Reading Round-Up: July Edition

It’s going to look like I didn’t do a ton of reading in July, but that’s because I’m currently in the middle of four other books and I’ve been reading those, too. So August should be a big month.

The first book I finished since my last Reading Round-Up was Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. A friend on Twitter suggested that I read it so we could talk about the writer’s style. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Here’s my review from Goodreads:

“This was a haunting book, based on true events that took place in the US in the first part of the twentieth century. It’s the story of a family of river gypsies and what happened to them as a result of the corrupt and horrifying practices of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. It’s written from the point of view of two/three characters (you’ll see why I say that when you read the book), but I think that’s almost the way the story had to be told. The language is descriptive and evocative–I think this is going to be one book that stays with me.”

***

You may remember from last month that I read The Merlon Murders and that it was the first book in a two-book series. Well, I finished the second book and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it as much as the first one. The Merlon Murders II, by Victoria Benchley, is a great summer mystery. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“In this second book of The Merlon Murders, readers are treated to some exciting twists following the harrowing ending of Book One. Duncan becomes more deeply involved with the beautiful widow Menzies, he enlists the help of a Swedish expert in game theory, and he begins to form some alarming hunches about the identity of the person who killed Stuart Menzies. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery, and especially one set in Scotland.”

***

I’m becoming more and more interested in eating a plant-based diet as often as possible, so I read The Mediterranean Table, which is a cookbook of easy Mediterranean recipes. The Mediterranean diet is largely plant-based, though there are recipes in the book featuring meat, poultry, and fish, too. The recipes are not only easy to follow, but they use ingredients that are widely available. The book includes a great description of the Mediterranean diet, along with the countries making up that region of the world and their individual contributions to the cuisine of the area.

***

This is a diverse collection of short stories about death. Most of the stories involve some element of whodunit, though not all of them are mysteries. The four I liked the most were by Robbie Cheadle and debut author Aly Locatelli. Cheadle’s stories are fictionalized accounts of historic events and legends and Locatelli’s story is a suspenseful read about a mysterious death. It’s an atmospheric treat that makes for a great debut.

I’m excited to get into August and finish all those books I’m working on! So many books…so little time…

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into August with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is one that celebrates a Canadian conservation achievement: the Nature Conservancy of Canada has managed to raise CAD $20M to purchase a rare “snow forest” in British Columbia, thereby protecting the habitats of about 40 at-risk species.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa GargDan Antion, Mary GieseSimon Falk, and Damyanti Biswas

 

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Author Spotlight: Colleen Mooney AND Anna Celeste Burke

If you’ve been reading my posts for the last couple months, you’ll probably remember hearing about a new boxed set of mysteries that comes out today. It’s called Summer Snoops Unleashed and it’s a collection of mysteries from 14 bestselling mystery authors. Proceeds from the sale of the set go to animal rescue charities, so it’s for a good cause. I’ve pre-ordered mine, and as I write this I am eagerly awaiting its arrival on my ereader.

Today I have TWO authors from the set, Colleen Mooney and Anna Celeste Burke. Welcome, ladies!

Please tell us about the story you’ve contributed to the Summer Snoops collection.

Colleen: The title I’ve submitted for this set is Fireworks, Forensics & Felonies. It’s set in New Orleans, my home, over the Fourth of July weekend. Our amateur sleuth and her boyfriend are on his sailboat on Lake Pontchartrain to watch the fireworks display when they witness a house fire on shore, followed by an explosion on the fireworks barge. Both the house and fireworks barge are owned by a couple who are friends with the main characters.

AnnaRadical Regatta! (Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #4) features Kim Reed and Brien Williams, two characters that first appear in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series. They got hooked on figuring out whodunit while they were in the California desert near Palm Springs as members of the “Cat Pack.” The stories are told from Kim’s point of view.

Brien is a surfer dude with a passion for his new wife, food, surfing, and solving mysteries. He’s been hired as a security guard at the Sanctuary Resort & Spa. Kim was Jessica Huntington’s legal assistant and acquired skills doing background checks and digging into clients and suspects’ pasts. Before she turned her life around, she worked for a psycho Hollywood music producer where she became adept at recognizing dirty tricks and nasty secrets. She maintains guest records at the resort.

