Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Murder And Laughter: Strange Or Perfect Combination

Murder and laughter seem like a strange mix and brings to mind visions of a madman on a killing spree laughing a hideous sound.

To me, however, murder and laughter in books makes for a good combination. Just think of all the cozy murder mysteries - there’s always a bit of laughter in them. Laughter helps with the tense moments. In real life there’s usually laughter during visiting hours at a funeral when friends and family remember good times with the deceased. Laughter is a great way to cope.

While there are bits of humor in the murder mystery I’m sharing today, I also have a couple of just humorous books to share to liven up your reading. It may also expand your knowledge in areas you never imaged. First, murder then laughter.

THE WRONG MAN by David Ellis

The Wrong Man coverDefense attorney Jason Kolarich has no idea what he is getting into when he agrees to take over a murder case.

Author David Ellis begins the pace slowly drawing you in and steadily builds it to a climactic end. With each new twist and turn, he turns the adrenaline rush up another notch.

Narrator Luke Daniels does an excellent job bringing the story to life and giving the characters individual voices. His interruption of the emotions enhances the story.

Jason has been asked to defend a homeless Iraq War veteran for killing a young paralegal. Taking the case, he intends to use an insanity defense based on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
When he’s unable to use the insanity defense, Jason begins digging deeper for clues and quickly realizes his client could be innocent. Jason uncovers that the paralegal discovered something just days before she was killed that is possible linked to a terrorist plot against the city. 

Meanwhile, an enforcer for the Mob pays Jason a visit for advice. When the man is found murdered days later, Jason begins to think there’s a connection to the paralegal’s death.

Battling time and legal obstacles, Jason races to save not only his client but the city as well. What price is he willing to pay for the truth and justice?

Author David Ellis takes plausible terrorist attacks and gives them merit. He also shows a side of the terrorists that will touch your heart strings and cause moments of compassion. He brings it all together in a heart-pounding story with a dramatic (and surprise) conclusion.

THE WRONG MAN is the third Jason Kolarich story, but can be read on its own. Author David Ellis website is www.davidellis.com

The Wrong Man by David Ellis, A Jason Kolarich Novel, Performed by Luke Daniels, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1455836628, 10 Discs, Listening Time: Approximately 12 Hours

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Why Does Batman coverIf you collected comic books as a kid or enjoy the Sunday funnies, then you’re going to love WHY DOES BATMAN CARRY SHARK REPELLENT? By Brian Cronin.

The book is filled with much more than I expected. The trivia covers funny tidbits, as well as bits of history.

The 100 lists featured in the book cover all aspects of comics including artists’ information and storylines. There’s detailed information on the various comic book characters.
There are panels from various comic books, as well as comic book covers sprinkled throughout the book. In addition, there is a section on the “Four Strange Comic Book Ads From The 1950s” with the ads shown.

Did you know three pop culture icons had a connection to Jack Kirby? Known as “the King,” Kirby is a wildly acclaimed comic book artist.

There’s a list of the top 25 DC Comic Book Characters and a list of the top 25 Marvel Comic Book Characters. I never knew so many superheroes had pets but there’s a list of ‘Nine Great Superhero Pets.’ Do you remember Zabu? Another interesting fact - before Christopher Reeve was selected to play Superman, 15 other actors were offered the role. Can you see Charles Bronson as Superman?

Anything and everything you ever want to know about your favorite comic book character can be found in this book. This is a must have for any comic book fan. But if you’re not a comic book junkie, you’ll still enjoy the trivia found here.

Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia by Brian Cronin, Plume, @2012, ISBN: 978-0452297845, Paperback, 288 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Dumb History coverThe next time you make a mistake just remember that some of the dumbest mistakes have been made by world leaders.

Author Joey Green has put together a collection of surprising mistakes. Trivia fans, as well as history buffs, will find this book appealing.

The book tells of presidential blunders from William Howard Taft to George Bush to Gerald Ford to Dwight D. Eisenhower. It covers epic historical blunders such as an event prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. There are movie-related blunders such as the prediction Close Encounters of the Third Kind would be a flop. There are even government blunders concerning a letter to a dead man stopping his food stamps but allowing him the opportunity to reapply if his circumstances changed.

If this type of history was included in school studies, students would be eager to attend class.

DUMB HISTORY is a must have for everyone’s library. What a great way to learn while having a laugh or two. 

