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Everybody’s Talking About Sisterhood

Today at The Muffin, Therese Walsh is celebrating the release of her new novel The Moon Sisters with a group blogging about…you guessed it: sisterhood! Two dozen women are posting their take on sisterhood and at each blog you can enter to win a copy of The Moon Sisters, including here on Words by Webb. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

In The Moon Sisters,  Therese Walsh wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires”, these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them toMoonSisters treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.

Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sounds and smell sights and the other controlling and reality driven. What will happen when they are plunged into 24/7 togetherness and control is not an option? Will they ever be able to see the world through the other’s eyes and confront the things they fear the most? Death. Suicide. The loss of faith and hope. Will they ultimately believe that life is worth living, despite the lack of promise?

The writing of The Moon Sisters was a five year journey and at times author Therese Walsh felt like it was her own “foolish fire”. But remember, some fires are worth the chase!

You can read my review of The Moon Sisters here.

Unlikely Sisters

We weren’t supposed to be together. There were rules on the maternity floor. Women who were having babies roomed together. Women who had babies in distress or lost babies roomed together. When I ended up on the maternity floor much too early for my baby to be born and they began pumping me full of steroids in a last ditch attempt to mature my baby’s lungs I was placed in a room alone. At night I would lie in the darkness,listening to the sound of the baby cribs being wheeled to rooms up and down the hall but not my room.

They came one day and apologized. The floor was overcrowded and they were bringing a new mother to share my room. A new mother and her baby. They pulled the curtain so I wouldn’t have to see this new baby, be taunted by its healthiness. I turned my back on my new roommates and stared out the window, counting the minutes until my husband would arrive.

Thankfully, it was quiet on the other side of the curtain. Until it wasn’t. The baby was crying. First, a soft whimper that grew into a “where is everybody?” wail. I peeked around the curtain. No new mom in the bed but the bathroom door was closed. I was on bed rest but couldn’t listen to the heartbreaking cries anymore. I shuffled over to their side of the room.

“Shhh. What’s the matter? Where’s your mama?” I reached out my hand and stroked the soft baby cheek, curly baby hair, tiny baby fingers. When the new mom returned, bubbling over with what I could only imagine was an apology in rapid Spanish I was already crying, thinking of my poor little baby, too young to be born.

It soon became clear that she was just seconds away from crying too. Between the two of us we were awash on a sea of pregnancy hormones. “No, no,” I smiled trying to recall some high school Spanish. “Muy bonita.” She smiled. “Mucho, mucho…” I twirled my fingers over the baby’s black curls.

“Cabello,” she added.

She patted my belly. “Manana.”

“No, no. Baby muy pequeno. Muy muy pequeno. No manana.”

“Ah.” To my surprise me were suddenly standing there hugging while a stream of Spanish surrounded us. The most I got out of it was “madre Maria” and “Dios” which I took to mean that she would pray for my muy pequeno baby.

I have felt the sisterhood of women many times in my life. But I will never forget the sisterhood of mothers I felt that day.

When have you felt the sisterhood of women?

Category: Giveaways, News  4 Comments

Deep Sleep

Comment on today’s post before February 20 and I’ll enter you to win an e-book copy of Deep Sleep. Spread the word!

Deep Sleep

Author: Francis Fyfield

Hardcover: 276 pages (also available in paperback, audiobooks and e-formats)Deep_Sleep_Frances_Fyfield_Cover

Publisher: Witness Impulse (January 21, 2014)

Synposis:

Pip Carlton is a devoted husband and a highly respected pharmacist, cherished by his loyal customers. When his wife dies in her sleep, with no apparent cause, he is distraught. Comforted by his caring assistant, Pip ignores the rumors about Margaret’s death, relieved that the police seem to have moved on.

But Prosecutor Helen West refuses to believe that Margaret simply slipped into her final slumber. As she probes deeper into the affairs of the neighborhood, she uncovers a viper’s nest of twisted passion, jealous rage, and lethal addictions.

