Great review of Peril by Ponytail by Phil Jason at Florida Weekly.
Today begins my Blog Tour to celebrate the release of Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Join us at each stop, leave a comment, and enter to win my giveaways. Share with your friends!
Giveaway: signed copies hardcover Died Blonde and Dead Roots plus a $10 Starbucks gift card
September 14, Author Interview, A Blue Million Books
September 15, Book Review, Book Splurge
September 16, Book Review, Laura’s Interests
September 16, “Hunting Ghosts,” Mystery Playground
September 16, “On-Site Research Tips”, Southern Writers Magazine Suite T
September 17, ‘Top Five Desert Honeymoon Survival Kit,” Romancing the Book
Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win signed a paperback copy of Hanging by a Hair
September 17, Book Review, Socrates’ Book Reviews
September 18, “Dude Ranch Adventure,” 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
September 18, Spotlight at Love Romance Novels, The Pop Culture Divas, and The Revolving Book
September 19, Book Review, Readalot
September 19, “A Day in the Life”, Dru Ann’s Book Musings
Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win a copy of Shear Murder
September 20, Book Review, Book Babble
September 20, Author Interview, Frankie Bow
Enter now at http://freshfiction.com/contest.php?id=7600 to win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. U.S. Residents only please.
Enter Sept. 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.
I’ll be sending out a newsletter on Wednesday. Sign up now! Book news, giveaways, recipe: https://nancyjcohen.com/contact-nancy/newsletter/
Here are some of the books I’ve read over the summer. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen
The Royal Assassin by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery)
This is the third title in the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, and it’s just as enjoyable as the first two installments. With the Russian Princess Kira visiting England, Georgia Fenchurch from the Archivist Society is employed to keep Her Highness safe. To this end, she takes a job as secretary to a Duchess. When the royal visitor’s guard is killed and her chaperone is found dead, the stakes escalate. Which one of their household bears a grudge strong enough to murder? Are Russian anarchists involved? And how do these incidents relate to a series of bold thefts in the area? Georgia has her hands full playing detective along with the handsome Duke of Blackford. With the detailed period setting, engaging characters, and puzzling mystery, you’ll keep turning pages to the end and will be eager for the sequel.
Rookie Privateer by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction)
Liam Hoffen chafes against his fate, being stuck on a mining asteroid and working in his father’s business. But a pirate attack changes everything. His heroism, along with two friends, saves the settlement. However, his injuries prevent him from every applying to the Navy which he would have done if he’d had the funds. As if in answer to his dreams, the Navy grants him and his friend Nick salvage rights to the pirate vessel and asks for their help in a secret mission. Soon Liam and Nick are off on a voyage of adventure and the beginning of many more stories.
I really enjoyed this book and hope to read the next in the series. It’s fast-paced, well-written, and reminds me of the early Vorkosigan saga stories by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris
With his wife about to give birth and his best friend enamored of a mysterious French emigrant, Sebastian St. Cyr gets on the trail of a killer who mutilates his victims. Ties to the French royals, rumors of the “Lost Dauphin” being alive, and a possible conspiracy to prevent a peace treaty with Napoleon keep him busy tracking clues. Someone has targeted him, and Sebastian must find this perpetrator before his wife and unborn child are endangered by his investigation. But the one person who can help is the one he trusts the least. Why Kings Confess is another sterling addition to a gripping series.
The Impertinent Miss Bancroft by Karla Hocker (Historical Romance)
Sophy Bancroft takes a job as governess to Viscount Northrop’s unruly niece and nephews. But caring for children isn’t enough to hold her interest. She insists on investigating several thefts that have recently occurred at his lordship’s estate. Her forthright manner and logical approach startle the viscount into allowing her participation, and he soon finds himself under her spell. But when thievery turns into murder, he dares not risk her life. How can he convince the determined woman to comply? The Impertinent Miss Bancroft is a clever mix of a murder mystery and a Regency romance.