Dumb History, The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made by Joey Green, Plume, @2012, ISBN: 978-0452297739, Paperback, 256 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Do you enjoy a little humor with your murder mysteries? Thanks so much for stopping by. Remember to enjoy a good book today, and have a laugh to brighten your day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Day Of Work

I'm taking today to try and catch up on some reviews. I hope to return tomorrow with at least one, maybe more. Hope you're having a good start to the new week and look forward to the new month on Wednesday. 

Pour yourself another cup of coffee, look around, listen to the music and relax for a bit. I'm always open for suggestions, advice or just the latest news on what's new with you. You're always welcome to share your thoughts.

Ya'll are the best! Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Books To Read…Free

I’m always happy to pass along information on books whether it’s just my opinion of them, news of the latest releases, upcoming releases or in this case, eBooks that are available for FREE for a short time.

Today I have 2 free eBooks to share with you. If you have one yourself you’d like to share (or know of others), please feel free to mention it in the comments.

AngelSometimesHelenGinger300Author and fellow blogger Helen Ginger announced yesterday that her book, ANGEL SOMETIMES, is available FREE through Sunday, July 29, on Amazon.

Here’s a brief synopsis:
Angel Sometimes has a plan: Go home to Oklahoma and ask her mother why she loved her one day, then threw her out like garbage the next. Since her mother was never going to come looking for her, she'd go to her mother. To do that, she needs three things: her high school diploma, a car and a gun.

"The story of Angel's perseverance against all odds provided an exciting and satisfying read for me. I had a hard time putting it down to go to bed, grabbing my Kindle up the next morning to finish it before doing anything else." Excerpt from Review by Laura Eno

13268369Linkedln friend and author Wendy Cartmell is sharing her Olympic-themed crime novel, 40 DAYS 40 NIGHTS, A Sgt. Major Crane Novel, free on Amazon through today.

Here‘s what one reviewer had to say about the book, "A most innovative concept! 40 Days and 40 Nights explodes from the blocks with great pace, intrigue and a plot that leaves the hairs on the back of the neck standing on end"

Be sure to stop by today and check out these intriguing books offered by these wonderful authors. If you’d like, share this information about ANGEL SOMETIMES and 40 DAYS 40 NIGHTS with your friends. Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you have a stress-free Saturday that is cool and relaxing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Giacomo Giammatteo: Shopping For Books And A Giveaway

I’m delighted to be participating in author Giacomo Giammatteo’s Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour for his latest release, MURDER TAKES TIME, a mystery/suspense novel.

At the end of his tour, Giacomo will be giving away an iPad 3, a Kindle Fire, and a $50 gift card. For more information on the giveaway and how to enter, be sure to click here or on the giveaway banner below.

Here’s a brief description of MURDER TAKES TIME:
A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn’t good.

Frankie has taken two oaths in his life—the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable.

Murder-Takes-Time-long-bannerThose relationships have forced Frankie into many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years—and risks losing his life.

In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.

Giacomo joins us now to talk about the transformation of the publishing industry and ‘how to shop for books.’ 

How Do You Shop for Books? The transformation in the publishing industry has changed a lot of things over the past several years. I should say eBooks have changed a lot of things. Every aspect of publishing has been affected, from pricing and distribution, to availability, time to market, how books are written and how books are read. E-readers have done all this and more, and it’s only going to get better—or worse—depending on how you look at it.

TRANSFORMATION - I resisted the change to an e-reader; in fact, I never bought a reader. My wife said she was going to surprise me with a Kindle early on and I told her not to, that I’d never read on one. Then, when Apple introduced the iPad, I bought one, but not with the intent on reading. I think you know what happened. I read a few books on it and was hooked.

Occasionally I go to my bookshelf, brush off a few cobwebs and find one I haven’t read, but for the most part, it’s digital for me.

But that’s not what has been the most significant change. The biggest change for me is not in pricing, though that is lower, and it’s not the instant availability, though I find that wonderful, and it’s not even in the ease of digital reading, or the ability to carry a mini library on my tablet; the biggest change for me is in how I shop for books.

PrintTHE DIGITAL BOOKSTORE - I don’t mean missing the trips to the bookstore, where my wife and I would spend hours drinking coffee and mulling over which books to buy. And I don’t mean stopping at a used-book store in a strange town, or even a different part of town, to find that elusive book we’d never heard of to cap off a fun day together. What I’m talking about, is how I make the decision regarding which books to buy.

