General

Author Profile: Lynn Chandler Willis

 

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Lynn Chandler Willis began her adventure with the public side of writing as the owner/publisher/editor/reporter of the Pleasant Garden Post, circulated in the Pleasant Garden region of North Carolina. The first issue came out in 1996, and the last in 2009. She “did everything but print it.”

 

It was during that (sometimes intense) experience that she covered a local murder. She sat in court, interviewed the participants as well as the family of the victim and was led to write a true crime novel, “Unholy Covenant,” also titled “The Preacher’s Son.” This murder in the small North Carolina town became so famous that it was featured on the TV show, American Justice, in 2005.

 

Her next novel was a distinct departure from her true crime writing. Willis’ inspirational book, “The Rising,” became a 2013 Grace Award winner for Mystery/Romantic Suspense. It was followed by another shift in focus, “Wink of an Eye,” a Shamus Award winner for Best PI Book of the Year. Willis was the first female recipient of the Award in a decade. The “Wink” series, with hunky Gerard Butler oops Gypsy Moran as the Texas PI, will continue – great news for Gypsy fans.

 

But, there’s more. Lynn Chandler Willis has written the first of three books set in North Carolina, “Tell Me No Lies,” with Ava Logan, newspaper owner/publisher/editor/reporter, as the lead protagonist. Sound familiar? Willis’ personal background lends wonderful authenticity to the newspaper scenes both in and out of the office. “TMNL” deals with ginseng poaching, betrayal, a love lost and found, and of course, a murder. (Willis promises that the book is not autobiographical.)

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Willis’ fiction includes children as major characters, ranging in age from toddler to teenagers. One of the things that won me over to her as an author is the genuine voices those children have, no matter the age. While it could be said that she draws on her considerable experience as a grandmother (two children and nine grandchildren) what becomes clear is that in real life she really listens to them – their speech patterns, their levels of anxiety, the realistic interactions with their surroundings – making for a completely natural read. It could be your kid in the room with Ava or Gypsy. Not an easy thing to achieve.

 

Ms. Willis said, “As for portraying the teens realistically, I wanted to be honest about how teens really are. I didn't want the kids to be flawless. They make mistakes, they make bad decisions, and they learn from them.”

 

Devoted to her family, Ms. Willis happily lives within a few minutes of all of them. A rescue Border Collie named Finn, has recently become a large part of her life, and when you find Willis on Facebook, photos of Finn demonstrate how happy the two of them are together. That tail never stops wagging. Lol  Great dog!

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When asked how she decided upon the Appalachian setting for the Ava Logan series, Willis said, “I see the area as so pure in a complex, yet simplistic way. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are multi-layered, and traditions run deep. The people are probably some of the most self-sufficient people you'd ever meet.”

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Lynn Chandler Willis trivia:

 

Favorite foods: Fresh, summertime veggies on a Sunday afternoon – homegrown tomatoes, fried squash or okra, fresh creamed corn, fresh, overcooked green beans (the way we eat them in the south), and of course homemade biscuits. After that, probably pizza. Thin crust with pepperoni and mushroom.

 

Favorite Music: Country & Western, with George Strait or Garth Brooks twanging in the background while she writes.

 

“Small towns, big characters” is the theme that threads its way through all her books. Click on the links below to read my reviews.  

 

Book Cover -The Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read my review of "The Rising" here.

 

 

 

Book Cover - Wink of an Eye                                Read my review of "Wink of an Eye" here.

 

Book Cover - Tell Me No Lies

 

 

Review coming soon. Stay tuned.  🙂

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Periodically, Nightstand Book Reviews has a crossover post with www.kerriansnotebook.com. Ava Logan was a Visiting Detective in January, with “Crime in Appalachia.” Take a look here.

 

Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for details about Ms. Willis’ appearances and updates on the books.

 

Facebook Author Page

 

Visit Henery Press for additional information.

