Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Author Discovery

Nancy Keith Kelly guests today to tell us about an author she just discovered and she can't stop reading...

On a recent family trip, I overheard folks talking a new author -- Brad Thor -- and tucked it away on my 'author to explore' list.  I seem to have a long list of authors I want to read. Once I did some research and ordered up his first book,  Lions of Lucerne, I was drawn in pretty quickly.   

We're introduced to Scot Harvath and his background as a Navy Seal, Olympic skier, and active member of the Secret Service.  (And you learn a few books later how he got the name Scot with one 't'.)  What I love about the Harvath series is that Brad Thor has done terrific research, especially around the US Navy Seals and one of their training bases, which is in my hometown of Coronado, California.  

Thor also has a gift of giving the reader a great description of locations around the world. You feel that you're right there. I loved his descriptions of  place, especially where I've lived and visited.  At the same time, details on the inner workings of the Secret Service, the FBI and even the CIA are also shared.  Not all readers may like learning as they read, however it does keep me engaged.

 The only issue I have is that his protagonist tends to have super powers when it comes to healing from injuries -- especially as the series unfolds.  I know he's a Navy Seal, but I'm not sure that gives him magic healing powers. It's a small thing. I have continued to read through the Scot Harvath series.

If you're looking for a fun series and some fast action, Brad Thor is worth checking out.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Autographing Hunting At Bouchercon

Kerry Hammond has serious plans when she goes to the world's largest mystery convention in Long Beach, CA from Novebmer 13-16. She's here today to reveal the game plan...

As Bouchercon gets nearer, I am going through my extensive library and deciding which books will make the trip with me. I love getting autographs for my books, even if it means bringing less clothes in my suitcase so that I have room for, you guessed it, books. I will be getting quite a few autographs at this year’s conference, and I thought I would take this time to mention 5 authors whose autographs I am most looking forward to. 

1. Charles Finch
I came across the Charles Lenox mystery series by accident one day while browsing at Barnes & Noble. Finch is American, but writes a great British series set in Victorian England featuring a gentleman sleuth. The series started in 2007 with A Beautiful Blue Death, and the 8th in the series, The Laws of Murder, is due out this November – just in time for Bouchercon. There is also a short story featuring Charles Lenox called An East End Murder.

2. Cara Black
Cara Black writes a series set in modern day Paris featuring private investigator Aimée Léduc. Her series started in 1998 with Murder in the Marais, and her 13th book, Murder Below Monparnasse, was just published in February of 2014. These books are wonderful for armchair travelers and the description of the areas of Paris are wonderfully written. 

3. Carola Dunn
I have been a Daisy Dalrymple fan for years and I own quite a few of the books in the series. New fans who want to try the series will be happy to know that there are 21 books in the series, from Death at Wentwater Court, published in 1994, to Heirs of the Body, published this past December (2013). Dare I hope that Ms. Dunn is working on book #22? The best part is that this historical series starts in the early 1920s, so the ones published early on won’t feel outdated. I recommend you start at the beginning. 

4. Donald Bain
You may have heard of the television series Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher. But did you know that Donald Bain (and Jessica Fletcher according to the book jackets) write a series of Murder, She Wrote books? It’s a wonderful series featuring one of TV’s all time great detectives. According to what I can find on Wikipedia, the series began in 1989 with Gin and Daggers. There have been about two books a year since 1994 for a grand total of 42 from what I count. The latest, Death of a Blue Blood came out this October. Just like the TV show, Jessica travels all over the world solving mysteries and attracting dead bodies.

Catriona Mcpherson
5. Catriona McPherson

 I just discovered the Dandy Gilver series this year and absolutely love it. This series is set in Scotland, starting in the early 1920s. Dandy, short for Dandelion, is a strong female character who quickly learns that she has a knack for solving mysteries and is frequently called in by her friends when there’s trouble. There are 9 books in the series, beginning with After the Armistice Ball. The latest is Dandy Gilver and the Reek of Red Herrings, published earlier this year. There is even a rumor that the Dandy books will be made into a British television series. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet

Kerry Hammond reviews A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet. A Demon Summer is the 4th book from G.M. Malliet to feature Max Tudor, vicar of St. Edwold’s Church in the town of Nether Monkslip, England.

