Here’s another opportunity to win free ebooks! Visit Aug. 19 – 26 BookFunnel Mystery Giveaway Collect a bundle of 25 mystery ebooks, including Murder by Manicure. Do you like author giveaways? What prize do you like to win the best?
<><><> Save the Date: September 12, 2017 at 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT Book Launch Party for HAIR BRAINED (#14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries) Join Us on Facebook for Fun & Prizes!
Crime Fiction Giveaway, Aug. 7 – 14 I’ve teamed up with 35+ fantastic crime fiction authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! You can win a copy of my revised Author’s Edition HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVEN ebook, plus books from authors like Sara Paretsky, Linda Fairstein, and Lisa Gardner. CLICK HEREto enter. Contest runs for one week only, so enter now!
Booklover’s Bench Giveaway, Aug. 1 – 18 ENTER HERE to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench
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These are some cozies I’ve enjoyed reading in the past month or two. I hope you’ll share some titles in the comments, too! Flourless to Stop Him by Nancy J. Parra (Mystery)
This installment in the “A Baker’s Treat” mystery series has Toni Holmes whipping up gluten-free holiday treats in her bakery despite December blizzards and a murderer who’s left her brother framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Unable to avoid her sisterly duty in clearing his name, she sets on the trail of a killer who may be someone closer to her than she realizes. Stonewalled by the police who refuse to look further for the culprit, she conducts her own investigation while fending off a couple of potential suitors. This amusing, quick-paced mystery will have your mouth watering for bakery treats while you consume the pages to finish the story.
When Savannah’s father dies, she takes over his stained glass art studio, hoping to turn management over to his right-hand man. But when Hugh keels over next, she realizes something is amiss. Her father, who’d worked for the government prior to retirement, leaves clues for her to follow. She uses her geocache experience and code-breaking skills to track the killer. Can she trust the handsome bar owner who works next-door? What about the students in her stained glass class? A rival shop owner? Or a real estate developer who covets the property? Suspects abound in this charming debut title in the Webb’s Glass Shop mystery series. Interesting tidbits about the artisan craft add detail to this story.
The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries featuring bookstore owner Georgia Fenchurch continue to delight. In this installment, Georgia’s association with the Archivist Society brings her into contact with Sir Edward Hale, whose dead wife is found by the waterfront and whose son is missing. While Hale was estranged from his wife, he wasn’t the only one with a motive for murder. Georgia’s investigation takes her from the aristocracy to a group of ladies whose mysterious network might have contributed to the victim’s death. And when the handsome Duke of Blackford returns from his overseas trip, Georgia has a lot more to cause her concern. He wants to talk to her in private, and her heart beats fast at what that might mean. Another trip into Victorian London will hopefully continue this charming series.
When Maggie Hope accompanies Winston Churchill to Washington D.C. right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she doesn’t expect to become embroiled in a case involving civil rights, intrigue, and murder. Yet Maggie is unable to stay out of trouble even as she juggles a couple of suitors. She meets Mrs. Roosevelt, who commandeers her to help prevent a scandal involving the First Family. It’s entertaining to see Maggie on this side of the “pond” and to view her English colleagues’ reactions to American culture. Enhanced by historical detail, this engrossing mystery will have you deep into post-Pearl Harbor politics and intrigue as Churchill and Roosevelt attempt to cement an alliance between their countries to battle a fearsome foe. Another Winner!
