Cover Reveal AND Reading Round-Up

First things first. Yesterday my newsletter subscribers got the first look at the cover of my next book, Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery, and now it’s time to share it here! This is the first book in my new Cape May Historical Mystery Collection, a collection of standalone mysteries set throughout the history of Cape May, New Jersey.

Here’s the blurb of the new book, which will be available for pre-order soon (don’t worry—I’ll get all the details to you!):

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

***

And here’s the cover!

I hope you love it as much as I do.

***

And now it’s time for the Reading Round-Up. I never did post at the end of March, so this month I’ll share some of the reads I really enjoyed over the past 60 days. I thought I’d get more reading done because of the quarantine, but I was wrong. My reading schedule hasn’t changed much—this is actually good, since it means I’m sticking to my routine. Reading is always a part of my day, but so are a lot of other things, and that hasn’t changed.

Every book in this round-up gets 5 stars from me, and I will not share the only book I didn’t like.

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First up, No One Will Find Me by Marja McGraw. I loved this book, as I have loved all the other books in the Sandi Webster series. Set in the desert of the American southwest, this mystery follows Sandi, her husband, their friends Stanley and Felicity, and Sandi’s parents as they search for a serial killer who’s gotten away with murder for many years. Read my review here.

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Sprinkle with Murder, book 1 in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay, was a fun cozy read that introduced readers to Mel and Angie, co-owners of the new Fairy Tale Cupcakes Bakery. Mel is accused of murdering the nightmare fiancee of one of her best friends, and the story unfolds delightfully from there. Read my review here.

***

If you like thrillers, do yourself a favor and read this book. Ann Cleeves has done a fabulous job of putting the reader smack into the action of Raven Black, a whodunit that takes place on a remote Scottish island. Read my review here.

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This is the second book I’ve read by Bibiana Krall, and it was a superb and spellbinding tale of legend, paranormal suspense, and Irish folklore. I love the way Krall uses language to bring urgency and horror to Loftus Hall, Book 2 in the Irish Phantom series. Read my review here.

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Poison Branches is the first in the Perri Seamore series of genealogical mysteries by author Cynthia Raleigh. Main character Perri Seamore is off on a girls’ weekend and she’s combined it with a research trip to Kentucky to find information about her ancestors. When a murder takes place in the small town where Perri is staying, she is drawn into the investigation because the police need her expertise in ancestry research to find the murderer. Read my review here.

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I have read several of Sally’s books, and they’re always a treat. She has shown time and again, both in books and on her blog, that her writing skills go way beyond one genre or one kind of poetry. Life’s Rich Tapestry is a celebration of writing, of inspiration, of human nature, and of the natural world. But there’s so much more, and you’ll have to read it to fully appreciate Sally’s talents and wisdom. Read my review here.

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Every time I read a book of psychological suspense, I love the genre more. And The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was no exception. If you’re looking for something that you can read quickly (because you’ll have no choice—you can’t stop turning pages), check out this novel. Read my review here.

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Please remember to review the books you read! Reviews are important for authors and we appreciate every single one.

Until next time,

Amy

Chatting with Author Victoria Benchley

Today I welcome mystery and thriller author Victoria Benchley to Reade and Write. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the post and get to know Victoria and learn more about her books. She’s here to discuss her most recent release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge. 

Welcome, Victoria! With all that’s going on in the world right now, an escape to Switzerland in the pages of a great book sounds perfect.

Give us an overview of your new release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge.

Abandoned by her father at a young age and sheltered by an overprotective mother, Charlie Swain developed a unique skill set to ensure her emotional survival.  As an adult, she’s given the opportunity to learn about her deceased dad in exchange for employing her unusual talents within a secretive organization. But facing a serial killer was never part of the bargain, and she’ll learn that sometimes, it’s kill or be killed.

For years, the Marsden Murder Club quietly solved cold case murders.  After the public becomes aware of their success, members begin to drop like flies.  Putting their faith in new recruits could be their salvation or their demise.  Set against the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival and the Swiss Alps, The Marsden Murder Club is a gripping mystery suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Because when the hunters become the hunted, who can you trust?

 

Tell us about the inspiration for The Marsden Murder Club.

Years ago, I was traveling by train in Europe with my husband.  I observed the surrounding passengers during the journey and later revealed to my husband what the various people were about.  “That man who sat in front of us?  He’s having an affair on his wife.  That pair three seats up?  They’re professors.  Not married.”  As I gave him the rundown on the other passengers, Steve became gobsmacked.  I built the idea of analyzing or reading people (but at a much higher level) into this novel.