Gathering Mist by Karla Brandenburg (Fantasy Romance)
Giselle is a Kundigerin who possesses powers she tries to deny. This becomes impossible when people close to her are killed. She learns a demon is responsible, and he’s after her next. She turns for help to an old flame turned rock star, who is the only man that can help her. But to work together, they must regain the trust they lost so many years ago. Set in a unique universe, Gathering Mist will have you rooting for this young couple to combine their powers and defeat the enemy.
Imperfect Daddy by Gregg Brickman (Mystery)
A former cop and now a nurse, Sophia isn’t happy when her police detective boyfriend won’t talk about his past. Ray has a personal connection to a recent murder case that makes her question his judgement. The deeper she digs, the more concerned she becomes. Did Ray knowingly help convict an innocent man who went to jail for murder? Or was he duped? Later he brought forth a witness whose testimony freed the guy. Now the man is on the loose, and he might have killed again. His wife and son are found murdered and the daughter raped. She claims “daddy” did it. Is the released criminal at fault? And how is Ray’s ex-wife involved? The closer Sophia gets to the truth, the further she pushes Ray away. But if she can’t trust the detective, she can’t be a part of his life. This solid whodunit will keep you guessing until the end.
The Improper Wife by Diane Perkins (Historical Romance)
Maggie Delaney seeks the lodgings of her about-to-be born child’s father, but the man who opens his door to her is a stranger. Pleading for his help, she accepts the nobleman’s aid in the birth of her son. But if this is the real Captain John Grayson, who was the man she married? She’d believed the guy to be dead, drowned in the river. Afraid to be accused of murdering him, she remains silent about her past.
When a pregnant woman shows up at his door and announces she’s his wife, Gray is stunned. The lady even has papers to prove their marriage took place. Foisting her off on his relatives along with her newborn son, he forgets about her until he returns home to his father’s country manor. There he finds Maggie, who has entranced his family. He has no choice but to go along with her charade that she’s his wife. As he falls under his charms, he wishes their marriage wasn’t a sham. There is only one thing that stands in his way, and that’s the identity of the man who fooled her. Maggie is oddly reluctant to discuss the fellow. How can he trust her when she refuses to confide in him?
Dark Moon Rising by Jacqueline Seewald (Romantic Suspense)
Dark Moon Rising has gothic undertones, ghosts, and family secrets. A curse on the Hunt family claims a victim each year who dies a violent death. When Cassie’s car breaks down and she is given shelter by Colonel Hunt in his southern mansion, she’s grateful for his help. But she’s soon swept into a swirl of deceit involving his sons and other townspeople who don’t seem to want Cassie to leave. Why does she keep sniffing lilac scent around the house? And what’s wrong with the girl she meets in the woods who acts possessed? How come the Colonel won’t tolerate the girl’s name being mentioned? Trouble is brewing, and Cassie senses the evil that pervades the house. Will only another tragedy right a past wrong? Or can she prevent the doom that she senses is coming? Can she trust Jim, the Colonel’s son, or does he have a violent disposition like his brother, Drew? Somebody must die to fulfill the curse. Which one of them will it be? Dark Moon Rising is a gripping story that will have you turning pages until the surprising outcome. Another winner by Jacqueline Seewald!
Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy (Mystery)
White House chef Ollie Paras is horrified when politician Carl Minkus dies in the midst of a meal supplied by her staff. Relieved from duty, she doesn’t trust the Secret Service to look for the true culprit when they’re convinced her kitchen provided the tainted food. But who would want to get Minkus out of the way? And who else had access to his meal? Involved in intrigue and politics, Minkus could have stumbled onto a secret that someone might kill to protect. Ollie hastens to find the killer so her visiting mother and grandmother can get the White House tour she’d promised them. But can she guarantee no one else will come down with a fatal case of food poisoning? This cute story in the White House Chef mystery series will have you rooting for the crook to be caught so Ollie and her crew can prepare for the upcoming Easter Egg Roll event. Entertaining and inventive.