Max Tudor is a former MI5 agent turned vicar, who showed up in the small town of Nether Monkslip to turn many a female head. He is attractive, charismatic, and extremely intelligent. Due to his background and former profession, he is frequently involved in murders that take place in the area, helping DCI Cotton solve the most baffling cases.
Max’s arrival in the village some years before had electrified the female population of Nether Monkslip, for Father Max Tudor was everything they could have wished for: kind and decent (basic requirements, of course, for a vicar), handsome and youngish (both huge bonuses), rumored to be a former MI5 agent (so daring and mysterious!), and most of all, unattached and, to all appearances, available. A lamp ripe for sacrifice on the marital alter.
The women got busy, either throwing themselves at his feet or pushing their nieces, daughters, and best friends at his feet. Church attendance skyrocketed, along with volunteerism for the little chores that needed doing around the church—cleaning the brass and silver, preparing the vessels for the Eucharistic services—that might bring them into closer proximity with Max.
But Max remained steadfastly uninterested. Oddly oblivious to the frenzy of self-sacrifice and do-goodery he had unleashed. Perhaps he thought it mere coincidence that the St. Edwold’s Altar Guild suddenly had more helpers than it could accommodate, all of them female, and all of them jostling for a slot in the rotation. The church flower rota became a free-for-all, with the altar bouquets growing more grandiose and extravagant with each passing week.

You can read the rest over at Criminal Element...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Awesome Book Scented Candles

Finally there are candles that smell like old books. With all of the candles out there, the folks at Frostbeard Studio have come up with scents that no one else has.

Book Cellar is described as earthy, slighty musty with hints of vanilla.

Winterfell is described as,  "fresh, earthy and cozy." Although of the three decriptions of the candle only earthy still describes Game of Thrones' Winterfell.

And who doesn't love the smell of old books...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Drinks with Reads: The Unforgivable Fix with Wine and Guinness

T.E. Woods is guest posting today on Drinks with Reads matching her new book, The Unforgivable Fix with Wine and Guinness. You'll have to read on to see if she suggests mixing them together. 

Mort Grant is Chief of Detectives for the Seattle Police Department. Lydia Corriger is a clinical psychologist in Olympia, Washington. Their paths crossed a couple of books ago in a way I could explain, but then I’d have to…well, you know the rest. It would be far less messy and you’d have much more fun if you simply picked up “The Fixer” and started at the beginning. They’re an unlikely pair. Mort’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. He’s got a small circle of friends he’d walk in front of an oncoming locomotive to protect. He likes basketball, loves his family, and would do tricks for a slice of double-spiced pumpkin pie from Annie’s Diner.
Lydia’s an intellectual loner. Her patients intrigue her, but professional relationships are the only social contact she indulges. She’s built a secure and solitary life on a cliff high above Puget Sound. She sidesteps any question that threatens to reveal the slightest thing about her, reads four newspapers daily, surrounds herself with the beauty of the birds and the sea, and dines amid original art every night at a table set for one.
Yes, they’re an unlikely team, our Mort and Lydia…but a secret binds them together tighter than any bloodline or romantic passion could. Together they solve crimes. The most heinous of crimes. The crimes that in the telling march you to the edge of what cruelties the human mind is able to conjure…and then compels you to look. 
You’ll never wonder why they drink.
For Mort, it’s Guinness stout. As the legend goes, the best Guinness is the one shared with friends, and so it is with our detective. He’ll have a bottle in his hand when Jimmy and Micki, his best cops, bring pizza to his place to watch the Seattle Wings take on the NBA. He’ll share one with Robbie, his journalist son always itching to pick his dad’s brain for the latest inside crime info. And keeping him sane is the bottle he shares on Thursday with L. Jackson Clark, the Nobel Laureate philosopher with whom Mort’s been working the New York Times crossword puzzle once a week since Jesus was twelve. 
Lydia’s drink is a room temperature Merlot. The full bodied warmth of the heavy red wine helps pull the burden of a days’ worth of her patients’ agony away from her own wounded soul. She sits on her deck, breathes in the wine’s spicy aroma, and sips as the sun sets behind the mountains. She drinks alone. One glass an evening and only the best. Her side job lets her afford it. Ah, but that’s another story.

Who are you? Are you a Mort who enjoys a pull of stout while laughing with friends? Or are you a Lydia, sipping perfection in isolated quiet? Either way, pour yourself a glass and settle in for an evening with Mort and Lydia’s latest adventure, “The Unforgiveable Fix”.