I’d also seen a news program over 20 years ago regarding a small group of laypeople who donated their time solving cold case murders.  Their leader was an older woman, and they’d experienced great success.  At the time, I thought it would be a great premise for a book.  Researching this series, I discovered a large real-life group of professionals who do the same thing, the Vidocq Society.  I give a nod to them later in the series.

 

As I understand it, you’ve written the next two books in the series.  Is that correct?  What are they called, and can you tell us about them?

Book two in the series, The Gallery of Ghosts, is currently available to preorder from Amazon.   Two years after Switzerland, the Club takes up another cold case, closer to home.  The son of a wealthy family from the Hudson River Valley is the victim of an unsolved murder.  But when the dead speak, you listen.  Again, one of my real-life experiences inspired this novel.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so let’s just say many of the characters return to find out less separates them from the here and now and the hereafter than they supposed.

Book three, Friends & Killers, is undergoing final edits and will be released soon.  This time, the Club decamps to New Hampshire to solve a case involving one of their own.  But, as some already know, your friends can kill you, and putting your faith in the wrong person can spell your demise.

You also write the Duncan Dewar Mysteries.  What made you switch from cozy-style mysteries to thrillers?

Picking a genre is always a tough thing for me.  I’d authored seven Dewar Mysteries and a related short story.  I guess I was ready for a change.  The Marsden Murder Club had been rolling around in my head for a while.  I’ve stayed true to myself which means the new series is clean, free of cursing, and devoid of unnecessary gore.

Do you prefer to write one style of mystery over the other, or would that be like comparing apples and oranges?

I seem to prefer whatever I’m currently working on.  Right now, that’s mystery thriller suspense.  Again, it’s easy for me to slip between the lines separating the different genres.  It’s something I struggle with.

 

Have you visited Switzerland?  If yes, would you tell us a little about it?  Switzerland is near the top of my Bucket List.  If no, what made you decide to set your new novel there?

Yes!  I’ve been to Switzerland twice (in the summer & the fall) and traveled through its various regions.  I went to Zermatt, near the base of the Matterhorn, because my grandmother had been there shortly after WWII and said it was her favorite spot in all of Europe.  This charming village allows no cars, so you must take a cog train to get there.  It’s gorgeous.  But do go prepared to spend! All of Switzerland is expensive.  Even McDonald’s is pricey compared to the States!

I’ve also been to the Jungfrau area, the country’s major cities, and various stunning alpine villages and beautiful lakes.  Most of the photos I use to promote the book on Twitter are my own.  Lausanne, where this novel takes place, is a fascinating city full of history that I’ve visited twice.  Several towns line the shore of lovely Lake Geneva in this area, including Montreux.  Nearby in Veytaux, you can tour Chillon Castle (featured in this book).  Chillon remains one of the most-visited castles in Europe.

Despite all the natural beauty, one must stay alert in Switzerland’s larger cities, including Lausanne. I have to say, one of the few places where I felt a bit unsafe in Switzerland at night was charming Lucerne.  It had a creepy feeling, and after that visit, I learned that it was a major drug capitol where one could observe used hypodermic needles between the cobblestones!  The Alps are often socked in with weather, so take appropriate clothing no matter the time of year.  We experienced snow in July and my son even went skiing!

 

Will you continue to write the Duncan Dewar Mysteries in addition to the Marsden Murder Club Mysteries?

I believe I have at least one more Duncan Dewar novel in me.  The plot is already rattling around in my head.  I’ve spent the last three years writing The Marsden Murder Club Series, so I’m not quite ready to tackle another at this time.

What’s next for you?

A writer friend suggested we team up and do a series of sweet romances.  About four years ago, I wrote a three-book sweet romance series under the pen name Violet Sparks, and something light sounds pretty good right now!  So, we’ll see if that gets off the ground.

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny (at least that’s what people say), empathetic (if someone’s crying, I usually cry with them), and Christian.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to do creative things.  I quilt, cook (I just wish I had a sous chef!), and paint.  Music has a role in our lives, as my husband is a former tympanist and jazz musician.  I enjoy watching sports, and I cannot get enough of a good book.  Spending time with family and friends also tops the list. I’ll admit that certain reality television programs remain a guilty pleasure.  I recently discovered Instagram and I find it a treasure trove of artistic inspiration.  We enjoy visiting our national parks, and any time I can travel, I count it a blessing.

