Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Happy Reading!

If you are like me, once you read the first book in a series, you want to continue reading the others in order. To help you keep the books straight, MapYourMystery has introduced a way to see your favorite authors and their books with one click.

Just click on the link at the end of each post and you will arrive at your favorite author's Amazon shop. You can purchase directly from each site. MapYourMystery may be compensated for the sale.

Happy reading!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Thyme for All Seasons

As MapYourMystery.com turns one in February, I thought I would review the author I began the blog with - Leslie Budewitz. Thank you to all the readers authors and publishers who have made this possible. Keep reading!

When a long lost family friend turns up with a different name and pretends she does not know you, Pepper wonders what she is hiding. In Killing Thyme, Pepper and her mother Lena are browsing through the Pike Place Market when they catch sigh of a new potter who turns out to be an old friend who disappeared years ago.

Later in the day, Pepper sees her mother and the potter arguing in the street. Although she cannot hear them, she can tell they are having angry words. When the potter winds up dead in her apartment the next day, Pepper is worried her mother might be a suspect.

Pepper remembers those days long ago when the family home was more of a cooperative household and so many people came and went. But why doesn't her mother want to talk about the past? Who is Peggy Manning or Bonnie Clay as she is known now? How is she connected to the disruption of Pepper's childhood home and the long ago death of two of the co-op members?

Meanwhile in the Seattle Spice Shop, Pepper and her crew have developed a bridal registry and have to deal with bridezillas along with all the other activities surrounding the shop.  And if you've always wanted to know what Pepper's real name is, you will find out in this book. Gotta love those hippie parents!

Read the first review of Leslie's Food Lovers Mystery series here. For more books by Leslie Budewitz, click here

Friday, January 27, 2017

Death and Chocolate

Who would believe that chocolate could kill you? It's doubtful that Evan Rowe, famous chocolatier would think that. But much to his surprise, something chocolate does kill him in Ellie Alexander's Fudge & Jury.

Juliet and Lance are at it again trying to solve Evan's murder. Arrogant and not well liked, Evan didn't deserve to die from anaphylactic shock. Who knew he was allergic to nuts and who fed them to him? When the autopsy reveals there were no nuts in Evan's system, the mystery deepens.

When Evan falls dead after eating Juliet's famous decadent four-layer chocolate cake, things are not so bright. Juliet knows there were no nuts in her cake, but how did Evan die? To complicate matters, Thomas decides to profess his undying love for Juliet. Unsure of her feelings for her estranged husband Carlos, who is still aboard ship, Juliet doesn't want to lead Thomas on. 

Meanwhile back at Torte, Juliet and her mother Helen think they have enough money saved to install the new ovens they have been craving. There's plenty of disruption when there is painting and installation going on, but fortunately with the Chocolate Festival in town, they have another venue to sell their delicious treats.

This series is filled with tasty treats and the recipes to make them. I always feel as if I need some dessert when I read them. In Fudge & Jury you will also discover a wild connection between nut allergies and another product that seemingly has no connection. I won't give it away as it will identify the murderer, but be sure to remember the connection for your own health safety. 

For another review of the books in this series, click here. For more books by Ellie Alexander, check this out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Faith Healing and Murder

As I write the review for Carolyn Haines' Hallowed Bones, I wish I could take healer Doreen Mallory's advice to channel your inner strength to heal myself. My nose is stuffy and I am coughing my head off. If you see it rolling by, send it back to me. But I digress.

P.I. Sarah Booth Delaney leaves her Mississippi home to travel to New Orleans to assist faith healer Doreen Mallory prove she did not kill her seriously disabled child. Who would follow a faith healer who could not cure her own child? There is much at stake for Doreen, her followers and her Foundation. The more Sarah Booth digs, the crazier the case becomes. Doreen refuses to identify the father of her baby although she does admit to having sex with three different men as part of her healing!

One is a powerful Senator, another is a successful televangelist and the third is her finance director. 

But Sarah Booth has her own man troubles with married sheriff Coleman Peters and old flame
Hamilton Garrett V. Add in Coleman's psycho, allegedly pregnant wife Connie and it is an explosive mix. When Connie threatens to kill herself unless Sarah Booth comes back to Mississippi to talk to her, there is little she can do, but go.

