Jamie Quinn Mysteries #1-3 – REVIEWS

First of all, my sincere apologies to the author, Barbara Venkataraman, for taking so long to read these three books in the Jamie Quinn series and get the reviews written. I’m so sorry it has taken me so long.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Book Box Set Cover - Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, Box set Books 1-3: Death by Didgeridoo; The Case of the Killer Divorce; Peril in the Park; all written by Barbara Venkataraman - background is black with the three book covers and orange writing.

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Photo of a didgeridoo - an Australian aboriginal instrument - wooden with a beaded pattern along the center of the instrument

Book #1 – Death by Didgeridoo – 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

Review

This book was a good introduction to the series. It’s fairly short, almost more of a novella than a novel, but it moved along at a steady pace and gave us a good introduction to the main characters of the series.

So far, I really enjoy the characters. Jamie’s great and reminds me a lot of myself. Duke is over-the-top but in a totally believable, realistic way and I love him. All of the main characters seem to be well-developed. They’re perhaps not complex yet, but that’s mostly because we’re just now meeting them. I imagine the more books there are in the series, the more we’ll see them develop.

All in all, it’s a good start to the series!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Book #2 – The Case of the Killer Divorce – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.

Review

I didn’t enjoy this second book as much as I did the first. I felt like the pace was almost too fast. It was hard for me to keep up with what was going on. This is another shorter book, more of a novella than a novel.

It’s not a horrible book. The mystery plot line is interesting and so is the sub-plot of Jamie trying to find her father. However, I’m glad this one was sandwiched in between two much better stories. If this was the only story I had read of the series, I may not have continued with it.

However, the sub-plot of Jamie trying to find her father is important to the overall story arc, so I do recommend that you read this book, even tho’ it’s not as good as the first or third.

Park scene with people walking dogs, sitting on benches, walking with children or as couples.

Book #3 – Peril in the Park – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

Review

In my opinion, this is the best out of all three books. It feels as though Ms. Venkataraman has finally found the “groove” and the writing is flowing more smoothly. This book was more a full-length novel instead of the shorter novella length of the first two.

In this book, we see lots of the interpersonal relationships between the main characters grow and change. The mystery is fascinating and while I had some idea of the villain before the end of the book, I wasn’t certain until it was revealed.

I really enjoyed this third book and I’m looking forward to the fourth in the series, which I have on my Kindle, but it may be some time before I can get to it. June and July are already pretty full with books to read for review. 🙂

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*** Many thanks to Barbara Venkataraman for providing me with an e-copy of these books. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

Blog Tour – The Connecticut Corpse Caper – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents "The Connecticut Corpse Caper" by Tyler Colins - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes a picture of the author and the book cover

4 out of 5 stars

Hello! Today I’m honored to bring you a stop along the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for the book The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins. Not only will I be featuring a review of the book, but I will also be presenting an interview with the author, Tyler Colins!

Book Cover: A Triple Threat Mystery - Book 1 - The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins - Three computer-generated women standing in front of a mansion or several story building
Triple Threat #1

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Synopsis

The antics of seven inheritance recipients during a week-long stay at a haunted Connecticut estate are detailed by Jill Jocasta Fonne. The will of a deceased relative, wacky Aunt Mat, stipulates that if anyone leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining. As it happens, one does leave permanently when he dies hours after arrival. Disappearing corpses, hidden passageways, and ghoulish pranks have Jill and best friends, Rey and Linda, seeking clues as to the person responsible for the mysterious goings-on. Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling-and mayhem-begin.

Graphic line of pine cones and pine branches with needles
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Review

The Connecticut Corpse Caper is the first book in the new Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. It’s a good, solid start to the series.

I like the three main characters in this series, though in this first book, they were just three of several viable murder suspects and potential victims. I think Rey, Jill, and Linda will make an excellent private investigative team and I look forward to reading more about them. I did know who the villain was fairly early on – or at least one of them. It was nice to get to see that I was right in the end, though.

This book really needed the more in-depth style of setting descriptions and Ms. Colins delivered beautifully. There was only one time I was a little confused about which secret passageway led to which room, but for the most part, Ms. Colins’ descriptions made it easy to follow.

I felt the plot line dragged a bit here and there, but it wasn’t horrible. It was, however, part of the reason I only gave the book 4 stars instead of 5. All in all it was a decent start to the series and I do look forward to reading more from this author.