 

*Photo credits:

Lynn Chandler Willis & Blue Ridge Parkway – Patti Phillips

Bloody Footprint – Google

 

 

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“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan

Book Cover - What She Knew

 

 

 

In “What She Knew,” Rachel Finch hesitates, but finally gives her son, Ben, permission to run ahead of her to the swings in a park they have been to many times before. She doesn’t want to be seen as an over protective mother. But when she reaches the swings, he isn’t there and is nowhere to be found.

 

A sense of sorrow envelops the reader at the beginning of “What She Knew,” as Rachel shares the story from her point of view – what could she have done better/differently/instead of, during those minutes leading up to and after Ben’s disappearance? Her story is heart wrenching as she explores her own actions and reactions in the face of enormously challenging circumstances.

 

Macmillan spares no one, however, and the other stakeholders – the father, the new wife, the investigators – all take turns at center stage, examining their own guilt and excuses as the 8-day search continues. There is plenty of ‘would have, should have’ to pass around when fingers are pointed and accusations fly. People try to help her cope for a while, but Rachel pushes them away in despair, certain that they cannot truly understand. And, of course, they can’t.

 

Is Rachel or some other trusted adult at fault? People even remotely involved with the child are questioned, then questioned again. The detective work is painstakingly difficult; the media attention excruciating and sometimes misplaced and vicious.

 

Do we, the readers, remember every detail about every person, bush, swing, and shrub that we pass on our daily walks in the park? Unless we are in the middle of some kind of memory training game, probably not. And, yet that’s exactly what Rachel is asked to do. Every second, every step, every motive, must be accounted for.

 

“What She Knew” is an astonishing page-turner, and by seeing the reactions to the crime through the major players involved, Macmillan gets us, the readers, highly invested. I found myself defending the parents, then faulting the parents, defending the detectives and faulting the system as the kidnapping details were explained and suspects revisited.

 

Macmillan has written fully fleshed out characters, with emotionally believable reactions and dialogue, with devastating twists and turns. Who did it and why? Were the right people investigated/punished? ‘Is the investigative process itself, flawed?’ may be a question that haunts you long after the last page of “What She Knew” is read.

 

Although the action in “What She Knew” takes place in England (where the book is called “Burnt Paper Sky”) the themes are sadly universal and missing children remain a terrible part of our culture. Check out NamUs.gov and the UK missing children’s sites for more information. Read “How long has your daughter been missing?” for related details about missing persons.

 

Please visit www.gillymacmillan.com  for news about Macmillan and her other work. “What She Knew” is an international bestseller and her latest book, “The Perfect Girl,” was published in the USA in September, 2016.

 

 

 

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“Echoes of Edisto” by C. Hope Clark

 

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Callie Jean Morgan is now the Police Chief in “Echoes of Edisto,” the third book in C. Hope Clark’s Edisto Island series. The former Boston police detective, haunted by the tragic death of her husband, is living in South Carolina on the coastal island of Edisto with her teenaged son. She has come to Edisto to get as far away from the memories as possible, but it seems that law enforcement is in her blood and those memories have a way of following her trail to the beach.

 

A horrifying traffic accident tests Callie’s mettle as a new Police Chief, pushes the limits of her sobriety, and raises more than one question about the people in her life. “Echoes of Edisto” delves into Callie’s actions, both past and present, and we get to see more of what makes this complex flesh and blood woman tick. Clark delivers an astonishing revelation:   just when Callie has come to terms with her deceased father’s behavior, a new bombshell turns her life upside down.

 

In a perceptive nod to real-life alcoholics, Clark has Callie switch parental roles with her son at her lowest points – he watches out for her when she places herself in danger or drinks too much. Clark explores the nuances of their evolving relationship in occasionally tender, sometimes painful ways as they navigate the minefield of terrifying experiences that have accidentally shaped this young man’s world.

 

Kudos to Clark for creating very real teenagers in her books. The Slade Mysteries has a teenaged daughter and the Edisto series has the teenaged son and both are spot-on in their love for their moms without being sappy, with nothing out of character for the modern teenaged voice. They are not perfect children by any means, but are occupied with normal (sometimes secret) activities and the average rebellious moments of trouble and subterfuge. Ah, the times that try moms’ souls.