When they first visited Corsario Cove, it was their honeymoon destination. A dead Santa throws a hitch into their plans, they end up on the suspect list, and decide to find Santa’s killer. In Cowabunga Christmas! Kim and Brien also meet the local detective—Bernie Mitchum. As you can imagine, he’s thrilled to have Gidget and Moondoggie snooping into Santa’s murder.

In Radical Regatta!, rescuing a dog that’s swimming for its life beyond the cove draws Kim and Brien into troubled waters. As a crime wave hits Corsario Cove, they hope they can find out what’s going on before a Fourth of July Regatta turns deadly. When an infamous international thief turns up dead, it won’t be smooth sailing for anyone until these twenty-something sleuths solve the mystery behind the murder and mayhem.

Kim and Brien are the youngest, wackiest, and most impulsive of the sleuths in the five series I write. To be honest, they’re something of a tribute to my husband and me in our younger days. He wasn’t a surfer, but a rock musician. I grew up at the beach and loved the old Beach Blanket Bingo movies. I was underaged, and the police picked me up as a runaway after we eloped to Tijuana and got married. Young, wacky, impulsive, I’ll admit it now that we’ve been married almost 49 years.

Are there any specific things that tie the stories in the collection together? For example, are they all about dogs? Do the animals help solve the mysteries?

Colleen: My stories all have schnauzers in them. The main character is an avid rescuer of the breed.

Anna: All fourteen stories include a pet—mostly cats and dogs. My book has a dog plus another interesting animal character that I’ll keep secret for now. The pets play minor to major roles in solving the mysteries in each book. I hope you find all stories fun, funny, and fast perfect summer reads!

Is your story part of a series that you have released, or does it stand alone?

Colleen: This is book 7 in my series, The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles.

Anna: Radical Regatta! can be read as standalone, but there are three books already published in the series: Cowabunga Christmas!, Gnarly New Year!, and Heinous Habits! I hope readers will check out the previous books in the series if they enjoy Radical Regatta!

I’ve put book one—Cowabunga Christmas! on sale all month as a Christmas in July 99c special. Readers who subscribe to my website  https://www.desertcitiesmystery.com can read book 2 in the series, Gnarly New Year! FREE.

Are the stories short stories, novellas, or full-length novels?

Both: The set includes a mix of novellas and novel-length cozy mysteries.

Do you have any pets at home?

Colleen: OMG yes, all the time. In addition to my schnauzers I may have one or two rescues I foster who are waiting to get adopted. I am a breed rescuer for Schnauzers! (You write what you know, right?) Anyway, about 17 years ago I found myself up to four schnauzers and realized I couldn’t adopt them all so I found a rescue group and volunteers for them. After some time, the founder had a family and I took over the group. Right now I’m up to 4 Schnauzers again!

Anna: Right now, I have one loud-mouthed, sweet and sassy, Siamese cat.

If so, what kind(s) of pets do you have and what are their names?

Clleen: Four Schnauzers. Their names are Maus – because he is small and about 6 years old; MoonPie Mooney-about 12/13 years old; Tweezer-about 6 years old; and Murphy Mooney- 14/15 years old. Tweezer and Murphy were rescues adopted by a wonderful lady who died unexpectedly, and I took them back. Tweezer is a special needs rescue in that she came to us blind, under a year old. Someone just left her out on the street to fend for herself. My rescue had a fund raiser and we replaced one eye with a lens so she had sight. Murphy is older and the lady had him several years before Tweezer. I don’t want to separate them because Tweezer keeps Murphy young! Her personality and playfulness really blossomed after she could see. They both have been an amazing addition to our family.

Anna: Coco is a Seal point Siamese with a light-colored coat and dark, chocolate brown points. He’s a very affectionate cat and loves to cuddle, but he has one of the loudest mouths I have ever heard. He’s the model for Miles, one of Georgie Shaw’s Siamese kitties in the Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series. Like Miles, named for Miles Davis, Coco’s voice carries like a trumpet blast.