July 11-Aug 8 Enter to win over 40 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire. You can win my novel Permed to Death, plus books from many more of your favorite authors. Click Here to Enter
July 1-31 Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) ebook is on sale for $1.00 at Smashwords until July 31. Use Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/580614
As an author, I’m often asked what I like to read. Basically, my taste runs to genre fiction. I like to escape to other worlds far away from the reality of daily news. Here are some of my recent reads from Fall 2015. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen
A Matter of Honor by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction) Captain Liam Hoffen and crew are determined to rescue the survivors from Cape of Good Hope, a ship abandoned by the powerful Belirand Corporation. But even as they set this goal, they’re marked for death. Because now they know the secret that Belirand will kill to keep. Aiding their quest is the mysterious inventor, Phillipe Anino. While avoiding Belirand’s assassins, Liam and friends discover the issue is way bigger than they’d thought. It could blow a hole in everyone’s concept of the known universe. And Belirand is willing to guard this knowledge at the expense of Liam, his crew, and their families. Is he willing to risk all to save the forty-five crew members of Cape of Good Hope?
A Matter of Honor is another action-packed installment in the Privateer Tales. What makes you care are the characters who are noble at heart and take the moral high road. They are heroes you can cheer for until the final page is turned, and then you have to wait impatiently for the sequel.
Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron (Mystery) Cajun cuisine mixes with murder and history in this delightful debut novel from Ellen Byron. Maggie Crozat, an artist from Manhattan, goes home for a stay at her family’s B&B. The mansion’s rooms are filled, but no sooner can you say “Laissez les bons temps roulez,” than the shenanigans begin. First one guest meets her demise. When her death appears suspicious and the finger points to Maggie’s relations, Maggie vows to uncover the truth. Impeding her progress is the sheriff, whose feud with the Crozat family is legendary. Fortunately, his handsome relative shows up on the force and quickly becomes Maggie’s ally. Will she unmask the murderer before more guests meet their untimely end? Can she save their plantation from financial ruin? Maggie needs to fire up her southern charm and sniff out a killer to save the estate. With the richly Southern setting, quirky characters, and evocative descriptions, you’ll be wanting more in this charming series.
Kris Longknife: Unrelenting (Science Fiction) Admiral Princess Kris Longknife is in charge of Alwa’s defense, a planet under imminent threat of attack from a homicidal race. Her resources are limited. But it’s hard for her to remain focused when an act of sabotage within her own ranks neutralizes a number of military women’s birth control devices. Kris is one of the affected officers who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. With a baby on the way, she faces her biggest battle yet. The survival of the planet depends on her. Will her forces be strong enough to defend this one world and prevent the aliens from eradicating humanity elsewhere in the galaxy? Natives, colonialists, scientists, and soldiers join forces in the ultimate confrontation.
Kris Longknife is a sympathetic, strong female protagonist who keeps being forced into military space battles when she’d rather seek peace. But with her brilliant strategic mind, she’s best suited to lead her people toward victory. I’m eager for the next installment.
A Cup of Jo by Sandra Balzo (Mystery) The grand opening of Maggy Thorsen’s coffee shop by a train station is proceeding according to plan, until the event organizer is found dead inside an inflatable coffee cup. Suspects abound, from the woman’s husband to various acquaintances, most of whom have motives. When her boyfriend’s integrity is called into question, Maggy decides to do some investigating of her own. A solid mystery, a cast of quirky characters, and a savory setting make this a pleasant whodunit to add to your shelves.
Killer Transaction by Catherine Bruns (Mystery) Real estate agent Cindy York has the job from hell. She’s consistently cheated by rival Realtor, Tiffany Roberts. Tiffany steals her listings and woos her clients while their boss looks the other way. Being cheated one time too many, Cindy leaves a nasty message on Tiffany’s voice mail. This comes back to haunt her when she discovers the woman’s dead body. The police focus on Cindy as the main suspect. With her job in jeopardy and being a hairsbreadth away from serving jail time, can Cindy find the culprit and clear her name?
Smuggler’s Dilemma by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction) In Book 5 of the Privateer Tales, Captain Liam Hoffen and company are hired to locate a battleship operated by the deadly pirates known as Red Houzi. The pirate fleet has just decimated a naval force, and the Navy must regain control so people don’t panic. Liam’s unorthodox tactics are the only thing that might help them gain the upper hand. But when Liam spies the enemy ship, he decides that rather than call in the Navy as he’d been ordered, he’ll attack the vessel and take it over instead. Meanwhile, he struggles with his girlfriend’s recovery from disabling injuries. Can she manage well enough to come along as his pilot? This story contains the usual battle scenes, along with personal interactions that develop the characters.
Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones (Fantasy) Valerianis second in line to the throne until his brother is killed in battle. Now the Crown Prince, Valerian must live up to his father’s expectations and become a warrior. While he’s struggling with his fate, Mercy lives in a nearby village and has to discover her destiny. Aware only recently of her healing power, she has no idea how extensive her gifts are until forced to use them. When Valerian and Mercy meet, they slowly realize they belong together. United, they can defeat the enemy. But how long will the peace last before the fearful soldiers come back stronger? Dragons, mind melds, magic, and romance blend together in this coming-of-age tale. Mercy’s Prince is a pleasant escapist read.
The Savants by Patrick Kendrick (YA SciFi Thriller) The Eastern seaboard of the U.S. is imperiled when a nuclear bomb explodes underwater off the coast, triggering a fault line to crack apart. A gigantic tsunami will flood a number of states unless the President can find a solution. He discovers unlikely help at a research institute for savants, individuals who’ve suffered brain damage but are gifted in unique ways. Working together for the first time, these young people believe they can help. But their leader, who has brought them there to study the group’s dynamics, hides a secret of his own. Much worse is the secret guarded by the Vice President, who sows the seeds of distrust in our government. Can disaster be averted and the traitors in our midst exposed in time to save the world? Scientific theories collide with political intrigue in this fast-paced thriller. Kudos to Mr. Kendrick for educating us about savants and their special talents.
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Historical Mystery) This installment in the Royal Spyness series is the best yet. A trip to America for Lady Georgiana, distant cousin to the royal family, provides laughs with its fish-out-of-water theme. Add to this a wacky cast of film stars, an eccentric producer, and a jewel thief, and the fun accelerates. Georgiana’s suitor, the mysterious Mr. Darcy, appears when the crew congregates at a glitzy Hollywood mansion. He’s after the jewel thief, but then someone turns up dead. As the puzzle deepens, Georgiana wonders which one of her new friends is the culprit.
G-2 (The Guardian of Earth Series) by Nigel Carson (Science Fiction) When Zeke discovers a hostile alien fleet is headed to Earth, he is determined to stop them. His role as Guardian of Earth and descendant of a faraway race is a secret. He trusts no one for help, including his robot valet, Forman. It’s a good thing, since Forman’s creator has tampered with his programming. She’s put a locator inside him, and this becomes useful as Zeke and Forman are compromised by the Maleem invaders. Zeke has a narrow escape aided by his girlfriend, Jessie. Could they use the way she freed him as a means to repel the alien force? Why is it that humans are disappearing around the globe? As more world leaders succumb to the Maleem mind link via a mysterious necklace, Zeke consults his Taman relatives for answers. How can he defeat an ingenious enemy who is seemingly unstoppable? They tell Zeke that he needs to have faith in his own powers and the help of others who believe in him. Can he use his newfound heritage to protect the planet? Filled with action, adventure, and suspense, this story will take you on a ride that’s out of this world. The secondary characters are memorable and unique. An exciting, edge-of-your-seat read!
This panel at Bouchercon was titled “Importance of Book Clubs and Young Adult Literacy.” Speakers included Destiny Geddis, Matthew McGrath, B.K. Stevens, and Kaley Whittle, with Tina Whittle moderating.
Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretation and any errors are mine.
· This panel included YA readers. They do reviews and have a book club at their charter school. Here is what they wish writers and editors knew about YA.
· YA mysteries have a teenage sleuth. The crime doesn’t have to be a murder. These stories often include elements of self-discovery and current issues for teens.
· Panelists advised authors to talk to young people to see how they speak. TV teens are as accurate as CSI teams on TV. Know your audience. Do the research. Talk to young adults to see what they do and what their friends do. “We don’t use certain words that have become antiques. We talk differently.” They also use different languages between texting, e-mail, talking in person to friends and to adults.