Back in Mississippi, Sarah Booth discovers a important link to her client Doreen and she returns to New Orleans to puzzle out the new clue.

This was a complicated and intricate plot that beautifully unwinds into a shocking conclusion. I enjoy these books, especially with the talking ghost back home. Jitty was not so apparent in this book, but she is in others.

For more books by Carolyn Haines, click here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gothic Rivalries Lead to Murder

Who knew so many gothic mystery authors had their birthdays in September?* In Laura DiSilverio's The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala, Amy-Faye Johnson has been asked to coordinate a gothic weekend for Book Bliss in Heaven, Colorado, featuring the current gothic mystery authors. They are a contentious bunch: Constance Aldringham, the grande dame; Francesca Bugle, the midlister with a possible movie deal for her next book; and a living Mary Stewart, a debut novelist.

There is a panel discussion at the bookstore which brings out the  jealousies and rivalries. One of the authors is accused of stealing a manuscript from an unpublished author and tensions rise. A mysterious manuscript appears at the auction and upsets the balance even more.

When a body is found at the Gothic Gala, Amy-Faye tries to salvage her event and begins to investigate.

As most guests were dressed in costumes, it is difficult to tell who was invited and who might have crashed the party. No one knows who the victim is or why he was at the Gala. The Readaholics - Maud, Lola, Kerry, Brooke and Amy-Faye - put their heads and various skills together to tie up loose ends and solve the murder.

I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series (see blog for review) although I do enjoy the series. For more books by Laura DiSilverio, click here.

* The authors are Victoria Holt, Joan Aiken, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Land, Love and Betrayal

A late night call on the Sheriff's phone line. A woman sobbing on the other end, "He's dead, he's dead." Kate Fox struggles to get the information from the hysterical woman.

Rancher Eldon Edwards is dead from a gunshot wound. Also shot and bleeding is Sheriff Ted Connor, Kate's husband. The sobbing woman is Ted's mistress Roxy.

In Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker the plot dips and dives from one suspect to another and Kate veers with each revelation. Life in Nebraska is all about land and when someone threatens landowners, violence rears its head.

Kate discovers Eldon was planning to sell his 100,000 acre ranch to a rich outside. Some of his neighbors feel threatened by the sale to outsiders, but others want to cash in. To complicate the search for the killer, Eldon's granddaughter and heir is missing.

When Ted confesses to shooting Eldon, Kate knows it is to protect Roxy, but what is the point? If Ted shot Eldon, who shot Ted? After Kate is a victim of several "accidents", she knows she is getting close to the killer.

Stripped Bare is an intense journey through the pitfalls of loving your land and the feelings it stirs among those with and without it. This appears to be the first in the Kate Cox series.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


When murder crashes a wedding party, Julia Snowden fears for her family's Clambake Company. In Clammed Up, Barbara Ross depicts the fragile balance between success and failure of a small family-owned business.

After years in New York as a venture capitalist, Julia Snowden returns to Busman's Harbor, Maine, to save her family's struggling company. For years it was run by her father, but when he died, her mother turned the management over to Julia's brother-in-law Sonny, whose name is as far from his disposition as possible. Constantly butting heads with Sonny and warding off the bank's threat to call their loan, Julia lines up a wedding to be held on Morrow Island, the locale of their clambakes.

As the bride and bridal party are leaving the harbor to motor to the island, someone notices the best man missing. Tony, the groom, volunteers to stay behind and round him up while the others go to the island to prepare for the wedding. Already having wedding jitters, the bride seems even more upset by the missing best man.

When the party arrives on Morrow Island, they head towards Windsholme Mansion where the wedding will be held. As Julia throws open the door, the bride crumples to the floor crying out "Ray! Ray! Ray!" at the sight of the best man hanging from the grand staircase. Did Ray kill himself and why do it in such a visible manner where the bride would obviously see him? Was his suicide directed at her or is it murder disguised as suicide?

Julia sees her hoped for successful season flash before her eyes and shudders at the thought of losing the family business. With no hesitation, she decides to investigate.

For more books in the Clambake Series, click here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Interview with E.M. Kaplan

Interview with E.M. Kaplan 

How many books have you published? (Checkout her books here)
I have five out so far. Three are Josie Tucker mysteries and two are epic fantasies in a series called Rise of the Masks. I'm working on mystery #4 right now. Then I'll finish the fantasy series and make it a trilogy.

