Tuesday, December 30, 2014

REVIEW OF 2014 - PLANS FOR 2015

November and December are curious months to be sure.  Both months prompt us to look back (and ahead) to what we're thankful for and what we've done. 

For me, 2014 has been a good year:

MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE (released in October 2013) has done well with average reviews at 4.3 of 5 stars - not bad for a first novel! Great Escapes arranged a great blog tour that helped get the word out.

MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM was released in September 2014 and thus far is at 4.8 of 5 stars with hopefully more reviews coming in! 

The whole marketing aspect of being a self-published author is getting a little easier, and I've gotten some good advice from fellow writers and through the various FB groups.  I finally gave in and have a Twitter account, though I can't possibly read all the tweets and honestly can't fathom how anyone can.

I started Book 3 - as yet untitled - in a feeble attempt to do NANOWRIMO.  I managed 20,000 words so it is off and running.

Family-wise, things have been a bit rocky in the extended family with one passing and another in extended care.  2014 also saw the passing of two friends.  

Healthwise, all is well for my husband and me - at least that's what I'm told. We both started working out, drinking more water, and eating better - well except for all the cookies of late. Some days we both agree that getting old is NOT for sissies.

Not quite resolutions for 2015:

First off, the plan is to continue to work out, hydrate, and eat better.  Ideally, a few pounds and inches will fall off along the way.

Great Escapes has scheduled a blog tour for MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM - the schedule will be posted in the next day or so.

Finish Book 3 - hopefully by early spring. It is, after all, one-third or so written already.

A few Kindle Countdown Deals are planned and possibly a boxed set deal for a short time in the late spring.  I haven't quite figured that out yet.

Participate in the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge - I already have A, B, and P and 2 T's lined up for January reading.

Last, but not least, take time to relax and enjoy my husband's company and that of my friends.

What about you? How was your 2014? Your hopes (not quite resolutions) for 2015?




Sunday, December 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: MAYHEM IN CHRISTMAS RIVER by Meg Muldoon

Synopsis (from Amazon):
It’s July in Christmas River, and the temperature isn't the only thing flaring out of control.
After a fire destroys her best friend’s ornament shop, pie baker extraordinaire Cinnamon Peters soon discovers that the blaze was no accident. Just days before the annual Christmas River in July Parade and Play, it becomes clear that a maniac is roaming the tourist-packed streets of Christmas River. And he’s got a flair for the dramatic.
Will Cinnamon and her sheriff's deputy boyfriend find out who’s behind the blaze before the rest of the town goes up in flames?

Review
This is the second in the Christmas River series (sequel to MURDER IN CHRISTMAS RIVER), but can be read alone.  Cinnamon owns a pie shop, lives with her wise grandfather Warren, and is dating Daniel who wants Cinnamon to stay out of the Play and not get involved in the arson investigation.  This is especially true when it seems like the arsonist is targeting the businesses of the women in the play. But Cinnamon wants to do something to bring the arsonist down as a way to avenge her friend Kara who is the first victim.  Kara's also the only reason Cinnamon is in the play - she takes over as Mrs. Claus when Kara's shop goes up in smoke. Her involvement in the arson isn't the only tension between Daniel and Cinnamon though.  She has major trust issues she hasn't come to terms with as yet. There are multiple twists and turns to the unfolding mystery and the solution is not obvious, but believable.  Enjoyable read that kept my interest.  

The main characters are well-developed with tension and romance that makes sense for the context, including the old sheriff who has a penchant for Cinnamon's pecan pie. As said, this can be read as a stand alone, but to appreciate the relationships and romantic tension, I'd recommend reading the MURDER IN CHRISTMAS RIVER first.  The other books in the series are: MADNESS IN CHRISTMAS RIVER and MALICE IN CHRISTMAS RIVER. I've added these to my very large TBR pile.  November saw the release of ROASTED IN CHRISTMAS RIVER: A Thanksgiving Cozy Mystery Novella. Meg Muldoon is also the author of the Cozy Matchmaker Mystery Series (see 9/18/2014 review of BURNED IN BROKEN HEARTS JUNCTION).


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Holidays

The holidays are upon us - whether that's Chanukah or Christmas or Kwanza - and I find myself losing track of what I need to do, when it needs to be done, and, yes, what day is it anyway.  More frequently than ever, I am glad that my computer has the date and time.  

With the holidays, comes the usual shopping (mostly online this year) and decorating (minimal this year), and baking.  Making cookies to send to family members is both a joy and a chore.  I've tried out some new recipes - mint clusters, rocky road (really a candy cluster, but very yummy) - and the usual - pizzelle, fudge balls, biscotti, chocolate chip, oatmeal, gingerbread, and well, the list goes on. I am still sharing cookies with friends and family.  Do you do anything special each year as part of your holiday celebration?  Have a special cookie recipe to share?