Vicky Peterwald: Survivor by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)
In this second volume of the Vicky Peterwald series, the Grand Duchess of Greenfeld focuses on the goal of helping her people. Vicky has led a spoiled life. But now the palace holds nothing for her but intrigue and death. Tired of assassination attempts and abductions, she escapes with the Navy fleet where she serves as an officer. But as her leadership skills surface, she finds herself pulling on her title more often for clout. She uses her elevated status to help the people starving in the wake of her stepmother’s play for power. As she comes closer to outright rebellion, Vicky builds her supporters, including a diplomat named Mannie of whom she grows fond. I’m hoping we see more of their relationship in the sequel, and that Vicky halts her promiscuous ways to settle on one guy. I’d like her more in a straight, monogamous relationship with a clear focus to free her people from the yoke of her evil stepmother’s family.
Vicky Peterwald: Target by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)
Grand Duchess and Greenfeld Navy Officer Vicky Peterwald is on her way home from a battle with ferocious aliens that left most of her fleet dead. But someone doesn’t want Vicky to make it back to the palace. Several assassination attempts leave no doubt in her mind that her evil stepmother wants Vicky out of the way. Her father, the Emperor, has become this woman’s puppet. Even when Vicky reaches the palace, she sees it’s useless to tell her father the truth. He prefers his own version of reality. Meanwhile, the empress initiates attacks on Naval leadership, who decide they want Vicky on their side. But is she strong enough to resist the net tightening around her and to rally supporters? Along the way, she grows from a spoiled sex vamp to a leader who cares about her people. This first series title is a spinoff from the Kris Longknife series. It is fast-paced and fun with a sympathetic—albeit promiscuous—heroine.
What books have you enjoyed lately?
Win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two Runner-Up Prizes: a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair
It’s always exciting when reviews trickle in for a new book. With Peril by Ponytail’s release date on Sept. 16, I am thrilled to share the first batch of reviews.
“Hairdresser Marla Vail spends her honeymoon at the dude ranch from hell. Marla is annoyed when her handsome husband, Dalton, accepts his cousin Wayne’s offer of a post-wedding stay at the Last Trail Dude Ranch in Arizona. She’d rather be lounging by the pool in a Caribbean resort than riding ponies up dusty trails and learning the mysterious ways of saguaro cactuses. And she’s even more annoyed to learn that Wayne and his wife, Carol, have asked Dalton to check out a string of mishaps at the ranch, ranging from a fire in the kitchen to a flood caused by an open valve on the water heater…As usual, it’s just a matter of time before Marla risks life and limb to help her husband solve a case that’s bigger than either of them anticipated.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Cozy fans will have fun.” —Publishers Weekly
“Nancy J. Cohen once again delivers a delightful cozy mystery with the latest escapades of Marla and her partner Dalton.”—PaulineMichael, Night Owl Reviews
“This is a good addition to Cohen’s long-running series. The heroine is in fine form and … the slight bit of paranormal activity adds a nice touch.”—Susan Mobley, RT Book Reviews
“The author does a great job between all the characters, the storyline, the descriptions and the scenery. Each of them draws you into the book and you never want to stop until the story ends even then you want the story to keep going. A great series you will not be disappointed in reading.” —Babs Hightower, BTS eMagazine
Author Interview in The Big Thrill
When I give talks, people always ask what I like to read. So I am going to share with you some of the books I’ve read this year. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen
Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette (Mystery)
Hayley looks forward to writing about new Key West chef Edel Waugh in her food critic column, but things go up in smoke when a fire shuts down the restaurant. Then investigators discover a dead body inside an adjacent burnt-out shed. It’s no other than Edel’s ex-husband. Was his death an accident, or did Edel commit arson to cover up a crime? Or perhaps someone else has a grudge against the talented chef? Hayley determines to help the woman, who’s anxious to open for the holidays. But will Hayley even have a column to write when a rival threatens her job? Chaos ensues amid holiday preparations in this fun mystery. The mouth-watering food descriptions will compel you to make a dinner reservation at your favorite restaurant.
