The Plant-based Diet Guide for Beginners is a combination of a health guide, diet book, and cookbook. It provides a brief overview of all of the modern diets even the meat-based ones like Atkins and Keto. It also describes what diseases each have been reported to prevent, cure, or maintain (without worsening the condition) along with warnings for potential health issues with some of the diets.
The fifty recipes are the stars here. Many are unusual—in the US at least. Miso and Sweet Potato Soup, Spicy Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup, Chickpea-free Falafel with Coriander, and Peanut Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Zucchini all contain new and innovative flavor combinations. However, the raw bread and crackers made from gluten-free ingredients in a slow low oven or dehydrator are what set my taste buds on fire. I have never tried raw bread or crackers before but it sounds delicious. I can’t wait until I can try it.
Each of the recipes includes nutritional information, preparation and cooking time, which diets it works with, what ingredients are necessary, and clear instructions on how to prepare it. The book also offers five different seven-day meal plans following a specific diet goal: paleo/vegan, high-protein, weight loss, anti-inflammatory, and child-friendly. My only complaint is the lack of pictures of most of the completed foods.
Overall, the Plant-based Diet Guide for Beginners is a good entry point for someone who wants to be healthier through the food they eat. It has both book and documentary references in case you want more information about a particular diet. After all, you may not be able to control your genetics but you can control what you put in your mouth. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
In 1929, Mrs. Shackleton is one of only two female private detectives in London when a Body on the Train is found murdered.
Mrs. Shackleton is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate a man found dead in a potato sack on a train. The man was only wearing underpants. He was accompanied in the sack by two potatoes and two English coins. The train was a regularly scheduled nightly rhubarb run from rural England to London. In a parallel case that occurred on the same night, Mrs. Shackleton agrees to help a young man who is accused of brutally murdering his landlady.
The author, Frances Brody, does a great job creating this historic mystery in the mode of Agatha Christie. The addition of a possible Russian spy angle adds authenticity to the 1920s plot. The denouement was unexpected but looking back I clearly see the clues laid out. Overall, the Body on the Train is an enjoyable neo-Golden-age mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Daniel is the owner of a failing bookstore trying to solve all his problems through obsessive list making in Twenty-one Truths about Love.
It’s hard to be Daniel. He loves his pregnant wife but constantly lies to her about the profitability of his business. He is worried about his ability to be a father, and basically all other aspects of his life. He not only sees the glass half-empty, it is broken on the floor and he has just cut his bare foot on it. While he wastes many hours making lists instead of reading marketing books (for his bookstore) or self-help books (for his sanity), the lists are always witty and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
It is almost impossible for a reviewer to not create his or her own list about their feelings about Twenty-one Truths about Love. Here is mine:
Loved the format using lists exclusively.
Liked the humor.
Disliked the main character, Daniel, increasingly as the story moved forward.
Hated the ending.
Despite my list above, I still recommend the book for readers who like subtle (read as real) romance, are obsessive list makers like me, or just want to read a book in a completely different format. Now, I’m going to be worrying that I should have made the last sentence into a list. Oh no, have I caught Daniel’s obsessive overthinking? Give this quick read a try and you too can become obsessive. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Goodreads for a copy I won in a Goodreads giveaway.
Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle #6)
by Kirsten Weiss
Guest Post by the Author
November Kitchen Witchery
November is a cozy cooking time of year. And even though Jayce Bonheim, the heroine of my cozy witch mystery, Fate, calls herself an earth witch, there’s some definite kitchen witchery in her life as well. She knows that sharing a meal is about more than nutrition – it’s about sharing around a table and all the attendant emotions.
At its most basic, kitchen witchery involves cooking with intention. That could be the intention to heal, the intention to share love and gratitude, or simply the intention to make a delicious meal. It involves slowing down and making cooking a heartfelt meditation rather than a chore.
When Jayce practices kitchen witchery (when she’s not solving crimes and keeping her hometown free from bad mojo), she takes things a step further. She’ll stir clockwise to infuse her intention into whatever she’s cooking (if she lived below the equator, she’d stir counterclockwise).