THE WAY IT USED TO BE - In the old days at the bookstore, I would go to the mystery aisle, or the fantasy aisle, or history, depending on what mood I was in, and I’d start with the usual routine. The first things that caught my eye were the books turned sideways—as they were meant to—and then the ones with the catchy titles, or nice covers. Once a book found it’s way into my hands, I’d read the jacket cover, and if still interested, I’d start into the book. If I got five pages in without the desire to drop it, or shove it back on the shelf, it went into the basket to buy.

SO WHAT HAS CHANGED? - Amazon has changed, that’s what. When shopping online, it’s difficult to “judge the book by it’s cover” when the covers are so small. And it just isn’t the same without being able to pick those books up in my hands and skim through them, feel them, smell them.

But in a way, it’s better. What I do now is, go to whatever section I’m in the mood to shop and type that into the search bar. Let’s say it’s mystery books. I pick something more specific, hard-boiled mysteries (in Kindle), or mysteries and thrillers, or suspense (Kindle). I hit return to get the list, then— and here’s the key—I move over to the right, to the sort bar, and “sort by avg. customer review.”

THE RESULTS - What you get is the list of the top-rated books in that category. It isn’t purely top rated, but it’s close. Amazon does some massaging with their algorithms, and, from what I can tell, it’s a combination of the number of reviews combined with highest ratings. So a book with 200 reviews that averages 4.3 stars might be ahead of a book with 40 reviews that averages 4.6, but it might only take a few more 5-star reviews for that other one to overtake it.

The reason I do this is because, for me, this is the easiest and most sensible way to shop. I can skim the top 100 if I like and surely find some good buys. Otherwise I’d be skimming 50,000 or more. The trick after that is learning to read the reviews, and judging whether the book is for you or not, but that’s another post by itself.

WHAT NEXT? - Once a book passes the review test, then the best part of digital comes into play—downloading a sample. Amazon allows you to download a sample that amounts to about 10% of the book. I always do this before I purchase the book. That sample provides more than enough pages for me to decide if I like the author’s style.

If you follow this method, you might still be fooled. Maybe you like the voice and style, but the plot falls apart, or there is a crappy ending. That’s a risk you’ll have to take, but the system now is far better than it’s ever been. I used to buy a lot of books I ended up not reading. Now I don’t.

What am I reading tonight? A dusty old book called the Count of Monte Cristo. I heard it’s gotten good reviews.

Ciao, and thanks for listening, Giacomo
Murder-Takes-Time-Banner-300x200 Giacomo, thanks for guest blogging today. Your take on how the industry has changed the way we buy books is interesting. The digital age has changed so many aspects of the publishing industry.
Now let me share a bit of background on Giacomo. He lives in Texas now, but grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of MURDER TAKES TIMES grew up in Cleland Heights and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences.

Giacomo says he somehow survived the transition to adulthood, but when his children were young he left the Northeast and settled in Texas where his wife suggested they get a few animals. They now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over. At last count they had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

By day Giacomo is a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening  he helps his wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—he turns into a writer.

For more information on Giacomo, visit his website at www.giacomogiammatteo.com. Look around, click some links, and, if you’ve got time, tell him what you think. You contact him at jim@giacomogiammatteo.com.

Has the way you shop for books changed due to the digital age? Be sure to click here or on the banner above to find out more about the giveaways and to enter. Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by today.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vintage Clothes, Food Critics, Bookstores, Pies, and Magic, Oh My!

You ask what do these things have in common..…mystery, murder and mayhem of course. Each month Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian release numerous cozy murder mysteries that have a vast array of themes. This month is no exception to that rule.

CLOAKED IN MALICE by Annette Blair

9780425251430I discovered this series several years ago just before the release of the second installment and devoured both within a couple of days. The wait for the third seemed forever and I’ve waited for each additional book with the same bated breath (so to speak).

As always the wait for CLOAKED IN MALICE was well worth it. Author Annette Blair has created such intriguing and well-developed characters in Maddie and her friends that you feel you know them. The story draws you in and you don’t want to leave Vintage Magic and the group of friends that grow with each story.

