Five Star Read — EVANS ABOVE

This is the first of the series, and the first of Rhys Bowen’s three series. I dis­cov­ered her third series first, then the sec­ond, and now while I’m try­ing to col­lect all the books in the sec­ond, I decid­ed to try the first. Did not know what to expect with a male pro­tag­o­nist, a vil­lage con­sta­ble in Wales. I must say, from my read­ing of the first book, that this series is just as delight­ful (not a term usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with male cops) as the oth­er two. In this book read­ers are right there in Wales, along with all the frus­tra­tions, the odd goings on, and the vari­ety of char­ac­ters. Add to that a puz­zling plot and a wind-up that pulls an amaz­ing host of events togeth­er.

Evans aboveI’d like to quote from the publisher’s descrip­tion — Evan Evans, a young police con­sta­ble, has trad­ed city life for that of Llan­fair — an idyl­lic Welsh vil­lage. Nestling in the Snow­do­nia moun­tain range, Llan­fair looks to Evans like a town for­got­ten by time, but he quick­ly learns that even the bucol­ic coun­try­side has its share of eccen­tric — and dead­ly — char­ac­ters. Evans’s new neigh­bors include two com­pet­i­tive min­is­ters vying for the souls of their flock, one las­civ­i­ous bar­maid, and three oth­er Evans­es: Evans-the-Meat; Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post (whose favorite hob­by is to read the mail before he deliv­ers it).

Before Evans has time to sort through the com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ships and rival­ries of his new home, he’s called to the scene of a crime as bru­tal and fear­some as any he encoun­tered in the big city. Two hik­ers have been mur­dered on the trails of the local moun­tain, and Evans must hunt down a vicious killer — who may or may not be linked to the mys­te­ri­ous destruc­tion of Mrs. Pow­ell-Jones’ prize-win­ning toma­toes.

Most of this series is avail­able as e-books only. I’ve got­ten them as used books through the resellers on Ama­zon since my hus­band enjoys them too, and he hasn’t con­vert­ed to e-book read­ing. I do wish they were more wide­ly avail­able.

Since I men­tioned the rar­i­ty of books pub­lished even as late as 2005, I won­der, do you have a favorite series that is out of print?

 

Free e-book—A KNUCKLEHEAD IN 1920s ALASKA

A Knucklehead in 1920s AlaskaEvery Thurs­day I post some­thing I find inter­est­ing, hop­ing you will too. So, today’s inter­est­ing bit is about tomorrow—which is when one of my e-books goes free for five days.

File it under both his­to­ry and mys­tery. The his­to­ry part is easy. The book is one I wrote with my father from audio tapes he gave me quite a few years ago about going to Alas­ka to earn col­lege mon­ey.  He was nine­teen, a hot-head­ed kid who didn’t want to take any guff. Of course, guff is often what one gets from an employ­er, so he had a lot of dif­fer­ent jobs. He failed to blow him­self up car­ry­ing dyna­mite. He failed to drown when he and a horse end­ed up under the ice in a near-freez­ing riv­er. He even man­aged to sur­vive danc­ing with what they referred to as “a woman on the line” when her boyfriend showed up. In fact, after I heard my father’s adven­tures, I real­ized that it’s a mar­vel I was ever born. That’s the his­to­ry part.

The mys­tery part is at the tail end of this book, sort of a Thank You for reading—a reprint of my first short mys­tery, “Yesterday’s News” pub­lished in Future’s Mys­te­ri­ous Mys­tery Mag­a­zine sev­er­al years ago.

A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka e-book is avail­able for Kin­dle. The free dates are Feb­ru­ary 27 through March 3, 2015. Do read and enjoy!

Mon­day, I’ll be back here, but I’ll be vis­it­ing Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers too.