She’d also choose ingredients which correspond to whatever she was trying to do. For example, chocolate is well known to be associated with love and romance, so cocoa powder in a dinner entrée for a romantic evening would work well. If you’re planning on making candied yams or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, those also correspond to love. This would be a good dish for Jayce to infuse with the intention of sharing the love. Pumpkin pie is associated with abundance and healing, and so is that Thanksgiving green bean casserole. When cooking either of those dishes, Jayce might stir in her intention of abundance.
Jayce uses the same basic process when she makes her non-edible coffee hand scrub, that she sells in her coffee shop, Ground.
But in book 6 in the Doyle Witch cozy mysteries, Fate, she’s brewing up more than hand scrub and happiness spells. Jayce is on the trail of a killer. And she must determine how the murderer of a local deputy is connected to a lodge of dark magicians intent on stealing a magical book, in…
Something wicked this way comes…
Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.
Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.
And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?
Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.
This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.
Don’t forget to enter the two giveaways for the book or the entire series below!
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
Becoming kinder to animals is much easier with the 30-minute Vegetarian Cookbook. Whether you are a full-time vegetarian or just looking for some innovative ideas for Meatless Mondays, this book will show you how with its impressive collection of both fast and easy recipes.
From breakfast to dessert and every meal in between, the 30-minute Vegetarian Cookbook clearly labels each recipe when they are gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, vegan, dairy-free, and nut-free. There is also nutritional information for each dish. Most recipes come with some substitution ideas adding variety to the recipes. The ingredient lists are simple and don’t include many expensive “vegetarian” products. Most of the items are found in any kitchen pantry.
This is an excellent cookbook. I just wish it had a picture of each of the recipes. But other than that one qualm, the recipes are yummy and budget-friendly. I’ve been gluten-free for years and even the recipes that are not labeled gluten-free can easily be made so by using non-wheat-based flours, breads, and tortillas. The recipes are mostly low-calorie and are perfect for those watching their weight. Many of the ingredients are zero point foods on the MyWW (Weight Watchers) blue plan. Finally, the recipes come from many cuisines like Italian, Indian, Middle-Eastern, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and American. Overall, it’s a great cookbook to save some money, time, and animals’ lives. 5 stars!
Thanks to Rockridge Press and Callisto Publishing Club for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Valerie is a detective in the San Francisco Police Department in the new thriller, Anything for You. She and her partner are investigating an attempted robbery when a call comes in from the house next door. A robber has broken into the house and stabbed the husband and wife leaving the husband dead.
The victim is a former Assistant District Attorney, Adam Grant, who once had a tryst with Valerie that was stopped only by his love for his wife. Despite this conflict of interest, Valerie continues to investigate his death. The police quickly find a suspect named Dwight who apparently forgot to wear gloves during the home invasion. Dwight had just been released from San Quentin after serving six years due to his conviction by Adam. However, Dwight has not been seen since the night of the crime. As the search for Dwight continues, Valerie continues to investigate the victim. In the meantime, a femme fatale serial killer is first seducing and then killing her victims.
Anything for You has some very crude sex scenes, sexual language, and self-loathing about sex. There is also child sexual abuse. Even though the main characters are women, the book reads like those old Mike Hammer books where the only useful part of a woman is located in her crotch. I really didn’t enjoy it and had to force myself to read the whole thing. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book. 1 star.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Memories and Murder (A Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon
Jill runs a bookstore and coffee shop in a small coastal Californian town in Memories and Murder, the tenth entry in the Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. When her partner and aunt, Jackie, unexpectedly calls off her engagement to Harrold, her niece Jill worries that something is wrong. Little does she know how wrong…
Jackie has been a victim of a con before and it appears she is being targeted again. This time someone who says he is her dead husband but in witness protection is asking her for money. If her husband is alive, she obviously can’t marry someone else.
I really enjoyed my first foray into the Tourist Trap mysteries. The relationships in the book are sincere. The mystery had plenty of red herrings and a twisty plot. The denouement was truly surprising! After reading Memories and Murder, I will be reading the prior nine books in the series. 5 stars! It is recommended highly for all cozy mystery fans.