Maddie adores vintage clothes and that’s why she opened Vintage Magic. However, she sometimes has visions when she touches articles of clothing. Maddie is beginning to get wore out from the experience but can’t refuse to help Paisley Skye when she asked for help with her past. Besides Paisley bears a striking resemblance to Maddie’s friend, Dolly Sweet.

When Maddie touches Paisley Skye’s exquisitely crafted child’s cloak, the vision she receives is of the ugliest sort: a decades-old case of kidnapping and murder. To give herself more time to investigate, Maddie enlists the help of her FBI Agent boyfriend Nick and takes Paisley into her home. But when Dolly suddenly skips town, Maddie realizes that uncovering the folds of Paisley’s past will reveal more than one vintage crime.

CLOAKED IN MALICE is the fifth installment in the Vintage Magic Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. Each chapter in the book begins with a bit of clothing trivia and vintage bag tips are included at the end. In addition, readers get a sneak preview of the next Vintage Magic Mystery release, OPERATION PETTICOAT, coming soon from Berkley.

The other installments in the series include: A VEILED DECEPTION (January 2009), LARCENY AND LACE (August 2009), DEATH BY DIAMONDS (July 2010), and SKIRTING THE GRAVE (July 2011).

Author Annette Blair’s website is http://www.annetteblair.com

Cloaked in Malice by Annette Blair, A Vintage Magic Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251430, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
BEEF STOLEN-OFF by Liz Lipperman

9780425251423Jordan McAllister longed to be a sportswriter, not a food critic. She doesn’t know a flank steak from a filet mignon yet she dishing out the dirt as the culinary reporter for The Ranchero Globe in Ranchero, Texas.

Jordan McAllister soon catches the eye of cattle baron Lucas Santana, who invites her to the Cattleman’s Ball, hoping a positive review for the ball might boost the county’s sagging beef sales.

Santana wants Jordan to enjoy herself so he sets her up with cowboy Rusty Morales. But instead of two-stepping the night away, Jordan winds up in the emergency room and Morales is DOA. Jordan can’t help but get involved when Morales’ mother begs for her help. 

This is a fun series that is fast-pace with twists and turns along the way. Author Liz Lipperman has created a strong and delightful protagonist in Jordan. She’ll make you smile and shake your head at the same time.

BEEF STOLEN-OFF is the second installment in the Clueless Cook Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. It includes delicious recipes from Jordan’s column such as Brenda Sue’s Chicken Salad, Myrtle’s Better Than Sex Cake, and Bella’s Beef Stroganoff. The first installment in the series is LIVER LET DIE (October 2011). 

Author Liz Lipperman’s website is http://www.lizlipperman.com

Beef Stolen-Off by Liz Lipperman, A Clueless Cook Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251423, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
A SINISTER SENSE by Allison Kingsley

9780425251416Visions of the future and turning into people’s thoughts come naturally to Clara Quinn thanks to her inherited Quinn Sense. 

Unfortunately, it offers no insight into her love life—or lack thereof—especially where hardware store owner Rick Sanders is concerned. But even though she’s still nursing a broken heart, Clara offers Rick a home for his troublesome dog, Tatters.

But Tatters is the least of Rick’s problems when a dead body is discovered in the back of his truck. The victim was seen in the hardware store—and bludgeoned to death with a hammer stolen from there. Clara believes Rick is innocent, but she’s not sure whether that belief comes from the Quinn Sense in her head or simply from a desire in her heart.

What’s not to like about a bookstore setting and a protagonist that has visions? Author Allison Kingsley has crafted a well developed protagonist in Clara and given her a group of quirky friends for a well balanced read. The Raven’s Nest Bookstore is the perfect setting and invites readers back to enjoy more.

A SINISTER SENSE is the second installment in Raven’s Nest Bookstore Mystery series, but is a stand alone read. The first installment in the series is MIND OVER MURDER (September 2011).

Author Allison Kingsley’s website is http://www.doreenrobertshight.com/. Allison Kingsley is the pseudonym for Kate Kingsbury.

A Sinister Sense by Allison Kingsley, A Raven’s Nest Bookstore Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251416, Paperback, 288 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

9780425251409A new series to tempt not only your mystery senses, but your taste buds as well.

When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. 

However, her pies aren’t just delicious. They’re having magical effects on the people who eat them—and the public is hungry for more. Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. 

