Romance

The “Tell Me…” series by Lynn Chandler Willis

 

North Carolina author, Lynn Chandler Willis, has written an engrossing three book “Tell Me…” series set in Appalachia. “Tell Me No Lies,” the first in the series, introduces us to Ava Logan, newspaper owner/publisher/editor/reporter, as the lead protagonist. Willis’ personal background as a former newspaper owner that did everything except print the Pleasant Garden Post, lends wonderful authenticity to the newspaper life both in and out of Ava’s office.

 

“Tell Me No Lies” deals with ginseng poaching, betrayal, a love lost and found, and of course, a murder. Ava’s complex relationship with Sheriff Grayson Ridge makes for gasp-out-loud reading as their astonishing secrets are revealed little by little in the middle of the murder and ginseng poaching investigations. How far can Ava go in crossing the line to ‘get the story’ without getting into trouble with the law herself? Will she put her family at risk with her decisions? Can she protect the baby she rescued from the murder scene? With a diverse cast of characters and a well-developed, layered plot, “TMNL” is a solid beginning to the Ava Logan stories.

 


“Tell Me You Love Me,” the third in the series, opens with rich descriptions of a shivering hike through the winter gloom of leafless woods and surroundings. Ava is there to do a feature story about a local legend and his rabbit-hunting beagles, but one of the dogs finds bones. What follows is an absorbing search for the identity of the remains. An anthropologist is called in to help with the cold case, but Ava has deep roots in Jackson Creek, a nose for a big story, and has her own methods of uncovering old connections.

 

Willis’ core people are gradually developed through the three books, and Doretha, a recurring character, takes on a bigger role in “Tell Me You Love Me.” As Ava’s former foster mother, Doretha protects and advises Ava. But Doretha has a secret or two of her own, one of which could drive the two women apart for good. Ridge has a larger personal role in Ava’s life, but they continue to have trouble with boundaries between the needs of the newspaper and the restrictions that murder investigations place on Ava’s need to know. Willis has a special knack for writing about the children in the series and anyone with teenagers of their own will laugh and moan while reading about the trials the son puts Ava through. Priceless.

 

In a fascinating subplot, Willis’ page-turner explores an Appalachian tradition of using a granny witch for healing. Locals rely on her for medical treatment since traditional medicine is too far away and too expensive for people in need without insurance. Differences between Appalachia and the world outside the misty hills, in both cultural beliefs and traditional practices, drive the sometimes tragic motives in “Tell Me You Love Me.”

 

Fall in love with Ava as she balances family, work, and love, while solving crimes in Appalachia.

 

Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for information about Willis’ appearances and her award-winning books.

 

 

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Author Profile: Fiona Quinn

 

Fiona Quinn and I met several years ago at a Writers’ Police Academy weekend held in North Carolina. We learned a ton, laughed a lot, and with a shared sense of the strength and power of independent women, hit it off. I knew that weekend, when she was demonstrating her high kick past an ATF agent’s ear, that she would bring an unusual range of experience to the written page. Her savvy heroines can do those high kicks and more to quell their opponents, while maintaining a softer side for the guys when called for.

 

Quinn is a three-time USA Today bestselling author, a Kindle Scout winner, and has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 author in: Romantic Suspense; Mystery, thriller, and suspense;  Mysteries, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

She writes suspense in her Iniquus World of books including: Lynx, Strike Force, Uncommon Enemies, Kate Hamilton Mysteries, and the FBI Joint Task Force Series.

 

The Lynx books were her first series, featuring under-the-radar, 20 something psychic Lexi Sobado, assisting Iniquus agents.

 

 

Read my review of the “Weakest Lynx” here.

 

 

and my review of the fourth book in the series, “Cuff Lynx” here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinn’s series, Uncommon Enemies, still has Iniquus crews providing the adventure, but features other members of the Strike Force that Sobado assisted in the Lynx series.

 

 

 

 

Read my review of “Relic” here.

 

 

 

 

She writes urban fantasy as Fiona Angelica Quinn for her Elemental Witches Series and just for fun, she writes the Badge Bunny Booze Mystery Collection with her dear friend, Tina Glasneck. 