Under what names do you publish?
I use EM Kaplan. M is my middle initial, but people also call me Em for Emily.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc? 
I have a full-time day job with Motorola, but I sometimes write during lunch because I telecommute from home. I aim for 1,000 words a day. So sometimes I get them done at night before bedtime. I recently got a FitBit though, so now I'm trying to make 10,000 steps a day in addition with my words. Those two goals don't go well together!

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Usually I think of the twist or the crux of the book first. I chose the location next. Then I think of a catchy opening scene. I start from there and push forward without plotting too much. I like some spontaneity when I write. Good things can happen accidentally.

How do you promote your books?
Marketing books has been the steepest learning curve in the whole process of becoming a writer. I started with creating a Facebook and Twitter presence. I have almost 60K followers on Twitter. From there, I met a lot of other authors who have unknowingly mentored me. I write a blog, create promotions, and run ads. I'm experimenting with the best book advertisers. So far, no one comes close to BookBub, but with steady and constant tweaking, I'm still hoping to get ahead in this game.

Who is your favorite author?
Gosh, I don't know. When I'm not writing intensely, I read 4-5 books a week. All genres. I love finding new writers who haven't hit it big yet. I used to work in a bookstore when I was in grad school in the mid-90s. I'd read a book that I kept trying to foist on all my friends. They got sick of hearing about Game of Thrones, but I didn't stop pushing it. I love Jennifer Crusie, Kristan Higgins, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie, Robin Hobb, Richard Russo, and David Sedaris...

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer?
I use a laptop that I take with me around my house. But I also scribble things on random pieces of paper I find, make notes on my mobile phone, or send myself email. All of my actual writing is on a computer now. I type much faster than I write. Sometimes faster than I can think. :)

Click here to read a review of The Bride Wore Dead.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cooking Up Murder

Nothing disturbs a romantic dinner for two than a dead body. In On the Chopping Block by Jenny Kales, Calliope Costas discovers the body of her boyfriend in his kitchen with a large chef's knife sticking out of his chest. She is the owner and chef of Callie's Kitchen, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, and suspicion falls on Callie.

To complicate matters, Drew was the winner of a $10,000 prize from the local Chamber and Callie was the runner up. This leads Detective Sands to consider her the number one suspect.

Business drops off at her restaurant because of the suspicion and desserts such as loukoumades, koulourakia, kouranbiethes and Greek chicken stew are left uneaten. Naturally Callie's Greek father George has an opinion. He wants her to let the police solve the case, but Callie is worried about being the Number One suspect and searches for the real killer.

Of course there are plenty of suspects and Callie needs to solve the case before she is a casualty of the murder and is another one of the businesses to close in Crystal Bay. She wades through all of the business connections to Drew especially after learning he was a womanizer. This leads her to the Chamber president Jane Willoughby and several others before she figures out who the murderer is. I enjoyed this book for many reason, especially as I am Greek-American and I love all the items she bakes and cooks.

The next book in the series is called Spiced and Iced.You can find Jenny Kales books by clicking here

After three years in Greek school, the only thing I can say in Greek (besides the names of desserts and a few curse words) is "Can I Sharpen My Pencil." But I can cook Greek food as you can see. At left is tiropita (cheese pies) and below is pastitsio

Missing Twin

In Dead to Begin With by Vivian Conroy, three people return home to Maine after being away for years. One is the twin sister of a woman who disappeared 20 years ago; the second is the man accused but cleared of abducting her; and the third is trying to clear the man. This sets in motion a fire, another murder and the discovery of what happened 20 years ago.

Vicky Simmons returns to Maine after living in London for many years with the hopes of opening a British Country Gift Shop. When she encounters Diane Dobbs, the twin sister of the missing Celine, she wonders what new evidence Diane has and why she has returned to Glen Cove, Maine. And where does that leave Michael Danning, the man accused, but cleared in the disappearance of Celine?

While Vicky tries to organize and decorate her new story, she is drawn into the mystery. For years she had an unrequited crush on
Michael and she still feels he was wrongly accused. Now faced with a new murder she and Michael try to connect the dots from this murder to the previous one 20 years ago.