 

What do you like to read?

I was raised on the classics, but my tastes run the gamut.  I love history, biographies, true crime, and atmospheric mysteries.  Almost anything.

 

Where can readers find your books?

My novels are all available on Amazon.  You can find links to them on my webpage at www.victoriabenchley.com.

 

Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can sign up for my mailing list on my website at www.victoriabenchley.com by clicking the big green button.  My preferred reader group hears the latest news and receives special perks from time to time.  I recently sent Swiss chocolate to a few lucky members!  Those interested can also see my bio on the webpage and can take a look at my past blogs on taking tea at www.victoriabenchley.com/blog/.

In addition, my author central page on Amazon stays up to date with my books and blog posts.  You can follow me there at https://www.amazon.com/author/victoriabenchley.

I tweet about my books & those of other authors @vbenchley on Twitter. I haven’t had much time for Facebook lately, but you can also find me there at https://www.facebook.com/vbenchleyauthor/ where I’ve posted stunning pictures of Scotland.

 

Rapid Fire:

Tea or coffee?  Tea, with coffee a close second.  Have you experienced Nespresso?

Cats or dogs?  I love both cats & dogs

Sweet or salty? Sweet!

Beach or mountains?  Beach

Printed book or eBook?   eBooks are so convenient and take no space, but there’s still nothing like holding a real book in your hands. It’s a toss-up.

 

Thanks for visiting, Victoria! Before I sign off, I’d like to let readers know that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge. I gave it five bright stars on Amazon. Click here to read the review. 

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Heather Weidner

Today I welcome Heather Weidner back to Reade and Write. Heather is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, and she’s here to talk about her new release, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband (book three in the series). If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you may remember Heather from previous posts in which she talked about the book To Fetch a Thief (here) and 50 Shades of Cabernet (here).

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband.

Thank you so much for letting me visit your blog. I’m so excited about the third book in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. In this one, my sassy private investigator is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. She also uses her skills to track down missing reptiles and uncover hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

 

People who have read the other two books in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series will know Delanie is spunky, smart, and courageous. For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, can you give a quick synopsis of each book?

In Secret Lives and Private Eyes, we meet Delanie and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, and his sidekick, Margaret the Wonder Dog. Delanie is hired by a tell-all author to locate eighties rock star, Johnny Velvet, whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago. And as though sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed, strip club owner, also hires Delanie to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz, is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out why landscaper Tripp Payne, keeps popping up in her other investigation.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second in the series, and Delanie and Duncan are hired by a music producer to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs. Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads.

Pick one character from Glitter, Glam, and Contraband and tell us more about him or her—preferably something that’s not in the book!

In this mystery, Delanie is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a drag show in Richmond, VA. I had so much fun with the characters. Three of my writing friends planned a field trip, and we went to Godfrey’s in downtown Richmond for research. The queens found out that we were mystery writers, and they provided all kinds of anecdotes and ideas. The research and the brunch were so much fun.

 

I think my favorite new character is Tara Byte, computer application manager by day and glamorous entertainer by night. I enjoyed all the research for this part of the book, and it was so much fun to come up with these over the top characters and their names. My favorites are Ginger Snap, Paige Turner, the naughty librarian, and Nova Cain, the nurse.

What was the hardest thing about writing Glitter, Glam, and Contraband?

This is the third book in the series. I love the reoccurring characters. I want to make sure that I balance keeping the characters familiar and giving them an opportunity to grow. There is always that tight rope walk with keeping the characters as readers know them but giving them the chance to explore new things as life changes.

When I read the second book in the series, The Tulip Shirt Murders, I was impressed by your knowledge and/or research of roller derby! Is there anything surprising in this book that compares? Was it something you already knew about or something you had to research?

I do a lot of research. My Google history is frightening. Lately, it includes links to stolen art, knives, lidar radar guns, reptiles, and drag queen blog posts. I’m an 80s girl, and pop culture has always been a big part of my life. I can’t help but incorporate it in my writing. This book has makeup tips from the queens, some creepy reptiles (that research gave me the willies), and some stolen historical artifacts with a Poe connection.

What’s next for you?

