Happy Book Birthday to me! Today is the release day for Trimmed to Death, #15 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? As she investigates, Marla learns there’s no shortage of suspects. A celebrity TV chef, food critic, olive oil importer, food truck owner, pastry chef, and cookbook author may be stirring up more than their next recipe. Can Marla unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life? Recipes Included!
Excerpt “Do you know anyone who might have wished to harm Ms. Dodger?” Dalton swayed slightly on his feet as he spoke. Marla gave him a sharp glance. Was the incessant chanting getting to him, or was it the drink he’d ingested? Colin tented his hands together in prayer formation. “Francine did sound excited about an article she’d been researching. ‘Now I’ll finally get my revenge’ are the exact words she said to me. But when I pressed her for details, she wouldn’t say more.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I can’t believe she’s gone. We were good together, and now…” “I’m sorry for your loss,” Marla told him in a soothing tone. “Is there anything else you can tell us that may be helpful? I’m sure you want to see justice done for Francine same as we do. Even something seemingly irrelevant might be important.” “Her colleagues might have more information, especially the lady who took over her job. Maybe she orchestrated the whole thing to get a promotion.” “I’ve interviewed them,” Dalton said, “and no one seemed to bear Francine any ill will that I noticed. As for the topic she’d been pursuing for her alleged exposé, she was keeping it a closely guarded secret, same as her relationship to you.” As soon as those words left his mouth, Dalton’s legs folded. He sank to the ground in a sliver of lantern light that illuminated his senseless form. Early Reviews “From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review “This sweet cozy mystery has an interesting cast of characters along with plenty of suspects to thicken the plot.” FS Brown, InD’Tale Magazine “Trimmed to Death is a solid cozy replete with olive facts, dogs, small town rivalries, entrepreneurship, and killer recipes. Another entertaining read from author Nancy J Cohen. She kept me guessing to the end!” Muddy Rose Reviews Trimmed to Death Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5, $4.99, Orange Grove Press Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2, $14.99, Orange Grove Press Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica Book Trailer Pinterest Story Board Add to Goodreads Order Your Copy Now Amazon Print Amazon Kindle iBooks Kobo BN Nook BN Print Booksellers and Librarians:This title is available at Ingram. Enter Sept. 17 – 26 to win 30+ Women Sleuth Mysteries and a new eReader, along with FREE reads just for entering. You could also win a copy of MY book, Hair Brained. CLICK HERE TO ENTER
My Virtual Blog Tour starts today to celebrate the release of HAIR BRAINED! Join me at each stop for interviews and guest posts and enter my giveaways. Please support my blog hosts by leaving a comment. September 11 – Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW September 11 – Authors on the Air Global Radio Network – RADIO INTERVIEW (Postponed due to Hurricane Irma)
Readers are always asking, who are my favorite authors? So I’ll share with you some of my recent reads. My tastes vary from romance to mystery to scifi/fantasy. At any time, I’ll be reading more than one book. I have not included the historical romances I’ve read, because these are mostly older books I have accumulated from conferences over time. They’re my comfort books that I reach for when I need a pleasant escape. You can see all of my reviews over at Goodreads. So here are the other recent titles from my shelves that I would rate at 4 or 5 stars. The Detecting Duchess by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery) Soon-to-be Duchess and Victorian bookshop owner Georgia Fenchurch gets embroiled in another murder mystery just days before her wedding to the Duke of Blackford. The case involves stolen Egyptian gold, governmental diplomats, and a missing investigator. As the bodies pile up, Georgia wonders if she’ll be able to make her nuptials. Can she find the killer before the wedding bells ring, or will it be her death knell instead? Another charming addition to a delightful series. http://amzn.to/2t1oKeV The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander (Historical Novel) This haunting story about a girl forced into servitude at an Irish laundry run by nuns is gripping in its tale of betrayal, despair, hope, and faith. Vivid historical details bring the story to life as readers suffer along with the wrongly accused young woman, Teagan Tiernan. As she fights for survival, she befriends two other girls, which makes their monotonous routine somewhat bearable. Insisting on her innocence, she never gives up the quest for freedom despite harsh living conditions, forced labor, and humiliating punishments. This dark blot on the church’s history exposes a sorry past of cruelty in the name of love and redemption. http://amzn.to/2srG7si Honor’s Flight by Lindsay Buroker (Science Fiction) Book two in the Fallen Empire series has Captain Alisa Marchenko and crew arriving on her home world. All Alisa wants is to retrieve her daughter, but obstacles lay in her path. Her crew members are wanted men, and everywhere they go on this imperial planet brings danger their way. Alisa finally reaches her daughter’s location, but things don’t go the way she’d planned. Her late husband kept a deep secret from her that affects her entire family. Now her quest must continue as she faces a greater foe. This series has me hooked. It’s reminiscent of Firefly and has a