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!

BROKEN PROMISES

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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 – 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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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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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

 

The Double Fudge Brownie Murder – REVIEW

2 out of 5 stars

Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke book cover - orange background with brownie with nuts on it

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Synopsis

Hannah is nervous about the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident. She’s eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel and Hannah is the number one suspect.

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Review

The Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke is the 18th book in the Hannah Swensen series and frankly, it will probably be the last one that I read. I thoroughly enjoyed the first dozen or so installments in this series. However, I feel like the quality has really dropped over the years and I felt that this one was extremely sub-par work.

There are things in the author’s writing style that after the first dozen or so books has started grating on my nerves. Also, Hannah’s whining and hurt feelings over the fact that a) she’s a suspect when she finds a body and b) when Mike doesn’t share information with her like she thinks he should is annoying me. We’ve been through 17 other books, she should realize by now that yes, if you find a body you will be a suspect. Even if you’re eliminated quickly, you’re still going to be on that list. By now she should also be aware of just how much information Mike can share without losing his job and accept it. Instead, she acts like a petulant, spoiled child each time.

I’m going to stop here and put in a spoiler alert because I can’t figure out a way to discuss this issue I have without spoilers.

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The other reason I just don’t think I can read anymore in this series is because of how the author dealt with the whole love triangle between Hannah, Norman & Mike. Yes, I was tired of the love triangle. Most fans were. But to fix it by bringing in a third guy from about ten books ago and saying that he and Hannah had been keeping in touch all along?! To me, it was totally unbelievable. We’ve never seen Hannah keep in touch with this man in the books in between, so it makes very little sense to me. I seriously expected this man to be part of the whole murder plot line, if not the murderer, then an accomplice at the very least. That’s how unbelievable I found this move.

I really enjoyed the first dozen or so books in this series and I would highly recommend them to anyone who likes cozy mysteries, but after this last debacle, I’m done with it.