Fiction

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus

 

“A Christmas Peril” introduces us to Sully (Edwina) Sullivan, Theater Cop, a former active duty detective in Massachusetts. Sully is now the managing director of the cash-strapped Cliffside Theater Company whose troupe is about to stage the iconic Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. But first, she has to keep Scrooge from quitting, while holding her ex-husband and an old boyfriend at bay. There’s also the matter of the murders.


In the five years since leaving law enforcement, Sully has not lost her sleuthing skills, so when an old friend becomes a person of interest in his father’s murder and needs Sully’s help, she agrees to look into the circumstances. It turns out that every single member of the family is hiding something. With big money, romantic intrigue, and a large company at stake, there is plenty of motive to go around and no shortage of suspects.


Her ex-husband, Gus, complicates matters just by being around, but he’s a lawyer for the dead man’s family, so he’s hard to avoid. Sully still has a soft spot for him, though, and any guy that can make her toes curl can’t be all bad.


“A Christmas Peril” is an absorbing peek behind the curtain at the world of theater production. Costumes have to last for years, tech rehearsals take longer than I would have thought, and the battle for Arts money is a continuing challenge. One of the characters says while half-kidding, (paraphrased so as not to give anything away) “We can’t kill the star. His name is above the title and we would have to refund the tickets.”


Can Sully’s savvy skills save her former boyfriend and the play from disaster? Will she be able to keep from adding her ex-husband to the rising body count? And, what about the murders?


Hennrikus has penned a complex, multi-layered plot that delivers jaw dropping surprises. I could have sworn one of the ‘obvious’ suspects did at least one of the deeds, but instead turned out to be guilty of something else.

 

I’m looking forward to a repeat performance from the personable core group of characters – some quirky, some serious, but always entertaining. You can pre-order book #2 in the series, “With a Kiss I Die,” now. 

 

Please visit www.Jhauthors.com for more information about this Agatha nominated author and her other series.

 

 

 

 

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New York Times Notable Fiction – 2018

 

The New York Times Notable Fiction of 2018 list has been posted. It’s always interesting to see which books the Book Review editors will choose for their “Best of…” lists for the year. The titles are sometimes bestsellers, sometimes from debut authors, several from international writers, but more importantly, the NYT Book Review editors have fallen in love with the story (or the writing) and ta-da! the book makes the list.

 

Check out ten of their notable fiction choices from 2018. Click on the book titles to read their reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"An American Marriage"  by Tayari Jones

 

"Cherry"  by Nico Walker

 

"Eternal Life"  by Dara Horn

 

"The Friend"  by Sigrid Nunez

 

"The House of Broken Angels"  by Luis Alberto Urrea

 

"Macbeth"  by Jo Nesbø. Translated by Don Bartlett

 

"Mirror, Shoulder, Signal"  by Dorthe Nors

 

"My Year of Rest and Relaxation"  by Ottessa Moshfegh

 

"There There"  by Tommy Orange

 

"Warlight"  by Michael Ondaatje

 

Happy reading!   🙂

 

 

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Christmas Themed Fiction – 2018

 

Are you a fan of Christmas themed fiction? Then this list of thirty-two novels, novellas, and short stories is for you.  🙂

 

The books were recommended by avid cozy mystery readers, as well as NBR subscribers, and fans of Christmas inspirational works. Click on the titles to find out more about the books, then snuggle up with a great Christmas read.