But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn’s fiancé is found dead — killed with Ella Mae’s rolling pin ― it’ll take all her sweet magic to clear her name.

PIES AND PREJUDICE is a delightful start to the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery series. Author Ellery Adams has created a group of entertaining characters that will make you wish you lived in Havenwood. The story moves at a good pace, keeps you in suspense, and will have you eagerly awaiting the next serving.

The book includes a number of yummy recipes such as Charmed Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and Charmed Shoofly Pie. In addition, readers get a sneak preview of the next Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery, PEACH PIES AND ALIBIS, coming soon from Berkley.

Author Ellery Adams’ website is http://elleryadamsmysteries.com
Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams, A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251409, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE by Juliet Blackwell

9780451237477Lily Ivory is living her dream of owning a vintage clothing store — and practicing magic on the side. But when she encounters a sinister sleeping spell, Lily comes face-to-face with a nightmarish evil.

Taking a night off from running her successful San Francisco clothing store, Lily attends a local art deco ball where vintage fashions steal the show. But when a young woman at the event falls under a mysterious sleeping sickness, Lily senses that a curse was placed on the woman’s corsage.

Before Lily can solve the woman’s magical ailment, she’s asked to assist in investigating a string of poisonings in the Bay Area Witchcraft community. She’s gained the trust of the local covens by supporting women’s charities through her clothing store. But soon, Lily suspects that one of her new acquaintances might not be so well intentioned and could be dabbling in dark magic and deadly botany.

Author Juliet Blackwell does a superb job of blending humor, paranormal elements and a bit of murder mystery together for an entertaining read. Lily is a fun protagonist with a touch of spunk that you’d want on your side. It’s an easy read that will keep you guessing.

IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE is the fourth installment in the Witchcraft Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. The other installments in the series include: SECONDHAND SPIRITS (July 2009), A CAST-OFF COVEN (June 2010), and HEXES AND HEMLINES (June 2011). In addition, Juliet also writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. This book includes a sneak preview of her next release, MURDER ON THE HOUSE, slated for release in December by Obsidian.

The website for author Juliet Blackwell (aka Julie Goodson-Lawes, aka Hailey Lind) is http://www.julietblackwell.net. As an added bonus, you can Read an Excerpt from IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE.
In a Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell, A Witchcraft Mystery, Obsidian, @2012, ISBN: 978-0451237477, Paperback, 336 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
The covers for these cozies are always so beautifully detailed, don’t you agree? Thanks for stopping by today. Hope I’ve sparked a bit of interest for you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

9781611760415HWhat was suppose to be a quiet romantic vacation with her lover in France turned out to be anything but.

Manhattan Prosecutor Alexandra ‘Alex’ Cooper’s week started off well enough with her arrival to see her boyfriend, famed restaurateur Luc Rouget. When a young woman is found murdered, the only piece of evidence leads back to Luc.

As the investigation begins Alex has to return to New York to handle a high profile case. The head of the World Economic Bureau, Mohammed Gil-Daisin, has been charged with raping a hotel maid. Working to shift through a web of lies, Alex learns of a connection between Luc and Mohammed.

Meanwhile, Luc arrives in New York to oversee the opening of a new high-end restaurant. When a second body is found linked to him, Alex realizes she really doesn’t know Luc at all.

The more she works to conclude her case, the more connections and surprises she discovers. There are twists and turns along the way in both cases to keep you guessing.

Author Linda Fairstein has taken national headlines and turned them into a gripping, heart-pounding book. Her characters are well developed. The interaction and camaraderie between Alex and her two co-workers, Mike and Mercer, will have you in stitches at times.

Narrator Barbara Rosenblat does a superb job bringing the story to life with the varied personalities. She captures the accents beautifully and is able to switch genders with ease. Her ability to portray the characters’ emotions enhances the story.

NIGHT WATCH is intriguing with surprises that take listeners in new directions. Great detail is given to the behind-the-scenes of restaurants, as well as the history of Prohibition in New York.

This is the 14th installment in the Alex Cooper crime series, but can be read/listened to on it’s own. Fairstein gives a look at what the headlines would be if Alex was on the case.

Author Linda Fairstein’s website is http://www.lindafairstein.com/  
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein, An Alex Cooper Crime Novel, Read by Barbara Rosenblat, Penguin Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1611760415, 11 Discs, Listening Time: 13 Hours 30 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Are court dramas or court-related cases among the mysteries you enjoy? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Do You Have A Story To Tell?