I am working on a cozy series set in the mountains near Charlottesville, VA. I also write novellas that are part of the Mutt Mystery (dog-themed) series. My story, “The Fast and the Furriest” comes out in March.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

It’s hard to narrow that down. I am a huge consumer of social media. I love chatting and sharing books and mysteries with readers and talking with other writers. I really enjoy in-person events too. That gives me a chance to go to different places and meet readers.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I love researching, planning, and writing. It is so much fun. My least favorite part is the revising. It’s key to the whole process, but to me it’s not as fun as the creative part.

Falcon Investigations, Delanie’s private investigation firm, is located in Richmond, Virginia, correct? I know you are well-acquainted with Richmond, so tell me this: did you make up locations in your story, take liberties with locations that already exist, or stick very close to the real thing?

I write where I know. I’m a Virginia girl who grew up in Virginia Beach, and we relocated to Central Virginia in the nineties. I include a lot of real places in my books and stories. In Glitter, Glam, and Contraband, readers will recognize many Richmond locales like VCU, the Poe Museum, the Library of Virginia, Short Pump, and the Valentine Museum. For crime locations, I make up those places and establishments. Virginia has so much to offer with its history, culture, and tourist attractions.

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions:

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage? Iced Tea or Dr. Pepper

Early bird, night owl, or something in between? Very early bird

Snacks: sweet or salty? Anything chocolate

Favorite season? It used to be summer, but now it’s fall. I love the cooler temperatures and the colors, especially after a sticky, southern summer.

Favorite color? Red

Where can readers find your books?

They can find them at their favorite retailer.

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

BookBub

Kobo

Scribd

Where can readers find you online?

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233/?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/author/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyBjyB0zz-M1DaM-rU1bXGA?view_as=subscriber

Biography

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Synopsis of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleezy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

 ISBNs

Paperback: 978-0-9994598-3-6

Ebook: ISBN: 978-0-9994598-4-3

 

Until next time,

Amy

Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival: The Recap

On August 10, 2019, Suffolk (Virginia) Tourism and the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts hosted the sixth annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. As many of you know, this is my favorite bookish event of the year.

Visiting Suffolk

The Nansemond River, from my hotel room

Suffolk is the largest city in Virginia in terms of land area (430 square miles), but visiting the city is more like visiting a small town where everyone is friendly, welcoming, and eager to show visitors everything their corner of Virginia has to offer.

The history of Suffolk is fascinating and full, and much of it has been preserved for future generations. From its settlement in 1608 to its involvement in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to its international recognition as the home of Planters Nuts, Suffolk has played an important role in the cultural history of the United States.

Visitors can tour Riddick’s Folly (which served as a headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War), Cedar Hill Cemetery (home to one of Virginia’s Civil War trail sites), Planters Peanut Center, and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, among many other attractions.

The authors who have participated in the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in past years have had the opportunity to visit Riddick’s Folly and the Cedar Hill Cemetery, as well as participate in Ghost Walks and storytelling walks.

The Festival

Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts

The festival itself is always held on a Saturday afternoon at the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts, a beautifully-restored building that operated as a high school until 1990. Since its reopening in 2006, it has become widely known as a popular venue for musical and theater productions, lectures, art exhibits, and visual and performing arts classes. It is a breathtaking backdrop for the authors to participate in panel discussions, hold workshops, and most importantly, meet and mingle with readers.

This year, the festival highlighted forty mystery authors of all subgenres, from traditional to paranormal to horror and romantic suspense. The featured author was Julie Hyzy, the New York Times bestselling author of 22 mystery novels and lots of short stories. Her interview, conducted by the talented and hilarious mystery writer E.A. Aymar, was a delightful way to learn about her journey as a writer from her beginnings to her crowning achievements.

Panels and Workshops

I was on a panel called “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and the authors on the panel talked about the importance of setting and story ideas. The writers had interesting views on setting and it was great to hear about all the different ways they use setting and atmosphere in their books to heighten suspense.

Other panels included “Strong Women in Fiction and Why We Love Them” and “License to Thrill: Shivery Suspense to Keep You Turning the Pages.” Workshops included “From Novice to Novelist: How to Write a Novel,” “You Wrote Your Novel, Now What?: Publishing World Options,” and “Short Stories vs. Novels: Pathways to Publication.”

The Best Part

Me with my table-mate, the incomparable Nancy Herriman

 

With two awesome readers, Tammy and Greg Porter

 

With a perennial favorite, author Julie Moffett

 

With Festival coordinator and all-around fabulous person, Katie Kelley

 

With good friend and fantastic author Maggie King

 

My table

The art gallery spaces of the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts are used to showcase the authors and their books, which are available for purchase and signing all afternoon. It’s a great place for readers to meet authors, talk with them, and take photos. These rooms are where the most enjoyable parts of the day take place.