 

Susan Wittig Albert: “The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

 

Gretchen Archer:  “Double Deck the Halls

 

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson + 15 other authors: “Sleigh Bells & Sleuthing

 

Donna Andrews: “Lark! The Herald Angels Sing”  

 

Mary Angela: “Very Merry Murder”

 

Joy Avon: “In Peppermint Peril”

 

Laurien Berenson: “Wagging through the Snow

 

Leslie Budewitz: “As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles”

 

Ellen Byron: “A Cajun Christmas Killing”

 

Lynn Cahoon: “Santa Puppy”

 

Vicki Delany “Hark the Herald Angels Slay”

 

Barbara Early: “Murder on the Toy Town Express”

 

Morris Fenris: “Miracle of Christmas Boxed Set

 

Beatrice Fishback: “Winter Writerland

 

Amanda Flower: “Premeditated Peppermint

 

Joanne Fluke: “Christmas Cake Murder

 

Jacqueline Frost: “Twelve Slays of Christmas

 

Daryl Wood Gerber “Wreath between the Lines

 

Patrice Greenwood: “As Red as Any Blood

 

Carolyn Haines: “Gift of Bones

 

Victoria Hamilton: “Breaking the Mould”

 

Julie Hennrikus: “A Christmas Peril”

 

CeeCee James: “The Frosty Taste of Scandal

 

Miranda James: “Six Cats a Slayin”

 

Laura Levine: “Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge”

 

Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross: “Yule Log Murder

 

Liz Mugavero:  “Purring around the Christmas Tree

 

Nancy Naigle: “Hope at Christmas”

 

Gail Oust: “The Twelve Dice of Christmas”

 

Summer Prescott: “Christmas Reunion Killer”

 

Julie Seedorf:  “The Discombobulated Decipherers”

 

Jane Willan:  “The Hour of Death”

 

Happy Choosing!  🙂

 

 

 

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Goodreads Choice Awards – 2018

 

Most of the winners of major book awards are selected by members of the groups that give the award – much like the film industry’s Academy Awards are selected each year. Mystery writers and fans vote on the major mystery awards; romance writers vote on the Rita Award, etc.

 

Goodreads, the popular readers/authors site, has a slightly different model for the Goodreads Choice Awards. During the year, readers chat about books they’re reading and make lists of their favorites for their friends and followers to see. They also rank books they’ve read with stars, indicating how much they liked (or disliked) the titles published that year. There are thousands of books listed on the site, with thousands of comments, giving anyone who’s interested a way to see how a book (published in the U.S. in English) is viewed by the Goodreads group. Amazon acquired Goodreads, so these reviews and stars probably have an impact on book sales.

 

During October each year, the Goodreads staff looks at the stats and does the math, then nominates 15 books for each of 20 categories that have an average rating of 3.5 stars or more. During the first round, write-ins are allowed, so check to see if your fave made the cut. (There is a special 21st category this year – the Best of the Best)

 

The members of the Goodreads community vote in elimination rounds. They are allowed to vote in all twenty-one categories, giving a broader view of a book’s popularity. If you sign up to become a member of Goodreads, you can vote as well.


Voting Schedule:

Opening round is closed: Oct. 30th thru Nov. 4th   (voting on the selected 15 in each category, write-ins accepted)

 

Semifinal Round is closed: Nov. 6th thru Nov. 11th  (voting on the original 15 along with the top 5 write-ins in each category – voters can change their minds about the original vote)

 

Final Round is now closed: Nov. 13th thru Nov. 26th  (voting on final top 10 books in each category)


Winners announced:  Dec. 4th.

 

Here are the 2018 links for nine of the categories (once there, the other twelve categories are an easy click away):

Fiction

Mystery & Thriller

Historical Fiction

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

Non-Fiction

YA Fantasy & Science Fiction

Best of the Best   (New this year, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Choice Awards)

 

The 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:

Fiction: Celeste Ng  “Little Fires Everywhere”

Mystery & Thriller: Paula Hawkins  “Into the Water”

Historical Fiction: Lisa Wingate  “Before We Were Yours”

Fantasy: JK Rowling  “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Romance: Colleen Hoover  “Without Merit”

Science Fiction: Andy Weir  “Artemis”

Non-Fiction: Lilly Singh  “How to Be a Bawse”

YA Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sarah J. Maas  “A Court of Wings and Ruin”

 

Did you read any of the winning choices from 2017? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section.