Did you have pets growing up?

Colleen: My dad loved dogs and he would tell my mother he “found” one and bring it home. My earliest memory is of a big Chow his sister gave us because she couldn’t take care of it any longer. I was maybe two years old and remember him. We had Beagles, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chihuahuas (my mother’s choice) and a couple of mutts. My first dog as an adult was a Schnauzer mix named Cricket Ann. She had the attitude of a Schnauzer and I fell in love with it.

Anna: Oh, yes! Cats, dogs, mice, tadpoles raised until they became frogs, and a rabbit named Debbie that would beg at the refrigerator. Since I’ve been married, my husband and I have owned lots of cats—sometimes 4 at a time! We also owned a Chow dog for years and an iguana. The iguana got away when two cats let him out while we were at work. When I opened the door, the iguana ran for it into the orange grove nearby.

Tell us how the authors settled on the charities that will receive the proceeds from the set.

Colleen: As a group we submitted names of rescues and shelters and voted on them. Those of us who submitted a shelter wrote up something we knew about them to share with the others.

Anna: There are three no-kill shelters that we hope to help with the money we raise from presales of Summer Snoops Unleashed. Each of these shelters also has a special interest in finding homes for senior pets and/or pets with special needs.

The box set is only 99¢, which we hope is affordable to cozy mystery readers, but we only get 35¢ in royalties. We must sell lots and lots of books to help the wonderful people who work so hard to rescue pets and take care of them until they find fur-ever homes.

The 13 other Summer Snoops Unleashed authors and I are working with three wonderful shelters this year. The Streetdog Foundation in Memphis, The Northshore Humane Society located north of New Orleans, and Home ‘Fur’ Good near Phoenix, Arizona.

Do you ever volunteer at a local animal shelter?

Colleen: I was on the Board of Directors for the Northshore Humane Society years ago when I lived on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. I have since moved back to the New Orleans side of the lake.  I did fund raising for the shelter at that time when I was a lot younger.  Now, I pull schnauzers from the local shelters when they call me to take into rescue and find a suitable, fur-ever home for.  It’s hard to go to the shelter and only take one dog.

Anna: No, but most of the cats I’ve owned over the year have been “rescues.” My husband and I have taken them in to keep them from going to shelters. Sometimes these sweeties had a problem or two, but they all turned out to be wonderful cats.

If any readers are interested in donating to their local animal shelter, what items do you suggest, or is a monetary donation a better choice?

Colleen: If you are close to a shelter, they can always use newspapers and blankets. A monetary donation is what is most needed. Northshore Humane Society is a very old shelter and they are in the process of trying to build a newer, more modern facility where they can provide more veterinary services. They are a shelter that constantly improves what they can do for animals.

Anna: Shelters are always desperate for money, but they can also use volunteers and foster families to give pets a break from shelter life or take in pets when the shelter runs out of room. Links to each of the shelters we chose can be found on our website if anyone wants to know more about them: https://www.summersnoops.com.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free!

Colleen: If you’d like to see or follow Schnauzer Rescue here we are: website: https://www.nolaschnauzer.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/NOLASchnauzerRescue/ or www.colleenmooney.com for my website and books or https://www.facebook.com/colleen.mooney.716 on Facebook! THANK YOU!

Anna: Thank you so much for letting us share the news about our Summer Snoops Unleashed box set. We hope visitors to your site will buy a copy for themselves and gift one or two to a friend or family member. At 99¢ this is a great deal for a wonderful cause and are purr-fect summer reads for cozy mystery fans. And, of course, your readers are invited to visit my website, noted above.

Readers, there’s a special pet cookbook available for FREE download as part of the Summer Snoops Unleashed collection! Just click this link to check it out!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Today I welcome author Nancy Lynn Jarvis to Reade and Write. Nancy doesn’t even know this, but I have a special fondness for her books because two of them were given to me as gifts by someone many of you will remember from this blog–Sharon Aguanno. Sharon loved Nancy’s books and I credit her with introducing me to Nancy’s work.