Every year hundreds of readers come to see the writers, to reconnect with them, to chat, and to talk books. For the writers, it’s a wonderful time to see readers that we can only see once a year and to meet new readers.

For a full list of attending authors, visit https://www.suffolkmysteryauthorsfestival.com/.

As always, Suffolk Tourism and the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts are due a huge debt of thanks and gratitude for hosting what many readers and writers consider to be the friendliest and most welcoming book festival of the year.

The Paparazzi

If you’re interested in reading what the Suffolk News Herald wrote about the festival, you can check out the article here.

I hope to see you there next year!

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: June Edition

It seemed like June was gone in a flash (flood–we had lots of rain), but I did manage to get a lot of reading done during the month. That is, a lot for me.

The first book I read was Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. This was a little different from the mysteries I usually read, but I enjoyed it. It’s told from three different points of view and that kept things interesting. It was cool to see the same events from the perspectives of three characters. There are also a ton of references to other works of literature–some I knew and some I didn’t. When it’s all boiled down, the book is a murder mystery. There are some supernatural elements, which I don’t love, but I was glad the killer was a real flesh-and-blood person (and not some apparition).

Next up was The Tulip Shirt Murders by Heather Weidner. This was a great mystery, with some elements I didn’t know much about (think flea markets and roller derbies), so I learned something in the process! It features a female private investigator, which I loved, and her computer-savvy sidekick. There are a variety of red herrings, but our intrepid heroine figures things out in the end.

The Merlon Murders by Victoria Benchley is the first book in a two-book series (read: it ends in a cliffhanger, so be ready to scoop up the second book and start reading right away!) featuring a corporate investigator, Duncan, who travels to Scotland from London to check out the mystery surrounding the death of a man who left behind a fortune, an estate, and lots of questions. This book is like taking a vacation in Scotland–from the rugged mountains to the quaint villages to the culture and the food, it’s a delight for all the senses.

I also read The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate Macdonald. It has recipes AGG readers will remember from the books, like raspberry cordial and gingersnaps, and they’re easy to make. The book was geared to young cooks more than I expected, but it was still a fun, easy read.

Marilyn Meredith’s Spirit Wind is the continuation of the Tempe Crabtree mysteries, and like all the others, this doesn’t disappoint. There are Native American legends and spirits, a real-life murder, and someone who doesn’t want any of it uncovered. The book is a quick read and I learned a lot about Tehachapi, an area of California that was home to the Kawaiisu tribe of Native Americans.

Last, but certainly not least, was Robert Germaux’s More Grammar Sex, a fabulous book of essays about everything from vacation after retirement to baseball to his car’s GPS system. This was an easy-to-read book of common sense things that makes an afternoon spent reading on the patio (on one of the few days when it didn’t rain) very pleasant.

What have you been reading? I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time,

Amy

Last Tuesday Book Round-Up

I’m happy to report that I was able to get more reading done in May than I did in April. As of writing this post, I’ve finished six books so far this month and I may be able to squeeze in one more. Here’s the round-up:

Eighteen Months by Glenn McGoldrick is a short story I first heard about on Twitter. This was the first story I’ve read by this author, and I thought it was thoughtfully written and full of darkness. I can’t tell you much without giving the story away, but if you like suspense, this is a good one to check out.

Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert was the sequel to Moloka’i. You have to know a little bit about Moloka’i in order to understand what’s happening in the sequel.

The island of Moloka’i in Hawaii was widely known as a leper colony where people were sent decades ago to remove them from the general population. Moloka’i is the heart-wrenching, beautifully-written story of a woman who grew up on the island. As an adult, she gives birth to a baby girl and she and the baby’s father are forced to give up their daughter a day after her birth. Daughter of Moloka’i is the story of that little girl.

Moloka’i is an incredible novel and it was going to be pretty hard to beat it, or even match it. In my opinion, Daughter of Moloka’i doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but it’s still a great book and well worth reading.