As a sudden act of violence erupts, shaking the community, one lone man, armed with strange love potions, prepares to murder again…

Review:

This was a puzzling story with many couples tenuously connected. Let’s see…there was

  • the lawyer and the police officer
  • the other police officer and his ex-wife
  • the ex-wife and the chemist
  • the chemist and the chemist’s assistant (who is also the ex-wife from the second pair)
  • the chemist and his wife

It’s quite a puzzle fitting pieces in and seeing how the couples and their motives fit together. At times it feels like there were just too many people to keep track of. There is quite an eerie aura to this book, it gives you the shivers at times. But the two main characters Helen and Bailey (the lawyer and the police officer) are a fascinating couple and I’ll gladly give Francis Fyfield another try to see these two. I just hope the next book involving these two is a little…simpler.

Perhaps it’s just that, for all my complaints about my husband’s love of action flicks I’m just an action girl at heart. But if you love books that delve into the motivations and emotions of people this book is for you.

 

Two Lessons in Indie Publishing

TWO LESSONS IN INDIE PUBLISHING FROM THE LAST YEAR

By Christopher Meeks

meeksI’m an accidental publisher. I never intended to go the route I have, starting my own publishing company. I had an agent, and I was doing what I wanted to do: writing quality fiction.

However, after I’d published a number of short stories in journals, enough to make a book, I suggested a book of these stories to my agent. He said there wasn’t enough money in short fiction for him to even send out my manuscript. That’s when I started White Whisker Books. I would publish my short story collection, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. It’s been an Amazon Bestseller off and on for the last two years. Now I’m writing novels.
I’d worked for a publisher at one time, so I had experienced how it was done from the inside: getting a quality editor, obsessed proofreaders, a great book designer, and an energetic publicist—so I mirrored that. I’ve been doing it ever since, not only leaving the agent and publishing my novels, too, but also publishing books by talented friends.

I started in 2006, and things have changed a great deal. At first, it was all about printed books, using print-on-demand technology. Then eBooks became a force, and for the do-it-yourselfer and small publishers (which I’ll call “indies”), it’s meant a lot of cost savings in terms of not having to take back printed books that didn’t sell.
Still, 2013 was the year that eBooks found their level: about 20% of all books sold. That means 80% of publishing is still in traditional printed books. Indies can make a perfectly good living in eBooks alone, but part of me wants to know is there a way to crack that 80% that’s cost effective? It’s a question I can’t answer right now. I still sell printed books through Ingram—and it’s only a small part of sales. I still take back books, which cuts down severely in the profit I make there.

As I look back on 2013, here are two big things I’ve learned:

1) To sell eBooks beyond your friends and family, you need to advertise. Otherwise, how will people find your book? Many indies hope that, magically, word-of-mouth will do it. That’s rare. It’s certainly a slim possibility, but even so, you may need to advertise to start the word-of-mouth.

There are thousands of places willing to take your money, but early in 2013, I discovered BookBub. It’s mostly an email service that sends out daily notices of great books that are at a discount. Subscribers select the categories of books they like read, and rather than being deluged, they are likely to get just four or five recommendations each day. You, the author, pay for a recommended spot if BookBub chooses you. With a single sponsorship, I’ve sold between 600 and 1600 books in a day. Most people who’ve used it have had similar results.

The BookBub people are geniuses. Right from the start, they only took sponsorships for books that were highly regarded. That meant a book needed a number of traditional and customer reviews, and the average customer review had to be four stars or higher. The cover and blurbs had to appeal to them. The books also had to be discounted at least 50% for the day so that their readers would buy it now.

Of course, news of this service spread, and now every author wants their book there. A book can appear, however, only once every six months, so it’s not in and of itself a marketing plan. You want your book seen more than twice a year. However, it makes for a nice pair of blips on the yearly sales chart.

There are other places that work similarly, though not with such high sales. However, you can use these services for the same book every two to four weeks. Places I can recommend are BookGorilla, Kindle Books and Tips, Kindle Nation Daily, and EReader News Today (ENT). I hope to discover others.