Agatha Nominee-WRITES OF PASSAGE

WRITES OF PASSAGE frontMy five-star pick this week was nom­i­nat­ed in the non-fic­tion cat­e­go­ry and includes essays from 59 Sis­ters in Crime mem­bers (I’m one of them). Hank Phillip­pi Ryan edit­ed Writes of Pas­sage and is the author of a mys­tery also up for an Agatha. Pub­lish­er. Hen­ery Press, is a hot-bed of Agatha win­ners and nom­i­nees. With a line-up like that, how can this book miss?

Read­ers agree. This is one review on Ama­zon. 

“I pur­chased this book to sup­port Sis­ters in Crime. What the heck, I thought. I can read a sto­ry a day with my tea in the morn­ing. Then I can read my “oth­er book” lat­er in the day. Except I didn’t. I found myself read­ing four or five sto­ries in the morn­ing (each one is about 2 pages), and then pick­ing it back up lat­er in the day. So much for my “oth­er book!”
“If you’re a begin­ning, estab­lished or emerg­ing writer, or sim­ply inter­est­ed in the writ­ing jour­ney, there’s some­thing in Writes of Pas­sage for you. Many some­things. Encour­age­ment, pas­sion, truth, advice, humor and angst resolved.
“I won’t pick my favorite sto­ries here — couldn’t if I tried. But I will give a major kudos call­out to Hank Phillip­pi Ryan’s exem­plary job of edit­ing. This could have been just a bunch of sto­ries. Instead it’s a cohe­sive blend of many voic­es, com­ing togeth­er as one.”
For two months, Sis­ters in Crime post­ed a clip from each author. This one was from my con­tri­bu­tion called: The Gup­py Con­nec­tion. “I’m a Gup­py who is still learn­ing, but also offer­ing any help I can to my favorite group.” (That’s the Gup­py chapter—originally named for the Great UnPub­lished, but now, many con­sid­er them­selves the Great Under Pub­lished, as many have gone on to pub­lish­ing even mul­ti­ple mys­tery series.)

Five Stars for MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE

My five-star pick this week com­bines two of my loves—mystery and his­toric fic­tion. Maids of Mis­for­tune takes place in 1879 San Fran­cis­co. A young wid­ow sup­ports her­self as board­ing house own­er Annie Fuller, and, in dis­guise, as psy­chic Sibyl who gives per­son­al and finan­cial advice to clients. As a woman, she knows that no one would ever accept such advice from her, but they will accept it as com­ing from the stars. When one of her clients dies, sup­pos­ed­ly by sui­cide, she knows his finances weren’t in the sham­bles the police claim. When the police real­ize it was mur­der, they look to his fam­i­ly. Annie pos­es as a serv­ing girl for the fam­i­ly to find the truth.

The author, M. Louisa Locke, seam­less­ly puts the read­er square­ly in that time and place. While we are engrossed in the plot we notice the work involved to keep up a house, the atti­tudes of every­one toward a Chi­nese cook, Annie’s belat­ed real­iza­tion of what her laun­dry girl does, and the prob­lems of trav­el and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in an ear­li­er age.

Maids of Mis­for­tune is the first of a series (the ebook is now free). There are sev­er­al short sto­ries as well. The fourth full-length mys­tery in the series will be out this month.

Of inter­est to the writ­ers among my read­ers, M. Louisa Locke’s blog shares her ongo­ing mar­ket­ing plans for an inde­pen­dent writer. (Next week I’ll revis­it the upcom­ing Agatha awards with anoth­er good read.)

Agatha Nominee-CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE

My five star pick today is a two-fer—five stars plus Agatha nom­i­nee for Best First Nov­el!

It’s win­ter, the snow is pil­ing high, and Zoe Cham­bers, para­medic and deputy coro­ner in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia is on the road with the emer­gency vehi­cle, try­ing to save lives. But some­one is mur­dered, and in a small town where every­one knows every­one else, there are a lot of secrets and con­nec­tions.

I read Cir­cle of Influ­ence last May with love­ly warm sun­shine, but author Annette Dashofy made me feel every bit of icy pre­cip­i­ta­tion as I set­tled down to read one great mys­tery, with unex­pect­ed rev­e­la­tions on almost every page.

