award nominees

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” by Jessica Estevao

 

Book Cover - Whispers Beyond the Veil - Jessica Estevao

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” is the first book in the Change of Fortune series. Jessica Estevao has penned a self-reliant female character who thinks on her feet in risky situations and when cornered, often chooses the path most likely to keep her out of jail.

 

Jail? This is no ordinary gal growing up in a quaint family business. Ruby Proulx is a con artist, who makes a living by taking money from the gullibles passing through the circus tents. But, even with all the flimflam miracle cures and tarot card readings, she and her father are just getting by, in part because he drinks and schemes the earnings away. This is 1890s Canada, and when a dangerous scam results in a death, and her father disappears, she flees south to Maine to an aunt she’s never met.

 

Ruby’s arrival at her aunt Honoria’s hotel is a surprise to everyone except Honoria. Happy to repay Honoria for her kindness, Ruby continues to use her skills with séances and Tarot cards to help her aunt’s hotel survive. A hotel that features ‘spiritualists’ as the main attraction.

 

But, Ruby is caught between skeptics who feel that Honoria is scamming the visitors and stealing their hard-earned money and a wish to have a home she’s never had before. She’d like to fess up that she’s a fraud, but telling the truth may only put her on the street or put her aunt in jail. What’s a con artist to do?

 

The characters are either sweetly oblivious to the cons, in on them, or working hard to expose them. A handsome policeman, a psychic investigator, bodies popping up, and peeks behind the scenes of a con artist’s life, enrich the story, but when Ruby becomes a suspect in several crimes, she must guard both her heart and her skills to escape the snares.

 

With an inventive main character and Old Orchard Beach as the setting, this new series is off to a great start and “Whispers Beyond the Veil” has been nominated for an Agatha Award. Please visit www.jessicaestevao.com for more information about the Change of Fortune books as well as her other series, written as Jessica Crockett, also great fun.

 

 

“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero

 

Book Cover - Custom Baked Murder

Kristan (Stan) Connor is back in “Custom Baked Murder,” this time with more furry friends in residence and a love life that is heating up. Kristan is busy getting ready to open her long-anticipated pet café, with specially designed display cases, and new ideas to make both human and furry customers happy. She has two new backers for the business – one she’s happy about; the other she puts up with in order to realize her dream.

 

Her mother, ever detail oriented and still driving Stan crazy, is getting engaged to the Mayor and the big announcement will be made at a blowout party at the groom-to-be’s house. But the Mayor doesn’t show, and Stan’s irritating former colleagues do – along with her former fiancée. Talk about cringe worthy events. Oh, and there’s the murder at the party. Certainly, a memorable evening. And not in a good way.

 

The murder victim isn’t well-liked, so the question the police must answer is not who killed her, but instead, which one on the long list of enemies got to her first? Rumors fly and suspicions drive wedges into the small community, with several misunderstandings and family surprises thrown into the mix. Kristan must shield her mother from the press, while trying to prove her own former fiancée innocent. The overlapping story-lines are intriguing and keep the pages turning in this well-plotted mystery.

 

Including old friends and enemies in “Custom Baked Murder” adds a delicious twist. Sometimes we hope that the oldies (but baddies) will fade away from our lives forever, or that they might have changed, but wham! There they are, creating havoc yet again when least convenient. Mugavero captures this dynamic perfectly as she delivers the multiple red herrings.

 

Mugavero has expanded the relationships among the ensemble characters throughout the Pawsitively Organic series, evolving them in a natural way as time has passed. One gem of a character is Cyril, the reporter. Anyone who has ever met a small-town journalist will recognize the dogged chase after any detail that will make headlines. His shifts between investigation and bargaining for information are spot-on. And, then we have Stan’s hunky love interest, Jake, who keeps proving why he’s one of the good guys. The sisters have a larger role this time and fans will love that the series has become an engaging family affair.

 

Never fear, dogs and cats play important roles, including when Kristan throws a fund-raiser for a K-9. Mugavero continues to show us ways we can help the real-life animals in our lives. Happily, “Custom Baked Murder” includes more healthy pet recipes. The blueberry biscuits look tasty enough to be people food.

 

Don’t miss “Custom Baked Murder,” the fifth in the highly entertaining series.

 

Read my review of the Agatha nominated, “Kneading to Die,” here.

