Five Stars for Deadly Occupation

10-19 Bloody OccupationDead­ly Occu­pa­tion is a just-pub­lished pre­quel to the oth­er Michael Stod­dard his­toric mys­ter­ies. Lieu­tenant Stod­dard is a British offi­cer sta­tioned in the Amer­i­can colonies dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion. As such, one might not think him a hero to a 2015 Amer­i­can read­er, but that is not a con­cern for this Amer­i­can read­er. I have read the oth­er mys­ter­ies in this series, and while I rec­og­nize char­ac­ters from those, this book gives back­grounds of char­ac­ters with­out spoil­ing or reveal­ing any­thing from oth­er books.

The Stod­dard books bring out the ambi­gu­i­ty in Amer­i­ca at that time. There were Amer­i­cans who pre­ferred British rule as well as those who didn’t. (And there were nas­ties on each side, one revealed for sure.) Dead­ly Occu­pa­tion also illus­trates the ambi­gu­i­ties of his­to­ri­ans, for Suzanne Adair has delved into his­to­ry that is sel­dom report­ed. Makes for a (excuse me) damn good read!

Oth­er read­ers agree. Here’s a bit from one Ama­zon five-star review: “Michael Stod­dard is a young, 27-year-old, Lieu­tenant with a gift for solv­ing crimes, a chin full of blem­ish­es, and a murky past. In this nov­el, he choos­es an assis­tant, 18-year-old Nick Spry. Spry has his own tal­ents, an eye for detail and a relaxed way with peo­ple that encour­ages them to open up to him. He’s young, but he’s no one’s fool. They are an unlike­ly pair, yet they get results.

Whether sta­tioned in one loca­tion or on the move with the Reg­i­ment, the set­tings are well-craft­ed with his­tor­i­cal details that bring each scene to life. The sus­pects and char­ac­ters pop­u­lat­ing the nov­els are real­is­tic, with basic human moti­va­tions. They are col­or­ful, inter­est­ing, and many are seem­ing­ly drawn from authen­tic his­toric fig­ures.”

One place to order Dead­ly Occu­pa­tion is Ama­zon. (There are oth­ers as well.)

Twittering Memes

I’m twit­ter­ing memes, even though I’m not sure memes is the word I want.  Accord­ing to the dic­tio­nary a meme (meem) is “an idea, behav­ior, or style that spreads from per­son to per­son with­in a cul­ture”. So, I can only hope my memes will fit that descrip­tion.

And why do I hope that? Because I’m using them to adver­tise on Twit­ter. I’m hop­ing the count­down project I’m run­ning for one of my books this week will catch some atten­tion, and some pur­chasers. What do you think? Some of them are below. (Suc­cess­ful pro­mo­tion for the self-pub­lished is just anoth­er writ­ing skill. Hope I’m accom­plish

And, by the way, you may have not­ed this Mon­day post is not my usu­al review of a five star book. (Tune in next week when I’ll be back on sched­ule.)

Cherish countdown meme 1

Cherish countdown meme 2 Cherish countdown meme 4

Five Stars for Between Mountain And Sea

10-5 Between Mountain and SeaI real­ly love M. Louisa Locke’s his­toric mys­ter­ies. When she announced that she had joined a group writ­ing about a future world, despite not being a sci­ence fic­tion read­er, I had to check it out. I’m cer­tain­ly glad I did. Between Moun­tain And Sea: Par­a­disi Chron­i­cles is this week’s five star read.

This is the sto­ry of Mei Lin Yu in the future world of New Eden. It takes place a cen­tu­ry and a half after ten fam­i­lies left an increas­ing­ly dev­as­tat­ed Earth to col­o­nize the dis­tant plan­et.

Chap­ters begin with the 2092 AD diary entries of Mei Lin’s ances­tor. But the sto­ry is Mei Lin’s. She’s a teenag­er who doesn’t real­ly want to fol­low her par­ents’ desires, that she train at a top uni­ver­si­ty for a suc­cess­ful career. She has trou­ble tak­ing tests, but miss­es the all impor­tant test when minor surgery on her eyes goes wrong. She is dumped in the ances­tral home that is far from the elite cen­ters. But she loves it there. The rel­a­tives she meets for the first time, the orig­i­nal plan­et natives, the land, the animals—all seem more real to her than the life she had so far led.

I’d bet­ter not tell more. It’s hard for me, but it would ruin the sto­ry for oth­ers, and I won’t do that. Just believe it only gets bet­ter. I rec­om­mend it for all lovers of a good sto­ry. YA appro­pri­ate as well.

