BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m pleased to be bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron by R.L. Syme. This was a delightful book to read and I enjoyed it. Stay tuned for an interview with the author after the review.

** Update 8/7/17 ** Yesterday I still didn’t feel well, so updates to the post had to wait until today, but I’m happy to report that we now have more formatting, purchase links, a link to the item on Goodreads, and links to the author’s sites, plus graphics to help break up the text. Thank you for being patient as I dealt with my migraine and the aftermath.

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Synopsis

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where they consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced back into the role of investigator, this newly-arrived-in-town part-time bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a date-gone-wrong brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find out who-dun-it.

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Review

As I said above, the book was a delightful read and I enjoyed it. I like our main character, Vangie. Sometimes she drove me a little nuts because she had a tendency to put herself into situations that held the possibility of danger without really thinking too much, but she didn’t do that often, so I didn’t get too annoyed by it.

I had mixed feelings about most of the supporting characters throughout the book. As we got more into the back story of the town and its people, I understood the characters motivations better and started to like some of them more, but there were enough red herrings in this book that I was suspicious of most of the townspeople and characters until the villain was actually revealed.

The plot line moved along at a steady and somewhat quick pace, though it wasn’t so quick that you couldn’t keep up. This was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good whodunit.

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Interview

First, let me say a huge thank you to R.L. Syme for being willing to answer my questions.

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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 don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I love it. I used to have non-writing jobs, though, and I’ve done so many different jobs, mostly in the nonprofit arena. Theater, music, church, youth, restaurants… all great experiences for me to take from in the writing.

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?

I write every day. Pretty much during the same hours every day, too, unless I’m on deadline, and then I’ll probably write more. I usually try to write a specific number of hours, rather than a word count. That way I know I’ll always get it done.

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?

With Vangie, I definitely feel like the story was hers, and she took over. It might be because I feel like I know her so well, I can predict what she does. I love knowing a character that well.

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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?

I definitely went through a lot of rejections first. I never thought about quitting before…I’ve thought about quitting after. Lol. It’s definitely hard work. But I love it. To keep myself hopeful, I try to focus on the characters and the story I’m telling. I want to see them get their justice or their happy ending.

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?

Macaron went through three pretty major revisions. Normally, I don’t do that many, but this book has a lot of moving parts. I have two editors and several beta readers, and they are so helpful. I definitely set the book aside after every draft or every read-through. I like it to be fresh when I look at it.

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?

The thing I love about mystery is that the villain is usually someone who has a really good reason for doing what they did. They just got desperate. I think that’s what I like so much. I get to sort of write normal people who just get carried away because they want something so much. I think that’s what makes mystery so interesting.

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

My characters are definitely fictional. I try to make them as real as I can, so I almost always have pieces of something familiar in them, but I never write a one-to-one correlation of a person. I don’t think it’s fair to try to tell someone’s story so completely like that. But I also want them to feel real.

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

That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to do non-fiction, about TS Eliot. In fact, I worked on a fiction book about TS Eliot for a long time, but it never quite came to fruition. But there’s always a chance I will go back to that idea someday. I love TS Eliot.

9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m just finishing a re-read of Tana French’s The Likeness, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve read all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and I think they’re my favorite series out right now.

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10) What books have influenced your life the most?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say The Bible, just because of my religious background. But in addition to that, I’ve been reading thriller and mystery for so long, I’d have a big list of those, as well. Nancy Drew would be up there, and Dean Koontz. John Grisham. But then, additionally, I was an English major, so I’ve read all the classics, and those have influenced me a lot, as well. Poetry, too. Eliot and Hopkins most notably.

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?

It would absolutely be Derek Hobson. And I’d be okay with just riding on his bike. Although maybe a little B&E, too…. #sigh

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 usually don’t respond to reviews. I did once, on one of my very first books, and I learned from the experience that it’s not my job to tell readers what they did and didn’t experience during my books. I’ve learned that I have to be really okay with putting the book out into the world and letting people think what they’re going to think. Not everyone will like every book, and reviews are supposed to help readers find the books they will and won’t like. As a good friend says, reviews are for readers, not for authors.

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Thanks so much for having me!

And THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions today!! 🙂

Author’s Links

 

If you wish to follow the rest of the blog tour, click on the banner below and it will take you to the main tour page with the schedule of blogs!

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Fiesta Burger Murder – REVIEW

3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Fiesta Burger Murder is the first installment in the Burger Bar Mystery series by Rosie A. Point. This book is actually novella length and was a fun read, though I wish it had been longer.

