy” to read.


These three titles are all considered great books for reluctant readers who are middle grade girls. I personally have read the first two. Ella Enchanted was okay. I liked it well enough, but The Secret Garden is my number one favorite book ever. Other titles similar to these include The Little PrincessThe Railway Children, Everything on a Waffle, and Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin.

These three titles are considered great for all reluctant middle grade readers. The only one I’ve read personally is The Giver and I highly recommend that one. Wonder is on my “to-read” list, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it.  Other titles that are similar to these are Island of the Blue Dolphins, Number the Stars, and The Bridge to Terabithia.

These three titles are all considered great for reluctant readers who are middle grade boys, though I would recommend them for all. They’re funny and fantastical and just fun! Other titles that could be included are FrindleHoles, and Hoot.

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

Series Recommended for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

The three series above were the most recommended series for reluctant middle grader readers outside of Harry Potter.  One of my colleagues actually went so far as to state that she has never found an 11-year-old boy who did not like the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Being neither an 11-year-old boy or someone who deals with them on a regular basis, I have no idea if this holds true outside of her library system, but it’s worth a shot, certainly!

These three series all deal with fantasy and science fiction. The two on the ends are fantasy while the middle one is science fiction. They’ve all come highly recommended. Other similar series are The Sisters Grimm, The Heroes of Olympus, Chronicles of Narnia, and the Wrinkle in Time novels.

These three series traditionally appeal more towards girls, but if you’ve got a boy who’s interested in horses, Saddle Club might be a good fit. Other series like these include: The Frog Princess series, the Abby Hayes series, the American Girl series, and the Alice series.

These three series are supposed to be absolutely hilarious. I’ve never read any of them so I can’t say one way or the other, but that’s what I’ve been told.


The “Guys Read” series by Jon Sciezka is aimed specifically at boys. They’re short stories designed to grab and keep the attention of boys in the middle grades. You can also visit the website at


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

Authors that Often Appeal to Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

These three authors are big draws for reluctant readers who are into sports. They all have different sports series and some even cover the more “unusual” sports for kids like extreme sports, go-kart racing, etc. You can also check out Jake Maddox who has a sports series as well.

These three authors are great for those who are into fairy tales. I’ve personally read some of Gail Carson Levine’s work and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have not tried the other two authors, but I may in the future as I like fairy tale retellings.

These three are other authors that came up in the course of my gathering information for middle grade reluctant readers. You can also check out Kate DiCamillo and Louis Sachar.

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


Graphic Novels for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

I do not want to leave out graphic novels and books that have a similar style. They’re wonderful reading tools for children who do not seem to like books without pictures as much. I’ve chosen a few series, a few stand-alone and a few that a children’s librarian at my library called “Graphic Novel-esque”. These are books that still have lots of pictures in them but they also have more text than a traditional graphic novel.

These three series were repeatedly named as good graphic novel series. I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels (I have nothing against the genre, they’re just not really my cup of tea), but even I loved the Amulet series. It’s one of the only graphic novel series that have ever gotten my attention and held it throughout the whole book. Big Nate also has a novel series that has been written as well.  Other series to check out include HildafolkExplorer (written by the same author as the Amulet series), JellabyBabymouse, and Lunch Lady.

These three series are what you would call “Graphic Novel-esque” series. They have lots of graphics for those who are totally into graphic novels but they also have a bit more text. Similar series include Dork DiariesAmelia’s Notebooks, and The Origami Yoda series.

These three are “stand alone” graphic novels. El Deafo is Cece Bell’s memoir about growing up with a hearing loss. Raina Telgemeier is a favorite among pre-teen girls. The title from Jim Ottaviani is an example of a non-fiction graphic novel.

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

These are a few of the many, many options out there for reluctant readers in the middle grades. Over the next month or so, I’ll be posting a similar list for younger readers and one for teens. Check them out and hopefully they’ll get your reluctant reader into reading!

Adding Something New

I’ve decided to add something new to my blog – author interviews. Primarily, these will be the authors who contact me about reading their books or those whose review crews I am apart of. We’ll see how it goes. I know this is a small blog in comparison, but hopefully I’ll have a few takers!  I’m sending out a list of questions to my first author tonight and I’m crossing my fingers that she’ll answer and return them so I can post that after I post my review about her debut novel.

Here’s hoping it works!