Thanks to Kensington Books, Great Escapes Blog Tours, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter for a free print copy of the book below!
It’s October in South Cove, California, and the locals in the quaint resort seem to be happily pairing off in the lull before the holidays. Everyone, that is, except for Jill Gardner’s elderly aunt, who just dumped her besotted fiancé—and she won’t say why.
When Jill hosts a talk at Coffee, Books, and More on the topic of elder abuse, all that’s really on her mind is lunch. But the topic hits close to home when she discovers Aunt Jackie has been getting mysterious calls. Jill’s certain the caller is a con artist, of course, but her feisty aunt claims to understand this, though she’s still shaken—and Harrold’s still heartbroken. Who’s behind the scam and why was her aunt targeted? When a volunteer from the Senior Project is found murdered, Jill’s detective boyfriend is on the case—and it soon becomes clear no one is safe when a caller from beyond becomes a killer in their midst.
About Lynn Cahoon
Lynn Cahoon is the award-winning author of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling cozy mystery series. The Tourist Trap series is set in central coastal California with six holiday novellas releasing in 2018–2019. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. Her newest series, the Farm to Fork mystery series, debuted in 2018. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com.
Fans of the Netflix series Narcos will be enthralled with this true-life story by the two Escobar Manhunters in their own words.
Working up the Drug Enforcement Agency’s power structure in the 1980s as an undercover agent in Austin and tracking illegal shipments of cocaine in Miami. Javier and Steve, respectively, are soon tasked with rooting out the Medellin Cartel chief, Pedro Escobar, from the depths of Columbia. With hefty bounties on their heads and only the Columbian National Police as their backup, they succeed in finding Escobar. However, what happens after Escobar is extradited to America to face charges?
If you are not that familiar with the Escobar story and especially with how the drug trade worked in the US in the 1980s, Manhunters will be a fascinating look at a completely different and violent world coexisting with the 80s “Greed is Good” philosophy. If, however, you were living through it, there is nothing “never-before-published” within this book. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Dr. William Abbey’s trouble is threefold. First, he is a mediocre doctor at best in 1884. Much better at diagnosing disease than curing it. Second, he falls in love with a woman above his station, leading to debts and eventually exile to South Africa. While there, he watches the execution by fire of a young native boy, without comment. The boy’s mother curses the doctor for not stepping in to save her son. This leads to his third trouble, the Pursuit of William Abbey by the shade of the murdered boy. When the boy touches the doctor, one-by-one those the doctor loves most are killed. Dr. Abbey also now has the ability to read the inner thoughts of other nearby men. This ability attracts the attention of the British government, who have found others with his affliction and see him as a useful asset—rather than a broken man.
The Pursuit of William Abbey is a thought-provoking historical fiction slash horror slash espionage thriller. It is definitely a plot you have not seen before. The language used is perfect for this slow-boil of a novel moving steadily to an unknown conclusion as the boy chases the doctor around the world. My only complaint was that it had some parts in the middle where the pace might have been a bit too slow. Otherwise, if you are looking for something completely original, this book is a great choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to Orbit Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Comic book and Marvel movie fans rejoice! A definitive biography of Stan Lee, particularly his Marvel years, is here! Stan Lee, creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man truly led A Marvelous Life.
Beginning with his poverty-stricken childhood and ending with the lawsuits for elder abuse still waiting to be heard in the courts after his November 2018 death, this book tells the full tale of Stan’s life. And what a life! Stan began his career in comics as a person getting coffee for his cousin’s staff at Timely Imprint, the publisher of Marvel Comics #1 and Captain America Comics #1. Eventually, he would be the face of Marvel Comics and even Marvel movies through his cameos within each of them.
If you love comics or the Marvel Universe of movies and television, A Marvelous Life is a marvelous book for you to read. Many details are mentioned that were not in Stan’s previous autobiography, Excelsior! 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Suspect in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Suspect in High Heels is the tenth book in the High Heels cozy mystery series.