What this all means in practical terms is you need at least a dozen reviews on Amazon to start things. Your book better be well-written, well-edited and proofed, and with a great cover design to get those reviews. If you are less than professional in those areas, you’re not likely to get top reviews.

One of my company’s books, Iron City by David Scott Milton, a fabulous mystery from a veteran writer who’s been with big publishers, has twenty-six reviews, most of them four- and five-star, but there are enough below that to take his average rating to just below four stars. Now I can’t place sponsorships for it.

New books typically don’t have enough reviews to get sponsorships. What I’m saying is that not every book can be advertised. Thus, if you get a spot in one of these places, make the price low. While 99 cents seems absurdly low, it will sell books if indeed 99 cents is a special price.

If your book sells well on a particularly day, your ranking on Amazon and Barnes and Noble will go up. If it goes up enough, it will show as a top seller in certain lists. I hope Blood Drama, for instance, will show up in the thriller, suspense, literary, or contemporary fiction lists. Once the book makes it on a list, people looking at those lists might look at the book’s landing page. If the reviews, the cover, and the price all look great, you might have a sale. The more sales, the longer you stay on those lists.

2) Blog tours are important. One way to get reviews is a blog tour. I did my first blog tour last year, and I found it wonderful. A blog tour is managed by a tour operator—some are better than others. This book is on a blog tour through a company called Partners in Crime, which has been a pleasure. It’s how I found Jodi Webb.

What a tour operator does is contact bloggers and literary websites that might be appropriate for a book and invite the people associated with them to be a part of the tour. A site might get involved in one of three ways: review the book that’s on tour; interview the book’s author; ask the author to write a guest blog, which is what I’m doing here with Jodi.

To sum it all up, I’ve found that if your book is truly good, and you either want to help your publisher or you are publishing the book yourself, you need to get on a blog tour. If you get good reviews, advertise your book.
I didn’t start writing to become a publisher or a marketing expert. It’s the writing I love. To be true to my writing, though, I’ve learned how to get my books out there. Try one of my books to see see if I get you involved in my story. If I do, this has all been worth it.

Blood Drama

Author: Christopher Meeks

Paperback: 240 pages (also available in e-formats)BloodDrama

Publisher: White Whisker Books (May 13, 2013)

Synposis:

Everyone has a bad day. In the crossover thriller BLOOD DRAMA, graduate student Ian Nash, after losing his girlfriend, gets dropped from a Ph.D. program in theatre. When he stops at a local coffee shop in the lobby of a bank to apply for a job, the proverbial organic matter hits the fan. A gang of four robs the bank, and things get bloody. Ian is taken hostage by the robbers when the police show up. Now he has to save his life.

FBI Special Agent Aleece Medina’s analysis of the bloody bank heist drives her into the pursuit of a robbery gang headed by two women. She doesn’t anticipate how this robbery will pit her against both the bandits and the male higher-ups in the FBI while the media heats up during a giant manhunt.

The robbers are about to kill Ian, and all he has at hand is his knowledge of the stage.

Review:

If you enjoy books with unlikely pairs then Blood Drama is the book for you. Ian Nash and Aleece Medina could not be more different yet through a twist of fate they find themselves working toward the same goal — the capture of a gang of bank robbers. Medina just happens to be an expert at bank robbers while Nash is an expert at…well, a few playwrights most of us have only a glancing knowledge of. But somehow they make it work.

Blood Drama is a book full of surprises — including a few I really never saw coming. That’s what makes a book great, the things you never would have guessed in a million years. This story grabs you from the very beginning when you wonder “How will this poor soul ever survive being kidnapped?” When you mix Nash with FBI agent Medina, he suddenly becomes this guy convinced that he alone can stop the bank robbers. You’ll keep reading if only to find out what kind of crazy trouble Nash gets himself into.

Thank you Christopher Meeks for staying true to reality and not wrapping everything up with a neat little bow at the end. I’d love to see what happens to Nash and Medina, separately or together, in another book.