 

The recurring characters – friends, family, neighbors, supporting officers and personnel – along with the new people essential to the plot, are nicely written with changing attitudes toward Callie as they get to know her through the three books. Mike Seabrook, doctor turned police officer, is her sometime romantic interest, but in self-preservation mode, Callie has placed boundaries on the relationship because of work. It turns out that Seabrook has secrets/challenges of his own that place them all at risk.

 

Some of the quirky tourists made me LOL. Life as a beach cop must have plenty of “are you kidding me?” moments mixed in with the more serious policing of vacationers who leave their common sense at home. The subplots are complex, with murders and nasty bad guys, along with twists that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to these likable people.

 

More books are planned in the series and I look forward to discovering the stories that develop on Edisto Island, especially the ones with a newcomer from Callie’s past. Delicious possibilities were set up in “Echoes of Edisto” for the future.

 

Please visit www.chopeclark.com for information about her appearances and her other works of fiction and non-fiction. C. Hope Clark’s profile can be read here.

 

*Some adult topics and occasional adult language.

 

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Authors of the Carolinas

 

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How many of you have read about a region of the USA in a novel and wanted to travel there, in part to experience the food, in part to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery that can only be seen in that one area of the planet? The Carolinas (both North and South) are home to fabulous shrimp & grits dishes, as well as mouth-watering other goodies. And you can’t visit either State without having a refreshing glass of world famous Sweet Tea.

 

The authors listed below either live in North or South Carolina, grew up here, or set their books in the region. We are treated to the cuisine of the Appalachia, the Low Country boils, the scenery of the mountains, and/or the wildlife/marshes of the coast. There is a mix of historical, paranormal, happily-ever-after, outrageous comedy, dark mysteries, and cozies – something for everyone who loves thumpin’ good fiction.

 

Click on the website links to find out more.  J

 

 

Suzanne Adair  “A Hostage to Heritage”  www.suzanneadair.net

 

JD Allen “Grasshopper” in “Murder Under the Oaks”  www.jdallenbooks.com

 

Maria Alonso-Sierra  “The Coin”  www.mariaelenawrites.com

 

Mike Axsom  “Making Memories Down South”  www.mikeaxsom.com

 

Jodie Bailey  “Breach of Trust”  www.jodiebailey.com

 

Kaye Wilkinson Barley  “Whimsey”  www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com

 

Cindy Blackburn   “Five Spot”   www.cueballmysteries.com

 

Heather Blanton  “A Promise in Defiance”  www.ladiesindefiance.com

 

Susan Boyer  “Low Country Book Club”  www.susanmboyerbooks.com

 

Felicia Bridges  “Czechmate”  www.adventuresthatinspireaction.com

 

Antoinette Brown  “One-Cat Woman” in “Carolina Crimes”

 

Ross Cavins  “Barry vs The Apocalypse”  www.rosscavins.com

 

Diane Chamberlain  “Pretending to Dance”  www.dianechamberlain.com 

 

C. Hope Clark  “Echoes of Edisto”   www.chopeclark.com

 

J.A. Coffey  "Double Dog Dare"  www.jacoffey.com

 

Cynthia Cooke  “Going All the Way”  www.cynthiacooke.com

 

E.B. Davis  “Ice Cream Allure” in “Carolina Crimes”  www.ebdavismysteries.com

 

Saword Broyles Eller    www.amazon.com/author/saywordbeller

 

Nora Gaskin (Esthimer)  “Time of Death” www.lystrabooks.com

 

Normandie Fischer  “From Fire into Fire”  www.normandiefischer.com

 

Beatrice Fishback  “Bethel Manor”  www.beasattitudes.net

 

Dorothea Benton Frank  “All Summer Long”  www.dotfrank.com

 

Marni K Graff  “Death Unscripted” www.auntiemwrites.com

 

Jordon Greene  "They'll Call It Treason"  www.jordongreene.com

 

Leigh Greenwood  “Forever and Always”  www.leigh-greenwood.com

 

Lynette Hampton  “Fiona’s Journey”  www.agnesalexander.com

 

Rick Helms  “Older than Goodbye”  www.richardhelms.net

 