Book Cover: The Fiesta Burger Murder: A Burger Bar Mystery by Rosie A. Point - photo of a burger with barbecue sauce, bacon, onion, lettuce, and tomato on a bun with a jalapeno pepper next to it

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Synopsis

Boston Homicide Detective, Christie Watson, wants nothing less than to bury her head in the sand in her hometown, Sleepy Creek, Ohio. Placed on sabbatical for a little ‘over-enthusiasm,’ Chris has to stay out of trouble or risk losing her job for good, and Sleepy Creek, with its clapboard homes and peaceful milieu, seems just the place to do that. But returning to Sleepy Creek means facing the one cold case she’s never solved: her mother’s murder.

The past becomes the least of her worries, however, when a man is murdered in her best friend’s back yard. Griselda, awesome human being all-round and owner of the local Burger Bar – serving scrumptious delights like the Mexican Fiesta Burger – is the prime suspect. To make matters worse, the handsome detective in charge of the case won’t quit asking questions or drop the icy professionalism whenever Chris counters with her own.

Det. Watson can’t let this one slide – sabbatical or not, she won’t let her friend wind up behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit. Equipped with her cop skills, and that thirst for truth, she sets off to solve the murder before it’s too late.

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Review

This was a fun read, but I felt it was way too short. At the end, we’re left with more questions than answers, which isn’t generally how I like to end a cozy mystery.

The characters are well-written and complex. I love Griselda. She’s awesome! I’m not sure how I feel about Christie. She’s a little too impulsive for my taste, but I want to see what she’s like in additional books before really making a decision.

The setting descriptions that were included were well done, I just wish there had been more. I can easily visualize Griselda’s house and the Burger Bar, but the rest of the small town, not so much. It would’ve been great to see other things happening in town besides just the murder, giving us more locales to imagine and to put the town together in our minds.

The story line moved along very quickly given the shortness of the book. I was able to follow the story line, so it wasn’t too quick in that regard, I just wish we had gotten more background information on Christie and Griselda, more information about the killer, just more information in general. That’s why I only gave it a 3.5 out of 5 rating. It just needed more.

I’m still looking forward to the second book and hoping that we get more of that missing information then.

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Blog Tour – Bearly Departed – REVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Bearly Departed by Meg Macy June 1-June 14, 2017 - includes the author's photo and the book cover.

4 out of 5 stars

Today, I’m happy to bring you the latest stop in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Bearly Departed, the first book in the new Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery series by Meg Macy. It was a fun read and a good start to the new series!

Book Cover: Bearly Departed by Meg Macy - teddy bear store/workroom setting - shelves full of teddy bears in the background and a partially unstuffed bear in the foreground on the floor.

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Synopsis

As manager of the family teddy bear shop and factory, thirty-one-year-old Sasha Silverman leads a charmed life. Well, except for the part about being a single divorcée with a ticking biological clock in small-town Silver Hollow. And that’s just kid’s stuff compared to Will Taylor, the sales rep who’s set on making drastic changes to the business her parents built from scratch—with or without Sasha’s approval . . .

But before Will digs his claws in, someone pulls the stuffing out of his plan . . . and leaves his dead body inside the factory. Reeling from shock, Sasha’s hit with more bad news—police suspect her hot-tempered Uncle Ross may have murdered him. Sasha knows her uncle would never do such a thing, and she’s launching her own little investigation to expose the truth. As she tracks Will’s biggest rivals and enemies for clues, Sasha can’t get too comfy—or she’ll become the next plaything for a killer . . .

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Review

While I felt that there was a bit of a slow start to the book, once I got into it, this was a fun and delightful read; a great start to a new series!

I like our main characters. For the most part, Sasha has a sensible head on her shoulders. Right at the end, she seemed to lose that sensibility and put herself in real danger, but that was the first time in the whole book she’d done that so I think I’m really going to end up liking her as a character.

Since I live in SE Michigan, I’m very familiar with the area that Ms. Macy used in the book. You could tell that she combined some towns to make the area, but if you weren’t from this area, it’d seem like a really nice little town. Being from here didn’t detract from the story line. I don’t mean that. It was kind of neat to see the things that she included and what she mixed around for originality, that kind of thing. 🙂

The plot line moved along at a steady pace. As I said above, I had a bit of a slow start getting into it, but once I did, I enjoyed it. I wondered about the villain, but I didn’t get the whole picture until the end when it was revealed.

I’d definitely recommend this new series and I look forward to the next one, even tho’ we have to wait until next June for it!