*** Thank you to Tyler Colins for an ARC of this title. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

Long tree branch with cluster of two pinecones and evergreen stems at the right end of the line
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Interview with Tyler Colins

First, let me say a huge “Thank You!” to Ms. Colins for being willing to answer my questions. Enjoy!

  • 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 work in HR, handling contractors.  To be perfectly frank, I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t not enjoy it.  It’s not very challenging, but it has its moments; I do learn new things, which is great.  And I’m very grateful that it pays the bills.

  • 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?

    • I try to write a little every morning before the work day begins and either aim for a scene or a revision/edit of a previously written scene.  Little bothers me when I’m writing (I can usually tune things/people out).

  • 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?

    • I never have an outline because I know it will never be adhered to, but I always have an all-encompassing idea/image in mind.  My characters have definitely (!) hijacked many scenes—in fact, some have even rewritten them.  <LOL>

  • 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?

    • I broke in by e-publishing.  The traditional route seemed limited.  Rejections from publishers and agents were growing wearisome (and they don’t do much for the ego, I must say).  I’m no James Joyce, but my writing isn’t bad, either.  I believe I have [good/fun] stories to tell.  . . . No!  I’ve never thought about quitting—ever.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve and it’s who I am.  To stay hopeful and focused, I keep the faith and tell myself that if it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Everything has its time.  Patience and perseverance—and belief—are musts.

  • 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?

    • Many!  It’s the editor in me; a scene, a book, has to feel right and everything has to tie logically together.  Yes, I have set aside books . . . and I’m glad I have.  They now serve as fodder for new ones.  And one I put in a drawer nearly two decades ago (my, time does fly), I am now revising and placing on Wattpad in weekly installments.

  • 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?

    • For The Connecticut Corpse Caper, the villain came easily.  The book had been written as an ode to all those wonderful, fun/funny B&W mystery movies I’d grown up with.  I applied some typical villain traits, but the characters really “created” themselves.

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

    • All my characters are truly fictional.  I don’t know why, but I’ve never been inclined or inspired to develop one based on someone I know.

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

    • A great question!  Wow.  I suppose I’d like to write about a pirate, a real or fictitious one.  They’ve always intrigued me, rogues that they can be.

  • What are some great books you’ve read recently?

    • Given my full-time job, and taking care of Mom, and trying to get my own books written, I find it very difficult to read any these days (and I was always an avid reader).  The last one I read, though, was by Janet Evanovich. I thoroughly enjoy her Stephanie Plum series; the characters and situations are crazy-funny.

  • What books have influenced your life the most?

    • In terms of my writing, I’d have to (again) say that Nancy Drew put the mystery-solving bug in me at a very young age.  I always wanted to be a detective like her, and now, I guess I am.  J

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

    • Another great question!  I’d probably want to spend the day with Rey; she’s brash and melodramatic, and isn’t scared to say what’s on her mind.  She’s also willing to do whatever is necessary to get a job done, even if it means some B&E.  I think I’d like to do something totally “girly”, something I don’t normally do, and that would be spending an afternoon at the mall with her (that gal is one heckuva shopper).

  • 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’ve only had one so far, but I’ve not really put myself out there yet.  I’m trying to get a blog going (that’s a story in itself) and make a Facebook page related to my Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes less static.  I have so much to learn, though, and time is so limited.  But it will come.  And, hopefully, so will the reviews—be they good or bad.

 

Once again, I’m very thankful that Ms. Colins was willing to answer my questions! I hope you all enjoyed today’s stop on the tour. To get a list of tour participants, click on the banner below.

 

Medium banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents - The Connecticut Corpse Caper by Tyler Colins - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes book cover

Mini Reviews – Bibliophile Series by Kate Carlisle – Part 1

I decided to write a few mini reviews. This particular set is on the Bibliophile series by Kate Carlisle. I’ve read them all several times and enjoy them immensely.  This will be the first in a series of posts of mini reviews on the Bibliophile Mystery series. There are currently 10 books, plus a novella, with an 11th coming out in June (hence the reason for breaking it up into sections)! I will not be including synopses with these mini reviews but I will still provide the Goodreads link and purchase links. The above link will take you to the page on Kate Carlisle’s website where you can read about all her books, both the Bibliophile series and the Fixer-Upper series.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Book Cover: Homicide in Hardcover - A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - "Murder is always a bestseller!" - Library setting, bookshelves lining walls with a window inset on the back wall, kitty on the library ladder, a table in the foreground with a stack of books, a vase of flowers and an open book with a knife stuck in the right hand page.