Maddie is a shoe designer, mom of two-year-old twins, and wife of a police detective. However, she makes time to visit the set of Antiques Extravaganza with her mother, Betty, and her mother’s best friend. While there, Betty is told that her antique hatpin is worthless. Infuriated, Betty lashes out at the appraiser, Peter Carrington. Unfortunately, Peter is soon found dead by hatpin and Betty is the obvious suspect. With no alibi, Maddie is forced to investigate the crime to save her mother from being charged with murder.
The friendships and camaraderie are my favorite part of this series. Betty’s wacky friend is hilarious. The situations that everyone finds themselves in are good for a laugh for sure. Overall, Suspect in High Heels is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours with characters that soon feel like friends. 4 stars!
Thanks to Gemma Halliday Publishing and Great Escape Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below to win a $25 Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first book in the series, Spying in High Heels!
When Maddie Springer—shoe designer turned amateur sleuth—tags along with her mother to the Antiques Extravaganza road show, the last thing she expects to have to do is pull her mom off of a celebrity appraiser after he calls her prized antique hatpin a phony. But things go from harried to homicide when the same appraiser is found dead just moments later—killed by Mom’s hatpin!
Now not even Maddie’s husband, LAPD Detective Jack Ramirez, can save Mom as the force’s two most bumbling detectives are assigned to the case. As if Maddie doesn’t have enough on her plate, her best friends, Dana and Marco, enlist her help to plan the most over-the-top Hollywood surprise party ever for Dana’s fiancé (who has a little surprise of his own up his sleeve), Maddie’s adorable twin toddlers are always up to no good, and the only thing that can calm her fashion-challenged and suddenly-a-suspect mom down are aura cleansing from her favorite Venice Beach psychic, Mrs. Rosenblatt. Whether they help or hurt, Maddie’s friends assist her in wading through a slew of murder suspects—none of whom are telling the truth and all of whom have ample motive to want the appraiser dead. Was it the frigid business partner with questionable ethics? The clown-collecting fan-turned-stalker? The auction house owner with a grudge? Or was the appraiser’s real business something much more sinister than his TV personality let on…and much more deadly?
Maddie and her eccentric gang of unlikely sleuths are under the gun to find out before the real killer strikes again…and Mom takes the fall!
About Gemma Halliday
Gemma Halliday is the #1 Amazon, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of several cozy mystery and suspense thriller novels. Gemma’s books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, two National Reader’s Choice awards, a RONE award for best mystery, and three RITA nominations. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her large, loud, and loving family.
Gemma’s path toward becoming a bestselling author was not a straight line—more like a zigzagging path filled with obstacles! Prior to putting pen to paper, she worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, an architect’s assistant, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic. Luckily none of these panned out.
The High Heels Mysteries:
#1 Spying in High Heels
#2 Killer in High Heels
#3 Undercover in High Heels
#3.5 Christmas in High Heels (short story)
#4 Alibi in High Heels
#5 Mayhem in High Heels
#5.5 Honeymoon in High Heels (novella)
#5.75 Sweetheart in High Heels (short story)
#6 Fearless in High Heels
#7 Danger in High Heels
#8 Homicide in High Heels
#9 Deadly in High Heels
#10 Suspect in High Heels
#11 Peril in High Heels – coming soon!
The author was initially misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. Instead, she had autoimmune encephalitis, an organic brain disorder often called The Great Pretender for its ability to mimic the signs of psychiatric disease. Even though she was labeled as a mental patient for only a week, wondering what would have happened if the initial diagnosis wasn’t overturned compels her to investigate the US mental health care system. In fact, she finds someone who spent years in the mental health system before being correctly diagnosed with the author’s disease with unfortunate consequences.
“The brain is a physical organ and physical disease occurs within the brain. Why does that make it a ‘ psychiatric condition’ instead of a physical ‘ disease’?”—from a father of a son diagnosed with psychosis quoted in the book
The Great Pretender makes an excellent case that psychiatry is the study of neurological disease for which we have no cause or cure…yet. Both autoimmune encephalitis and syphilis were originally diagnosed as mental disorders. Once a cause and cure were found, they were moved to neurology.