 

The 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:

Fiction: Liane Moriarty “Truly Madly Guilty”

Mystery & Thriller: Stephen King  “End of Watch”

Historical Fiction: Colson Whitehead “The Underground Railroad”

Fantasy: J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Romance: Colleen Hoover  “It Ends With Us”

Science Fiction: Pierce Brown  “Morning Star”

Non-Fiction: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy Carter “Hamilton: The Revolution”

YA Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sarah J. Maas  “Court of Mist and Fury”

 

 

The 12 additional categories included cookbooks, horror, non-fiction, children’s books and more.

 

This is the tenth anniversary of this groundbreaking international event, with increased participation each year.
The final tabulation for 2015 was 3,007,748 votes.

In 2016?  3,550,346 votes. 
2017?  3,887,950   🙂

2018? A record breaking 5,027,741

 

Happy reading!  🙂 

 

 

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Author Profile: Jeri Westerson

 

Jeri Westerson is a born and bred California author who likes to write in her home office, in her back yard, when camping, or in a hotel by the pool. “As long as I can plug in my laptop occasionally, that's where I work.”

 

She has worked as a freelance reporter and written award-winning short stories. Jeri has also been nominated for 13 national awards (Agatha and Shamus included) and has been warmly applauded by The Historical Novel Society, The Library Journal, and Suspense Magazine (plus others) for her work in the historical, suspense, and crime fiction arenas.


The author of eleven ‘Crispin Guest Medieval Noir novels, featuring a disgraced knight turned detective in fourteenth century London, Westerson has recently created another series – ‘The Booke of the Hidden Series.’ The six new books star Kylie Strange (the human heroine and owner of the new tea shop in town), Erasmus Dark (a handsome demon), a motley troop of Wiccans, and a dastardly biker gang. Title #1, “Booke of the Hidden,” is a funny, edgy, paranormal romance – set in the fictional small town Moody Bog, Maine.

 

Read my review here  in the "Try Something New This Summer" post. (audiobook now out as well).

The setup? Kylie has just moved into her house, begins renovation, and accidentally releases a demon, Erasmus Dark, centuries old Guardian of the Booke of the Hidden. Kylie must make sure that no other demons are released, while getting the escaped ones back into the Booke. Of course, if that happened in the first entertaining novel, the series would be over. Westerson promises that although the series may get a bit darker as it progresses, the humor will remain, as will the electric/forbidden romance between the lead characters.


Jeri is writing the series keeping this credo in mind: “In a paranormal romance, it’s imperative that one of the protagonists is the paranormal part of the relationship, though sometimes one or both leads discover some sort of paranormal talent they never knew they had.”

 

It takes about nine months for Jeri to complete a novel. This gives her time to research and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, let it stew, and rewrite it yet again. As a rule, she pens two books a year. She once did four, but doesn’t recommend trying to complete all four in a year if you like to sleep. When working with multiple books in the same series, she likes to get at least 30 pages on paper for each during the developmental stage. This method helps her establish and maintain the tone and the direction of the series, “rather than relying on a paragraph of a synopsis.”

 

Challenges that faced her while working on the ‘Booke of the Hidden’ series: “It was certainly different getting used to writing in a new genre, a genre that I've enjoyed reading and watching for years. Trying to think like a 26-year-old woman, and not sounding like a 58-year-old one, was terribly fun.”

 

Most of the authors in the NBR Profiles like to cook, and Jeri is no exception. She makes her own breads and pasta, and also does comfort food like chili. But her favorite recipe is her Oven Fried Chicken.

 

Jeri Westerson’s Oven Fried Chicken

 

1) Take any chicken parts (with skin and bones or without) and marinate in soy sauce for several hours.

 

2) Place the marinated chicken into a bag and shake in a mix of almond meal (or ground up Corn Flakes) with herbs and spices (garlic powder, lemon pepper, Old Bay, onion powder, oregano, pepper, rosemary, dried sage, salt, thyme)

 

3) Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour and fifteen minutes until done.

 

Jeri promises that “they are juicy and flavorful and even better cold for a picnic the next day.”