sympathetic heroine with a relatable goal. http://amzn.to/2srKO5E Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker (Science Fiction) This first book in the Fallen Empire series finds former Alliance pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko looking for a way off the planet where she’s been recovering from injuries sustained in battle. The war is over, and the Alliance won. She needs to retrieve her daughter and move on with her life. But she can’t afford supplies even if she can reclaim the ship that brought her there. Her only solution is to take on paying passengers. Thus she takes off with a misfit group of comrades, most of whom guard secrets that could prove dangerous. Alisa and friends get into one scrape after another while each one chases their own elusive goal. Will she survive long enough to find her daughter? And why does she feel attracted to the imperial Cyborg soldier when she should fear him? Can she betray him if the time comes? Readers won’t want to stop with this one volume. You’ll want to follow Alisa and her motley crew on their next rousing space opera adventure. http://amzn.to/2rgCAZx A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal (Historical Mystery) Enterprising journalist Kitty Weeks is covering a social affair for the ladies’ page in early 1900s New York when a man is shot dead in the stables. Her assignment turns into a series of interviews of various guests present that day. Using her unique skills, she’s able to gather information on the suspects. But things become personal when a couple of Secret Servant agents implicate her father in a scheme that might have a broader reach. Wartime is on the horizon. How much is Kitty willing to risk to learn the truth? Kitty Weeks is a delightful heroine and so are the supporting characters that populate this historical mystery. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment. http://amzn.to/2rgTVl3 The Keeper by David Baldacci (YA Fantasy) Vega Jane and her companions traverse the dreaded Quag in this second book of Baldacci’s famed fantasy series. She’ll need all her magical powers to survive the different levels. Each of the five circles comes with its own dangers. Challenged at every corner, Vega must rely on her own wits and instincts plus the allies she meets along the way. Will she and her best friend Delph defeat the creatures that live in the wilderness? Or will they be lost in the Quag forever? This action-packed tale will have readers rapidly turning pages and eager for the sequel. If you like quest stories and monsters, this one is for you. http://amzn.to/2t1gATQ Really, Truly Dead by Maggie Toussaint (Mystery Novella) Lindsey, a journalist, returns to her hometown only to find her father arrested for the murder of the town judge. The man didn’t lack for enemies. He was about to put the local shrimpers out of business by not renewing their dock lease. He owned a sleazy motel and had a mistress or two on the side. But it doesn’t look good for Lindsey’s father, who was having an affair with the judge’s wife. Meanwhile, the sheriff has his eyes on Lindsey, and those heated glances he gives her have nothing to do with the case and everything to do with romance. Can she solve the case and clear her father’s name so she can follow her heart? http://amzn.to/2t1kA6K New Canaan by M.D. Cooper (Science Fiction) General Tanis Richards wishes she could enjoy a peaceful life at New Canaan, her new home. But planetary defense is her responsibility, and she has secret shipbuilding facilities to expand her fleet. War looms on the horizon between three factions, and they’ll soon all head her way to gain the colony’s technology. This book is part of the Aeon 14 series and is another action-filled adventure with political intrigue, espionage, and the inevitable space battle. I’ve been hooked since book one on this series. http://amzn.to/2tlxsUJ Duchess of Terra by Glynn Stewart (Science Fiction) Book Two in the Duchy of Terra series finds newly titled Duchess Annette Bond as the leader of Earth, a.k.a. Terra, and a subject of the A!Tol empire. As she gathers her new government, they wrestle with how to meet the Imperium’s demands for military warships without giving away Earth’s resources. Meanwhile, Kanzi slavers build forces on the border. It’s a race against time as Annette battles to protect her planet while ceding to the wishes of her new superiors. It doesn’t help that she also faces holdouts of the old Earth resistance, and they threaten the safety of her people. With threats from within and without, Annette has her hands full. But as we’ve seen in book one, she is very capable of juggling multiple balls at the same time. Somehow Earth will survive, but they may need to find new allies along the way. This fast-paced story alternates between political manipulations and space battles. You’ll be rooting for Annette to succeed. I’m ready for the sequel. http://amzn.to/2t1j5Wp The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal (Historical Mystery) This installment in the Maggie Hope series seems darker than most with a serial killer on the loose in London during WWII. I’ve enjoyed these stories with espionage, intrigue, and adventure but less so this one. If I want to read about women being brutalized, I’ll pick up the newspaper. I prefer lighter fare in my reading. More interesting to me was the puzzle of what had happened to Maggie’s half-sister and to another female operative in Paris. Let’s hope the author leaves the serial killers behind in the next book and gives us a good spy thriller in France. While not as much for my taste, this story is well-written with a likeable heroine. http://amzn.to/2t1k6gS Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry (Mystery) This first book in “A Witch City” mystery series is a delightful cozy set in Salem, Massachusetts. Reporter Lee Barrett returns to her home town to move in with her Aunt Ibby and to hopefully get a job at WICH-TV. When she’s passed on the field reporting job she wanted and is offered a role as call-in psychic instead, she jumps at the chance to get her foot in the door. Is it a coincidence that she’s just discovered the body of her predecessor drowned in the sea? And when Lee starts seeing images in a crystal ball, how does she know if Ariel’s spirit is channeling through her, or if she’s developing powers of her own? Something isn’t right at the TV station, and the more Lee digs into things, the deeper she gets in trouble. A charming debut. http://amzn.to/2rv9VPM The Finisher by David Baldacci (YA Fantasy) In the town of Wormwood, Vega Jane acts as a Finisher at the Stacks without questioning her destiny until she sees the unthinkable. Quentin Herms runs away into the Quag, the bordering realm that surrounds Wormwood and where no one is ever supposed to go. The forest harbors nothing except monsters and death. Or so she’s been told. But when the town leaders lie about Quentin’s disappearance, she grows suspicious at their obvious cover-up. Seeking answers, she sneaks into the Stacks at night and discovers secrets beyond her imagination. She also acquires instruments of power and begins to question the very origin of her world. With the support of the stalwart Delph, she plots her own escape. But first she must survive a series of combat and face the wrath of the powerful Morrigone who wants her dead. Excellent world building in this gripping novel will have readers frantically turning pages to see if Vega Jane achieves her goal. The story reminded me of City of Ember that has its young protagonists seeking escape from a similarly mysterious town with nothing but blackness beyond. Or is there more? But while the concepts are similar, the worlds are each uniquely distinctive. http://amzn.to/2tlsOGj Note: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program and these are affiliate codes. GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench Sign up for my Newsletter for my latest book news, giveaways, bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.
Occasionally, I’ll get requests from authors to review their books. Some of these I’ve accepted, but mostly I send a polite refusal. Here are some examples of what not to do when approaching an author, especially when you don’t know her personally. This also applies to guest blog posts.
Dear Nancy J. Cohen,
I noticed your review on Amazon for “Murder at the Seaside.” My book is a suspense novel set in Phoenix. It’s a bit outside the cozy genre, but the language is clean and amusing. Would you be willing to read my book and give an honest review? [When they start with my full name like this, I know they are unfamiliar to me. This book is outside my genre, and the author is an unknown who got my name off Amazon. No deal.] Dear Ms. Cohen,
I would love to have you interview me on your blog for my upcoming romantic comedy due for release from XYZ Publishing. See back cover blurb below. Please let me know what other information you need to consider reviewing it. [Is this person requesting a review or a guest blog spot? Either way, her book isn’t my genre, and the author is unknown to me. I’m not interested.] Dear Nancy,
I’ve finished my first medical thriller and would be honored if I can get a blurb from you. I love your romantic suspense novels. They keep me at the edge of my seat. I’ve really enjoyed reading Hair Raiser and hope to read more of your work. [This would be a polite, No Thanks. I write mysteries, not romantic suspense. And this person says “they” keep her on the edge of her seat, but she’s only read one. Thrillers are outside my genre, and while occasionally I do read them, I’d rather not be obligated here.] Hello Nancy J. Cohen,
I saw that you reviewed“The Stolen Queen.” My book has similar elements but more romance and intrigue. [Story Blurb follows]. This romantic adventure is so thrilling and unlike anything you’ve ever read, you’ll be hooked until the last page. My novel is a spine-tingling adventure with exciting twists & turns. [Bragging about how your book is a bestseller or how it’ll hook my interest is a turnoff.] Dear Nancy,
I saw that you reviewed the Alex Rider story, “Stormbreaker.” I am author of a middle grade fantasy titled “The Secret of the Oracle.” In this time-travel adventure, Eddie must overcome his fears and battle evil forces in ancient Greece to discover the identity of a sorcerer. Would you like to receive a complimentary digital copy of my book? [I accepted this one. YA Fantasy is a genre I like to read, and the story line intrigued me. The author didn’t make any braggart claims about how his story will blow me away. He was polite and concise in his request. I enjoyed this book and gave it an honest review.] Hello, I have a new release coming out titled “Murder in the Garden,” and I am organizing a book tour. I will provide excerpts and interviews. I’ll be running a Rafflecopter contest, and if you’d like to participate, I’ll include your social media links. (Story blurb follows) [I accepted this one and was happy to help a fellow mystery author. Why? Not much to do on my part except schedule a blog post on the set day. It’s the appropriate cozy genre. And I’d get social media links in her Rafflecopter. She sounds savvy and will likely show up on the blog to answer comments. This person made things easy.] <><><> My Advice · Request a review from an author who writes in the same genre or who clearly enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written.