Nancy is here to talk about her new release, The Glass House. I’m looking forward to reading this one–I wish Sharon was here to enjoy it, too.

Tell me about The Glass House.

Santa Cruz County Law Librarian Pat Pirard is living a perfect life as the book begins, but she’s unexpectedly downsized on her thirty-fifth birthday and needs to reinvent herself before her severance package runs out and she and her Dalmatian, Dot, and ginger cat, Lord Peter Wimsey, face life on a friend’s couch.

When the instructor of a glass art class Pat received as a gift is murdered and the studio’s owner is charged with killing him, researcher Pat is hired by the suspect’s defense attorney to find others in the class who may have a motive for murder. The first thing she does is order business cards proclaiming herself CEO of PIP Inc., not necessarily the first thing most underemployed amateur detectives would do, but then, most people aren’t like Private Investigator Pat.

Who is the audience for the book?

Me. Well, me at all phases of my life. I like mysteries ―the more complicated the better―don’t like to read violence and cruelty, especially as it’s happening, although I love CSI and discovering how the killing happened from a safe distance, so that’s how I write.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

Like most of the books I’ve written, The Glass House is set in Santa Cruz. I’m a visual writer who needs to see my setting to get the details right. I know nothing about being a private investigator, but I have a friend who does. She’s my resource, and it’s great fun to collaborate with her.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Deciding it was time. Once I got past that hurdle, it was fun. I hadn’t written a mystery in almost a year because of other projects, and realized as I wrote, that I love writing in the cozy mystery genre.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

Let me ask the real Private Investigator Pat and get back to you on that.

Tell me about your other books.

I’ve done seven books in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series; Mags and the AARP Gang, a coming of age comedy about a group of octogenarians who decide to rob the bank holding the mortgage on their mobile home park to pay off the loan and stave off foreclosure; and a little book called The Truth About Hosting Airbnb, something I do when I’m not writing. I’ve edited Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes and Santa Cruz Weird, a short story anthology with contributions from seventeen Santa Cruz authors.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I’m not sure if I’d call my group a partnership, but ten local mystery writers call ourselves The Santa Cruz Women of Mystery. We just did our first Noir at the Bar, which was great fun. I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Do you write every day?

No. I’m very lazy. I only write when the mood hits.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I like all genres except dystopic…wait, I love Margaret Atwood and she does those; and fantasy…wait, except for JK Rowling and too many authors to list; John McPhee; Amy Tan; anything historical and most non-fiction. Oh, and of course, Agatha Christie and Tony Hillerman and any mystery I can get my hands on. Unfortunately, I can usually figure out who did it by page eighty-six which is, I think, an occupational hazard of writing mysteries.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

I have never been to Ireland, and according to Ancestry, that’s where most of my ancestors came from. It’s also definitely where my protagonist Regan McHenry traces her ancestry, so it would be fun to see.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t make excuses and don’t expect to write a perfect book. It gets easier as you practice and your writing will improve. I look back on The Death Contingency, the first book I wrote, and can see me learning as the book progresses. The Glass House is polished from page one, so I’m getting better as a writer. The most important reason to write, though, is it’s just so much fun.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I would have to say either Raiders of the Lost Ark or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know, I know, I have the taste of a seven-year-old boy. The Usual Suspects is my favorite grown-up movie because it’s complicated.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Do everything you can right now because you’ll be old sooner than you think.

Describe yourself in three words.

Tall, intelligent, introvert.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

How long will you keep writing? Until it’s not fun any longer or my mind turns to mush, whichever comes first.

Where can readers connect with you?

You can click here for my website. All the books are there and most first chapters are up for you to read.

Where can readers find your books?

You can find my Amazon author page by clicking here.

The ebook version of The Glass House will go live on July 25, 2019, to be followed by a print version soon after that. Pre-order and save a couple of bucks because the price will go up after release. If you review the book and send me your email address, I’ll gift you a free copy of any other of my books that you chose.