 

Jeri has appeared on NPR, has served as president of the SoCal Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, as VP for the LA Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and president of the OC Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She revealed that she lives in southern California “with her home-brewing husband, a complacent (licensed) desert tortoise named Harley, and 40,000 bees.”

 

About those bees… she and her husband built a hive for them after the bees destroyed a birdhouse. The bees hang around and provide the occasional jar of honey. Yum!

 

Book #2 in the series, DEADLY RISING, released October 23, 2018. Check it out here.

 

 

Readers can sign up for Jeri’s quarterly ‘Booke of the Hidden’ newsletter at her website BOOKEoftheHIDDEN.com. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the Mail Chimp logo.

 

Happy paranormal reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato

 

In “43 Missing,” Detective Emilia Cruz, the first woman detective in Acapulco, has been called in on a federal level case – a search for the missing bodies of 43 male college students who participated in an annual protest rally. After stealing busses from a local bus company, they were stopped by the police, handed over to a drug gang, and never seen again.


Cruz is part of a task force of five law enforcement officers hand-picked by the Attorney General’s office because of their lack of affiliation with any previous inquiries or associations with the families. Their parameters are clear: ‘Don’t gather new evidence or interview the families, but the government wants to confirm or deny the conclusions of the previous investigations and put the matter to rest.’


"43 Missing" is based on an actual 2014 case in Mexico. It garnered quite a bit of international attention and was thought at the time to be gang/drug related. Nobody, not even the Mexican government, disputed that. 


In Amato's fictional account, the families want closure. They know the boys are dead, but they have to find where the bodies were buried. It's been a year and a half and the families feel corruption is getting in the way of the truth. They don't want to point fingers or cast blame because they fear for their lives if they do speak up. In “43 Missing,” several previous investigations conducted by various agencies pointed to inadequate actions by the Mexican government, and nothing was done to either bring anyone to justice or to find the bodies.


Emilia agrees to participate because of the connection to an old, intensely personal case. She may be able to find the person, her own brother, against whom she must exact revenge. So far, she has risked everything – friends, an important relationship, her job; now maybe her life.


What is uncovered in "43 Missing" is astounding. Amato is thoroughly convincing in her version of what might have happened in real life. The two cases of the missing boys and Cruz' search for personal revenge overlap in complex and frightening ways. This is a haunting page-turner.


Amato's books are set in Mexico, with vivid images of the country's landscape and unique architecture, both old and new. She includes descriptions of the meals eaten in street-side cafes and great restaurants, reminding me how much I love Mexican food.


Taut writing ramps up the tension in “43 Missing,” as Amato deals with the issues plaguing any two countries battling the drug trade and human trafficking along their borders. The tragedy of decent members of society caught in the crossfire, stayed with me long after I finished the book. 


In real-life, the 43 bodies have yet to be found.


“43 Missing,” nominated for Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion award, is book #6 in the Detective Emilia Cruz series. Please visit http://carmenamato.net/ for more information about Ms. Amato’s distinguished law enforcement background and the other books in the series.

 

 

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National Book Awards – 2018

 

Selected from these lists of five finalists in each category, the winners were named at the annual National Book Awards ceremony on November 14, 2018. (Indicated in red.) Please click on the book titles to discover more about the books.
 

FICTION

A Lucky Man    Jamel Brinkley

Florida Lauren Groff

Where the Dead Sit Talking   Brandon Hobson

The Great Believers  Rebecca Makkai

The Friend  Sigrid Nunez

 

NONFICTION

The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation    Colin G. Calloway

American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic Victoria Johnson

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Sarah Smarsh

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke    Jeffrey C. Stewart

We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights   Adam Winkler

  

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

The Poet X   Elizabeth Acevedo

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge  T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle   Leslie Connor

The Journey of Little Charlie   Christopher Paul Curtis

Hey, Kiddo   Jarrett J. Krosoczka

 

 Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!  🙂

 

Click here to browse all of the 2018 National Book Award Finalists.

 

 

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