Is there a story inside you that you’ve been wanting to express? If so, now is the perfect time to share it with others and possible win a publishing contract.

The good folks at Hay House encourage everyone to look inside themselves to find brilliance, knowledge and understand. As they prepare to launch a new nonfiction imprint, Hay House Insights, they’re looking to find their first authors.

Balboa Press (a division of Hay House) is teaming up with Hay House Insights to give writers a big publishing opportunity. Submit your nonfiction manuscript to the Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest and you could win one of a number of publishing packages.

The manuscript must be at least 50,000 words and submitted by Sept. 27 (2012). If you have a compelling memoir, how-to, self-help, or other nonfiction story to tell, now is the time to share. 

Here’s how to enter for your chance to become a Hay House author:
1.    Read the Official Contest Rules and Terms and Conditions.
2.    Fill out and submit the registration form on this page.
3.    Submit an original 50,000-word manuscript.*
* Only one manuscript submission is permitted per entrant.

The contest will accept electronic submissions from July 23 (2012) until 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Sept. 27 (2012). In the first round, a panel of judges will review all entries. They will select 30 entries to move on to round two. On Nov. 5 (2012) the winners will be announced. All prize winners will be notified and posted on www.balboapress.com and the Hay House Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hayhouse. It's free to enter and there are no obligations to purchase.

Here’s what you could win:
grandOne Grand Prize winner will receive:
●    Publishing contract with Hay House Insights
●    $5,000 advance

One First Place winner will receive:first
●    Free Discover Publishing Package from Balboa Press
●    Video press release
●    Hay House Radio interview
secondOne Second Place winner will receive:
●    Free Connect Publishing Package from Balboa Press

30 Round-Two Finalists will receive:
●    20% off any Balboa Press publishing package

Writers are urged to submit their entries early. If you submit your manuscript prior to Aug. 27 (2012), you will be entered to win one of 30 spots at the Hay House Writer’s Workshop in New York on Oct.13–14 (2012) or the Hay House Speak, Write, Promote: Become a Mover and Shaker event in New York on Nov. 16–18 (2012).

For more information about the contest and the prizes, visit the official entry page and read the official rules.

Do you have a story you’ve been wanting to tell but just put it off? If not, maybe you know a friend who should enter this contest. I hope this sparks some interest and gives you a little push to finish that story of yours. Thanks for stopping by today and please, share this with others.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Author Jill Shalvis: FOREVER AND A DAY And A Giveaway

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis is having a mega summer this year with not one, but three book releases. It’s a wonderful time to be in Lucky Harbor.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of Jill’s blog tour for her release of FOREVER AND A DAY. Thanks to Jill and the great folks at Grand Central Publishing, I have three copies of the book to giveaway. Please be sure to check the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

Here’s a brief synopsis of FOREVER AND A DAY:
Love can happen in a heartbeat…..
Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . .

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner." Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day . . .

Jill has answered several questions about writing for me.

FOREVER AND A DAYMason - With 3 book releases in 3 months, what was your writing schedules like?

Jill - Well it took me a year to write those three books, I didn’t do it in three months! ☺  

Mason - What is your writing schedule like?

Jill - My writing schedule is pretty constant, I try to write every day. I do not always succeed.

Mason - What can fans expect next?

Jill - A new series! Set it in the wild Sierra Mountains.
Jill, thanks for guest blogging and congratulations on the upcoming new series.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jill, here’s a bit of background on her. She lives in a small town in the Sierras also run by quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountain adventures.

The other Lucky Harbor books released this summer include LUCKY IN LOVE and AT LAST.

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with the subject line, “Win FOREVER AND A DAY.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Canadian residents have to include their telephone number. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at 1 of 3 copies of FOREVER AND A DAY (ISBN: 9781455503698), a 384-page paperback, will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, July 31.

Do you read more romance stories in the summer, winter or does the season matter at all? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Salon: Killer Wine, A Choir, And Cupcakes

Coffee_and_newspaperAnother week has gone by and we’re ready to start on the next. Sunday Salon is a great way to share the books we’ve enjoyed as we relax and look forward to what’s ahead.

