Book Club Winner and Reading Round-Up for January

The votes are in! Thanks to everyone who participated. The book my book club will be reading is…

The winner took 31%, followed by Woman Enters Left and Mystic River, each of which took 24% of the vote. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker came in at 14%, and Between the World and Me brought up the rear at 7% of the vote.

Now, on to my January Reading Round-Up. January got off to a slow start with reading, but I managed to pick up the pace for the second half of the month.

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First up was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“If I had read this book 120 years ago, I would have liked it more. The story itself was intriguing and had a wonderful Gothic feel to it, but the endless exposition and introspection made me put the book down countless times out of sheer boredom.

With that being said, the book is considered a classic by many. It was revolutionary at the time of its publication, so I can understand why it was eventually labelled that way. But this is the 21st century and I believe there are other books out there more worthy of being read widely–books that aren’t based in bigotry and cultural misunderstanding.

If anything, this is a good book to read to marvel at how far we’ve come as a society. And I’m glad for it.”

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The second book I finished was The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves a great story. Here’s my review:

“I just finished reading this book and although I haven’t had time to fully process it, I couldn’t wait to write a review.

I loved The Yellow House. It was heart-wrenching, joyful, tear-jerking, infuriating–I got all the feels when I read it. The main character is a flawed woman with a staggering amount of anger inside her that has built up over years of brutal struggle. Her family is torn apart by religious violence, grief, and secrets. How she manages to hold onto her dream of returning to The Yellow House is testament to her warrior will.

There were a couple parts of the book where I felt Owen’s actions didn’t make sense, but I don’t want to spoil anything by mentioning them. You have to read this book for yourself.”

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Next up was The Winters by Lisa Gabriele, an homage to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I LOVE the story of Rebecca and I was reluctant to read another writer’s riff on it. But I was pleased with how this author created an updated story that carried much of the same Gothic-style suspense that readers love in the original. Here’s my review:

“This was a really interesting take on the classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. In this version, you’ll find the unnamed main character, Max, a cast of other characters akin to those in Rebecca, and a magnificent home secluded from prying eyes. The book even starts with a reference to a dream.

The story held my interest, and the pacing was excellent. The main character had just the right mix of naivete, courage, and compassion, and her personality was a perfect foil for the other characters.

If you liked Rebecca, I think you’ll like this updated version.”

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I chose my next read, Very British Problems by Rob Temple, because I needed something light. And I was not disappointed. Here’s my review:

“If you’re British, know anyone who’s British, have ever visited England, want to visit England, are an Anglophile, are a non-British introvert, or just love funny books, find a copy of Very British Problems and find a place to read where your laughing out loud will not disturb anyone.

This book is chock-full of hilarious little bits of wisdom that will help you determine whether you have a mild, moderate, or severe case of being Very British. It’s a love letter to the quirks that one finds in Britain, and it’s done in a way that’s…sorry…apologetic and tongue-in-cheek.

There are quite a few repeats from the author’s Twitter feed, or else I would give this book 5 stars. But it’s definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something light and fun.”

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And continuing with my love for all things British, I next read Eating Royally by Chef Darren McGrady. Here’s my review:

“This is a gorgeous book, filled with recipes that Chef McGrady cooked for England’s royal family over the years of his employment for them and with anecdotes of the royal family. He later became private chef for the late Princess Diana, so the latter part of the book mostly talks about her and what it was like to work for her.

The photography in the book is exquisite. Not just the food, but the castles and the areas surrounding the royal residences.

I’m eager to try many of the recipes, though some are not to my liking. There are plenty of dessert and main dish recipes.

I do wish the author had shared an anecdote for every recipe. He shares stories for many of them, so when he left out the stories for quite a few, I was disappointed. It’s fun to know how the recipe came about, for whom he cooked it, and what people may have said about it at the time.

I highly recommend the book to avid cookbook collectors and fans of English food.”

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The last book I finished in January was The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath. Here’s my review:

“The premise of this book reminded me very much of the Kitty Genovese story every Psych 101 student learns, but the author took the psychological question in a different direction. This is the story of four friends who did nothing to help a woman they witnessed being brutalized. The reader learns what happens to their own psyches as a result of the attack and their failure to help the victim.