If you haven’t yet read Cir­cle of Influ­ence, snug­gle into a blan­ket before a roar­ing fire and set­tle down to read one great not-quite-cozy mys­tery with an excel­lent plot and mem­o­rable char­ac­ters. And, if you attend Mal­ice Domes­tic in May, con­sid­er vot­ing for Cir­cle of Influ­ence.

Five Stars for LOWCOUNTRY BOIL

I read Low­coun­try Boil two years ago, short­ly after it was pub­lished by Hen­ery Press. Then I went to my first ever Mal­ice Domes­tic in 2013, and vot­ed for it to win as Best First Nov­el of 2012. Of course, I was sure I’d picked a lot of oth­er win­ners as well, but Low­coun­try Boil was the only win­ner I picked. Since I was sit­ting at one of the Hen­ery Press tables, I got a front row seat as the oth­er Hen­ery Press authors helped Susan Boy­er cel­e­brate.

Susan Boyer-Agatha winner

Susan Boy­er-Agatha win­ner

To do jus­tice to this book, I’m reread­ing it now, and enjoy­ing it just as much as I did the first time. Some things come back to me imme­di­ate­ly. I remem­bered the ghost (I love ghosts). When the lock­et turned up, I thought, aha! Oth­er plot points had slipped my mind. Oh, yes, now I remem­ber, I thought as a new dan­ger unfold­ed.

But this isn’t telling you about a great read. A Great Win­ning Read! Not only did it win the Agatha, but it won the 2012 Daphne du Mau­ri­er Award for Excel­lence in Mys­tery Sus­pense.

The low­coun­try of the sto­ry is a South Car­oli­na island along the Intra­coastal Water­way (Did I pass it on one of sev­er­al boat­ing trips, I won­der?) It’s a close-knit com­mu­ni­ty of friends, rel­a­tives, and often, ene­mies who may be both friends or rel­a­tives.

Liz returns to the island home­stead after her grand­moth­er dies. She learns it was mur­der. So, why would any­one kill a sweet old lady? There are con­spir­a­cies afoot, and a ghost who con­fers with Liz, look­ing to save the island from the bad guys.

Are the prob­lems bro­ken mar­riages, land grabs, long remem­bered slights? Or, none of the above? Although Liz runs her own pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tion agency in the city, her broth­er, the local police chief, does not want her help in solv­ing one mur­der and try­ing to pre­vent fur­ther may­hem.

Oth­er review­er com­ments: “I can see why this debut mys­tery is get­ting a lot of buzz.”

The para­nor­mal aspect adds to the sto­ry rather than tak­ing it over, strik­ing the per­fect bal­ance.”

A South­ern Mys­tery to be Savored!”

I agree with all of them.

Five Stars For JUST ADD WATER

I didn’t have to dig very deeply into my favorites list to come up with 5 star A Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartyz. I under­stand that this author is as at-home on boats as she is in front of her com­put­er writ­ing about Het­ta Cof­fey.

Het­ta doesn’t have a boat as the book starts. She has women friends, an ex fiancé, and a dog named RJ. Let’s just say, boy friends come and go, and their com­ing isn’t always good. Could be fatal, as a mat­ter of fact. But, oh, that does make for good read­ing!

The dead body doesn’t appear right away, but the action is non-stop. Het­ta is after a man, any man. Per­haps buy­ing a boat is the way to go. Then, again, per­haps not. But Het­ta has a boat, and she is intends to learn how to use it. (That’s a quote, more or less, from the author’s tweets, “Het­ta has a boat and she’s not afraid to use it.”)

This is my first Het­ta Cof­fey Mys­tery and won’t be the last! I read Jinx Schwartyz’ Land of Moun­tains before giv­ing it to a grand­daugh­ter and absolute­ly loved it. It is semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal. I don’t think Just Add Water is, but it cer­tain­ly could be, if the child in the ear­li­er book grew up to get involved in mur­der instead of just into boats.