Somewhere in there I am continuing to read, mostly mysteries as well.  There are a number of blog tours that are scheduled for January and that means reading and reading. MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM is one of those many tours (January 5th is the first stop!). Santa should be very generous with Great Escapes and Lori Caswell! 


Also still trying to get in time for writing!  Like Sheridan though, I work in the academic world and this time of the year is fraught with finals, papers, and other activities. As I think about future books in the series, a Christmas themed mystery in Cold Creek is a consideration for next year.  Are you reading any holiday-themed books currently?  I have a few on my TBR list that I hope to get to as soon as the grading is done.

As you finish up that last minute shopping - less than a week to go - remember that books make great gifts for the reader in your life and reviews are appreciated by the authors in your life.

Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or something else, best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!






Friday, December 12, 2014

Blog Tour: SHADOW OF DOUBT by Nancy Cole Silverman

Synopsis: 
When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in the bathtub of her home suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. When a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from being tried in courts of public opinion. But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised, and when a Hollywood psychic shows up in Carol’s studio one night and warns her there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge both her friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is the killer is still out there and the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.

Review:
Carol Childs is a radio reporter in Hollywood. When her neighbor Sam finds her famous aunt dead and, along with her twin sister, Sarah, is suspected of the crime, Carol gets involved. The twins are at odds with each other and Carol works to show her friend is innocent even as she is faced with facts that might indicate otherwise. Powerful people, friends, and scandal. The character of Misty Dawns adds a paranormal twist to this cozy and causes Carol to question her own beliefs about the people she considers friends.  

Carol is a likable lead character with depth, and the other characters are also well-developed. There is a bit of everything including romance. Silverman keeps the story moving, sometimes nudged a bit by Misty. An enjoyable read. I'll be looking forward to the sequel.

About The Author:
Silverman believes her twenty-five years in radio help her to develop an ear for storytelling. In 2001 she retired from news and copywriting to write fiction fulltime. Much of what she writes she admits is pulled from behind the headlines of actual events that were reported on from some Los Angeles busiest radio newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes some of which have won awards &/or been picked up for publication. Currently she has three audio books with MindWings Audio. Her first novel, The Centaur’s Promise, was published by Eloquent Press in 2010. 

Author Links 
WEB: www.nancycolesilverman.com  
FOLLOW: www.twitter.com/nancycolesilve1  
LIKE: www.facebook.com/pages/nancy-cole-silverman  
Purchase Links: AMAZON B&N a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: UNBELIEVABLE (A Cassie Baxter Mystery Book 1) by Cindy Blackburn

Synopsis: 
Small sleuth, tiny town, unfailing fun. Welcome to Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, where the water is blue, the mountains are green, and Cassie Baxter is going nuts. Who wouldn’t go nuts in a town this size? What possessed Cassie to move in with her father? And why do they have to live next door to a mad scientist? A sexy mad scientist. Does such a thing even exist? And speaking of existing, what happened to the dead redhead? You know, the one Cassie found, and then lost? What’s up with that? Cassie Baxter intends to find out. Read Unbelievable and you will, too. The Cassie Baxter Mysteries: They’re not Cue Balls, but they are screw balls.

Review:
Saving money is one thing, but Cassie discovers that her father gets up early, and wants her to join him for breakfast, and for bingo, and may be doing a bit of matchmaking besides. Her usual escape is to take the kayak out on the lake for some alone time but this one morning that plan backfires when she finds a dead body. Nobody takes her too seriously when she reports it - after all she doesn't have a good explanation for kayaking in the early morning hours in her pajamas. Gabe says he'll look into it, but Cassie can't help but wonder which of her neighbors is a murderer and tries to figure it out for herself. 

From the quirky characters to the unusual witnesses (two goats and a dog), UNBELIEVABLE is definitely light, fun reading! But that doesn't mean there aren't mysterious twists and multiple suspects that keep you guessing. It's not easy to predict what's coming next or how all the pieces will fit together. This is a new series and it will be interesting to see what happens with Cassie and Joe and some of the other characters in future books.  

AMAZON


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Blog Tour: ANTIQUE MAGIC by Eileen Harris




Antique dealer Alicia Trent is hired to appraise a huge collection of treasures hoarded by a woman who has recently died in the town where Alicia grew up.

The huge old house poses mystery after mystery from the moment she arrives, but the stakes become deadly when murder is added to the mix. The question then becomes, can she stay alive long enough to unmask the killer?