The Heir by Kiera Cass (YA Fantasy)
This fourth installment in The Selection series by Kiera Cass is just as much frothy fun as the previous three books. If you like to daydream about living in a palace and being on first name terms with royalty, you might enjoy these titles. In this story, Princess Eadlyn agrees to her parents’ requests to hold a Selection in order to distract the populace from their woes. Having no interest in getting married, she dutifully obeys while plotting to get rid of her suitors along the way. She doesn’t expect to actually care about any of the young men who show up at the palace hoping to win her hand, so it comes as a surprise when a few of them make an impression. Can she let down her emotional walls enough to give herself a chance at love? With this being part of another trilogy, you know the princess won’t make her decision until the end, and the author does a good job of keeping you guessing which guy will win her heart. If you’re looking for complex political intrigue, look elsewhere. The Heir is light, fun, and full of dreams for a pleasing summer read.
Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell (Historical Mystery)
Journalist Emma Cross, a lesser member of the Vanderbilt family, opens her mansion door in historic Newport one day to find a baby on her doorstep. Down the road is a murdered coachman who must have left the infant there. Who are they, and why did they come to her house? She launches her investigation into an elite society soon clouded by another death. Textile magnate Virgil Monroe disappears overboard from his sailboat. Was it an accident or murder? Is there a link between the missing man and the abandoned child? Who among this bejeweled crowd might know about the baby? As Emma investigates, she learns shocking secrets that might make her the next victim unless she discovers the culprit first. Emma continues to show her strength and gumption in an era when independent women weren’t the norm. You’ll be eager to join her next adventure involving history, mystery, and high society in the Gilded Newport era.
The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (YA Fantasy)
This story engaged me from the start and swept me along with its frantic, engrossing pace. Multiple viewpoint switches were done well, with each chapter labeled by the character who ruled it. I quickly felt sympathy for Johanna, member of a performing troupe who watched her father die as he fell from a tightrope in the forest. Was it an accident as people said? And why were girls who looked like her being murdered in different villages? She performs at the estate of Duke DeSilva and meets his son, Lord Rafael. There’s an instant love-hate relationship between them that makes you realize they’re destined to be together. But Johanna has a broader destiny, because she hides an identity unknown even to herself. And once Rafi finds out who she really is, he swears to protect her at all cost. But can he protect her from dangerous mages headed their way or conspirators bent on destroying them? Romance, mystery, and fantasy are wound into one package that will have you bolting for the next volume.
Bubba Done It by Maggie Toussaint (Paranormal Mystery)
When a dying banker says that someone nicknamed Bubba stabbed him, he unleashes the sheriff’s investigation into a number of townsfolk all of whom share the same moniker. What makes the lawman’s task more difficult is that each person has a viable motive. Wayne turns for help to the local Dreamwalker. But when Baxley tries to contact the dead guy in the great beyond, she runs into a dark entity that threatens to pull her into the void forever. Complicating matters are the victim’s niece who is missing and her boat that was found abandoned in the marsh. What has happened to the young girl? As Baxley gets closer to the truth, she receives threatening messages and acts of vandalism that are meant to discourage her. But she persists on pursuing justice regardless of her own peril. It’s a pleasure to see Baxley’s paranormal powers expanding. This unique element adds to the story’s mystique. With its cast of quirky characters, Southern setting, and psychic sleuth, Bubba Done It will keep you guessing until the end.
Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova (Mystery)
Victoria returns to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to do research for her next mystery novel. Fiction turns into reality when TV producer Gio Parisi dines at her family’s restaurant and keels over dead. Could the culprit be their food supplier who has a grudge against Parisi? Or Tim the chef, who had the opportunity? Or maybe Parisi’s wife or girlfriend? Suspects abound in this lighthearted romp that will have you remembering your days at the seashore with fond memories.