The story is told from different points of view in the third person, so that was interesting. The author addressed some very intriguing moral questions and it really got me thinking.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There’s some kinky activity that’s discussed frequently in the book and some readers may find it offensive.”

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I hope you’ll take a moment to share in the comments what you’ve been reading this month.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Amy Metz

Today I welcome Amy Metz back to Reade and Write! It’s been a while since she was last here (in fact, it’s been since 2016! Here’s the post.), but I’m thrilled that she has a new book coming out and I wanted to share it with everyone!

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Liars and Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction.

Thank you! There are several liars in book five but the biggest is Virgil Pepper, a mayoral candidate who tries to woo Caledonia and every other woman in town. The reader finds out early in the book that he’s the murder victim, but the book goes back six months to tell what led up to his demise. There are a lot of suspects, a bunch of liars, and a few lunatics in the book.

People who have read the other four books in the Goose Pimple Junction series will know the stories are funny, smart, fantastic mysteries. For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, can you give a quick synopsis of each book?

Aww . . . thanks! Well, let’s see . . . Murder & Mayhem is about a 75-year-old cold case that newcomer, Tess, and her love interest, Jackson, attempt to solve.

Heroes & Hooligans features Lenny, a philanderer husband of Martha Maye. Following her divorce, she begins a budding romance with Johnny, the new police chief. Lenny and his brother are a couple of hooligans and Johnny is a hero.

Short & Tall Tales is a novella and short story compilation that gives some background information on some of the main characters.

And Rogues & Rascals is about two women—Caledonia, a Southern belle in a troubled marriage, and Wynona, a wannabe assassin—who prove that you can’t keep a strong woman down.

Pick one character from Liars and Lunatics and tell us more about him or her—preferably something that’s not in the book!

Virgil Pepper is based on a liar and a lunatic I knew in my personal life. There really are narcissists like Virgil in the real world, and I got quite an education and a lot of material from one in particular, much like Caledonia does in the book. Ironically, he used to tell me I should kill off my next fictional murder victim with a tennis racket. I took too much pleasure in doing just that to Virgil.

What was the hardest thing about writing Liars and Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction?

The middle part. I didn’t have trouble with the beginning and ending, but I was stuck for a long time on the middle. And often, once the middle part is resolved, it changes the beginning or ending. I listen to my characters’ voices in my head and try to stay out of their way.

Is Goose Pimple Junction based on a real place? If so, tell us about it. Did you stick close to the original in the story? Have you made changes to fit your story?

The town of Goose Pimple Junction in my head is loosely based on a small town in Alabama and the town of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. I’ve tried to stick to the original, but in this last book, I expanded the scope to a side street. Up until book five, most of the action has taken place on Main Street or in a neighborhood or the outskirts of town. I had fun adding Honeysuckle Street and the shops on that street in Liars & Lunatics.

What’s next for you?

Good question. I’m trying to decide whether to continue this series or do something new. While I’m deciding that, I think I’ll get back to work on a thriller I started several years ago called Wax Man.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

Blogs like yours! I’m very thankful for you giving me the opportunity. I just wish more book blogs would help out indie authors.

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

I like the second round of writing when I have the base of the story down and I can go back and add dialogue and details. My least favorite is that darn middle part of the story. I always have trouble with that. How much detail do I include? Which scenes will be entertaining but also advance the story? Which ones are unnecessary and I should delete? How do the characters go about discovering the identity of the killer? What sideline stories will add to the book? And often the question ‘What do the characters want to happen next?’ is the hardest thing to flesh out.

 

Your covers are some of my favorites. I love the artwork. Can you tell us a little about the artist and how you came to choose that particular person?

Thank you! All five books are done by different artists. I commissioned Karen Mathison Schmidt for book one, and with just a little description from me, she nailed the Goose Pimple Junction in my mind.

For the second book, I wanted a Southern house for the cover, and I went searching online. John Charles Gibbs’ “Southern Home” was the exact house I had in my mind.

For book three, I found a painting of Ezzie, the basset hound in all five books, on Etsy by Anne Rackley Berenbrok.

I discovered the painting “Rainy Day” by “Emerico” Imre Tóth online and liked it so much I not only asked to use it on the cover, I incorporated it into a scene in the book.

And for book 5, I found artist Tamara Višković on Fiverr.

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions:

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage? Sweet tea with lemon.

Early bird, night owl, or something in between? Usually night owl.