I’d like to quote from a few oth­ers who liked this book:

First, I must say this book was a chuck­le a minute—except for the parts not designed to elic­it chuck­les, of course.”

Whether you’re a fan of mys­tery, chick lit, or humor, you’ll be a fan of Het­ta Cof­fey and author Jinx Schwartz.”

Het­ta is brash and bold with a mouth that doesn’t have much of a fil­ter.”

There are many more reviews, but that gives you an idea. Almost all of them are pos­i­tive.

Just Add Water is avail­able here.

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Of course, I know a lit­tle some­thing about boats as well. Just for kicks, I’ll add a pic­ture of the boat my hus­band and I sailed for a good many years. We didn’t find any killers, but we did run into a few killer storms. And, know­ing a lit­tle bit about boats myself, only made me appre­ci­ate Just Add Water even more.

Does knowl­edge of the sub­ject affect your read­ing? I know, if an author doesn’t get some­thing right that I do know about, that does affects my read­ing plea­sure. It down-right destroys it.

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Kait Car­son lives in and writes from Flori­da. Her lat­est book, DEATH BYKait-cover BLUE WATER, was released by Hen­ery Press on Vet­er­ans’ Day 2014.  In it, para­le­gal Hay­den Kent dis­cov­ers a man’s body at 120’ beneath the sea. She thinks she is wit­ness to a trag­ic acci­dent. Instead, she becomes the prime sus­pect when the vic­tim is revealed to be the broth­er of the man who recent­ly jilt­ed her, and she has no ali­bi.

A year ago I spent Thanks­giv­ing in Flori­da, but this year I’m at home in Penn­syl­va­nia. Unlike my guest, that was only a some­time vis­it. But Kait remem­bers past Thanks­giv­ings and has her own way of cel­e­brat­ing in the trop­ics. Let her tell you about it…

Tomor­row is Thanks­giv­ing. Known to my fam­i­ly as Turkey Day, it was a favorite child­hood hol­i­day. Whether it was at home or away – there were two con­stants. A groan­ing table of food (fol­lowed by groan­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers), and cold weather—sometimes snow. SNOW, what has snow got to do with a trop­i­cal thanks­giv­ing? Well, noth­ing. But my child­hood turkey days were usu­al­ly spent in the north. Some­times on my great grandfather’s farm. He was a hardy soul who lived into his 100s. Fam­i­ly his­to­ry varies on whether it was 103 or 106. I doubt he knew. He was born in the ‘old coun­try’ at home on, yes, a farm. No records were kept, or no records that he kept were kept.

Turkey day on the farm in upstate New York was spe­cial. All of the din­ner was home­grown. Since both of my great grand­par­ents were immi­grants, keep­ing Amer­i­can hol­i­days, espe­cial­ly Thanks­giv­ing, was a reli­gion with them. Our loca­tion made snow a fre­quent vis­i­tor on Thanks­giv­ing Day.

Fast for­ward to my late teens. Here comes the trop­i­cal part. I fell in love with Mia­mi as a five year old when we vis­it­ed cousins. I nev­er fell out of love. When the time came for me to go to col­lege, it was UM or bust—Go Canes! Once plant­ed, my roots grew in the warm, sandy soil, and I’ve nev­er left. My adult real­i­ty has Thanks­giv­ings far removed from any­thing resem­bling snow, unless you count white sandy beach­es. Tem­per­a­tures of 80 and above are the norm. But it’s Thanks­giv­ing! It’s autumn. It needs to be COLD. I don’t know who invent­ed air con­di­tion­ing. I could prob­a­bly Google it, but that’s been my solu­tion since I moved here. Crank the A/C down to 60, pull on a sweater, turn on the oven and have at it. Turkey, brus­sels sprouts, yams (a South­ern sta­ple I might add), mashed pota­toes, green beans, sweet pota­to pie (nod to the South) and pump­kin pie. It all pours out of my oven and on to the table. I close all the drapes to block out the green grass and palm trees, light the fire­place, and voila, a cool, Flori­da, Thanks­giv­ing.