 

Quinn is rooted in the Old Dominion where she lives with her husband and children. There, she pops chocolates (a LOT of chocolate), devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop with Little Bear (the beloved family dog) sleeping near her feet.

I asked Fiona what part of her day is her chosen time for writing. Her response:

 

“That’s an interesting question. Writing for me is much more than sitting down and tapping at the keyboard. In my mind, I am constantly writing. Everything I see and do; every person I meet; every conversation I overhear; it’s all fodder that I’m collecting. It’s all possibilities that I churn. My busy brain is constantly telling me stories. I’m involved in the writing process always. As to the tapping? I sit down in the morning, and I’m finished after I’ve composed two-thousand good words. Some days that’s very easy. Some days, I’m sitting there well into the evening working things out. I try to write every day once my research and outlining are done. I don’t like to take a break mid-project.”

 

Fiona’s favorite place to work is a small office at the back of the house. It’s quiet and private. When she’s editing, she prefers to be on her back porch amongst the trees. That’s when she’s biting her nails, hoping that she’s creating a wonderful reading experience. Nature keeps her company.

 

How does Quinn come up with her characters? “I usually know someone that reminds me of the basic character and that’s where I start. As I write and learn more about the character, the real person takes a step back. Through the story, I get to know my characters, what motivates them, how they respond to different situations, what makes them tick. I love this part of the writing process. It’s like meeting someone and then getting to know them as we interact.”

 

I asked Fiona why she decided upon paranormal as a genre in which to work.

“The characters in my suspense thrillers have backgrounds that put them in life-threatening situations. In my time as a counselor working with clients with PTSD, and in my experience with others, I’ve found that people who live lives on the razor’s edge, develop their sixth sense. In many of my novels I like to use this to enhance the storyline, giving me a new place to explore the human experience.”

 

Fiona Quinn has a number of activities she enjoys when not tapping away on the latest story. Her blog http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/ has been super popular because of its interviews with experts in various fields of research, and her own personal forays that tie in to the action in many of her books. She chats about her experiences working with:

  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) part of FEMA
  • Medical Reserve Corps for Counseling (part of Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
  • Search and Rescue also part of VDEM

This involvement out in the field lends authenticity to the drama in all her series. If she lives it, the activity will most likely wind up on the printed page.

I’m delighted to say that Quinn has also guest-posted twice on www.kerriansnotebook.com as Visiting Detective Lexi Sobado.         

Quinn’s book, Thorn, takes place in Toulouse and Paris, France, both places she lived during her college days. One of the recipes she found wonderful was TART TANTIN – think of it as a kind of apple pie, but so much more. Here is her quick and easy version.

 

Fiona Quinn’s TART TARTIN

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

9 gala apples peeled and sliced, sprinkled with lemon juice

1 prepared pie crust.

½ stick of salted butter.

 

Preparation

STEP ONE – make the caramel

Pour a half cup of sugar into a non-stick pan over a medium heat. You can sprinkle some lemon juice over it if you like. Just let it sit and melt. As the sugar liquifies, watch it carefully as it can scorch quickly. Once it’s golden brown, quickly pour it into a pie pan. Rotate the pie pan to cover it with your caramel. This is a very quick move as the caramel will cool/harden if you delay.

 

STEP TWO – the apples

Peel and slice about 9 Gala apples and arrange them in the pan on top of the caramel in concentric circles. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and put this in the oven 425 degrees F. for about 25 minutes. The apples should be soft. Remove from oven. Slice the chilled butter and spread it over the apples. Cover with a round of prepared pie crust, return to oven and bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.

 

STEP THREE – finish

Remove from oven. Pan will be very hot. Carefully turn upside down onto a serving dish so the crust is at the bottom, then the apples and the caramel is running over the top (similar to a flan)

Serve with ice cream (praline ice cream is yummy, so is rum raisin, or go with vanilla if you prefer) and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just downloaded “Thorn” and bestselling “Cold Red” and can’t wait to read them!

Please visit Fiona Quinn at www.fionaquinnbooks.com for more information about her series and links to the latest books.

 

 

 

 

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Top Ten Reviews – 2018

 

Lots of great books, talented authors, and legions of dedicated booklovers, combined to make 2018 another amazing year of reading. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR interest was more than double that of last year. Our NBR international community of readers made their choices known for the 'Top Ten Reviews of 2018' in the list shown below.