Snacks: sweet or salty? Definitely sweet.

Favorite season? Fall.

Favorite color? Coral.

Thanks so much, Amy! You’re a peach.

And thank you, Amy, for being my guest today! Best wishes on the new release. I’ve got my copy!

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LIARS & LUNATICS IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION

It’s election season, and there’s a new candidate in town. Virgil Pepper is determined

to take the job from Goose Pimple Junction’s long-time mayor. Virgil is a charming and

charismatic candidate but someone who will say anything (and mean none of it)

to get what he wants. Three things top his list: to become mayor, to acquire Jackson

Wright’s land, and to make Caledonia Culpepper one of his many conquests.

 

Wynona Baxter is back, and she’s a new woman. Now Daisy has a new identity, new life,

and new business-ironically named Killer Cupcakes. But the town soon finds out that

isn’t the only kind of killer in town. Book five of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series

combines political hijinks, delicious cupcakes, Goose Juice moonshine, the ups and downs

of finding true love, and, of course, murder.

 

It is said that “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only

variable is about what.” Lying in politics, lying for personal and professional gain,

lying about an identity . . . What are the folks of Goose Pimple Junction willing to

lie for . . . and what are they willing to die for?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WMZV27F

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About the author:

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two grown sons. When not writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Pinterest and Facebook, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy loves unique Southern phrases, cupcakes, and a good mystery. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Find out more at https://www.authoramymetz.com/

Connect with Amy here:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: August Edition

I have some fabulous books to share with you this month! I wanted to have more than four, but that’s the way it worked out. My August reads ran the gamut from funny to suspenseful to historical to classic.

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The first book I finished this month was Jeeves and the King of Clubs. If you’ve read any of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster books, I recommend you read this one, too. It’s a great addition to the collection. Here’s my review:

“This book, written in homage to the great P.G. Wodehouse, is a laugh-out-loud caper complete with espionage, aristocratic dalliances, clever disguises, jealous lovers, and a hard-headed aunt hell-bent on upsetting the balance of power among British condiment producers. Ben Schott did an exceptional job with his back-and-forth banter between Bertie and Jeeves. I loved every minute of this book.”

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The second book I read was I Am Mrs. Jesse James by Pat Wahler. This is an extraordinary work of historical fiction about the wife of the infamous outlaw. The amount of research that must have gone into writing the story is astonishing. Here’s my review:

“I had a hard time putting this book down for things like meals and sleeping. It is one of the best books of historical fiction that I’ve read. It tells the story of Zee James, as much as possible from the scant materials written about the wife of the infamous outlaw Jesse James. Where the historical record was too thin, the author supplemented realistic and highly likely scenarios based on her extensive research and knowledge of the time period and the real-life characters. Even though I knew how the story would end, this book kept me turning pages late into the night.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great book of historical fiction as well as anyone interested in American society following the Civil War.

Read this book. You’ll be glad you did.”

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Many people have read Wuthering Heights, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking it’s one of the best books of the nineteenth century. Interestingly, some of the other best books of that century were written by the sisters of Emily Bronte. Here’s my review:

“*sigh* There are not many books that I will re-read, simply because there are too many great books out there, but this is one of them.

It is the story of madness, romance, and revenge–cold, brutal revenge for sins of fathers (and others). Heathcliff and Catherine are unforgettable characters that meet by serendipitous or ominous chance, depending on whom you ask. The love that grows between them is both fierce and poisonous.

Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights are characters in themselves: one is light and bright, the other dark and brooding. If you’ve never read this book, I recommend it as a great study in character and setting. And if you read it way back when (maybe in high school?), read it again. There’s something new to discover with every reading.”

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I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who has to get up early for work the next day, because you’re going to be reading past your bedtime. I can almost guarantee it. What She Knew is a fantastic psychological thriller full of twists and surprises, and I found it almost painful to have to wait to get to the last few pages to find out whodunit. Here’s my review:

“This story gripped me from page one and didn’t let go until I had read the final sentence. I felt like I couldn’t read fast enough, that I had to get to the end to see for myself how everything turns out. It was all I could do to slow down enough to digest every paragraph.

This is the story of a young boy who is abducted, his mother’s debilitating guilt over it, secrets that have the power to destroy a family, and the power of the media and, in particular, social media. This is a story that is going to stay with me.”