Homicide in Hardcover – Book #1 – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Homicide in Hardcover is an excellent start to this series! When I first picked this book up, off the shelf at the library I work in, all I knew was what was written on the back of the book. I could not put it down! I quickly read through all six books that were available at the time. Since then, I’ve re-read them many times.

The characters are awesome. They’re complex and well-developed. Brooklyn does tend to take chances, but usually she at least attempts to contact Derek and/or the police first. The plot line moves along quickly in this book and when I read it for the first time, I didn’t have a clue on the villain until it announced. Setting descriptions are provided with a perfect balance (for me).

This is a great series and highly recommended!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Book Cover: If Books Could Kill - A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - In the background there is an open window beyond which tents with tables set up can be seen. In the foreground is a desk with an open book and lamp sitting on it - on top of the book are an exacto knife and an awl. On the windowsill sits a cat and a bloody hammer

If Books Could Kill – Book #2 – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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If Books Could Kill is the 2nd book in the Bibliophile Mystery series and it’s just as excellent as the first one! This time, Brooklyn & Derek have travelled to Edinburgh for a big book festival. Having a different setting was fun and shook things up a little.

I did know who the villain was, almost from the start, but I didn’t see the twist that came with it, so that still kept it fresh and exciting! The setting descriptions were wonderful. Scotland’s at the top of the list of places I want to visit, so I was soaking in all the descriptions with glee. We learn a little more about our main characters and Brooklyn’s family in this book which is great as well.

All in all, an excellent 2nd installment in the series.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Book Cover: The Lies that Bind - A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - "Catching a killer takes a lot of spine." - Background includes a window overlooking the Golden Gate bridge and a floor to ceiling bookshelf. The foreground contains a display case full of books with a book displayed on top and a gun sitting on top of the book on top of the display case. There's an orange tabby cat sitting on the floor next to the case.

The Lies that Bind – Book #3 – 4 out of 5 stars

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I’m not sure why, but this book is one of my least favorite in the series. It’s still very well-written and the characters and plot are still great, but there’s just something about it in general that makes it one of my lesser favorites.

That being said, I still love the scene between Brooklyn and Derek at the very end of the book. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t say more than the fact that it’s a great scene!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Book Cover: Murder Under Cover - "What dangers lurk between the sheets...?" - A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - In the background there's a grey tabby cat looking out a window in between a comfy chair and an end table with flowers on it - there's a floor to ceiling bookshelf next to the end table. In the foreground is a bed with a gun lying on top and a scarf lying next to the gun

Murder Under Covers – Book #4 – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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This book has it all. The Kama Sutra, a micro flash drive with state secrets on it, spies, murder, and a street fair. What more could you want?! How about the fact that most of the action lies around Robin and her mother, Shiva? It’s a wild and twisted ride!

This is one of my favorite books in the series. Derek has moved in with Brooklyn, supposedly temporarily while he finds his own housing. We’ve got the Kama Sutra that Brooklyn’s restoring which leads to the illusion of some very passionate interludes between Brooklyn and Derek. Then we’ve got this murder involving Robin that’s becoming stranger by the day.

When it all finally wraps up in the end, it makes sense, but it still somewhat feels like coming to the end of a whirling dervish. I love it!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Blog Tour – 2 Lesley A. Diehl Books – REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Dumpster Dying & Grilled, Chilled, and Killed by Leslie A. Diehl - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes both book covers

Today, I’m excited to be hosting a blog tour for Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled, and Killed, the first two books in the Big Lake Murder Mysteries series by Lesley A. Diehl! I’ll be reviewing both books and then underneath that there’s an interview with Ms. Diehl.

Golf tees crossed in background with golf ball sitting on top

Book #1 – Dumpster Dying – 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Cover: Leslie A. Diehl - Dumpster Dying: Tropical green and blue background with a blue dumpster, a pink flamingo behind the dumpster and a brown cowboy boot with blood on it in front of the dumpster
Big Lake Murders #1

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Synopsis

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily Rhodes, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires — hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.