· Not all teen protagonists need a tragic backstory. They don’t have to be misunderstood. They don’t have to be loners, either. There’s lots of diversity in high school.
· Adults are not always evil, mean, unlikable, or uncaring. Avoid clichés like “I’m a teenager and I hate my parents.” Teens don’t rebel against authority in high school. They have to be respectful to teachers. Parents don’t always have to be divorced or dead. Nor does the family dog have to die. Most parents love their kids and try to be good parents and sometimes make mistakes.
· Don’t force the romantic elements. Have your characters be strong on their own, and then they can fall in love. You don’t need a lot of angst. The romance doesn’t always mean boy/girl, or white guy/white girl. Platonic relationships work too. Friendships are also desirable. The romance can lead to character growth when the protagonist has to make a choice.
· Don’t kill off a pet just to elicit an emotional response. Make the emotion natural and realistic to a character who’s connected to readers. Don’t throw in a baby either for the emotional response. Look at http://doesthedogdie.com for a guide to movies.
· Create a diverse cast of characters.
· Treat YA mysteries as seriously as adult mysteries. Readers should have access to clues, and the protagonist should solve the mystery on her own. “We figure things out really quickly and we want surprises. Don’t dumb down the mystery. Give us challenges. Develop the villains as fully as other characters.” Avoid dialogue such as “as you know…”
· Strong female characters do not act like stereotypical men. They can be feminine but strong. Males will read books with a female lead. Don’t follow gender clichés. Guys can be sensitive, and girls can like sports.
· Leave your moral soapbox at home. Subtlety is appreciated. Talk to the reader, not at the reader, otherwise it feels preachy.
I’m excited to have finished the book trailer for Hanging By A Hair, book #11 in my Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and Dalton Vail move into their new neighborhood and discover a murder next door. Check out the video and see what you think. Shares and Comments are welcome!
I’m going to revise and repost my How-To Make A Book Trailer when I get the chance. It’s been so busy around here with the holidays, visits from the kids, and an upcoming cruise that it might not be any time soon. But I would like to share with you again the steps I took using Windows Movie Maker to create this video.
Hairstylist Marla Shore is quite excited to be part of her friend Jill’s wedding party. Marla’s own wedding is scheduled for only a few weeks away, but she’s more than delighted to assist her friend. Of course Marla’s own schedule is impossible – between both weddings, moving to a new home, and expanding her hair salon – the last thing she needs is a murder investigation, but that’s exactly what’s thrown her way when Jill’s sister, Torrie, turns up dead at the wedding reception.
Jill begs Marla for her help in investigating the murder. After all, Marla has more experience than the police in investigating crimes these days. She discovers there were quite a few people who would want to kill Torrie, including her good friend Jill. Marla begins to step on many toes as she continues questioning all the suspects.
Meanwhile, Marla’s wedding draws closer and her fiancé, Dalton, who happens to be a police detective, is getting angrier and angrier at her involvement in this murder case. Not to mention it becomes clear that Marla angered the wrong person and has now become the target of a killer. Will she even make it to her own wedding alive?
This is the tenth book of Nancy J. Cohen’s “A Bad Hair Day Mystery” series and I loved it! I haven’t read the previous nine books, which is unusual for me, but it really didn’t matter – at least not as far as the storyline went. I didn’t need the previous books to read this one, but I would like to read about Marla and Dalton’s relationship. Fortunately, I have the first book on my Nook and I’ll definitely be continuing from there.
Marla Shore is a likeable and strong heroine. Although scared for her safety, I did understand her motivation. I loved how Dalton stood behind her and was supportive. A great couple!
The story is laced with humor, romance and mystery. It’s a quick, fast-paced book set in beautiful South Florida. For a few hours, I felt like I was on vacation. It’s a great read to escape from everyday life. It will keep you smiling through the entire book.