Judy Hogan  “Haw”  www.judyhogan.home.mindspring.com

 

Tom Honea  “A Confluence of Rivers”  www.amazon.com/dp/B009LU1X8I

 

Ellen Hunter  "Much Ado About Murder"  www.ellenhunter.com

 

Polly Iyer  “Indiscretion”  www.pollyiyer.com

 

Regina Jeffers  "Angel Comes to the Devil's Keep"  www.rjeffers.com

 

Sabrina Jeffries  “Stormswept”  www.sabrinajeffries.com

 

Linda Johnson  “Trail of Destruction”  www.lindajohnson.us

 

Kieran Kramer  “Trouble When You Walked In”  www.kierankramer.com

 

Vicki Lane  “Under the Skin”  www.vickilanemysteries.com

 

Linda Lovely  “Lies”  www.lindalovely.com

 

Cynthia Luhrs  “First Knight”  www.cluhrs.com

 

Margaret Maron  “Long Upon the Land”  www.margaretmaron.com

 

Jamie Mason   “Monday’s Lie” www.jamie-mason.com

 

Karen McCullough  “Wired for Murder”  www.kmccullough.com

 

Heather McGovern  "A Moment of Bliss"  www.heathermcgovernnovels.com

 

Ruth Moose  “Wedding Bell Blues”  www.ruthmoose.com

 

Katy Munger  “Desolate Angel”  www.katymunger.com

 

Nancy Naigle  “Every Yesterday”  www.nancynaigle.com

 

Heather Newton  “Under the Mercy Trees”  www.heathernewton.net

 

Kathryn O’Sullivan  “Neighing with Fire”  www.kathrynosullivan.com

 

Gail Oust  “Cinnamon Toasted”   www.gailoust.com

 

Kate Parker  “Deadly Scandal”  www.kateparkerbooks.com

 

Britni Patterson  “A Thousand Deadly Kisses”  www.britnipatterson.com

 

Leigh Perry  “The Skeleton Haunts a House”  www.leighperryauthor.com

 

Ashantay Peters  “Reading Between the Lives”  www.ashantay.com

 

Patti Phillips  “Kerrian’s Notebook, Vol. 1”  www.pattiphillipsbooks.com

 

Karen Pullen  “Cold Feet”  www.karenpullen.com

 

Kathy Reichs  “Trace Evidence”  www.kathyreichs.com

 

Jennifer Riley  “Jerk Alert”  available at Amazon

 

Sarah Shaber  “Louise’s Chance”  www.amazon.com/Sarah-R.-Shaber/e/B001HMPB9U

 

Nancy Simpson  “B.O.Q.”  www.authornpsimpson.com

 

Regina Smeltzer  “Retribution” www.reginasmeltzer.net

 

Jennifer Hudson Taylor  "For Love or Liberty"  www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net

 

Ellis Vidler  “Prime Target”  www.ellisvidler.net

 

Kathryn R. Wall  “Jordan Point”  www.kathrynwall.com

 

Tamara Ward  “Concealed Suspicions”  www.authortamaraward.com

 

Lynn Chandler Willis  “Wink of an Eye”  www.lynnchandlerwillis.com

 

Bonnie Wisler  “Count a Hundred Stars”   available at Amazon

 

Caleb Wygal  "Blackbeard's Lost Treasure"  www.calebwygal.com

 

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See any new-to-you names on the list of Authors of the Carolinas? 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Happily Ever After – 2016

 

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Summer is almost here, when there is lots of talk about weddings and romantic getaways.

 

June is the biggest month for weddings in the United States – or so all the bride magazines would have you believe. In fact, while June may be the most popular month to tie the knot, it’s only by a small margin. 10.8% of yearly weddings are performed then, followed closely by August, at 10.2%. But, that’s still over six thousand weddings a day, explaining why wedding venues must be booked months in advance.

 

For those of us not getting married or traveling to a romantic destination anytime soon, we can get lost in a ‘Happily Ever After’ book and be transported via heart and mind.