Clipart of four bar drinks - Martini, Margharita, liquor, and mixed drink

Review

I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. At first, I felt a little confused about what was going on and why. I think I got one of the subplots mixed up with the main plot. I believe part of that were my own issues and mindset at the time and not the actual writing.

The characters in the book are well-rounded, complex, and interesting. The more I’ve read, the more I’ve started liking them.  Our heroines take some chances, but they’re not the “too stupid to live” heroines who thrust themselves into danger all the time. Even though our main character, Emily, annoys our illustrious Detective Lewis with her snooping, for the most part, she doesn’t deliberately go looking for trouble. I appreciate that in a heroine.

The story line moves along at a decent pace. There was an area in the middle where it felt like it was dragging a little bit, but it soon picked back up again. Setting descriptions are adequate. They’re perhaps slightly less than I would prefer, but I’d rather authors err on the side of not enough description rather than too much description.

I enjoyed the personal relationships that developed during this book and I’m looking forward to how they continue to develop in the second book. I’m interested to see if Emily makes a choice on a new male companion or if she decides on being single for a while.

All in all it’s a good start to the series and I look forward to reading the second book.

Golf tees crossed in background with golf ball sitting on top

Book #2 – Grilled, Chilled, and Killed – 

Book Cover: Lesley A. Diehl - Grilled, Chilled, and Killed - Tropical background with flamingo silhouette and an alligator - grill, fire and spatula in foreground.
Big Lake Murders #2

 

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Synopsis

It seems as if Emily is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbeque cook-off dead and covered in barbeque sauce in a beer cooler. She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong. Lewis’ denigration of Emily’s speculations is condescending enough to stimulate her dormant snooping skills. As the two of them go on their separate paths to find the killer, Lewis’ old partner, Toby the dirty, tobacco-spitting cop interferes in the investigation leaving Lewis with the wrong man in jail. Killers, bootleggers, barbeque and feral pigs—it’s a lethal game of hide and seek in the Florida swamp.

 

Review

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the 2nd book finished before today, but what I have read, I’ve really enjoyed! When I do finish it, I’ll do a separate review post for it.

Interview with Lesley A. Diehl

Today, my blog stop also consists of an interview with Ms. Diehl. I’m thankful that she took the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions!

Lesley Diehl, Author - Middle-aged white woman with greying blond hair that hangs to her shoulders. She doesn't wear glasses. She's standing next to a blue paneled building in means and a red, shiny jacket

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?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: My “day” job is helping my husband renovate our 1974 cottage. We bought it almost ten years ago when we were younger (and apparently thought we’d live forever!) and continue to work on it every summer. To say it is a work of love is to look into past attitudes toward the project. Now it is simply a lot of work for two old codgers.


Question #2: 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. Diehl’s Reply: I write something every day. It may be a short story, a blog, or a book length manuscript. If I’m working on a short story, I set the goal of completing a section each day. With a manuscript, I aim for 3000-5000 words. I like to write to the sound of the trout stream burbling over the rocks. I do not write to music, and I prefer the sounds of nature to accompany my work. We live in a very tiny house down south and it is within yards of our neighbors on either side of us. Sometime it is difficult to work with all the noise from the street and from a neighbor’s television. I usually turn on the AC (it’s the equivalent of white noise) to deaden the sound. Particularly annoying is the sounds of things being blown up. I may be a mystery writer, but I don’t blow up buildings or people in my work!


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? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I have a few characters written with such dominating personalities that they sometimes do hijack the story, but I think they are meant to. I don’t allow them to take over the plot (they may think they do, but it’s always my plot, but they can get out of hand if I don’t give them the reins sometimes). Emily’s lawyer is a good example of this; he lives in a retirement home, loves to play poker and usually has some senior lady in his room (and his bed!). He’s fond of telling stories, most of which are outright lies.


Question #4: 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. Diehl’s Reply: After many rejections—I won’t reveal how many—from agents, I went with a small publisher, then found yet another small publisher for another manuscript. That was almost a decade ago. Since then with the changes in the publishing industry, I have gotten the rights back to these books and have reissued them under my own imprint. I found an agent and now publish a series with Camel Press (the Eve Apple mysteries set in rural Florida) and also publish short stories and novellas with other small publishers. I am truly a hybrid author!