Check out an excerpt of Blood Drama here and if you like it ( I know you will!) comment on today’s post before February 13 and I’ll enter you to win an e-book copy of Blood Drama. Spread the word!

When Good Bras Go Bad

When Good Bras Go Bad

Author: Gayle Trent

Paperback: 112 pages (also available in e-books)Bras-Cover-189x300

Publisher: Grace Abraham Publishing (August 1, 2006)

Synposis:

Myrtle Crumb, the sassy sixty-something sleuth from Between a Clutch and a Hard Place, is back. This time she must go undercover in the middle school cafeteria to prove her granddaughter is not a thief. Still, Sunny knows more than she’s telling; and it’s starting to affect her relationship with her grandmother. Is Sunny’s new friend Alicia the thief? If so, how far will Sunny go to protect her? Sunny might be fixing to learn a powerful lesson: that betrayal “is like when a good bra goes bad. First it lets you down, and then that underwire pokes you right in the heart.”

Review:

Gayle Trent is an old favorite of mine (no, Gayle I’m not saying you’re old!). Her ability to create memorable characters leaves me in awe! And Myrtle is QUITE the character. She storms into her granddaughter’s life bulldozing not only her granddaughter but the lunch lady, the principal and the school’s security guard. In the grand scheme of things, the mystery in When Good Bras Go Bad isn’t that serious. Of course, in Myrtle’s granddaughter’s life (and by extension Myrtle’s life) this mystery is all-important. This is a light-hearted romp that is perfect to help you de-stress after a tough day.

Myrtle is that slightly wacky little old lady we all knew from our neighborhood growing up. Both her familiarity and her unpredictableness will make her a favorite for readers of all ages.

If Myrtle sound like fun to you (and she is) check out the latest Myrtle Crumb mystery for FREE here. But hurry, I’m not sure how long this special price will last.

Congratulations!

Syllabub_CoverCongratulations to Marjorie who won an e-book copy of Murder by Syllabub. I hope everyone else will continue commenting. There are more giveaways coming up!

5Ws with Toni Piccinini

Thanks to WOW Blog Tours for the opportunity to interview a fascinating author with an equally intriguing book. Toni Piccinini wrote The Goodbye Year as a sort of step-by-step guide to surviving that last year your child lives at home. As a mom who has lived through two of these years I know it’s a tough time with lots of contradictions. You want them to grow up but you still want them to need you. You’re excited to see them going away but you still want the same old family dynamic you’ve had for years. You remember the things you did when you were their age and away from home for the first time and you cringe. You realize that you’re…well, old.

If you’re dealing with all these issues (or will be soon) it’s time to read The Goodbye Year. And now you have a chance to win a copy (thanks, Toni!) by just leaving a comment by October 30. Spread the word to all your friends who have teens. It’s a book we all should read.

The Goodbye Year: Wisdom and Culinary Therapy to Survive Your Child’s Senior Year of High SchoolTonibook_cover_new2

Author: Toni Piccinini

Paperback: 264 pages (also available in e-books)

Publisher: Seal Press (September 10, 2013)

Synposis:

For many mothers, a child’s senior year brings about a serious look back on the past eighteen. Every event—from Halloween to Mother’s Day—becomes The Last Time.

Toni Piccinini knows exactly what that’s like, and in The Goodbye Year, she offers the loving support every soon-to-be Empty Nester needs. Think of Toni as your bossy-but-loving Italian auntie, with modern sensibilities and a packed pantry. With the wisdom she’s acquired from saying goodbye three times to her own children, she reassuringly holds your hand while encouraging you through the insanity of the college application process, the rejections and the acceptances, and the teary dorm drop-offs. Even better, she reminds every mother that the best is yet to come—freedom, creativity, flexibility, and the Me Years.

5Ws with Toni Piccinini

Toniauthor_photoWHO
Who are some of your favorite writers and why?

