Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Monday, January 30, 2023
A Grave Roast is the first book in the new paranormal cozy mystery series, Orchard Hollow, by author A.N. Sage, and with its delightful main characters, cute small town, and unique “world,” I hope we’re in for a long run of follow-up adventures!
Piper Addison is very likable as the new proprietor of her own coffee café, Bean Me Up, although she’s lived in the town all her life. I liked that she’s a mature woman (not quite 40 yet) and is open to finding a new romance after experiencing some real duds in her past. She’s fun, and her less-than-proficient magic use had me laughing. Even though she was not friends per se with the victim, she was still compassionate enough to pursue looking into what happened and why he reached out to her (whether the police had her as a suspect or not!) I liked that she has quite a unique familiar, although I’m not quite a Stella fan. And I was completely taken by surprise and enjoyed how her furry nemesis, Harry Houdini, also gets involved and gets his point of view aired.
The author’s writing style is easy to read, very pleasing, and well-paced. I was immediately engaged by the story and the descriptions of the town with both water and mountains in view and enjoyed getting a real feel for the shops on Cliff Row and their owners. In other books, this initial reveal of the population of the cozy mystery town often gets overwhelming and tedious, but happily, that did not occur here; it was very natural and simply accomplished. Of course, my favorite spot in town is Brooks Books!
The town exists on top of an accumulation of ley lines, so many supernatural or paranormal types have congregated in Orchard Hollow to call it home. I found it a unique twist that their magical abilities are not made public knowledge even with each other. It’s personal and only shared with those one trusts. The fact that there are supernatural beings there is no secret, though, and even the humans are aware of their existence. I did like the idea of the coven of “mean girl” witches, even those Piper was their frequent target.
With its unusual supernatural world, engaging and unique main characters, and solid puzzle to resolve, I recommend A GRAVE ROAST to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a paranormal element in their stories.RAVE ROAST to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a paranormal element in their stories.
A.N. spends her free time reading and binge-watching television shows in her pajamas. Currently, she resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband who is not a creature of the night and their daughter who just might be.
A.N. Sage is a Scorpio and a massive advocate of leggings for pants.
The Bone Records
by Rich Zahradnik
January 30 - February 10, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
NY Police Academy washout Grigg Orlov discovers an eerie piece of evidence at the scene of his father's brutal murder: a disc-shaped X-ray of a skull. It's a bone record--what Soviet citizens called banned American songs recorded on used X-rays. But the black-market singles haven't been produced since the sixties. What's one doing in Coney Island in 2016?
Grigg uncovers a connection between his father and three others who collected bone records when they were teenage friends growing up in Leningrad. Are past and present linked? Or is the murder tied to the local mob? Grigg's got too many suspects and too little time. He must get to the truth before a remorseless killer takes everything he has.
Praise for The Bone Records:
"The Bone Records grabs you by the throat on the very first page, then never slows down as it takes you on a wild ride through New York City streets filled with Russian intrigue, underworld crime, police corruption and a man’s desperate quest to avenge his father’s murder. Shamus Award-winner Rich Zahradnik has written a taut, terrifically exciting and thought-provoking thriller."
"The plot is not only timely, but utterly unique—a tale of cultures colliding, often with sudden and unexpected consequences, as lonely city claims-adjuster Grigg Orlov spends his long nights chasing down leads on the mysterious disappearance of his father... This is a compelling read, highly recommended."
LA Times bestselling author Baron R. Birtcher
"A fast-paced thriller set around Coney Island during the tumultuous lead-up to the 2016 presidential election… The Bone Records is a well-crafted mountain of intrigue and non-stop action."
"A wonderfully flawed protagonist and a complex mystery combine with current events in Zahradnik's best novel to date. The Bone Records had me hooked from page one."
Elena Taylor, award-winning author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes mystery series
Read an excerpt:
The story has an engaging, sympathetic protagonist in Grigg Orlov (Grigoriy Andeiovich). With his mixed heritage, he grew up an outsider in the Russian immigrant community of his father’s people. He didn’t fare much better later when he pursued his dream of becoming a New York City police officer. He was jumped by a couple of academy classmates and severely injured enough that he was forced to withdraw. He lost his mother at an early age, so it’s always been just him and his father, and when his father goes missing, and the police show little interest in finding him, he pursues the matter night and day on his own. Their reunion is sudden and ends quickly with tragic and shocking results.