The Saffron Crocus by Alison McMahan (YA Historical Mystery)
Isabella, 15, longs to be a singer in 1643 Venice, but as a lady, she’s confined to singing in salons. Her teacher, Margherita, introduces her to the opera, and Isabella sees a new future ahead of her. But when Margherita is brutally murdered and her son is accused of the deed, Isabella shifts her goals to discovering the killer. She’s met Rafaele, who respects her ambitions, and she wishes to help clear his name. But can she resist her aunt’s attempts to match her to another man, who won’t allow her to sing in public? As she discovers secrets her teacher kept hidden, Isabella races to gain evidence before Rafaele is executed for his alleged crimes. If he dies, so will her hope, because she’s fallen in love with him. This glimpse into a fascinating era moves at a quick pace that will have readers singing for justice and wanting more from this talented author.
The Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery)
Georgia Fenchurch, a London bookshop owner during the Victorian era, is a member of the secret Archivist Society that investigates crimes. So when her house guest Lady Phyllida’s cousin is murdered, Georgia gets involved. The cousin was married to a man who’d designed warship blueprints for the government, and those documents are now missing. There’s only a handful of people who would have known he’d taken them home that evening, and they are members of the upper crust. Thus Georgia assumes the identity of Lady Georgina and teams up with the Duke of Blackford to infiltrate high society. They must root out a spy and find the real killer to clear the husband’s name of murder.
This second book in the Victorian Bookshop mystery series is as engaging as the first. Georgia is a capable heroine, strong-willed and independent. She grows to care for the duke while knowing their relationship can never progress beyond friendship. I’m eager for the next installment as the search for her parents’ killer continues and she gets involved in another adventure.
G-1 (The Guardian of Earth Series book one) by Rigel Carson (Science Fiction)
The world is on the brink of ecological disaster, but scientist Dr. Zeke Landry has trouble convincing anyone that a conspiracy might be the cause. As he digs deeper, he uncovers truths about himself that leave him even more mystified. When he becomes a target for deadly forces bent on his destruction, is it because of his research into the global water shortage or because of his own mysterious background? In a race against time, he must discover his legacy and activate his powers to save the world. G-1 is a page-turning ecological thriller that could become chillingly real.
The Goddess’s Choice by Jamie Marchant (Fantasy)
Robbie can’t take any more beatings by his father, and so he looks for escape one day at the country fair. Here he meets the lovely lady he calls Milady. They share a dance and a conversation before her guards hustle her off. Figuring he’d never see her again, Robbie returns to his farm and the animals who comfort him. Somehow he can understand what they say and can heal their injuries with his mind. Meanwhile, the lady he met returns to her home at the palace. She’s actually Crown Princess Samantha. Her father, the king, is ill and has been pressuring her to choose a consort. She rejects the fawning suitors who want nothing more from her than her royal status. As members of her court conspire to seize power, Robbie learns he has powers of his own that go beyond healing. Can he gain his strength in time to save Samantha from the noblemen plotting to kill her? This well-imagined story will grab your attention from the start and take you on an adventure filled with magic until the satisfying conclusion.
Undercity by Catherine Asaro (Science Fiction)
Beginning a new scifi detective series set in the Skolian Empire universe, Asaro introduces Major Bhaajan, a former military officer turned P.I. who returns to her home planet under assignment to rescue a missing prince. What she discovers goes beyond a kidnapping and reveals a conspiracy that shakes her world. Exquisite world building, strong characters and fast-paced action will have readers eagerly awaiting the sequel.
What is on your reading list for this summer?
According to some recent online posts, Amazon is changing the way it will be rating reviews.
“The new system will give more weight to newer reviews, reviews from verified Amazon purchasers and those that more customers vote up as being helpful.”
As an author, I find this promising. Recently I have revised three of my backlist titles. Some of those earlier reviews from the original books are less than stellar. I’d like to see new readers overwhelm the airwaves with positive raves about my revised and updated editions. And I certainly wouldn’t mind if Amazon removed some of those low-rated earlier posts that say my writing should have been better edited. Because those reviewers are right. My earlier editions did need more work, which I can only now see from the perspective of 15 years later.