 

Below is a list of titles suggested by readers that enjoy more sweet romance in their stories than the murder mysteries usually reviewed or listed here at NBR. These books got raves from the readers that made the suggestions.  😀

 

No dead bodies to be found among the pages – or so I’ve been told – just romance in many forms. Think Hallmark Channel on Saturday and Sunday nights during June.

 

If you’ve read any of the titles from the authors in this genre, let us know in the comments below.

 

Click on the author names for the links to their websites.

 

Rachael Anderson:  “Not Always Happenstance”

 

Tamie Dearen:  “A Rose in Bloom”

 

Shannon Guymon:  “Free Fallin’ ”

 

Liwen Ho:  “Drawn to You”

 

Melanie Jacobson:  “Always Will”

 

Stacy Juba:  “Fooling Around with Cinderella”

 

Sophie Kinsella:  “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan”

 

Jane Lebak:  “Honest and For True”

 

Debbie Macomber:  “Love Letters”

 

Catherine Maiorisi:  “Matters of the Heart”

 

Jill Mansell:  “The Unpredictable Consequences of Love”

 

Jules Nelson:  “Shadows”

 

Jenny Proctor:  “Love at First Note”

 

Ann Roberts:  “Complete Package”

 

Curtis Sittenfeld:  “Eligible”

 

Heather Sutherlin:  “Loose Ends”

 

Debbie White:  “Finding Mrs. Right”

 

Susan Wiggs:  “Summer by the Sea”

 

Sherryl Woods:  Chesapeake Shores series

 

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Is there a swoon worthy title in the list?  Happily Ever After reading!   🙂

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

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Texas Fiction – 2016 List

 

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Every once in a while, it’s fun to focus on regional fiction. It’s a chance for readers to concentrate on stories that take place in their favorite part of the world or an area that has aroused their curiosity. Sometimes, fans like to search for books written by authors that live in that region.

 

The Texas list of 36 authors is a mix of:

 

  • Authors who live there, but write books set elsewhere
  • Authors that have written novels set in Texas, but live elsewhere.
  • Authors who live in and write about Texas.

 

Click on the names to take you to the author sites.

 

Kathleen Rice Adams: “Prodigal Gun”

Susan Wittig Albert: “Blood Orange”

 

Linda Bingham: “Skyscraper Caper”

Parris Afton Bonds:  “Blue Bayou” box set

James Lee Burke: “House of the Rising Sun”

 

Valerie P Chandler: ‘Rota Fortunae’ in “Murder on Wheels”

Caroline Clemmons: “Angeline”

Catherine Coulter: “Nemesis”

Bill Crider: “Between the Living and the Dead”

 

Stephanie Jaye Evans:  "Safe from Harm"

Ann Everett: “Say You’ll Never Love Me”

 

Kay Finch: “The Black Cat Knocks on Wood”

Kinky Friedman – series about a Texan living in NYC

 

Meg Gardiner: “Phantom Instinct”  (reviewed here)

Kaye George: Imogene Duckworthy series, “Broke”

 

Linda Kozar: “Weighty Matters”

Billy Kring:  “Tonton”

 

Liz Lipperman:  “Chicken Caccia-Killer”

 

Nancy Martin: “Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything”

Larry McMurtry: “Lonesome Dove”

James Michener: “Texas”

 

Golden Keyes Parsons: “His Steadfast Love”

Mark Pryor: “Hollow Man”    

 

James Reasoner: “The Last War Chief”

Catie Rhodes:  “Rest Stop” 

Rick Riordan: “Rebel Island”

 

Terry Shames: “The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake”

Leann Sweeney: Yellow Rose Mystery Series

 

Livia Washburn: “Peach of a Murder”

Nancy G. West:  "Smart, but Dead"

George Wier: “Cold Rains”

Lori Wilde:  “Love of the Game”

Lynn Chandler Willis: “Wink of an Eye”  (reviewed here)

Manning Wolfe:  "Dollar Signs"

Reavis Z. Wortham:  “Dark Places”

 

Celia Yeary:  “Annalisa”

 

 

Have fun choosing from this great list of Texas fiction.  🙂

 

 

 

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