Originally all mental diseases were thought to be caused by the devil. Next, medical science thought it was a weakness in the person’s character, which could be solved by drastic measures like lobotomy and shock therapy. Now, a person’s history is blamed with talk therapy and strong drugs as cures. Who is to say that that is the final solution to psychiatric disease.
The heart of the book concerns the landmark study in 1973 by Stanford professor David Rosenhan, On Being Sane in Insane Places. He and seven of his students and colleagues self-reported symptoms of psychosis to get placed in one of the facilities. Once there, they acted normally until someone released them. The average time to get out was fifteen days. The study’s conclusion was that psychiatry had no clear way to diagnose or cure mental illness. It was unable to separate the sane from the insane. The author finds additional notes from the study’s now-deceased author. She finds one of the living pseudopatients and interviews him. The author also finds a ninth pseudopatient who is mentioned only in a footnote within the study. His story is told in the book.
Currently, four percent of the US have serious mental illnesses. Many will have their lives shortened by ten to twenty years because of their condition. If you, or someone in your life, have one of these issues, you must read this book for a different perspective. Even if you are just interested in psychology, like me, The Great Pretender is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“Socialite and husband dead in suicide pact. Teenage children missing; baby found alive.”
The Family Upstairs is the story of that baby’s journey to discover her roots and what really happened that night.
The baby, Libby, is now twenty-five years old and set to inherit the Chelsea mansion where the event occurred. Lucy is a homeless English woman with two children in France. Henry is a rich, but odd, man who is one of the missing teenagers twenty-five years later.
“It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived.”
All three tell their tales of what happened both before and after the event.
The Family Upstairs is a compelling thriller that builds an impressive atmosphere of dread. Everyone but the people involved know something horrible is going to happen. It is truly a can’t-put-it-down book. The characters are so human and realistic that you are forced to read one more chapter until the story is done regardless of what time your alarm will ring.
I love the author’s books for their originality in a crowded genre. But most of all, I love that she thanked the “two double vodkas and tonics that saw me through the last three chapters of this book late on a Friday night…Cheers!” in the Acknowledgements. Can you imagine what Hemingway or Poe would write if they thanked their alcoholic muses? Cheers, indeed.
The Family Upstairs should appeal to most thriller and women’s fiction fans especially if they like their tales dark. It would not be a good choice for those readers triggered by child abuse. Otherwise, pick up this spellbinding family thriller. 4 stars!
Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Here are my reviews of two other family thrillers by this author:
Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion
Interview with the Author, Loretta Marion
How did you meet your agent, Jill Grosjean? Is that still a good method for aspiring authors?
I was fortunate to meet my agent at a writing conference. I had reached a crossroads in my writing journey when my critique partner wrangled me into attending a conference with her, even to the point of calling the organizers to arrange a space for me when I’d learned that registration had reached capacity. It appears I was destined to attend the conference, because in addition to Jill Grosjean Literary Agency asking for my manuscript, two editors also requested to read it. I spent the following week feverishly applying all that I had learned at the conference to polish up my manuscript before sending it out. Two weeks later, Jill called to offer representation, and she has been a stalwart believer in my writing ever since. Lucky me!
It’s been years since that fateful day, but I think that writers having the opportunity to pitch their work face-to-face with editors and agents can only improve the odds of sparking interest. Plus, there is so much to learn from the conference workshops as well as from other writers who attend.
Your first book, The Fool’s Truth, was a thriller. What made you decide to change to the paranormal cozy mystery sub-genre?
To this point in my writing career, I haven’t written any of my books with a conscious decision about the sub-genre. I’m more focused on the story, the characters and the mystery itself. I would consider all my published novels to be mysteries, with greater or lesser degrees of suspense. The books in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series somewhat straddle the conventional mystery with cozy elements.