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What are you reading? I hope you’ll share in the comments below!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Interview: Cindy Davis

Today I welcome author Cindy Davis to Reade and Write. I met Cindy on Twitter and was drawn first to the descriptions of her mysteries. As I learned more about her, I found that she also writes non-fiction books on topics ranging from self-editing to online dating to small dog breeding and more. She is originally from New Hampshire, but now enjoys living in Florida. So let’s get started.

Tell me about your mystery books.

A Little Murder is the first of my 6-book series set at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. Angie Deacon is a high-maintenance ER nurse who buys a day of fishing for her husband’s birthday. A murder on the boat causes her to learn things about herself that were probably better off not brought out in the open.

Who is the audience for the series?

I write very complex plots with lots of twists and turns, so people who enjoy that sort of thing like my stories. I’ve never had anyone say they knew whodunit. Well, except that one person who said they knew on the first page, which was impossible because the murderer didn’t show up that early.

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 lived in New Hampshire at the time. I loved the Lakes Region with its beautiful scenery and small town charm. The setting provided many unique places to set murders. When I say that in mixed company (authors and regular people) I get a mixture of reactions. I was on the craft fair circuit and spent a lot of time there.

What was the hardest thing about writing the A Little Murder?

Deciding to add a police detective. When I set up the series, I determined it would be different from mysteries you buy at the bookstores—the books where you can tell the killer by page 5. I didn’t want police or a detective because they appear in all the stories. But by the time the murder happened in A Little Murder, I’d realized I needed someone to play off Angie—someone who could provide her with legitimate information by which to solve crimes. Detective Colby Jarvis was born. He’s a bit overweight and balding, a widower who works to keep from having to think about his life.

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

I can’t really answer this because I don’t watch television and I see very few movies. Although I always envisioned Cameron Diaz as Angie. FYI, the series is currently with a scriptwriter for submission to TV.

Have you written any other books?

I have a three-book cozy mystery series which features two thoroughly opposite women Phoebe (don’t call me that unless you have a death wish) Smith & (ex-Susie Homemaker) Westen Hughes. They are high-end insurance investigators. I developed this series to get away from murder mysteries and have some fun. I also have two stand-alone mysteries and two women’s fiction. See links below.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I belonged to a writers group for more than ten years. It was the best thing I ever did for my writing development. We ended up being good friends. The group only disbanded because three of us moved away. The right group can provide mentoring, education, and lifelong friendships.

Do you write every day?

Pretty much. I’m also an editor and sometimes my day job gets in the way. I’m currently working in a whole new genre—New Age. The first book is co-authored with my husband and is with our agent now.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I don’t really have a favorite genre. I enjoy any book that’s well written. Consequently, I have a number of favorite authors. A British author from the 70s, Ruth Rendell does amazing development. Ken Follett and James Michener feature amazing plots. Sandra Brown’s mysteries and Melinda Leigh’s emotion. I especially enjoyed Gone with the Wind because it incorporated adventure, history, romance, and even humor.

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

Rick and I have a ginormous bucket list. We’re going to Macchu Picchu, Peru, in December. Book three in the New Age trilogy will be set there, so it’s as much research as fun. We’re checking prices to Italy right now. Since I’ve already been there, I think my biggest bucket list item is to ride the Orient Express.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Two things. Never think you’re done learning. Keep striving to improve your writing skills. And second, get your book edited. Not by an English teacher. I know I’ll take some flack for this and I agree that teachers are awesome for punctuation and grammar, but they aren’t trained in story development or the fine-tuning it takes to bring your story to the next level—things like filter words, head hopping, and show don’t tell.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I stopped watching television and movies many years ago but I guess I’d say Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. I liked the quirky humor and adventurous, unique plot.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Gosh, so many things. I guess I’ll stick with the topic of writing and say I wish I’d started honing my craft earlier in my life.

Describe yourself in three words.

Youthful, curious, sarcastic.

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

Where I met my husband: Match.com. LOL. Just kidding, but I always like to talk about that. But no, your questions really made me think.

Where can readers connect with you?

I hang out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are on Amazon and my website.

Thanks so much for having me here. It was great fun.

And thank you, Cindy. It was lovely having you here. 

Until next time,

Amy

Trudy’s Diary

If you receive my newsletter, you’re going to get a note today that looks suspiciously like this post. But bear with me, because I’m so excited to announce that Trudy’s Diary: A Libraries of the World Mystery is finally available for pre-order!