The mystery is intriguing and the guilty person is so artfully camouflaged, the solution is apparent until practically the end of the book. I look forward to more books in this series and other books by this author. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cupcakes Can be Deadly

Librarian Juanita Willis is known for her inquisitiveness in her hometown of Wyndham, Oklahoma. In Marion Moore Hill's Cook the Books, Juanita tries to prove Tracy Marie Riek is innocent of killing her husband.

In addition to being a librarian, Juanita is a tutor for an adult literacy program and Tracy Marie is one of her students.When Tracy's husband dies from eating a poisoned cupcake, suspicion falls on his wife. But Juanita knows Tracy Marie isn't the killer and sets out to determine who hated Bobby Riek that much and what nefarious deals he was involved in.

There are plenty of suspects at the D-I-Y big box hardware store where Bobby worked. With bill collectors hammering at his door, Bobby seemed to need some scheme to find extra money. When money from a fund meant to help the family of a co-worker goes missing, Bobby is suspected of being the culprit. Tracy Marie doesn't believe he would steal the money, but strangely enough the money is missing. 

There are several bookkeepers involved with the money including a childhood friend of Tracy Marie's, a former employee and plenty of others. Juanita puts herself in danger during an epic flood in the town to find the answer.

This was an interesting book except for one little quirk the author used. She referred to Tracy Marie as "the student, the learner or the tutee" instead of by her name or a feminine pronoun. That drove me crazy, but I still enjoyed the book.

To read other books in the Scrappy Librarian series, click here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Murder in West Virginia

In Bitter River, author Julia Keller captures the despair and poverty of the residents of the small town of Archer's Gap, West Virginia. When county prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins learns that a young woman from the town has been found dead in the Bitter River, she seeks out her friend local sheriff Nick Fogelsong to learn more.

What she learns is that although Lucinda Trimble's body was found in a car in the river, she was dead before the car went into the water. In addition the 16-year-old was pregnant. What went wrong with this young woman who had so much promise and who would want to kill her? Signs point to her boyfriend Shawn Doggett, but Bell is sure he is innocent.

When a series of seemingly unrelated events occur in Archer's Gap, Bell and Nick are distracted from the murder investigation. First a rifle shot pierces a window at Bell's office narrowly missing her secretary, then Bell's friend Matt freaks out when someone touches his shoulder, and
finally a huge explosion rips through Ike's, the favorite breakfast  place in town. Is there a common denominator in these events?

Out of nowhere Wendy Doggett confesses to killing Lucinda. Bell is sure she is covering for one of her sons, but Wendy insists she killed Lucinda.

Solving the case takes Bell and Nick in multiple directions leading to a dramatic conclusion.

Although not truly a cozy mystery Bitter River is a suspenseful story and I enjoyed it.

Can't wait to read this book, click here to purchase it. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ghosts and Murder

Sketch artist Rory McCain inherits her uncle's house after he dies suddenly. What she doesn't expect is the ghost that haunts the house. He is a federal marshal named Ezekiel Drummond and he has been haunting the house since the 1870s. In Sketch Me If You Can, author Sharon Pape leads readers through a new and ghostly relationship.

Zeke claims he had been helping Rory's uncle Mac solve cases and wants to continue helping Rory. As she has no plans to be a private investigator, she declines the offer. Before too long, Rory is drawn into some of her uncle's unsolved cases. One includes the so-called accidental death of an interior designer Gail Oberlin.

Gail's brother Jeremy believes her death was no accident and he wants Rory to continue trying to solve the case as her uncle Mac had been trying to do. As a police department sketch artist, there is a clear cut no moonlighting policy, so Rory tiptoes around that rule and tries to solve the case. She uses her police connections to check the evidence collected from the scene. The only thing she finds is a  a piece of crisp plastic. She feels she needs to return to Gail's house to see what else she can find.

Of course there are plenty of suspects  - Gail's ex-husband and his fiancee and even her brother
Jeremy. When Zeke tells Rory he knows that Mac was murdered, she uses her sketch artist abilities to draw the two men from his description. Because Mac's death occurred in the evening, the sketches aren't that helpful. Before long Rory begins to think the two cases might be related.