Question #5: 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. Diehl’s Reply: My books go through many revisions because I revise a chapter as I finish it, then revise the entire manuscript several times before it goes to my publisher for concept editing and line editing. I set my books aside for at least a month after a final revision, then go back and look at them again. I always use an editor for my self-published work. I do not use beta readers. There is nothing as crucial as a professional eye (editor) other than the author’s own.


Question #6: 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. Diehl’s Reply: The villains in Dumpster Dying and in Grilled, Chilled and Killed are not based on real people, but I certainly have met my quota of vile people whose evil natures provide the inspiration for my villains. Often I create the physical make-up of villains from people I have seen or met (not necessarily bad people), but the character of the villain is not based upon an actual person. Some of my villains do bad things, like my bad cop Toby Sands, but with his bumbling ways, outrageous arrogance, love of chewing tobacco and inflated view of his competence, he’s more pathetic than evil.


Question #7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: Most of my characters are fictional with the exception of family members who have wandered into my short stories about my grandmothers and my aunt, yet I have so fictionalized these relatives that were they alive today, they would have difficulty recognizing themselves. Grandma Papa and Grandma Mama, Aunt Nozzie and Darcie’s mother have appeared in Thanksgiving anthologies published by Untreed Reads (The Killer Wore Cranberry: Vols. 1-4) and in a collection of novellas and short stories (Happy Homicides: Fall into Crime from Just in Time publishing).


Question #8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I am so fond of my Aunt Nozzie character that I intend to continue writing short stories about her and may consider putting her in a novel length work. Who wouldn’t want to write about someone who is six feet tall with flaming red hair, a propensity for getting into trouble and a desire to match make for her niece as well as find someone lusty for herself?


Question #9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I love English mysteries for both their location—I especially love the English countryside and small villages—and because most English authors know how to develop nuanced and multifaceted characters and fascinating relationships. I will certainly miss P. D. James and think that, although American, Elizabeth George knows her way around issues of class and psychology.


Question #10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I know I should say one of the classics, but I’m a mystery writer, so those who write this genre have influenced my life by impacting what I love to do—write. I count Agatha Christie as an early and continuing influence. I read her when I was in high school and continue to do so.


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?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I’d spend the day with Emily Rhodes lawyer, Hap, that old curmudgeon, and buy him his favorite treat, a hot fudge sundae while I picked his brain about what rural Florida was like when he was a kid.


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?

Ms. Diehl’s Reply: I sometimes read them, but not on a regular basis. I never write anything in response to either a good or a bad review. A bad review can get me down for a short time, but I like to keep negative comments about my work in perspective: balance the good with the bad. I’ve been fortunate that good seems to be predominant. I don’t think any negative review has influenced my writing, but it may lead me to understand better the impact of my writing upon readers. It’s always good to take a step back and ask “what’s happening here?” And “was it what I intended”.

Once again, sincere thanks to Ms. Diehl for being willing to answer my questions!

 

Thanks for joining me today! If you want to visit more stops on this blog tour, click on the banner below and it will take you to the main tour page where there is a list of tour participants!

Medium banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Dumpster Dying & Grilled, Chilled, and Killed by Lesley A. Diehl - May 15-May 28, 2017 - includes the book cover for Dumpster Dying

Blog Tour – Debbie De Louise Books – REVIEWS

CobbleCove-LgBanner

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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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Synopsis

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.

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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

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Synopsis

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. 🙂

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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

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:https://debbiedelouise.com

Blog Tour – Magick & Mayhem – REVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape, May 1-May 14, 2017 - includes a picture of the author and the cover of the book.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to bring you a spot in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Magick & Mayhem, the first book in the Abracadabra Mystery series by Sharon Pape. It’s a decent start to a new series.

Book Cover: Magick & Mayhem: An Abracadabra Mystery by Sharon Pape - dark aqua background - large black cat with green eyes outlined with a city inside the body with yellow letters for the title.

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Synopsis

Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .

As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!

Review

While this is definitely a decent start to this new series, Magick & Mayhem, almost didn’t make the cut for me. I found it to be very disjointed and confusing at the beginning. However, I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first half, which redeemed it a bit.