Here’s what you need to know:

Daisy Carruthers is an anthropologist who moves to Washington, DC, for a new start following an emotionally-wrenching period in her life. 

After her boss’s wife and the wife’s paramour are found dead within days of each other, Daisy finds herself thrust into the investigation when both her boss and her best friend are implicated in the crimes. 

And when she comes across a diary and an antique novel with suspiciously similar stories and unknown origins, she knows all the mysteries are somehow connected.

Can she figure out the identity of the killer–or killers–before it’s too late?

Trudy’s Diary is available for pre-order on ebook and in paperback. Click the following links to reserve your copy!

Kindle ebook

Amazon paperback

Nook, Kobo, iTunes

Thanks for your support! I am very grateful for it.

Until next time,

Amy

Just an Ordinary Tuesday…EXCEPT MURDER IN THISTLECROSS IS HERE!

 

I have been waiting for this day since September 8, 2017,  the day after Highland Peril was released.

Murder in Thistlecross is the third book in my Malice series and follows Eilidh Cameron, who left the Highlands of Scotland for a new life in Wales after the events that took place in Highland Peril. 

You’ll find family intrigue, murder (of course), upstairs-downstairs tensions, and secrets from the past that erupt in a present-day Norman castle in the peaceful Welsh village of Thistlecross.

Here’s the teaser you’ll find on Amazon:

“The emerald hills and violet valleys of Wales seem the ideal place to start over after murder—and divorce—shattered Eilidh’s life in the Scottish Highlands. But within the stone walls of an ancient castle, a family’s dark, violent past threatens much more than her newfound tranquility . . . 
 
For the past two years, Eilidh has called the quaint Welsh village of Thistlecross home, embracing her new life as estate manager of a restored fifteenth-century castle. But the long-anticipated arrival of her employer’s three estranged sons and their wives transforms Thistlecross Castle from a welcoming haven to a place seething with dangerous secrets. When the escalating tensions culminate in murder, Eilidh must sift through a castle full of suspects both upstairs and downstairs. She can trust no one as she follows a twisting maze of greed and malice to ferret out a killer who’s breaching every defense, preparing to make Eilidh the next to die.”

The book is available in paperback and as an ebook. The links are below:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

Your favorite independent bookstore

As always, thank you for your support and a special thanks to everyone who has preordered the book! If you’ve read the book or plan to, I ask that you consider leaving a review, since the Amazon algorithms take into account the number of reviews of a particular book when promoting books in that genre.

Looking for a 99-cent deal? House of the Hanging Jade is available for just 99¢ for a few more days! Find it here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

And thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Shares would be greatly appreciated…and don’t forget to send your recipes for next week’s post to amymreadeauthor@gmail.com!

Book Recommendation: The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis

It’s been a while since I shared a book recommendation with you–not because I haven’t enjoyed any books, but because I’ve been busy writing other types of posts.

Last night I finished The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis and I knew I needed to tell you about it. Some of you may know that Phyllis and I are both members of Mystery Authors International, a small group dedicated to supporting each other, sharing tips and information, and helping promote one another’s work.

But I would recommend this book even if Phyllis were a total stranger.

The Green Pearl Caper is the first in the Damien Dickens mystery series. The main character, Damien “Dick” Dickens, is a Private Investigator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Though I don’t spend much time in Atlantic City, I recognized the streets, the county roads, and the gritty main environs of the story, which made it even more interesting to me.

Dick is hired by Celine Sutherland to investigate some inconsistencies in the financial data from the company which is run by her family. This happens right before Celine gets killed.

I’m not spoiling anything–you’ll learn about her death on the first page of the prologue. You’ll also learn that Dick feels responsible, though you can judge that for yourself after you catch your breath from the twists and turns this book throws at you.

The Sutherland family hides plenty of secrets, most of which you won’t see coming but probably should, and that’s what makes a mystery like this so much fun. Phyllis Entis has a way of dangling red herrings in front of the reader that uses a deft sleight-of-hand.

The good news? There’s another Damien Dickens story on the way. The White Russian Caper is due out soon.

I hope Phyllis doesn’t mind me sharing her social media info here:

Facebook

Amazon author page

Twitter

Goodreads

Until next week,

Amy