Readers, if you want to order your copy of The Glass House, it’s only $2.99 until July 26, then the price goes up. If you pre-order the book by the 25th and email Nancy with proof of purchase and the email address of a friend, Nancy will send that friend a free copy. 

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

Author Spotlight: Julie Moffett

Today on Reade and Write I’m excited to welcome Julie Moffett, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person last summer at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. I ran into her again at the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend in April of this year, and I’ll see her again soon in Suffolk! She’s a dynamo, as I’m sure you’ll agree, and a thoroughly wonderful person. She’s here today to talk about her newest release, No Stone Unturned. After the interview, keep reading for a special contest from Julie!

Tell me about your new book.

My newest book is called No Stone Unturned and it’s Book #11 in my geeky Lexi Carmichael Mystery Series. The book released last January. Here is the short blurb for the book:

Getting engaged is supposed to be a fun, exciting time in a girl’s life. But things are never that easy for Slash and me. Instead, someone is threatening to expose Slash’s past–a past so secret, even I know very little about it.

Before I can get used the weight of Nonna’s antique ring on my finger, he’s on his way to Rome…and we’re farther apart than we’ve ever been. Still, I have no intention of sitting at home and letting him take on the Vatican by himself.

With a little expert-level hacking, I learn Slash is keeping secrets from me. Big ones. Dangerous ones. In fact, the more I dig into Slash’s past, the more I discover things about him I never knew — things that eventually pit us against each other.

From Rome to the Amalfi coast to the highest levels of the Vatican, we both race to discover the truth. No matter what I find, we’re officially a team now, so I won’t let him face this alone. Even if I don’t know if our relationship can survive it.

Ooh. Sounds great. Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes mysteries, especially those set in Italy since No Stone Unturned is set there. I love to feature locations from around the globe in every book.

Tell me about the setting in Italy—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

The setting was determined long ago as part of the story arc, and it takes mostly in Italy, and at the Vatican, especially.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Since a lot of the book takes place at the Vatican, I read a LOT about how the church works, Catholic history and Vatican intrigue. It was fascinating!

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

Gah! I have no idea. I like to ask my readers and see who they come up with!

You’ve obviously written other books. 

Yes! I published my first book in 1993, so I’ve been around a loooong time. I’ve published over 21 books and written a lot more of which are hidden in the proverbial “drawer.”

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

My family, my brother, sister, mother, niece and father are my critique group and they are really the only ones I let read in draft other than my editor. They do a great job!

Do you write every day?

It depends. I have a full-time job and I’m a single mom, so writing time sometimes get tight. But I try to write every day.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I have so many favorite authors it is hard to choose just a few! I am a voracious reader across almost every genre, so a good book—no matter the author—will make me happy!

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

Egypt and the pyramids! It’s next up on my bucket list!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. If writing is your dream, stick with it. It’s easy to quit, and hard to persevere, but it’s worth it!

What is your favorite movie and why?

“Star Wars, A New Hope.” Because I was transfixed by the story and completely electrified by Princess Leia. She was so strong, take-charge and cool, that I absolutely loved it!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take a leap of faith in yourself.

Describe yourself in three words.

Optimistic, kind, creative.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

Nope.

Where can readers connect with you?

We have a ton of fun in my Facebook readers group here. I do a lot of giveaways, we love to talk books, movies and mysteries, and we are really supportive of each other. Come join us!

You can also find me on other social media platforms:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julie_moffett/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieMoffettAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMoffettAuthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julie-moffett

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Julie-Moffett/e/B001HMQMHU/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/190485.Julie_Moffett

Where can readers find your books?

My books are sold on just about every online platform, but you can find all the links on my website: https://www.juliemoffett.com/

Julie, thank you so much for visiting Reade and Write today!

Readers, Julie has a special treat for you. She’s giving away two ecopies of Book 2.5 in her Lexi Carmichael series, No Money Down. All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment below. Good luck! I’ll randomly choose a winner Wednesday morning at 8:00 Eastern.   

Thank you so much, Amy!! ox

Until next time, 

Amy