Desperate Deeds by Patricia Gligor is the third book in the Malone Mystery series. In this book, Ann Kern has to deal with her husband’s unemployment, the possibility he’s drinking again, the aftermath of her mother-in-law’s death, starting a new business, and the most unthinkable thing of all, her son going missing. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“This was the fourth book I have read by Patricia Gligor, and as always, she has crafted a story that is full of characters who could be your next-door neighbors. The book draws the reader in with the promise of suspense, and there is plenty of it in this book. Following the twists and turns is fun, and I was sure I knew what would happen on more than one occasion. I was wrong, which thrilled me! Looking forward to Malone Mystery #4.”

Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque is a book that you certainly don’t need to read if you have a newsletter, but if you do, get it, read it, and keep it for future reference. I’m in the process of changing how my newsletter is discovered by readers and I’m already implementing some of the changes the book suggests. I’m very excited about it!

A friend suggested that I read Thief of Corinth and I’m glad I did. It was an interesting story about corruption in the ancient city of Corinth and how a young girl and her father face choices they must make in the face of adversity. The main character, Ariadne, is complex and, at times, misguided and angry. Watching her grow and learn about this new system of beliefs called Christianity is uplifting and inspiring.

Organized for Homicide by Ritter Ames is a great cozy mystery full of twists, turns, and…organizing advice. When two women take on the job of organizing a cross-country move for a recently-divorced father of three and at least two of his children, they’ve got their hands full. And when the ex-wife shows up dead, there are suspects aplenty, beginning with the eldest child of the couple. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the friendship between Kate and Meg, two of the main characters. The mystery was intriguing, with enough red herrings, suspects, and twists to please any discerning mystery lover. Highly recommend!”

So, readers, what are you reading these days? Please share!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. Have you seen my new book cover? Dead, White, and Blue, Book 2 in the Juniper Junction Mystery series, will be available for pre-order soon! If this is your first time seeing it, join my newsletter by clicking here! You’ll be among the first to see my cover reveals.

What do you think??

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Carolyn Ridder Aspenson to the hot seat. She’s here to talk about her newest release, Get Up and Ghost. Welcome, Carolyn!

Tell me about your new book.

I just published the first book in a new paranormal cozy mystery series. Get Up and Ghost is a psychic medium mystery about a woman who works for the historical society in a small North Georgia town called Castleberry. She falls down the last part of the stairs at work, bumps her head and suddenly starts seeing ghosts. She doesn’t realize it at first, but it becomes fairly obvious quickly. When a local resident is murdered, and she’s the last one to see him alive, she’s determined to prove her innocence, with the help of a long-dead woman from the town, who’s also in need of her help.

 

Who is the audience for the book?

This is a cozy, so it’s clean — no sex, no swearing, no death on the page. The main character is a mother in her mid-forties and recently divorced, with two senior aged friends and a younger coworker, so I feel like I’ve hit a lot of the variants for different types of women.

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?

I live in the southern part of North Georgia, and I know this area well. The town is fictional, but I modeled it after a few local towns nearby to give it a traditional small town, North Georgia appeal. Since I’ve lived here for 23 years, I have a fairly decent handle on the area, and have incorporated some of the local flare and stories into this first book, and the second one I’m working on for the series. Each of the ‘haunting’ type stories (the ghosts of time past) will have a bit of truth to them for the area. Well, truth in the sense that it’s a story from here, though I’m not sure the ghosts are actually real. I’ve yet to see any, though I’ve certainly looked!

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Two things tie as the hardest part. First and foremost, I have another mystery series (it’s NOT a cozy by definition at all) with a psychic medium. I needed to make the character unique, and the storyline different. That character does make an appearance though, because she’s from an area close by. I also have another cozy series in a similar area, so I had to keep them different also. They are similar in some ways because there are two older women characters, but they are different types of older characters, and the main character is different. I’m hoping they will all be unique in their own ways.

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

Oh gosh. That’s a tough one. I’m still getting to know them all. I do feel like one of the older women is a bit similar to Betty White’s character on “Golden Girls,” but I think Betty’s retired by now! I’d definitely go with a Hallmark actress, because this series has that appeal, other than the paranormal element. I could see Erin Krakow as the lead. I think the two older women would be well played by someone like Sissy Spacek. Wouldn’t that be great to have someone of that caliber in a movie about my book? Gosh, I’d be so excited!

Have you written any other books?

I have, I think, 21 books out now. Some are novellas, but I’ve got about that many published. I’ve got my Angela Panther Mystery series, which is not the cozy mysteries, and then the Lily Sprayberry Realtor Cozy series. I also have a few romances, but those weren’t my thing. I guess I’m not very romantic! I’ve also done a great deal of ghost writing, but those books are all business and nonfiction.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have a partner that I swap books with and we help each other, but other than that, no. I’ve found everyone has their own unique writing style, and I don’t like to infringe on that.