My ques­tion today: Do you some­times read out­side your usu­al favorite genre?

I’m on the Hen House Blog

The years my hus­band and I spent sail­ing on Chesa­peake Bay and beyond con­tributed to my mys­tery writ­ing. For one, I found a cou­ple of boats I want­ed to include in my sto­ries. One, a small lob­ster boat con­vert­ed to a live-aboard cruis­er, is front and cen­ter of my sec­ond pub­lished mys­tery. Here’s the pic­ture, and here’s the result­ing cov­er.

Snapdragon1

HotChickSmallerFrontCoverThat’s just one of my sto­ries. As one of the con­trib­u­tors to the Sis­ters in Crime Writes of Pas­sage, I vis­it­ed the  Hen­ery Press Blog (no longer active). I told them why I place my mys­ter­ies on Chesa­peake Bay.

 

Five Stars for The Witch Doctor’s Wife

9-28 Witch doctors wifeWith The Witch Doctor’s Wife, Tamar Myers delves into her per­son­al his­to­ry as the daugh­ter of Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies in the Bel­gian Con­go. Rich and alive with the sights and sounds of the continent—as excit­ing, evoca­tive, charm­ing, and sus­pense­ful as Alexan­der McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detec­tive Agency novels—Myer’s unfor­get­table excur­sion to colo­nial Africa recalls Bar­bara Kingsolver’s The Poi­son­wood Bible, even the Acad­e­my Award-nom­i­nat­ed film Blood Dia­mond. Award-win­ning author Car­olyn Hart raves: “Mes­mer­iz­ing….The Witch Doctor’s Wife will long linger in the hearts and minds of read­ers. Authen­tic. Pow­er­ful. Tri­umphant.”

The above is part of the publisher’s blurb for the book that fol­lowed many of Tamar Myer’s two won­der­ful­ly fun­ny and clever cozy mys­ter­ies. I read The Witch Doctor’s Wife about five years ago, before I joined Goodreads, before I had a blog, and, mainly—before I began review­ing the books I read. How­ev­er, I remem­ber it fond­ly, so you know it has stay­ing pow­er.

I did inter­view Tamar for the Sis­ters in Crime blog. I remem­ber a cou­ple of answers from that inter­view. For one, she had a com­put­er ded­i­cat­ed to writ­ing, with no games or inter­net access. (That’s one I real­ly, real­ly should fol­low.) Also, she said she didn’t write the story—it was already writ­ten. All she did was ask the Uni­verse to deliv­er her dai­ly por­tion of cre­ativ­i­ty and it did. She then sat down and wrote a thou­sand pol­ished words a day, five days a week.

And that is tal­ent!

Inci­den­tal­ly, she has writ­ten more books in that series, as well as con­tin­u­ing the cozy series. In fact, she has a four-page Ama­zon author page. For a taste of Tamar’s fun, I would sug­gest read­ing the acknowl­edg­ments in Death of Pie.

Five Stars for Digital Dick

I like mys­tery: cozy, noir, his­toric, roman­tic, sus­pense, and espe­cial­ly off-beat mys­tery. Dig­i­tal Dick def­i­nite­ly qual­i­fies on that last one.

9-21 Digital Dick coverI absolute­ly love this book about a sen­tient com­put­er. That’s a com­put­er who learns to solve crimes while wish­ing he had hands so he could plug into the elec­tric­i­ty him­self. He learns as he goes along, but he’s quite knowl­edge­able for a sev­en-year old. Still, his goofs on prop­er behav­ior are fun­ny (or exas­per­at­ing to his human sis­ter), while, of course, he men­tal­ly runs rings around the bad guys. Even the guys who aren’t bad, just don’t believe in Dig­i­tal Dick.

The pub­lish­ers says, “As a com­put­er with a human per­son­al­i­ty, Dick Young strug­gles to under­stand peo­ple. Some would deny per­son­hood to Dick, oth­ers who fear him would take him apart chip by chip.

After he wit­ness­es a bloody mur­der, Dick offers to assist the San Diego Police Depart­ment catch the killer. But when the search for the mur­der­er turns up a sec­ond body, Dick’s Sat­is­fac­tion Index plum­mets. He breaks com­pa­ny with the police and begins inves­ti­gat­ing the case on his own. As he fol­lows the clues, Dick learns more and more about humans: how they live, how they love and how they mur­der. He will need that knowl­edge to over­come the killer who threat­ens to destroy Dick and every­one that Dick holds dear.”

The July 2015 Mid­west Book Review, puts it this way: “In addi­tion to tak­ing the prize for orig­i­nal­i­ty, this book is a great piece of sto­ry-telling and a good read. I high­ly rec­om­mend it.”