 

Although not included in the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ list, the response to the 2018 author profiles (Sherry Harris and Jeri Westerson) proved that readers want more of this feature and we will happily provide as many new profiles as the schedule allows. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for ‘Try Something New This Summer’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Try Something New This Summer” (5 different genres and authors) https://bit.ly/2IZIhU1 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato   https://wp.me/p2YVin-15v

 

“Circle of Influence” & “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy https://wp.me/p2YVin-10Y

 

“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni  https://bit.ly/2DmiRia

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus     https://wp.me/p2YVin-178

 

 “The Code” & “Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce   https://wp.me/p2YVin-14M

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay  https://bit.ly/2pJh5C6

 

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely  https://wp.me/p2YVin-Z6

 

“Louise’s War” & “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah Shaber  https://bit.ly/2F73Pkx

 

“Scot Harvath Series” by Brad Thor  https://bit.ly/2IzvqYt

 

 

Warm thanks, everyone! May 2019 bring you many page-turning, great new reads.  🙂

 

 

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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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Try Something New This Summer

 

Every once in a while, avid readers take a break from their favorite genre and venture into ‘summer reading,’ where the world is either a warm, happy, safe place, or the mishaps that occur are slapstick funny and somebody always has your back. No world crises, no exploding planets, just stories that bring a smile to your face.
 


A few of us indulge our curiosity about demons and witches – as long as the hero/heroines are owners of tea and herb shops, that is.


Then there are the ancient curses that awaken and wreak havoc upon those that get in the way.


If you are primarily a fan of fiction as I am, a foray into the realm of serious non-fiction most often occurs when a compelling true story crosses our paths.


Take a look at the suggestions below and try something a bit different this season.


Happily Ever After

“Sand Dollar Cove,” by Nancy Naigle, is the completely delightful story of a beach area recently hit by bad weather, with people working together to rebuild it. The town relies on tourism to stay afloat, so one of the business owners organizes a fundraising event. We must suspend our disbelief while the rapidly approaching deadline looms to get the work done, but the lead characters are so endearing that we want them to be super human, have their wishes come true, and save the pier. Just in time for summer reading, “Sand Dollar Cove” includes a budding romance between a stranger and our heroine, and the almost magical sand dollars. This could easily fit into the Hallmark Channel lineup of happily ever after stories.


P.I. for Dummies

“Choke,” by Kaye George

Imogene Duckworthy wants to become a private eye, but has no training whatsoever. She gets a book – “P.I. for Dummies,” and has business cards made. Our  hapless heroine feels that she is qualified to ‘detect’ because she found a neighbor’s missing puppy. How hard could it be?

 

This high school graduate, an unwed mother, works for her Uncle at his diner, and when he is found dead, she tries to solve the case. Duckworthy is too naïve to recognize the crooks right in front of her and swoons at the sight of long legs and a smile. Me, oh, my, this gal is in trouble. She is in and out of jail, escapes from cops who are not after her and sees disasters and threats where none exist.

 

“Choke” is a comedy read that takes nothing seriously in solving a mystery – except the lead character herself. What in the world could go wrong? (First book in the series by Agatha nominated, Kaye George) Set near the Oklahoma border, people familiar with the North Texas area will recognize a certain town with fake falls in ‘Wymee Falls.’

 

 

 

Witches, Demons, Wiccans, and ordinary folk

“Booke of the Hidden,” by award-winning author Jeri Westerson, came to Jeri in a dream. Known for her medieval mysteries, her dream was so compelling that she had to write it down, and a few paragraphs turned into this first book in a new series.

 

Kylie Strange has moved to a small Maine town to open a tea and herb shop, and during the shop renovation, she discovers a mysterious book that is older than anyone in town and is completely blank. The locals are more than they seem, there are secrets behind every door, deaths occur in her wake, and Kylie has more than one ‘Being’ interested in her. “Booke of the Hidden” is sexy and funny, with adult themes and situations, with the demons and witches, Wiccans, and assorted other supernatural sorts inhabiting the quaint village. Quick-witted, up-for-everything, crossbow wielding Kylie Strange, is a great new character in the genre.