I do enjoy reading murder mysteries. I think in part because I know that 99.9 percent of the time the bad guy (or girl) will be caught and good wins over evil. When that murder mystery is a cozy, I also know there’ll be plenty of laughs along the way.

Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian always have a number of new releases each month to satisfy your cozy murder mystery appetite. This month is no exception with several returning series and a couple of new ones to tempt you. 

9780451237866Presley Parker’s event planning business is always a delight to visit to see what intriguing event she’s gotten herself into and how she manages to pull it off. 

This time around a wine tasting event at the boutique winery The Purple Grape in Napa Valley is to die for. While her business is the toast of San Francisco, this wine tasting endeavor could give her company a big boost or ruin her for good.

Presley finds that it’s not all wine and roses in the idyllic Napa Valley. JoAnne Douglas, president of the Green Grape environmental group, believes the wineries are damaging the local environment and she’s determined to sabotage the event. 

With her usual finesse, Presley manages the event without any problems. That is, until JoAnne is found under one of the tables dead. While all the evidence points to The Purple Grape owners Rob and Marie Christopher, Presley is determined to find the real killer.

Author Penny Warner has created a fun and believable protagonist in Presley.  The story flows smoothly and keeps you guessing for an entertaining read.

HOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE is the fifth installment in the Party Planning Mystery series, but is a stand alone read. The book offers quick and easy party planning tips at the beginning of each chapter. In addition, there is detailed information on how to host your own wine and cheese tasting party at the end.

The other installments in the series include: HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY (February 2010), HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH (August 2010), HOW TO SURVIVE A KILLER SÉANCE (March 2011) and HOW TO PARTY WITH A KILLER VAMPIRE (October 2011). 

Author Penny Warner’s website is http://www.pennywarner.com

How To Dine On Killer Wine by Penny Warner, A Party Planning Mystery, Obsidian, @2012, ISBN: 978-0451237866, Paperback, 320 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
MURDER FOR CHOIR by Joelle Charbonneau

9780425251379If you like a little music with your murder, then author Joelle Charbonneau’s new Glee Club Mystery series is the right note for you.

In MURDER FOR CHOIR, struggling opera singer Paige Marshall is surprised by the cutthroat competition of the Prospect Glen High School show choir. Coaching these championship-hungry students may be her toughest performance yet.

To make matters worse, Paige’s best young male singer is suspected of killing the arrogant coach of Prospect Glen’s fiercest rival. It’s up to Paige to scale down all the suspects to find the killer before he makes her to sing her last song.

This is a fun new series that will keep you wondering till the end. Author Joelle Charbonneau has created well balanced characters that are charming and a mystery filled with intrigue. 

Author Joelle Charbonneau’s website is http://www.joellecharbonneau.com

Murder For Choir by Joelle Charbonneau, A Glee Club Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251379, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

9780425251386Anytime is the right time for a cupcake, but the sales at Fairy Tale Cupcakes is sizzling down instead of up this summer. 

Owners Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura search for a way to boost sales. They think they may have found the ticket when local legend Slim Hazard offers them the chance to sell cupcakes at the annual Juniper Pass rodeo.

They soon learn cupcakes and cowboys don’t always mix. Star bull rider Ty Stokes has a short fuse when it comes to Fairy Tale Cupcakes so Angie and Mel try to stay out of his way. But when Ty is found dead in the hay, it becomes a whole different rodeo for the ladies.

They came to the rodeo to save their business but wind up trying to save themselves from a vengeful killer.

Author Jenn McKinlay has crafted a fun setting for her latest mystery. Her characters are witty, lovable, and entertaining. The action-packed story flows smoothly and the suspense will keep you guessing.

RED VELVET REVENGE is the fourth installment in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, but can be read alone. You can read an excerpt of this tasty mystery. The book includes delicious recipes for such yummy treats as Cake Pops. In addition, readers get a sneak preview of the next installment in the series, GOING, GOING, GANACHE, coming soon from Berkley Prime Crime.

The other installments in the series include: SPRINKLE WITH MURDER (March 2010), BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF (January 2011), and DEATH BY THE DOZEN (October 2011).

Author Jenn McKinlay’s website is http://www.jennmckinlay.com.
Jenn also writes under the names Lucy Lawrence and Josie Belle.

Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay, A Cupcake Bakery Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425251386, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks for dropping by today. Hope your Sunday is relaxing, refreshing and filled with plenty of good books to read.