Review:
As Ali takes on the job of cataloging all the antiques and "stuff" that Mrs. Hall has accumulated over the years is a massive undertaking in itself.  Add to that the gnawing sense that something about her death might be questionable, the many books on magic, the mysterious tunnels and apartment, and Ali's natural curiosity, and it's easy to get hooked.  The two nice looking men, Dan and Nick, add a little spice to the story, along with Naomi's great cooking.  Ali's a little too down to earth for magic, but some things can't be explained. Well written, with likable characters and expected as well as unexpected twists and turns. I'll be looking forward to more of Ali's mysteries.

Buy Links:
Wings e Press I Amazon I Barnes & Noble

Excerpt:

Without consciously making a decision to do so, I grabbed my robe and headed for the door. If the thief was in the house, it might be my chance to identify him or her. One last glance at the globe showed the black was now mixed with a lot of orange. It looked like a Halloween decoration.

I turned off the light in the room, then quietly unlocked and opened my door. A flashlight would be a big help, but mine was packed in my suitcase. This was the first time I’d needed it. I eased out into the dark hall. A nightlight plugged in at the top of the stairs made a dim glow and I started in that direction. Moving slowly, I listened intently for any unusual noise. Everything seemed quiet and peaceful. I didn’t think anyone had stayed overnight in the house except Naomi and me. The stairs were solid and didn’t make a sound as I crept down. Time moved in slow motion and it seemed to take forever to reach the bottom. Once there, I began making my way to the living room. We always turned off the electronic security on that door at night since there were no potential buyers coming in and out after five. Even though I still hadn’t seen anything suspicious, somehow the atmosphere seemed wrong. Danger seemed to lurk in every dark corner. I was anxious to make sure the items displayed for viewing hadn’t been disturbed. Moving into the room and closing the door seemed to take forever. I couldn’t wait to get the light turned on. At first glance everything looked fine. Walking around the items for a closer look, I still didn’t see any evidence of tampering. Maybe I was overreacting and chasing ghosts. I decided to return to my room, but instead I veered into the study for a quick look. I wasn’t quite ready to admit my fears were just my nerves playing tricks. This time I hadn’t done the smart thing and called for Dan. He had to be tired of my crying wolf and not finding any evidence. I’d need a darn good reason before choosing to disrupt the entire household again.

At first the study also seemed undisturbed, but as my eyes adjusted, my heart skipped a beat. Someone had pushed the button that moved the desk aside. The light on the stairs leading down into the passageway had been turned on. Someone had entered the house, but I couldn’t call Dan from here and didn’t want to lose the chance to discover the identity of the intruder. All of a sudden my policy of not crying wolf didn’t seem so wise. I picked up a large letter opener from the desk and started down the stairs. The cloying feeling of danger increased with each step. The second bookcase on the left hand side of the hall was moved aside, revealing a passage I hadn’t known existed. The walls in this new passage were lined with artwork. Creeping silently along, I noticed that the art consisted of a variety of styles. At a quick glance I saw pen-and-ink, charcoals, watercolors and oils. I wouldn’t know what all was there until I had time to investigate. Right now my attention was focused on finding out who was down here and why. The passage climbed steadily upward. There didn’t seem to be any side doors, at least none that were obvious, until the end of the passage. Here one door opened to the right. By now my sense of direction had become confused and I wasn’t sure what part of the house this passage ran through, but it might be somewhere on the second floor.

About the Author:

From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane : Dowager Diaries Book 1 is her latest release.







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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Book Blitz: COZY CHRISTMAS CAPERS



Available only December 1 – January 31, 2015

19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award
winning authors!

Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance, and laughter
amid the backdrop of pine trees, gingerbread men, and Santas galore!

The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of
cocoa…or waiting in line at gift wrapping!


Stories include:

Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti
Chasing Tinsel (Miranda Vaughn Mysteries ) by Ellie Ashe
Death of a Christmas Witch (A Crewel to be Kind Mini Mystery) by Diane Bator
Queenie Baby: Pass the Eggnog (Queenie Baby Mysteries) by Christina A. Burke
The Holiday Inside Job by Mary Jo Burke
Hard to Catch a Christmas Thief (Hard Targets) by Wendy Byrne
A Christmas Ghost & Zero Regrets (Dead by the Numbers Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto
Christmas Canap├ęs & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski
Christmas in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart
Santa Claus, Lies, and Murder (Amber Fox Mysteries) by Sibel Hodge
A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones
Mini Pie the Christmas Spy! (Mini Pie Mysteries) by Libby LaManna
Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry 
Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson
Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey
Christmas in Venice by Maria Grazia Swan
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by T. Sue VerSteeg
Santa’s Little Mistake by Stacey Wiedower


Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1twEMp6