 

 

Theological Suspense

“Aceldama,” by John Hazen

A coin from the time of Christ is passed through the centuries with dire consequences for its unwitting possessors. A present-day couple faces the wrath of its curse when the husband falls ill. The wife must uncover the reason for his illness before her husband dies – defying logic, the law, and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

International connections and supportive friends make “Aceldama” an absorbing read as we discover the identity, power, and meaning of the coin. Several surprises along the way keep the pages turning.

 

 

Non-Fiction

“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann.

This award-winning, non-fiction account feels like a novel of suspense. Grann recounts the tragedies that unfolded as members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma were displaced, swindled, and murdered in a pattern of corruption and greed at the highest levels of government at the beginning of the twentieth century. At the source of it all? Oil fields that lay under lands given to the Osage Nation. Grann researched the court cases and news of the 1890s and early 1900s, includes photos of the stakeholders, and weaves all of the information into a compelling read. While not the only reason for the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Osage cases made an additional convincing argument for the establishment of a national investigative agency.

 

Stretch your reading horizons and try something new this summer.  🙂

 

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July 4th Mysteries – 2017

 

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Looking for a book to read with a July 4th Mystery theme?

 

This updated list of twenty-six ‘July 4th Mysteries’ titles contains entertaining books by bestselling and/or new authors where the 4th of July theme is important to the novel. Some are oldies, but goodies, some are relatively recent. If you know of others, please tell us in the comment section.   🙂

 

“Murder on Parade” by Donald Bain  

 

“Murder by Fireworks” by Susan Bernhardt


“The Cat Who Went Underground” by Lilian Jackson Braun


“Dead on the 4th of July” by Meg Chittenden

 

“A Catered Fourth of July” by I. Crawford


“Red, White, and Blue Murder” by Bill Crider

 

“Dead on the Fourth of July” by R.E. Derouin

 

“One Fete in the Grave” by Vickie Fee


“Lemon Meringue Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke


"Mistaken Identity" by Patricia Gligor


“Tool & Die” by Sarah Graves

 

“Act of Darkness” by Jane Haddam


“Dead, White and Blue” by Carolyn Hart

 

“Yankee Doodle Dead” by Carolyn Hart


“Exit Wounds” by J. A. Jance


“A Timely Vision” by Joyce and Jim Lavene

 

“Silence of the Jams” by Gayle Leeson


“Knee High by the Fourth of July” by Jess Lourey

 

“A Sparrow Falls Fourth of July” by Donna McLean


“Star Spangled Murder” by Leslie Meier

 

“Foal Play” by Kathryn O’Sullivan

 

“4th of July” by James Patterson/Maxine Paetro

 

“Can't Never Tell” by Cathy Pickens


“Death by Deep Dish Pie” by Sharon Short

 

“Independence Day Plague” by Carla Lee Suson

 

“The 4th of July Can Be Murder” by Dianne Vereen

Happy 4th to the USA readers and stay safe during the festivities.  Have fun choosing from the July 4th Mysteries.   🙂

 

 

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The Carol Awards – 2017

 

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The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) honors the best in Christian fiction published in the previous calendar year with the Carol Awards. The winners were announced September 23 during the annual conference awards dinner.

 

Take a look at the finalists and winners (indicated in red) for the 2017 Carol Awards:

Contemporary
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
One More Song to Sing by Lindsay Harrel
The Broken Trail (Sweet River Redemption) by Christa MacDonald

 

Historical
This Road We Traveled by Jane Kirkpatrick
Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall
Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

 

Historical Romance
The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy) by Mary Connealy
Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
If I Run by Terri Blackstock
Murder Comes by Mail: A Hidden Springs Mystery by A.H. Gabhart
When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

 

Romantic Suspense
The Dragon Roars by Sara Davison
Always Watching (Elite Guardians) by Lynette Eason
You’re the One that I Want by Susan May Warren

 

Debut
A Family for the Farmer by Laurel Blount
The Last Apostle: A Novel (John the Immortal Series) by Dennis Brooke
You’re the Cream in my Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

 

Please visit www.acfw.com/carol/carol_award_finalists_2017 for nominees and winners in other categories. Congratulations to all the Carol Award nominees and winners!    🙂

 

 

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