Do you write every day?

Since I’m now completely self-published (I was traditional for a while, but no longer) I consider this a business and treat it as such. I write for about 5 hours a day at this point and handle other business related things for an hour or so also.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I’m such a book snob! It’s a horrible thing. I grew up reading mysteries from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to more intense thrillers by Jonathan Kellerman and the like. Hands down, my favorite writer is Robert B. Parker. The Spenser series is my favorite series. When Mr. Parker died, I cried. I am also a big fan of Robert Crais, and I love the Elvis Cole books so much.

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

Back in time. I’d like to go back fifteen years to when my parents were both here and healthy and spend more time with them.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think the same thing most people would. Write every single day. Learn the craft and do what you can to improve. Hire an editor. Writing a novel isn’t easy and there is a lot to learn to make it something others want to read. Learn that ever-changing element.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I have two. I love “Shawshank Redemption” because the friendship theme is astounding. I recently found out that Mr. King wrote that, (Yes, I live under a rock) and I was shocked! It’s not his typical book at all, but it was so good.

My second favorite is “When Harry Met Sally.” I just loved the concept of that and Billy Crystal? He was the perfect pick for that lead. I loved that story.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Care less about what other people think sooner.

Describe yourself in three words.

Wife. Mother. Friend.

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

Nope!

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolynridderaspensonauthor

My website is carolynridderaspenson.com where you can access my newsletter. I send it out once a week.

And I am also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carolynridderaspenson/.

I’m not a Twitter gal. I’m Italian. I need more than a few characters to say my thoughts.

Where can readers find your books?

Right now I’m primarily on Amazon, but Get Up and Ghost is on Kobo, iTunes and Barnes & Noble for a limited time. It just released there today!

The Lily Sprayberry Cozy Mystery Boxed Set (books 1-3) are at books2read.com/u/49oGEX.

Congratulations on your new release! Thanks for visiting. 

Until next time,

Amy

 

Last Tuesday Book Round-Up and Barbara Vey Recap

I just got home a few hours ago from the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend (BVW19) and I am exhausted and still over the moon! The trip took a little longer than we planned, so when we pulled into Harrisburg, PA, at 2:30 this morning, we stopped and slept at a Hampton Inn for six hours before getting back on the road.

What an incredible experience BVW19 was! From the moment we arrived on Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning at 11:00, I was busy with events every waking minute. My favorites were the Saturday luncheon and the Sunday breakfast because I got to meet with readers in a small group. What a treat it was to spend the weekend with so many people who are passionate about books. I’d like to thank Barbara Vey and her team for the endless amount of hard work they put it to make the event so memorable and fun, and I’d also like to thank the readers for showing up and being so supportive and eager to learn about new-to-them authors. And don’t even get me started on meeting Meg Tilly, the keynote speaker and an acclaimed writer/actress/screenwriter/producer. It took me two full days to get up the courage to talk to her, but it made my day when I finally did.

I’ll be posting photos from the event on my Facebook page, so be sure to check them out!

I find that April tends to be a very busy month. For that reason, I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped. I finished three books, and I loved all of them. I know, I sound like a broken record, but I seem to have a knack for picking out great books.

Deadly Southern Charm, edited by Mary Burton and Mary Miley, is an anthology of short stories set in the South and featuring strong Southern women. If you read this book, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love it. Full disclosure, I am friends with several of the authors, but I would love this book no matter what. Here’s my Amazon review:

“This was a spooky, fun, and thoroughly Southern collection of mysteries. Each one was so unique and so different from all the others that every time I should have closed the book and gone to bed, I would say to myself, “Just one more story.” So I lost a lot of sleep thanks to Deadly Southern Charm, and I’d do it again because it’s so much fun to read. Kudos to all the authors for such great writing.”

A Dangerous Mourning and Defend and Betray, books 2 and 3 in the William Monk mystery series by Anne Perry, were fabulous. A Dangerous Mourning had an ending that caught me off guard, but I realized after some thought that the ending was the only one possible. Defend and Betray deals with a pretty tough topic, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it once I figured out what was happening. But I did, and I ended up giving both books 5 stars. They’re completely different from each other, which is a hallmark of a great mystery writer.

I’m off to clean out my email and get some sleep!