There is a growing sense of menace as the story progresses, assisted by the noirish descriptions of the neighborhood, his living in his empty childhood home after he’s sold it, and the places he visits – old haunts that hold lots of memories of times with his father. The Coney Island setting is especially moody with the included bits of its history. Grigg gets much-needed and timely assistance in his investigation from some unlikely sources, but I really liked the growing relationship between him and his work manager, Jamie Carmichael. Again, I was slated to be shocked by the outcome.
The use of bone records in the story was unusual and original and sent me down some internet rabbit holes. There are actually some of these for sale on eBay! I’d never heard of these before, and I couldn’t help but read more about them.
The book is set during the Clinton-Trump presidential campaign. It features computer hackers and whole warehouses of keyboard jockeys posting political memes, posts, and disinformation, from all party viewpoints, which stoked the emotions of the denizens of social media, dividing and conquering as intended.
With its fast-paced action, originality, atmospheric settings, and engaging characters, I was in the dark and off-balance, never knowing what the resolution would be until the end. I recommend THE BONE RECORDS to mystery and thriller readers who would enjoy a unique plot or a New York City setting in 2016.
Rich Zahradnik is the author of the thriller The Bone Records and four critically acclaimed mysteries, including Lights Out Summer, winner of the Shamus Award. He was a journalist for twenty-seven years and now lives in Pelham, New York, where he is the mentor to the staff of the Pelham Examiner, an award-winning community newspaper run, edited, reported, and written by people under the age of eighteen.
Catch Up With Rich Zahradnik:
Instagram - @rzahradnik
Twitter - @rzahradnik
Facebook - @RichZahradnik
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Friday, January 27, 2023
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The gripping story of a young teenage mother who’ll do anything to keep her small family together.
At 17, B’onca Johnson knew from the moment she found out she was pregnant that she would love her child above all else and do anything for her. Scooter, the baby daddy, didn’t want to be a father: his parents went so far as to doubt their son was even the father. So, When Mia was born, B’onca was determined to go her own way. She would never abandon her daughter as her own mother had.B’onca lived with her older sister, a single mother with a young daughter, and the small family was barely keeping their heads above water. Their rent in the historically-black Ridgecrest area of Memphis, where they had always lived, was regularly increasing as gentrification quickly encroached upon the old neighborhood.
B’onca was caring for her newborn, taking the final course in summer school for her high school diploma, and working part-time to help with the bills and pay for Mia’s constant needs. But it felt like for every step forward, she was knocked back two. Desperate for money after the sisters receive an eviction notice, B’onca risks participating, just once, in the illegal, high-profit, high-risk operation Scooter had set up to gain the large amount of cash she needs.Sun Keep Rising is a riveting contemporary young adult novel about a teenage mother trying to keep body and soul, and family together. With its fresh and genuine voice, I was immediately drawn into B’onca’s life. As a mother, I could relate to many of her new mom problems, which, in her case, were exacerbated by her young age, limited resources and options.
The character of B’onca was so real, a typical teen. You could feel her vitality and personality, keeping her hopeful for the future but realistic no matter what came her way. Her story is a familiar one: a bullying boyfriend, a first sexual experience, and an unplanned pregnancy. Then there is the ultimate betrayal of him accusing her of sleeping around (he was the one doing that) and his cowardly abandonment. But worse by far was the subplot involving her mother. It was painful reading.The story has so much going on, and the level of tension throughout the book is gripping! Not only is there the teen mother and her family storyline, but there is the subplot of the changes occurring in the neighborhood. The impact of gentrification is far-reaching. It doesn’t just affect the single property owner selling out to the new buyers. A snowball effect creates significant collateral damage to those remaining behind; local businesses are bought out or sold, employees lose their jobs and have to make ends meet in the lull before new businesses can open, and prices increase for everything. In addition, readers get a glimpse into the illegal businesses that flourish in the shadows of depressed areas of the city. However, all is not completely grim. There is a hopeful note in the story coming from the feeling of community and family running strong through the Ridgecrest neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone else’s name and has their back.
I recommend SUN KEEP RISING to readers of contemporary young adult fiction, especially those who may have read and appreciated the 70s novel, Go Ask Alice.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through TBR and Beyond Book Tours.
View all my reviews
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Under a Veiled Moon
by Karen Odden
January 2-27, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.
September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.
For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.
Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.
As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.
Praise for Under a Veiled Moon:
"[An] exceptional sequel … Odden never strikes a false note, and she combines a sympathetic lead with a twisty plot grounded in the British politics of the day and peopled with fully fleshed-out characters. Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Victorian skulduggery with a heaping side of Irish troubles."