Hay­den Kent, the hero­ine of DEATH BY BLUE WATER, would nev­er under­stand. Hay­den is a Conch. Born and bred in the Flori­da Keys. Her idea of Thanks­giv­ing runs to Flori­da lob­ster stuff­ing (very good by the way) and ambrosia (also very good). She’s prob­a­bly going to spend her ear­ly morn­ing SCUBA div­ing to cel­e­brate hav­ing a day off, and then host­ing a din­ner for her friends Mal­lo­ry and Jan­ice, and maybe her boss, Grant. Any way she slices it, the pie will be from the bak­ery, and every­one will have a late night, a great time, and left­overs to go.

Come to think of it, that sounds like the per­fect turkey day. No mat­ter where or how you cel­e­brate, I hope you have a won­der­ful day.

Kait-photoBIO: Kait Car­son lives and works in South Cen­tral Flori­da. She shares her home with her pilot hus­band, a Chero­kee Six air­plane, eight res­cued cats, and three birds. So far, there is no par­tridge in the avo­ca­do tree. Kait is a rabid SCUBA div­er and can be found under­wa­ter most sum­mer week­ends. A self-styled warm water wimp, the div­ing stops on Colum­bus Day and the day trips by air begin. Vis­it her at www.kaitcarson.com, or on Face­book at facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor.

Kait’s men­tion of her favorite foods, espe­cial­ly that ambrosia, reminds me of our fam­i­ly specialty—a neces­si­ty for any hol­i­day meal, offi­cial­ly known as apple pud­ding, but also known as red stuff. Do you have a favorite for hol­i­day meals?

Halloween Countdown-YA Ghost Reads

Vala-Ghost_Writer_300dpiIs there any­thing bet­ter than a ghost sto­ry for Hal­loween? Yes—two ghost sto­ries. One is mine, but first, let me tell you about Vala Kaye’s Ghost Writer.

Tech-savvy teen Malden Mont­gomery leaves New York City antic­i­pat­ing noth­ing but bore­dom when her artist-moth­er brings her along on a two-week vaca­tion to a fam­i­ly inn in rur­al Vir­ginia.

What Malden doesn’t expect is the owner’s 17-year-old son, Jack­son, who is total­ly to-die-for cute. But does she dare believe him when he tells her that her room at the inn may be haunt­ed by a young woman named Emi­ly, who died there more than 150 years ago?

Then Emi­ly begins to com­mu­ni­cate with Malden and she and Jack­son real­ize they have to find a way to help Emily’s ghost come back home or risk a spirit’s wrath if they choose to leave her lost in the dark­ness for­ev­er.

Vala Kaye — ABOUT THE AUTHORVala Kaye

Vala Kaye grew up in Texas as an avid read­er of sci­ence fic­tion, romance and his­to­ry. Her favorite writ­ers ran the gamut from Robert Hein­lein to Mar­garet Mitchell, and includ­ed side jour­neys with Louisa May Alcott’s “Lit­tle Women” and The Hardy Boys mys­ter­ies.

After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege with a dou­ble major in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and His­to­ry, Vala now lives and writes in warm and sun­ny south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is addict­ed to movies, live the­ater, word games and sal­sa danc­ing.

In her first pub­lished YA novel­la, Ghost Writer, Vala explores what hap­pens when the human ‘spir­it’ meets com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy. Vala’s newest title is Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence, book #1 of “The Super­hero Next Door” series.

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Get in the mood for Hal­loween with this fast, fun YA para­nor­mal novel­la! “Ghost Writer” is now avail­able in print or as an e-book. Check it out at these online retail­ers: Ama­zon | B&N.com | KoboiBooks

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The sec­ond YA ghost read is mine, Cher­ish (A YA Ghost Mys­tery). You can read all about it here: The e-book is free for five days from Octo­ber 28 through Novem­ber 1 at Ama­zon. But, before you do any­thing, com­ment below. Maybe you will win Ghost Writer.