Until next time,

Amy

Last Tuesday Book Round-Up

I haven’t posted a Last Tuesday Book Round-Up for a few months, but it’s time I got back on track with it. February was a great month for my reading list, and I’ve been really good about leaving reviews for all the books I’ve read. Remember, reviews are huge for authors, so don’t forget to leave reviews of the books you read!

Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

Set in Louisiana in the summertime, you can feel the muggy heat that seems to make problems worse in this fabulous mystery. Following the deaths of two guests at the Crozat B&B, the Crozat family has to find out the identity of the killer, or killers, before the negative publicity can put them out of business. The main character, Maggie Crozat, has to deal with red herrings galore, a police chief with a grudge against the family, and a big mouth she can’t seem to keep shut.

 

The White Russian Caper by Phyllis Entis

I really enjoyed this book, the second in the Damien Dickens Mystery Series. Set in both Atlantic City, NJ, and Hollywood, FL, it follows Dick and Millie’s investigations into the murder of Miss America. Much of the investigation is shouldered by Millie, but I don’t want to give away more than that. This book was exciting, intriguing, and kept me interested from the first page to the last.

 

One Night in Tehran by Luana Ehrlich

I have to confess that, for all the time I spend on Twitter, this is the only book I’ve bought based on a Twitter post. And it didn’t disappoint. This was a thrilling story about domestic and international terrorism and the efforts of a CIA agent (on forced medical leave) to figure out the identity of an assassin on US soil and to attempt to stop that person from committing any more murders.

 

The Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

This book, based on a true story you might remember hearing about in news reports not too many years ago, follows an American woman on her quest to figure out why the apartment she has inherited in Paris has lain untouched for so many decades. Filled with antiques, artwork, and any number of stories, the apartment takes hold of the main character’s imagination not only because she never knew it existed, but because no one knows why its owner didn’t bequeath it to her own daughter.

 

Tales of Edgar Allan Poe by…Edgar Allan Poe

I picked up this book from the library not only because I wanted to reread some of the stories I hadn’t read since high school, but also because there were stories in it that I had never read. As expected, they were pretty gruesome. If you like horror or the more paranormal-type Gothic stories, this book is for you.

 

Dottie Sprinkles: Fairy Special Winter Wonderland by Pamela Burba

In a departure from my usual type of reading, I sat down one night and read through this delightful children’s book by a woman I became acquainted with in a few of my Facebook groups. The illustrations are enchanting and the lessons in the book are great for kids of all ages.

That’s it for February! Keep an eye out for next Monday’s recipe post!

Until next time,

Amy

Bouchercon 2017: It’s In the Books (so to speak)

Bouchercon 2017

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bouchercon, here’s a quick primer: it’s the annual convention for mystery and thriller readers and writers from all over the world. Named in honor of Anthony Boucher, an acclaimed mystery critic, editor, and author, it bills itself as the “World Mystery Convention” and it attracts over a thousand attendees each year. This year, in fact, I heard the number was close to seventeen hundred.

Bouchercon 2017 was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is just a memory at this point, but a good one and I would like to share some takeaways I gleaned while I was there.

  1. I do not work hard enough.
  2. I do not read enough.
  3. Another standalone novel might be in my near future (or as near as possible in the writing world) (and, yes, I have an idea for a story).
  4. There are way too many great authors out there whose books I haven’t read yet (more on that below).
  5. Bouchercon seems geared more toward thrillers than the types of mysteries I write, but I still learned a lot and I hope to apply that knowledge in my work.
  6. Bouchercon is a great place to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
  7. When my son uses all our cellular data for the month it is impossible to send photos to my email from my phone, hence the absence of photos in this post.
  8. My husband is awesome (this is not news to me, but I was reminded of it). He made reservations at the restaurant at the top of the CN Tower and took me there for a surprise dinner.

I always come away from conventions with a curious mix of feelings: inadequacy and inspiration. I spend my days meeting authors who are far more prolific than I, but I go home with an urgency to get to work with new ideas and renewed energy. All in all, it’s a good feeling.

Here are some authors whose books I have resolved to read asap: Ruth Ware, Linda Landrigan, Ragnar Johasson, and Kelly Armstrong.

And here are some titles I’ve added to my TBR:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (no, I haven’t read that before {hangs head in shame})

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Green for Danger by Christiana Brand

The Last Child by John Hart

Have you read any of these books or authors?

Until next time,

Amy