I’m glad you added the “some” to your question. To name one favorite writer might be like naming a favorite child, though on some days that wouldn’t be too difficult. (Smiley face to moms)

I resonate with the themes of interior life, which most often means female writers. I just finished “The Lifeboat” a debut novel by Charlotte Rogan told from the limited perspective of a 1914 twenty-two year-old bride. We know she is flawed and her withholding is purposefully transparent. As a reader it engages me to feel as if I know more than the character telling the story. When a writer can do that, I am in awe. I never tire of Jane Austen, Alice Munro, and Margaret Atwood. The stories they tell exist on the level of words not said, random appointments rescheduled, and the seemingly insignificant decisions we make that change the course of a life. Anita Shreve’s “Testimony” is a parent’s nightmare. The story unspools chapter after chapter with the characters’ different voices—in first, second, and third person—fraying at the ends as the events of one night tear apart the fabric of their lives. Curtis Sittenfeld, Lionel Shriver, Gillian Flynn, Audrey Niffenegger, and Donna Tartt are simply wicked good. Though their writing voices are uniquely their own, they each possess a courage to look into the dark closets of their characters’ souls. At times asking the reader to suspend belief whether it’s time travel or parallel lives acted out side by side, the authenticity of the characters they create allow us to say, “Okay, I’ll go along with this.” Carol Edgarian writes about a financially strained marriage with small sick children in her latest novel, “Three Stages of Amazement.” Its humanity gives us heartache, heartburn and laughter at the absurdity of how we sometimes live our lives.

Jodi, I could just go on and on. I heart writers! Like most readers I want to be lost in a book. I want to live in the world on the pages, even if at the end of the last chapter, I’m happy to be back in mine.

WHEN
When do you do your writing? Are you a daily writer? Night owl? Morning bird?

About ten years ago I “discovered” Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and I started morning pages. Ms. Cameron challenges any artist, which is any human being, to write freehand (and fill up) three notebook pages—freehand—first thing in the morning before we do anything else. Doing this every morning (takes about 25 minutes) is magical. The writing is not meant for anyone and often is a laundry list of “to dos” and a whine about the weather or a loved one. But getting it out and onto the page with pen to paper opens a channel to the divine. When much is on my mind I leave it on the page and in that open space creativity comes in. Doing the morning pages sets me up to do the “real” writing of the afternoon. The Deadline compresses my thoughts and gets my butt in the chair. When I’m under pressure I will write anytime of day for hours at my desk, in a library, in a café, or in bed because I have to! Procrastinating will do that to you. I am imagining what it would be like to turn something in days ahead, but right now that’s still in the realm of paranormal fiction in my writing life.

WHERE
Where did you get the idea to write The Goodbye Year? How did you make the jump in writing from antibiotics to personal essays?

When I was reporting scientific findings for professional journals often my principle investigator (PI in lab jargon) would laugh at the narrative I wanted to spin about the lives of the bacteria. He’d laugh, use his red pen, and tell me to follow the guidelines. Ironically, there’s not much room for experimental writing when writing about experiments. The Goodbye Year came years after when I noticed that much of my morning pages were about the hole I felt was forming with the realization that Page’s senior year would be the last time our family of five would be together.

WHAT
What is the one thing every parent should know when they begin their goodbye year?

Your child is not the same guy he was when he was ten, but maybe you’re still trying to be the same mother. This is a path to misery. Enjoy these last times. As hard as it is, allow your child to make mistakes, own them, and support the growth that comes as he or she prepares for the next stage of life.

WHY
Why did you select Seal Press? Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?

I would have selected Seal Press if that were an option, but blessed be, they selected me. In 2010, my agent had shopped a version of “The Goodbye Year” to several publishers, including Seal Press. At the time it didn’t fit their list, but in March of 2012 an editor remembered the submission, contacted my agent and made me an offer. It was a complete surprise. The team at Seal Press, from editors to designers to sales to publicity, has been so supportive and exceptional.

Giveaway: Murder by Syllabub

Would you like to load up your e-reader? Win a free e-copy of Murder by Syllabub by leaving a comment before October 22.