And I add, if you like your mys­tery with a great sense of humor while keep­ing up the sus­pense, this is the read for you.

Covers

All of my cov­ers have been designed by one of my daugh­ters while she was gross­ly under­em­ployed. For­tu­nate­ly for her, that is no longer the case. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for me, I have to rethink cov­ers. I want to go GREAT. I want to go PROFESSIONAL. I want to go with a cov­er that says, “BUY ME!” So, of course, I’ve asked a pro whose cov­ers are strik­ing and ver­setile to design the cov­er of my upcom­ing mys­tery.

In the mean­time, I’ve been writ­ing  a cou­ple of short sto­ries that I intend to offer for free—to fur­ther encour­age read­ers to buy my new mys­tery. So I’ve been did­dling with canva.com. I have used it to make a small design to put on Twit­ter, pro­mot­ing one of my books. (Don’t know if it actu­al­ly works, but…it looks good.) I’ve tried a lot of dif­fer­ent designs using a vari­ety of free and per­son­al pho­tos. This is what I’ve come up with so far.

HIDDEN BODY cover B

Deserter cover 2Tell me, what do you think? Good enough? Or not.

Five Stars for Buried In A Bog

9-14 Buried in a Bog coverI’m going back in my Goodreads file of five star reads. If I look at one I read two years ago and I can remem­ber the sto­ry with renewed plea­sure, I know it deserved every one of those five stars. That’s this one, Buried In A Bog, by Sheila Con­nol­ly.

My review:  This is the first of Sheila Connolly’s third mys­tery series, and my favorite. Buried in a Bog is far more than a mystery–it’s the sto­ry of a young woman from Boston deal­ing with loss and find­ing her way for­ward, as well as a sto­ry of a small vil­lage in Ire­land. It was grandmother’s last wish that she vis­it. It’s a sto­ry of rela­tion­ships, gen­er­a­tions, and above all, real—actually fic­tion­al, but for sure real peo­ple. It’s a mys­tery too, deal­ing with mur­der. This book sat­is­fies on every lev­el.

Anoth­er review­er said, “Awe­some book! The set­ting was cozy and real and made me want to head off to Ire­land for a spell. Can’t wait for the next one!”

Since then, Sheila Con­nol­ly has writ­ten the next one, and oth­ers as well. I espe­cial­ly like the first of her fourth series as well. (It’s a bit woo woo.) But why don’t you check out all of her series on her Ama­zon author page? You’ll be glad you did.

Five Stars for Murder on Lexington Avenue

8-31 Victoria Thompson coverMur­der on Lex­ing­ton Avenue is the 12th in Vic­to­ria Thompson’s Gaslight Mys­tery series. I’ve read sev­er­al, but this one is a favorite of mine. My review: Sarah Brandt, New York mid­wife in the ear­ly 1900s, keeps get­ting involved in mur­der while deliv­er­ing babies. It isn’t any­thing about souls pass­ing in and out, it’s just that the same peo­ple are involved. While one woman is hav­ing a baby, some­one she knows, be it her fam­i­ly or her neigh­bors, is mixed up in mur­der, often as the vic­tim. Sarah is handy and will­ing to help out an Irish cop, Detec­tive Sergeant Frank Mal­loy. In this case, the teenage daugh­ter of the vic­tim is involved with con­flict­ing schools of train­ing the deaf. Her father is a gen­er­al­ly dis­liked busi­ness own­er. But, who killed him? Seem­ing­ly he was alone at his place of busi­ness. His busi­ness part­ner, and sev­er­al oth­ers may have vis­it­ed. Or, none of them saw him, if one is to believe the tes­ti­mo­ny. And, even if Frank Mal­loy finds the killer, 1903 in New York often meant Frank, although he was the police, would find it dif­fi­cult to accuse any­one who had the mon­ey to make sure he didn’t keep his job. Then anoth­er mur­der com­pli­cates the pos­si­bil­i­ties.

The ambiance is authen­tic, the plot is devi­ous, the char­ac­ters are a mix from delight­ful to dev­il­ish. Best of all, the out­come is com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed, but, oh so absolute­ly right! High­ly rec­om­mend­ed to mys­tery and his­to­ry read­ers.

Vic­to­ria Thomp­son has been nom­i­nat­ed for an Agatha for his­toric mys­tery. There are now 17 books in the series. Her Ama­zon author page is here. (I believe the mid­wife and the police detec­tive sergeant are plan­ning to wed in the lat­est. Must read that too!)