In the Acknowledgements to your first haunted bluffs mystery, House of Ashes, you said the ghost of Oswin Dickinson inspired the ghosts in the series. What type of inexplicable events did you experience in your former house?
Oswin was more of a mischievous presence, his uninvited spirit never doing anything malevolent that would make me frightened of staying in my own home. Mainly, he excelled at moving things or hiding items in unusual places. I’d find clothing stuffed into the oddest spaces or reach for my teacup or wine glass and they wouldn’t be where I left them. Our unearthly lodger could also be noisy at times, emitting loud banging sounds from the attic. Maybe he was just trying to get our attention. Well, it worked. I did walk through some weirdly cold masses that were hard to explain. Our bloodhound, Bartleby, was especially spooked by his presence. The dog would pace nervously and growl at empty air. More telling were his frequent stops at Oswin’s grave to growl and whimper. I should mention here that we lived next to a three-century-old cemetery at the time and the grave of Civil War soldier Oswin Dickinson was located just beyond our back gate. Our niece claims a sighting of a man standing in our kitchen, wearing an old-fashioned blue uniform. But I think the most convincing experience was the morning when we found large footprints in the snow leading from our front door to Oswin’s grave.
I’ve seen some bad covers, even from large publishing houses. Yours are fantastic in evoking the gothic feel of your novels. Are you involved in selecting the covers of your novels? If so, what do you look for in a cover?
Thank you! I have been very fortunate with the book covers. Because The Fool’s Truth was independently published, I selected and worked with a design artist. He quickly understood what I was looking for and delivered a great cover. For the books in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series, the publisher – Crooked Lane Books – selected the designer. As the author, of course I have input. Initially the publisher asks for important aspects of the story setting, characters, scenes, threats, excerpts, anything relevant that may be incorporated into the cover. The publisher selects several options provided by the artist for evaluation by the team.
Obviously, in House of Ashes, it was important to feature the house which is so important to Cassandra Mitchell’s story and the history of her family. The cover for Storm of Secrets does evoke the ominous beauty of a storm, which is the center of all the secrets being “harbored” in the book. (Apologies for the irresistible pun!) In the cases of both Haunted Bluffs book covers, there were only minor changes I suggested. The designer proved to be quite impressive.
How did you decide to make your first novel available on Kindle Unlimited? Was it a good choice for a first-time author?
I didn’t begin with Kindle Unlimited for The Fool’s Truth. I was just learning the ropes of independent publishing and did a good deal of research. I followed the advice of several successful authors by marketing the e-book version through Draft2Digital. After giving that a test run, and with more research, I decided to switch to Kindle Unlimited. It gave me more control and allowed me to offer Countdown Sales which I could advertise to give the book more exposure. My recommendation to new authors is to do their homework and determine what avenues work best for them and their books. They can always change course. As for the print version of The Fool’s Truth, I have always kept it available through all outlets.
How do find beta readers before you are a published author?
I was fortunate to have a critique partner that I met very early on at a pitch conference. We have been offering guidance to each other for over a decade. I also give my manuscripts to several people whom I trust will be honest in their assessments. Some are ruthless! But I respect their input, knowing they would never want me to put out anything that wasn’t good enough. Besides which, they have helped me to become a better writer. It’s important to be open to what readers have to say and to develop a thick skin.
Another way to find beta readers is by getting to know the local librarian. He/she can select a few regulars who enjoy the genre the author writes and ask them to offer an honest and anonymous critique of the manuscript.
Describe A Storm of Secrets in five words or less?
That’s a challenge for any book! This may be cheating, but I don’t think I can say it better than Kirkus Reviews did: “Modern and historic mysteries collide”
What’s next for Cassandra? Are you working on book three of the Haunted Bluffs series?
I have some intriguing ideas in mind for Cassandra and her Whale Rock pals. I’ll leave you guessing for now…
With a small-time drug dealer dead in a dumpster, a small child missing, and a hurricane on the way, small Whale Rock Village on Cape Cod Bay is waiting on disaster amid a Storm of Secrets.