Permed to Death, book one in my Bad Hair Day series, is a prime example. It’s full of exclamation marks and other new author mistakes. Open Road Media has put this title for sale at $1.99 this month only. This is great since it’ll attract new readers to my series. But I hope they keep in mind this is my first mystery and understand that my writing has steadily improved over the years. Some kind reviewers, who enjoyed the story, have remarked that it’s the first in the series and should be judged that way. Earlier reviewers haven’t been so accommodating. Hence my eagerness to produce revised and updated editions.
I need reviews for these new Author’s Editions so they can supersede the earlier ones. If you have read Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, or Body Wave in their revised formats, please post a customer review at Amazon, and also at Goodreads or BN if you go to those sites. These books are all on sale now for $3.99.
You can also go to an author’s book pages on Amazon and click on Has This Review Been Helpful to You? Click Yes if you feel it’s a decent review or No if it bashes the book and you don’t agree. Some low ratings may be justified but others are unusually cruel, like one star reviews that say, “This is the worst book I’ve ever read,” or “Author needs work” or “Painful to read.” Be fair. If you think the writeup applies, click yes. If not, click no. And is this true of newer editions? We’re not asking for all good reviews, only fair ones.
Please consider leaving a review for any of my new titles you pick up. Your post might encourage someone else to buy my book. And the more books that sell from the frontlist, the more the publisher will be inclined to acquire the sequel.
You count as a reader, now more than ever before in the publishing industry. Use your power to help your favorite authors.
Follow me on Amazon and find my books: http://amzn.to/1BYmuXE
More articles on the Amazon Update:
Hanging by a Hair (Bad Hair Day Mystery #11) is now available in a mass market paperback edition from Worldwide Mystery Library.
Florida salon owner Marla Vail is happily settling into domestic life with her husband, Dalton, and her teenage stepdaughter. Too bad her dream house comes with a neighbor from hell. Alan Krabber, president of the Royal Oaks Homeowners’ Association, throws up roadblocks on everyone’s projects—except his own. But after he and Dalton argue about an illegal fence, Krabber is found hanging from his second-floor balcony.
It’s homicide masquerading as suicide—and Lieutenant Dalton Vail is the prime suspect. Between ferreting out the culprit who’s pilfering from her salon and clearing her husband’s name, Marla’s got a lot to untangle…especially after another resident is killed. But can she follow the twisty trail of blackmail, betrayal and fraud to stop a killer who’s getting in everyone’s hair?
“A pleasingly lighthearted cozy.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The suspense element in this unusually funny mystery is gripping.”—Phil Jason, Florida Weekly
“Clues abound, as do quirky characters, wonderfully described South Florida settings, intriguing insights into the beauty salon business and into the wild world of Florida home-owning communities, and flavorful recipes. All in all, Hanging by a Hair is entertaining, enjoyable, and informative.”— Stephanie Saxon Levine, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
“If you’ve ever had neighbors that lived too close for comfort, then you’ll get a laugh out of author Nancy J. Cohen’s latest release, HANGING BY A HAIR. This is a madcap murder mystery that will have you laughing and guessing until the very end.”—Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress
Suspense Magazine “Best of 2014” Book
Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
Nominated for BTS Red Carpet Award
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/njcohen/hanging-by-a-hair/
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1bn0tyl
*This book would make a great gift for Mother’s Day!
Mass Market Edition: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=58627
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1hKdOns
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/1e0ZA2E
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/174Gcjj
Customer reviews are always appreciated on Amazon, BN, and Goodreads, as are shares and tweets.
Save the Date! Hanging by a Hair Paperback Edition LAUNCH PARTY
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 6:30 – 8:00 pm EDT
Do you belong to a book club? Maybe you’ve always wanted to start one. But what do you discuss? Aside from determining the parameters for your group, you’ll need to figure out how analytical you care to get.
Here are some questions to jumpstart your discussion. Adapt them for your own use.
When you put the book down, were you smiling or sad? Did you feel a sense of satisfaction? If you liked the story, what elements appealed to you—The setting? The writer’s style? The fast pace? The memorable characters? Things you learned from the story? The emotional depth? The real life issues? The escapist element into another world? The happy ending? Or the ambiguous finale?