We'll be back next Friday with a fabulous read and a matching drink recipe. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Crafty Thursdays: A Crafty Christmas & Giveaway

Mollie Cox Bryan is here for Crafty Thursdays with a great book mark idea. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post. 

Do you have tin cans and baskets full of vintage buttons? I’ve a great way for you to repurpose or upcycle those buttons and get them out of storage. You can make bookmarks with your beautiful buttons with just a glue gun and a paper clip.

If you have a glue gun, plug it in, and let’s get started. 
You can use either small, plain paperclips or big, colored paper clips. I like the bigger ones because I find they actually work nicer as bookmarks.
Hot glue seems to work well on the plastic, glass, or metal buttons. Sometimes it takes some practice to figure out how much glue to use. 
I play with the colored paper clips and the buttons to see which button looks best which color paperclip. 
You can get creative with the buttons. As you can probably tell, I’ve glued some smaller buttons onto large ones. 

If you don’t like the naked backs, you can always cover them with felt. It hides the glue mess nicely. 

Finding Buttons

1. Flea markets, yard sales, and second hand shops are great places to find vintage buttons. 
2. Ask your older relatives if they might have a stash. 
3. Both Ebay and Etsy sell vintage buttons. 

In crafting, like so much about life, there’s just no ONE right way to do things—so have fun experimenting. One commenter will win three of my button bookmarks. 

Happy crafting—and reading! 

Mollie Cox Bryan writes the Cumberland Creek Mysteries, published by Kensington. The first book, Scrapbook of Secrets, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2012 and was selected by B & N as a mystery to watch. The rest of the books in the series are: SCRAPPED, DEATH OF AN IRISH DIVA, SCRAPPY SUMMER (e-novella), CRAFTY CHRISTMAS and SCRAPBOOK OF THE DEAD (forthcoming 2015). She is also the author of the bestselling MRS. ROWE'S LITTLE BOOK OF SOUTHERN PIES (Random House 2009) and MRS. ROWE'S RESTAURANT COOKBOOK: A LIFETIME OF RECIPES FROM THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY (Ten Speed Press, 2006). She has worked for years as a freelance food journalist with articles published in Taste of the South, NPR’s Kitchen Window, and Grit Magazine, among others. She lives in Waynesboro, Va. with her husband and two daughters.

About Crafty Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, and the ladies of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop are thrilled when Sheila wins the first place prize in a scrapbooking design contest: a ten-day scrapbook-themed cruise in the Caribbean. Vera and Paige decide to tag along, which should pose the perfect opportunity to learn some new techniques, mingle with fellow croppers, and get in some rest and relaxation before the chaos of Christmas. But when Sheila finds a famous crafter dead, and investigators determine she was poisoned, the luxury cruise veers toward disaster as Sheila becomes the number one suspect--or was she really the intended victim? Just as the croppers begin un-wrapping the truth, a storm strands them at sea, and they'll find it's harder than ever to survive the holidays with a killer on deck. . .

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Resurrectionist

Patricia Lacy joins us today from South Carolina where she reviews 2014 Edgar nominee, The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn, which is set in her home state. 

The title of this novel, presented me with a quandary, because based on the title, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. I was afraid it would be about zombies. I went cautiously ahead, allowing myself permission to stop on any page I chose, but I kept turning pages filled with descriptions, plots and characters that made me forget everything else. This author provided all the ingredients.

The book goes back and forth between the 1860s to modern times. It covers education, slavery, racism with plenty of opportunities to provoke thought. 

Among the thousands of South Carolina resident transplants, I was entranced with the accurate pictures of places in the state that I know so well.  

The character, Jacob, caught me up as I followed him through the historical glimpses and how the changes in the country did not really improve the nature of mankind in regard to others who were perceived as inferior. It was an intriguing journey for both Jacob and me as we got to the end of the novel.

The character of Nemo gave the reader a whole different perspective as the author tossed him across the years into more recent history. He seems to have been drawn by the author to demonstrate the differences between the 1960s and modern times. 

The book, read through, provokes the reader to not only think, but to also dissect modern life, not only in the south but throughout the world.

Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the time periods as the author switches back and forth between time periods. I think that could have been accomplished more easily for the reader. But I hung in there and I am glad I did.

I finished this book in an afternoon for the narrative itself. The characters Jacob and Nemo pushed me on to the very end.