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

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About the Author

Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter — the area she chose for the setting of her new “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” cozy mystery series for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery series; two books have been named Agatha Award finalists. Meg’s first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. She’s a graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Meg loves reading mysteries, historicals, and other genre fiction, and also enjoys gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

Author Links

www.megmacy.com
Meg Macy – Teddy Bear Cozy Mysteries
Meg Macy on Twitter

Thanks for joining me today! Click on the banner below to take you to the main tour page and a listing of all the other stops on the tour!

Medium banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Bearly Departed by Meg Macy - June 1-June 14, 2017 - includes the book cover

 

Blog Tour – Color Me Dead – REVIEW

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours presents: Color Me Dead by Teresa Trent; January 23-January 27, 2017 - also includes a picture of the author, middle-aged woman with short brown hair and a picture of the cover which features the title and a look down a small town "Main Street".

5 out of 5 stars

Welcome to my stop on this particular blog tour! Today I’m featuring “Color Me Dead” by Teresa Trent, which is the first in the Henry Park series. I really enjoyed this book and I’m already excited for the second book in the series!!

Book Cover: Color Me Dead by Teresa Trent - View looking down a small town's main street - sign that says "Enchantment Bookstore for Children of all ages" hanging off building with a beagle underneath on the sidewalk along with a rocking chair

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Purchase Link – Amazon

Brief Synopsis

Artist Gabby Wolfe has the ability to see not only the beauty of the living, but the despair of the dead. When she returns to her childhood home in Henry Park Colorado, she is forced to bring along her younger brother Mitch. He is on a “break” from college where he was majoring in wine, women and song. If that isn’t enough they also have Mitch’s rambunctious beagle Luigi along who prefers to spend his days wallowing in junk food. When Gabby draws the death of a young woman before it happens, she knows she must tell someone and risk a new job and her professional credibility. Will she reveal her secret in time to save the woman in the water or will it be too late?

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Review

From the beginning, I was absolutely riveted by this book. It was very hard to read this when I was at work (breaks and lunch) because I did NOT want to put it down and go back out to the public desks. Mind you, I love my job and most of the time I love being out on the desks and helping people. That’s why I went to library school, so I could be a reference librarian and help people find the information they need/want. I was just so riveted to this book that I didn’t want to put it down, though because of life it did take longer to read than something like this usually does.

I thought the characters were very well-rounded and surprisingly complex for this being only the first book in the series. Often times, when the book is the first in a new series, the author leaves some background out to release in the other volumes and the characters end up somewhat flat and two-dimensional. These characters, however, fully came to life in my head. I’m certainly looking forward to learning more about them in the next book(s) in the series.  I love all the side characters too, not just the main characters. Those add so much life to the book and the story. I had absolutely NO idea who the killer was until it was revealed and I love that in a mystery.

The setting descriptions were “just right” for me. There was enough detail that I could easily imagine the scene and yet I didn’t feel like the level of description was overwhelming and boring. Also, the setting sounds absolutely beautiful. I love living here in Michigan, but Henry Park, Colorado sounds like a beautiful place to live.

The plot line moved along at a pretty steady pace. As I said above, I had absolutely NO idea of who the killer was until the author revealed it. I tend to lose interest in a book if I know “who done it” early in the story line, so I was happy to be surprised.

I highly recommend this book to those who like cozy mysteries. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to see where Gabby and Mitch lead us!

** I received a free ecopy of this book from the author. All opinions and conclusions are my own. **

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About the Author

Teresa Trent, author - Middle aged white woman with medium brown hair, no glasses, wearing a black and grey striped shirt

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/teresatrentmysterywriter

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ttrent_cozymys

BLOG: https://teresatrent.wordpress.com/

WEBSITE: http://teresatrent.com

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Thanks for stopping by today! If you want to visit more stops on the tour, the full schedule can be found below.

Tour Participants

January 23 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

January 23 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

January 23 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW

January 24 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

January 24 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

January 24 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

January 24 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

January 25 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

January 26 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

January 26 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 26 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

January 26 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 27 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 27 – Turning the Pages – REVIEW

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The Liar – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

The Liar by Nora Roberts book cover - dark blue background with city lights faintly seen and a spider web in the foreground

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Synopsis

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …

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Review

The Liar by Nora Roberts is a page-turner.  I wouldn’t quite classify it as the best Nora Roberts ever as I had a hard time getting into it at first. Once Shelby took her daughter back to her home town in Tennessee, I really started to enjoy the book. The majority of the characters were very lovable, well-rounded, and easy to relate to. The setting in Tennessee sounds beautiful and like a wonderful small town to live in.

I had a feeling/thought about the ending before I got there and was correct in that feeling/thinking, but even being right, it didn’t take away from the excitement of the story.

I recommend it to anyone who is a Nora Roberts fan or likes suspenseful romance books.

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