· Mention a deadline if you have one for the review.
· Be gracious and accepting that the author might not have the time or interest.
· If you’re proposing a blog post, study the type of posts on the host’s blog and then suggest several relevant topics. Also note, while on her site, if she even hosts guests or has a submission policy.
· Be modest. Don’t make braggart claims about how your book is a bestseller, will keep readers riveted until the end, or is a laugh-out-loud funny story. Readers can judge these things for themselves.
· Mention your website or the Amazon page for your book so the author can find more information there.
· If the author declines your offer, thank her politely for her consideration.
Note that a book review request differs from an endorsement request. What else would you add to this list?
My official book blog tour starts today. I hope you’ll follow along and leave comments to support my tour hosts. Some of these posts offer individual prizes. I keep adding new sites, so check my Appearances page often. I’ll do my conference posts from the FRW cruise and SleuthFest on days when I am not a guest elsewhere. See you on the tour! Feb. 28 – Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 24, Omnimystery News, SPOTLIGHT Feb. 24, Open Book Society, BOOK REVIEW IN-PERSON Sunday, March. 5 at 1:00 pm, “Mystery and History” Discussion and Booksigning with Nancy J. Cohen (Bad Hair Day Mysteries), Alyssa Maxwell (The Gilded Newport Mysteries), and V.S. Alexander (The Magdalen Girls) at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com/ Saturday, March 11, 1:00 pm, “Writing is Revising” with Nancy J. Cohen in Room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps Park in Lot 7 next to the L-building on Saturday. http://mwaflorida.org/events/special-events/ March 16-19, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, http://www.csfoa.com/
Thursday, March 16, 6:00 Meet & Greet Cocktails and Snacks at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Friday, March 17, 6:00 – 6:45 pm, “Conflict and Character” with Nancy J. Cohen at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065. Sunday, March 19, Signing in the Author’s Tent at “The Walk” between 26th and 29th Streets on the west side of University Drive in Coral Springs, FL
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Mystery book reviewer Oline Cogdill spoke to the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at the August meeting. Oline’s reviews have appeared nationwide as well as regularly in the Sun-Sentinel. Oline offered some useful tips for writers on repetitive elements to avoid in crime fiction.
· Strippers as murder victims or confidential informants are overused. Also, male writers seem to have an obligatory scene with a woman in front of a mirror fantasizing herself in this role. How many women secretly long to be a stripper? Not many.
· Coffee habits can take over the story. Count how many times your sleuth meets someone for a cup of coffee, drinks the coffee, heats up a mug of coffee, or tosses the empty cup in the trash. Go lightly in this regard.
· Restaurant scenes where a conversation occurs, and then the diners get up and leave in a huff before finishing their meal, are unrealistic. At least, have them sit down and finish eating or ask for a takeout box.
· Don’t neglect the kids or the pets. Show them being cared for and not being left alone at home or in a car. If you stay away all day, remember to let the dog out when you come home or to feed the cat.
· The sleuth shouldn’t wish for a murder to relieve her boredom. She should have a personal reason for getting involved in solving the crime. The death should be treated with gravity and respect.
· Don’t have your character rush out at night or go into a dark cellar alone without telling anyone or calling for backup.
· How many times is the cell phone left at home or runs out of its charge or there’s no signal? Don’t overuse this excuse. Just as important, if the phone rings, have your character answer it. Too often the ignored phone call means doom and gloom are in the next chapter.
· Less is more regarding graphic violence. It’s better left off-scene for the most part.
· Use the word “woman” instead of “girl,” where appropriate.
· Avoid the “talking killer” who explains the entire crime to the sleuth while holding a gun to her head.
· Talking animal stories don’t have to be silly. Treat them more seriously.
· And a non-story tip: Keep your website updated. Have a short bio, a longer bio, a good headshot, and author contact info. Do not play music in the background.
Oline spoke next about ethics among reviewers. She mentioned “sock puppets,” which are false online identities some people create to praise their own books and to trash others. Respected critical reviewers give objective opinions. It’s best for new authors to avoid paid reviews.
It was really fun hearing these clichés, some of which I’ve been guilty of using. Thanks to Oline, now we’ll all be more alert to these foibles in the future.
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!
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.
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.