Syllabub_Covers=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380771831&sr=1-1&keywords=murder+by+syllabub”>Murder by Syllabub

Author: Kathleen Delaney

Paperback: 336 pages (also available in e-books)

Publisher: Camel Press (July 1, 2013)

Synposis:

A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble?

When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty–the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband–turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator.

Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia.

Murder by Syllabub is the fifth book of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series. But don’t worry, you can easily enjoy this one without reading the books that came before it.

Review:

When I first saw this title I was clueless…syllabub? Was that some sort of weird plural form of syllabus, that overly optimistic semester plan college profs hand out on the first day of class? Turns out it’s a colonial drink. One that is ideal for hiding poison in when you want to kill someone.

It was fun seeing the regular characters of the Ellen McKenzie mystery series out of their element, in fact transplanted across the country from sunny California to colonial Virginia. It added a twist that made the mystery even more difficult for Ellen to unwrap. Not only did she have to solve the mystery of the murder but the mystery of why people act in such a different way in this area that revolves around colonial history.

My favorite character in Murder by Syllabub was Cora Lee, that incredible combo of femininity and iron that results in a true Southern lady. I wish everyone was so wonderfully drawn as she was. This was a tough mystery to solve. There were so many people and so many possibilities and no one seemed to have a clear motive. Of course when it was all explained it was an “of course, why didn’t I see that” moment.

Pork Chops and Applesauce

Pork Chops and Applesauce: A Collection of Recipes and Reflections

Thanks to WOW Blog Tours for the opportunity to review this great cookbook. I don’t have a book to give away but my frind Margo Dill at Read These Books and Use Them! does. Stop by and enter to win!

Author: Cynthia BriggsCynthiaBookCover

Paperback: 193 pages

Publisher: Author House (July 14, 2004)

Synposis:

Cynthia Briggs message in Pork Chops & Applesauce is about focusing on what’s important in life; and how taking a break to reflect upon memorable family gatherings and the sharing of dinners provides a respite from the fast pace of living in today’s hectic world. Cynthia says, Your Roasted Garlic Potatoes are in the oven baking along with your Surprise Parmesan Meatloaf. The Pear Pie with Crunchy Pecan Crust is cooling on the counter. The dishes are done, the cut flowers are in a vase on the dining room table, and the whole house smells like paradise! Now, before your guests arrive, it s time relax and read one or two of the nostalgic and often humorous stories that introduce many of the recipes in Pork Chops & Applesauce. Enjoy!

Review:

I always enjoy a good cookbook — it’s in my blood. My grandmother worked and raised five children (and eventually helped out with most of her 14 grandchildren). It seemed there was always one or another grandkid at her house. She had two hobbies: one was As the World Turns (no one — not even my dziadzu or “grandpa” — was allowed to bug her during As the World Turns) and the other was cookbooks. My grandmother wasn’t a gourmet, creative or experimental cook. She knew what dziadzu liked (meat and potatoes except for fish on Fridays) and that’s what she made. Roast beef, pork loin, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, coleslaw. Foods like kale, quinona and mangoes. Words like vegan, wine sauce and tofu. Methods like flambe, julienned and microwaving. Ethnic food that weren’t Polish (with the exception of the occassional spaghetti). None of these things ever made it to her dinner table. Although she relied on her tried and true recipes all her life she was fascinated by cookbooks and had stacks of them next to her couch. Exotic recipes, gourmet recipes, incredibly detailed recipes worthy of Julia Childs were what she perused when she had a spare minute.

I enjoyed Cynthia Briggs book not because the recipes were exotic or gourmet but because they were practical. I am a working mom who is often called on to bake, cook or somehow provide something edible for the latest school fundraiser. As a mom on kid #3 I have a list of fall backs I rely on for these events but the truth is, sometimes that gets boring. And then I got Cynthia’s book a virtual cornucopia of simple but delicious recipes that would be great for school events: spare ribs, applesauce cupcakes, rocky road cupcakes, oatmeal cake, empanadas, clam chowder.

But the recipes aren’t even the best part. This book has a story about Cynthia’s family or friends to go with just about every recipe. My grandmother would have LOVED that. Because nothing says “I love my family” like cooking up something they love, right?