If you didn’t like the book, why not? Did the characters not engage you on an emotional level? Was the pacing plodding? Not enough action? Inaccuracies in research? Long descriptive passages that put you to sleep? A setting you found distasteful? You couldn’t relate to the characters or concept? You don’t like the genre? Your friend or book group made you read it? Would you try a book by that author again?
Why did you buy this particular book? Do you feel the expense was worthwhile? What inspires you to buy any book? Is it the author? Book cover? Endorsements? Cover copy? It’s on the Bestseller List? Recommendations by friends? Do particular story elements or tropes appeal to you? Character archetypes? How much do you read to see if the story captures your interest?
Do the characters seem real?
Can you identify with the hero/heroine?
If they’re not snagging your interest, why not?
Can you distinguish between different people in the story? What makes them distinctive?
Does the protagonist grow and change by the story’s end?
Are the characters memorable?
What is the novel’s setting?
Does it appeal to you? If so, why?
How does the author convey a sense of place?
Would you want to visit the location in the story?
Are there certain settings you avoid in a book?
Does the storyline develop logically?
Is the plot linear or wrought with twists and turns?
Are elements of mystery or suspense included? Are they important to you?
Is the pacing too slow, just right, or so intense you can’t put the book down?
Is there a balance between action, exposition, and dialogue?
Were you surprised or is the story predictable?
Is there a subplot? How is it related to the main plot?
Is the story in first person, third person, or multiple viewpoints? Which do you prefer?
What would you say is the protagonist’s attitude toward life?
Does a sense of humor shine through?
What makes this author’s voice unique?
Is the writing didactic or breezy? Wordy or clear? Poetic or simple? Action and dialogue or lots of exposition? Do you prefer long passages or lots of white space and short chapters?
Can you identify a central theme? (i.e. sibling relationships, coming of age, father/son)
How does the theme relate to the story?
Does the theme have symbolic references?
Genre Specific Topics
Mystery: Did you suspect the killer early in the story or were you guessing until the end? Was the killer’s motive plausible? Would you want to read more about this sleuth and his world? What makes this series unique and interesting?
Suspense: Were the characters realistic, or did they put themselves in jeopardy unnecessarily? Was the villain evil enough for a sense of dread to pervade the story? Were the stakes high enough? And was the resolution convincingly satisfying?
Romance: What’s the heat level of this book? Did the relationship develop in a believable manner, or did the love scenes seem gratuitous? Did you fall in love with the hero/heroine? Did the story contain an archetype that appealed to you (i.e. marriage of convenience, fish out of water, rags to riches)? Is it considered a classic romance with a happy ending?
Sci Fi/Fantasy: What kind of world did the author create? Is it believable? Is there enough detail to make you feel you’re there? What is at stake in the story? What does the hero risk losing if he fails in his mission? Would you want to revisit this universe?
What else would you add to this list for a book club to discuss?
Here I am speaking to a book club. I’m available locally or via Skype.
Save the Date! Hanging by a Hair Paperback Edition LAUNCH PARTY
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 6:30 – 8:00 pm EDT
As you do your holiday shopping, consider supporting authors and booksellers by buying books for gifts. You can find something for everyone’s taste. Even your friends who don’t own an e-reader device can download free apps to their cell phones or tablets. So you can still gift them an ebook. If you have an indie bookstore in your area, stop by and make a purchase. We need to show our support for these stores that still exist. And now for the commercial. Here are some of my titles for you to consider:
For Your Hairdresser, Nail Tech, Beautician and/or Readers Who Love Mysteries
Give them a Bad Hair Day Mystery. The adventures of hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore will thrill them with murder, mayhem, humor and romance. If you want a brand new hardcover, start them off with the latest title, HANGING BY A HAIR.
If you want a brand new paperback, order SHEAR MURDER from HQ Worldwide Mystery Library.