"Will keep readers curious and guessing to the end."
Manhattan Book Review, 5-star review
"Damn fine historical crime fiction."
"Rich in emotion and historical detail, Under a Veiled Moon is a brilliant tale of the dark, thorny places where the personal and the political intertwine."
Mariah Fredericks, Edgar award-nominated author of the Jane Prescott series
Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
Series: Inspector Corravan, #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
A dedicated and compassionate police inspector unravels a deadly politically-motivated case of historical terrorism.
Under A Veiled Moon is the second book in author Karen Odden's Inspector Corravan Mystery series, and it is a complex and compelling tale. Incorporating fascinating actual incidents from the time period, it is historical mystery fiction at its best and eerily reflects similarities in our current time and society.
The story unfolds from the viewpoint of Michael Corravan, now the acting superintendent of the Wapping River Police. Corravan, an Irishman, diligently sets aside his biases for his culture and people yet still must suffer through society's prejudices, including those of his own supervisors and others working the same case. Thankfully, he has the support of his love interest, novelist Belinda Gale, and his former partner at Scotland Yard, Gorgon Stiles. He and Stiles remain a formidable pair working in tandem on the complicated case. While Belinda doesn't feature heavily in this book, she still has a significant role, with her outsider's perspective, in helping Corravan view his investigation through a different pair of eyes.
The author breathes life into the time period and the London setting, so much so that I could almost smell the odors wafting off the river. I got a fascinatingly distinct impression of what life must have been like for someone like Corravan and his adopted family, the Doyles, and some of it was downright horrifying. Brief glimpses into Belinda's life accentuate the discrepancies in living conditions, treatment, and prospects for the future between the classes, especially for the immigrants.
The plot is complex and absorbing, especially when it appears to be headed in one direction only to veer off into another. Some surprising twists and turns really upped the tension and the feeling of urgency to solve the case. Besides the eye-opening political machinations that Corravan must untangle, there is an utterly personal aspect to this case for him that was heartbreaking and absolutely riveting.
With its dedicated and conflicted police investigator, vivid historical setting, and complex plot, I recommend UNDER A VEILED MOON to mystery readers who enjoy historical mystery fiction with a political basis and tense terroristic threats and readers who enjoyed the first book in the series.
Karen received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and subsequently taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has published numerous essays and articles on Victorian literature, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes and Noble Classics Series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit have won awards for historical mystery and historical fiction. Her fourth mystery, Down a Dark River, introduced readers to Michael Corravan, a former thief and bare-knuckles boxer from Whitechapel who serves as an inspector at Scotland Yard in 1870s London. The sequel, Under a Veiled Moon, is available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook. A member of Mystery Writers of America and a national board member for Sisters in Crime, Karen lives in Arizona with her family.
Catch Up With Karen Odden:
BookBub - @KarenOdden
Instagram - @karen_m_odden
Twitter - @karen_odden
Facebook - @karen.odden
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Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Vampires and Villains (Magical Mystery Book Club, #2) by Elizabeth Pantley
Vampires and Villains
by Elizabeth Pantley
January 23 - February 3, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
Paige and her joyful Aunt Glo have learned that the home they inherited comes with a magical library. They put together a book club group of loveable kooks to explore the magic. They’ve recovered from their first book journey, and they all agree on their next book which takes place on a cruise ship bound for Hawaii. Problem is, they were so excited about the cruising idea that they didn’t read the entire blurb on the back of the book. (“It was entirely too long,” explains Zell.) Once on the ship, they meet a charming and likeable man who blends seamlessly into their motley group. Too bad they don’t know why he’s so scarce during the day but shows up to join them every evening for dinner, drinks, and a show. When a dead body shows up on board, their new friend is labeled a suspect. Can they help him out by finding the real murderer? Or is he the real murderer? The book club will need to solve the case to get off the ship, out of the book, and back to their home.
Praise for Vampires and Villains:
"another delightful Magical Mystery Book Club cozy murder mystery read"
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 219
Series: Magical Mystery Book Club #2
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Elizabeth Pantley says that writing her serveral Mystery and Magic book series is the most fun she's ever had at work. Fans of the series say her joy is evident through the engaging stories she tells. Elizabeth is also the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful inspiration for her enchanted worlds.
Catch Up With Elizabeth Pantley:
BookBub - @DestinyFalls
Instagram - @destinyfallsmystery
Facebook - @DestinyFallsMysteryandMagic
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