In the Shadow of Revenge

Thanks to Partners in Crime for an e-book copy of In the Shadow of Revenge to review. You can learn about more of the stops on the Partners in Crime Blog Tourhere. If you’d like to win an e-book copy of In the Shadow of Revenge, just leave a comment by Tuesday, September 30.

In the Shadow of Revenge

Author: Patricia HaleIn_the_Shadow_of_Revenge_cover9fb57a

E-Book: 280 pages (also available as an audiobook)

Publisher: Carina Press (July 15, 2013)

Synposis:

Everybody thought brilliant Cecily would leave dead-end Millers Falls for something better. But a two-decades-old tragedy locks her in place. Few understand the fierce bond that Cecily and Amelia share with Hilary, who was assaulted one summer as the two other girls watched helplessly. It’s a bond of love and guilt…and a desire for vengeance that cuts clear to the bone.

So Assistant DA Cecily Minos waits, eager to see the guy in her courtroom. When Amelia meets a man who has the tattoo the girls remember seeing that day, they think they’ve finally caught a break. But the police refuse to reopen the case, and it’s up to Cecily and Amelia to pursue their suspect.

Their investigation soon uncovers secrets best left buried. But the law is slow, and they’ve waited long enough for revenge…

PICT_ButtonReview:

Patricia Hale is very successful at setting a mood with her descriptions: a cat purring to create safety, a rickety old apartment building to create insecurity. I admire her use of all five senses in her writing.

This book keeps you guessing as new characters are introduced with hidden motives. I thought I had this book figured out but boy was I wrong. How can I describe it? Hale has an incredible way of making you think you’re seeing the whole picture, so of course you think you know exactly what’s going one then — pow — she reveals that you were only seeing 10% of the picture and there’s so much more to the story.

This was a great debut book and I think as Hale writes more she will create even richer characters. I look forward to her next book.

Giveaway: Devil in the Hole

Devil in the Hole

Author: Charles SalzburgDevilinthe Hole

Hardcover: 254 pages

Publisher: Five Star (August 7, 2013)

Synposis:

In the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who’s got a three-week jump on the police.

Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman’s mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he’s headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.

Review:

What shape are crime novels? For me, they were always triangles: the victim, the criminal and the investigator/cop/detective. Three people = a triangle. I say “were” because I read Charles Salzburg’s Devil in the Hole. For Charles Salzburg, crimes are less triangles and more icosagons (I totally did not make that word up — it’s a 20 sided figure).

Devil in the Hole is written in a fascinating way. Each chapter is written from a different person touched by the crime (in this case, the murder of a woman, her mother-in-law and two children). In this book we pretty much know who committed the crime: the missing husband/son/father. The book is more about who the murder affected those surrounding the crime and investigation. Everyone from the neighbor who first noticed the family was missing to the the cops, the community’s minister, the suspect’s sister,and even random people that met the suspect as he hid from the police. They all had the opportunity to tell their own piece of the mystery, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant. Even the suspect gets his chance to speak. I loved the unexpected ways the crime affected people. People you think would be devastated by the crime seem shockingly unaffected, more angry than sad or shocked. Others who barely knew the suspect and murdered family become obsessed with the crime.

The criminal’s motives are interesting but what makes this book stand apart from so many others that delve into a criminal’s mind is the expansion to investigate the thoughts and feelings of everyone touched by the crime. At the start I thought this would get confusing, so many people, so many voices, so many thoughts. But Salzburg did a great job of creating individuals that were unique and memorable making it easy to see the whole picture of this crime even though there were so many pieces/people. If you’re ready to abandon triangles for icosagons Devil in the Hole is the book for you. After reading so many crime/mystery books some begin to merge together, you aren’t quite sure what details are from what book. This will NOT happen with Devil in the Hole. This is a memorable book that you will never forget.

To win an e-copy of Devil in the Hole, just comment on this post by September 17. This is a haunting book you won’t want to miss!