Most of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries are available in digital copies. Look for them here:
For the Armchair Traveler, History Buff, True-Life Memoirs or Adventure Travel Fan
Try my father’s 1929 cross-country hitchhiking adventure, THUMBS UP.
For the Writer
Whatever genre they write, they can use a copy of WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY. This instructional guidebook will take them step-by-step through the process of writing a winning whodunit.
For the Romance Fan
For friends who like a hot, sexy read, give them a book from my Drift Lords series. These romantic adventure tales will sweep them away to a modern world mixed with myth and magic. WARRIOR PRINCE, WARRIOR ROGUE and WARRIOR LORD are available in print and digital formats.
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Thumbs Up by Harry I. Heller
As August is my father’s birth month, it is appropriate that I announce the publication of his book-length travel journal at this time. Harry I. Heller wrote a 70,000 word account of his adventures in hitchhiking 12,000 miles across the United States in 1929. I’ve edited his work and added a selection of photos from his album. It’s a project dear to my heart. In his waning years, my dad asked me to help him publish his book. As I explain in the foreword, it took me this much time to satisfy his wish. It is with great pride that I announce the publication of Thumbs Up. If you’re a history buff, armchair traveler, or Americana enthusiast, or if you like reading about adventure travel and exploration, this is the book for you.
After taking his exams for the New Jersey Bar, twenty-four year old Harry I. Heller set off on a hitchhiking cross-country adventure. Relying upon his wits and not his wallet, he traveled across the United States without paying a dime for transportation. In the days when a job paid one dollar and seventy five cents per day and seeing a movie cost ten cents, he hitchhiked his way from New Jersey to California. Among his many escapades, he got lost in the Yosemite Mountains, confronted hungry bears, raced downhill in a moving van with burnt-out brakes, jumped on a speeding train, and climbed Pike’s Peak on foot. This true coming-of-age tale shows the courage, fortitude, and determination of a young man following his dream and learning to rely solely on himself.
Suddenly, I found myself wide awake. Something had disturbed me. I listened intently but heard only the rustling of the wind through the trees.
I felt certain an unseen presence lurked nearby.To investigate and assure myself of the absence of visitors was the proper course to follow. Although I realized the tent held no protection from danger, it nevertheless gave me a false feeling of security. The prospect of leaving the canvas covering was an uninviting one. I therefore remained stationary and hoped my nervous condition was due to an overactive imagination.
I soon discovered this was not the case. The breaking of a dried twig, as if by the weight of a heavy object; faint sounds resembling the movements of a body through the woods with a minimum of noise as if to avoid detection; and the unmistakable grunts of some animal, abruptly brought me to a sitting position. A short interval of silence followed. My uncertainty regarding the identity of the intruder, the possibility that perhaps a wild animal was sneaking to within striking distance, were not conducive to feeling calm. I became more and more frightened.
The disturbances were repeated but this time, as if the unknown had succeeded in its efforts to gain ground quietly, the sounds emanated from uncomfortably closer quarters. By then, I was not only very thoroughly scared but also paralyzed with fright.
When I stood between the rails upon which the caboose rested so as to get a better look through its open rear door, it was without realizing the roadbed was a hazardous place on which to stand.
The car contained a young man who, judging from his attire, was a member of the crew who occupied the home on wheels during its travels. He obligingly answered my questions pertaining to his business. Then an unknown duty summoned him to the front, and he disappeared from view behind a partition. Thinking his absence would be temporary, I waited for his return. However, he had forgotten all about me.
As I stood there, no ringing bell or whistle warned me of impending danger. One moment all was quiet and peaceful. The next moment, I was face-to-face with death.
A terrific crash shattered the silence. Simultaneously, the caboose seemed to leap toward me.
Thumbs Up is an inspirational travel adventure about a hitchhiker’s journey across America that offers a glimpse into our nation’s past. It’ll make readers nostalgic for this era and more appreciative of family, friends and home.
Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller-ebook/dp/B00MR4SFMW/
Print Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Thumbs-Up-Harry-I-Heller/dp/0991465539/