The characters are definitely interesting. Kailyn’s certainly fun and inquisitive. Aunt Tilly & Merlin add some extra spice to the group. They’re fairly well-rounded characters, though it didn’t really seem like it at first. At first, they simply seemed all over the place and not developed at all. I’m not a fan of the heroine who decides that she must poke her nose in when she really doesn’t have that much of a reason. I can see where Kailyn thinks she has a reason, but honestly, until her friend is actually arrested, it seems pretty flimsy at best.

The descriptions of the settings were okay, but not great. I had a hard time imagining many of the settings, including Kailyn’s shop and house. It would’ve helped to have a little more detail there.

The story line… thankfully it got better as the book went on. The first half of the book, I was very confused by the secondary plot and found that getting in the way of the main plot line. The longer the book went on, however, the better the two plot lines merged and successfully played off of each other. I also did not know who the villain was until it was revealed. I was off on the wrong track completely.

Normally, when I’m reading a new book, I give the book 50-100 pages to reel me in (depending on the length of the book). However, when I’m reading a book for review, I don’t do that for the most part (there has been one exception to that). In this instance, I’m glad I didn’t stop reading because it did get better the longer it went on and by the end of the book I actually found myself enjoying it!

I do recommend this book, mostly because it gives a decent introduction to the characters that we’re sure to see in the future. I do plan to give the series another try when the second book comes out in November. I’m hoping that the writing style of that book will be more like the second half of this one when everything was starting to finally gel together.

*** Thank you to the author and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

About the Author

Author Sharon Pape - Older caucasian woman with auburn hair, wide eyes with no glasses, and a smile wearing a dark grey or black jacket.

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full-time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

Author Links

Webpage – Facebook –  Pinterest – Twitter

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Thanks for joining me today on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Magick & Mayhem! Click on the banner below to go to the main tour page where you can find information about all the stops on the tour!

Medium Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape - May 1-May 14, 2017 - includes the cover of the book

Kale to the Queen – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

Kale to the Queen is the first book in the Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series by Nell Hampton and it is absolutely delightful!

Book Cover - Kale to the Queen: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery by Nell Hampton - a largish kitchen with windows over looking the grounds and an island full of produce, meats and a butcher's knife.

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© Graphic Garden

Synopsis

Chef Carrie Ann Cole is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime–an assignment as the new Personal Chef to the Royal Family at Kensington Palace. But no sooner has Carrie Ann touched down across the pond and donned her apron than a dead body crops up beneath the royal kale beds.

With one assistant dead and the other soon under suspicion for his murder, Carrie Ann is scrambling to keep her kitchen up and running. Not to mention she gets off to an immediate bad start with the tempestuous Royal Chef Butterbottom, who has a bitter taste in his mouth since the prestigious position in the Royal Family’s kitchen was given to an “over-privileged, under-educated American chef.”

But the Royal Family’s appetites wait for no one, and Carrie Ann must solve the murder and still get supper on the table on time–even with the annoyingly handsome Head of Security Ian Gordon tracking her every move like an MI6 agent. Suspects abound as an American chef adds a bit of spice to the traditional royal household in the first in Nell Hampton’s charming and tasty Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series, Kale to the Queen.

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© Cute Colors

Review

When I first saw this title offered on NetGalley, I thought it sounded interesting. Then, the other night I was going through my backlist of books for review, looking for one to start reading. I kept simply dismissing things thinking, “No, that doesn’t sound good right now” and things of that nature. When I came across this one in my list, I thought, “Eh, this did sound interesting, let’s give it a try.” I’m really glad that I did! It was absolutely delightful and fun to read! In fact, I stayed up and read half of it that night!

The cast of characters in this series is rather fascinating. We have the combination of “proper protocol” followers and those who don’t care about that rubbish (that’s their attitude, not my feelings on protocol!). We have well-rounded, complex characters that you can tell we’re just starting to get to know. We have some background on some of the characters, but you can tell we’ll be learning more about them in future books.

The descriptions of the settings are adequate. I probably could have used just a little bit more detail, but I was still able to imagine most of the rooms/places where the scenes took place.

Our plot line moves along at a steady pace. I did figure out who the villain was before he/she was exposed, but it wasn’t too long before the exposition, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers, especially foodie cozy mystery lovers! It’s terrific and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out!!

Graphic of misc kitchen supplies - canisters of spices, jars of preserves, a candle, muffins, a pie, and a wooden spoon
©Graphic Garden