Rory and Zeke make an unlikely pair, but the dynamic between them is amicable, hostile, friendly, aggravating and much more - just like living with a real person! A fun read.

Do you want to hold this book in your hands or in your e-reader? Click here to purchase it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Interview with Connie Shelton

Interview with Connie Shelton

How many books have you published?
Let's see ... 16 in my Charlie Parker series, plus a Christmas novella. 11 in my Samantha Sweet series, plus a Halloween novella. 3 non-fiction books and 2 children's books. I guess that's a total of 34.

Under what names do you publish?
Just my own, Connie Shelton

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc? Feel free to amplify this answer.
Well, there's my ideal day and there's my actual day.  My ideal day is to get up early, meditate, walk the dogs, breakfast with my husband, then I get to my desk and write ten pages on the current work-in-progress, finishing in time to answer fan emails, read awhile for fun, then there's dinner and vegging in front of TV with hubby in the evening. My real day depends on which dog pukes on the floor and how many little crises interrupt the morning. I know ... the given advice is to screen calls and close the office door--somehow that doesn't always pan out for me.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Plot first. I have probably 75% of the story's action plotted in advance. It's so much more efficient than staring at a blank screen and trying to figure out what will happen next. Of course, I'm always open to life's little whimsy, and if a really fun twist happens along the way, I'm certainly willing to go with it.

How do you promote your books?
I'm somewhat active on Facebook and Pinterest, but I must admit I'm terrible about Twitter and most other social media. To stay focused on writing, I can't take breaks during the day to check messages and respond. My newsletter is the way I keep in contact with my readers (there's a signup button on the homepage of my website connieshelton.com). I send one newsletter per month, keeping people updated on what I'm currently writing, a few little personal tidbits, and I hold a monthly contest, drawing from my subscriber list for prizes. I don't like to fill people's mailboxes with a lot of stuff so, aside from a couple of emails when they first subscribe, usually the once-a-month news is it.  I do answer fan mail and love hearing from my readers. I've formed some lifelong friendships with people who first contacted me about my books.

Who is your favorite author?
It's so hard to name only one. I read all over the spectrum in fiction and a lot of non-fiction as well. Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller were early influences for me when I began writing mysteries. For her dark and twisted sense of psychology I love Ruth Rendell. In cozy mysteries, I like Joanne Pence, Carolyn Haines, and Ritter Ames. From the biggie bestseller lists, favorites are Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Lianne Moriarty and Harlan Coben. I know I'm forgetting some....as I said, there are SO many!

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer?
I do a lot of my preliminary plot notes and character sketches on paper, but once I start a first draft I do the actual writing on computer. I print the manuscript and edit the old fashioned way, with a red pen. Once those changes have been entered on the computer draft, I go along with whatever my editors request. Two of them prefer the Word document emailed to them, but my copy editor likes a printed copy. She's another pen and paper sort of person. Bottom line: each book is a combination.

Click here for a review of Sweet Masterpiece.

Want to read some more great books by Connie? Follow this link for her listings on Amazon.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Danger in Dakota

Dakota, written by Gwen Florio is a tense, nerve wracking mystery that has you turning pages as fast as you can read them. Lola Wicks, a former foreign correspondent for a major newspaper now works for a small newspaper in Magpie, Montana. She finds herself rushing to North Dakota's Patch to cover a story about missing Blackfeet girls and the oil fields. What she finds is shocking and dangerous.

When Judith Calf Looking, a local Blackfeet girl missing for several months, is found dead in a snow bank five miles from home, Lola learns several other girls have been missing for the past year. Most of the girls were known drug users, so their disappearance didn't register with most people. 

Although Judith has been found dead, her brother Joshua swears she had cleaned up her life. Lola hears rumors that the other missing girls are working in the oil patch as exotic dancers.

When Lola arrives in Burnt Creek, Dakota, she is shocked at what she encounters. Men outnumber the women a hundred to one and most business establishments are either bars or strip joints. Life is rough and she feels sorry for the native residents who lived in Burnt Creek before the oil boom. She begins asking questions and before long she is attacked and left in the cold. The local sheriff, Thor Brevik, discovers her and takes her home to have his wife Charlotte help her recover. 

That's when the trouble really begins. This book is by no means a cozy mystery, but it an excellent and exciting mystery.

Want to read this book? Click here for that!