Cassie’s wedding is scheduled but canceled by the upcoming hurricane. To make the day worse, she finds a dead body in a dumpster. Cassie doesn’t let it get her down. To help people living in low-lying coastal areas, she opens her huge house, Battersea Bluffs, to a multitude of friends, wedding guests, and strangers. She serves them the catered food that was purchased for her now-canceled wedding reception.
With three-year-old Lucas still missing after the storm, the entire village searches for him. Was he kidnapped? Or was he swept out to sea? Is he to have the same fate as the nameless “Barnacle Boy” who washed up dead on the coast fifty years earlier?
There is a lot going on here. It truly is a Storm of Secrets. In addition to the mysteries mentioned above, later in the book Cassie and her family resolve several old issues. Two other families also have secrets that are discovered and unraveled. My favorite part of the novel was the family dynamics that are portrayed. When each family’s secret is exposed, honest and genuine feelings are shown. I did have a concern with so many people introduced during the first several chapters in the book. Luckily, I was reading on a Kindle so I could highlight them in case I needed to know their story later. By the middle of the book, all the different characters were easily sorted in my mind.
With a total of two crimes and three family secrets, this book will appeal to both women’s fiction and mystery readers. The pacing is not as fast as a thriller. Also, the emphasis is on the characters’ actions and emotions more than solving the mysteries. Probably not a good choice for action thriller readers—unless they want to try something different. I enjoyed it a great deal for the excellent characterizations of the main protagonists. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $25 gift card plus plenty of signed books and book swag below!
A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly
About Loretta Marion
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
In New York City circa 2034, the city has been devastated by climate change. Coastal areas have been nearly leveled by massive storms. Refugees from low-lying areas have congregated in slums sporting their own money. On the morning of April 19, it is 114 in the shade. Down these mean streets, old-school detective Manning and his junior, and our narrator, female detective Dewey are looking for a massively strong and invisible killer of the 36 Righteous Men.
With two victims in NYC and two in Russia, the killer’s MO is the same. Hold the victim up with one hand by the neck strangling the victim. Toss the victim aside. Somehow cause a branding from the inside on the victim’s forehead. Not appear on any surveillance cameras while doing so. The branding mark is an LV, which is Hebrew for the 36 Righteous Men.
Part science fiction, part hard-boiled detective story, part Christian fiction and part paranormal tale, this book is a near-perfect example of the blending of multiple genres into a coherent and compelling tale. However, I enjoy all these genres on their own. If you only like one or two, the world-building details may just slow down the pace rather than be fascinating in their own right—or vice versa. The Christian paranormal aspects may feel unbelievable. Therefore, I would only recommend this book to people who enjoy all four genres. 4 stars!
What a fine movie this would make! The world could be shown rather than described speeding up the mystery’s pace. Someone, with more money than I have, should scoop up the movie rights quickly. I, for one, can’t wait!
Thanks to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Someone is targeting the Irish Guard (police) in the unusual and twisty thriller, Galway Girl.
Jack Taylor, is a former Guard and currently alcoholic private detective who is trying to get over his daughter’s recent murder when he witnesses a Guard shot point-blank in front of his apartment. In addition, he has several concurrent cases. An ambitious priest asks Jack to run off his famous actress sister’s leeching girlfriend. A woman wants Jack to make her daughter’s killer confess to his crime. When the killer is beaten to death, Jack is arrested for the crime.
What seems like a random drunken tumble into Jack’s life does come together in a clever whodunit by the end. The twists and turns of the plot almost gave this reader whiplash so unexpectedly and quickly they were coming by the end.
There is also an extraordinary amount of Irish atmosphere. Hopefully, you have a love for Irish poetry, soccer, Irish literature, and/or 1980s and 1990s rock bands like Snow Patrol and Oasis. It may take a while to get used to the writing style but once you do, it really adds to the immersion in Galway.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Galway Girl. It has a lot of everything: Irish atmosphere, great characters, a twisty plot, and best of all, a slam-bam final act. 5 stars!
Thanks to Mysterious Press, Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.