 

Read my review of “A Biscuit, A Casket” here.

 

Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for more information about Liz and her future projects, as well as her continuing work in Animal Advocacy. :-)

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2016

 

MaliceDomesticBanner copy


The nominees for the Agatha Awards for 2016 (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards are bestowed upon mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in late April, 2017. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2016.

 

The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

 

Click on the author’s name for more information about the book and the rest of the author’s work.  Congratulations to all the nominees!  :-)

 

Best Contemporary Novel

“Body on the Bayou” by Ellen Byron
“Quiet Neighbors” by Catriona McPherson
“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny
“Fogged Inn” by Barbara Ross
“Say No More” by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

Best Historical Novel

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” by Jessica Estevao
“Get Me to the Grave on Time” by D.E. Ireland
“Delivering the Truth” by Edith Maxwell
“The Reek of Red Herrings” by Catriona McPherson
“Murder in Morningside Heights” by Victoria Thompson

 

Best First Novel

“Terror in Taffeta” by Marla Cooper
“Murder in G Major” by Alexia Gordon
“The Semester of Our Discontent” by Cynthia Kuhn
“Decanting a Murder” by Nadine Nettmann
“Design for Dying” by Renee Patrick

 

Best Short Story

"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer

"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional

"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016

"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning

 

Please visit www.malicedomestic.org for the nominations in the Non-Fiction and Children/YA categories for the Agatha Awards-2016.

 

 

Time to get reading. Enjoy!  :-)

 

 

 

The Edgar Awards – 2017

 

Edgar Statues

Each year the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) awards the Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2016. The Edgar® Awards will be presented at the annual banquet on April 27, 2017, in New York City. Congratulations to all the nominees!   :-)
 

Click on the authors’ names for more information.


BEST NOVEL
“The Ex” by Alafair Burke
“Where It Hurts” by Reed Farrel Coleman
“Jane Steele” by Lyndsay Faye
“What Remains of Me” by Alison Gaylin
“Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley

 
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
“Under the Harrow” by Flynn Berry
“Dodgers” by Bill Beverly
“IQ” by Joe Ide
“The Drifter” by Nicholas Petrie
“Dancing with the Tiger” by Lili Wright
“The Lost Girls” by Heather Young

 
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
“Shot in Detroit” by Patricia Abbott
“Come Twilight” by Tyler Dilts
“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni
“Rain Dogs” by Adrian McKinty
“A Brilliant Death” by Robin Yocum
“Heart of Stone” by James W. Ziskin


 
BEST FACT CRIME
“Morgue: A Life in Death” by Dr. Vincent DiMaio & Ron Franscell

“The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan” by Laurence Leamer

“Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The Unsolved Murder That Shocked Victorian England” by Paul Thomas Murphy

“While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness” by Eli Sanders

“The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer” by Kate Summerscale

  
BEST SHORT STORY
“Oxford Girl” – Mississippi Noir by Megan Abbott
“A Paler Shade of Death” – St. Louis Noir by Laura Benedict
“Autumn at the Automat” – In Sunlight or in Shadow by Lawrence Block
“The Music Room” – In Sunlight or in Shadow  by Stephen King
“The Crawl Space” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Joyce Carol Oates

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT
“Three Truths and a Lie” by Brent Hartinger
“The Girl I Used to Be” by April Henry
“Girl in the Blue Coat” by Monica Hesse
“My Sister Rosa” by Justine Larbalestier
“Thieving Weasels” by Billy Taylor


RAVEN AWARD

Dru Ann Love
  

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
“The Other Sister” by Dianne Dixon
“Quiet Neighbors” by Catriona McPherson
“Say No More” by Hank Phillippi Ryan
“Blue Moon” by Wendy Corsi Staub
“The Shattered Tree” by Charles Todd

 
Please visit www.theedgars.com for the Edgar Awards-2017 nominations in the Juvenile, Critical/Biographical, and TV Episode Teleplay categories.

 

*Photo credit: Mystery Writers of America

 

 

Top 10: The First Four Years of Nightstand Book Reviews

 

Book Cover - Cold Dish

The first four years of Nightstand Book Reviews delivered a wide range of books to my doorstep and to my email inbox. Right from the beginning, I have received more than 100 requests a month (once over 400) from writers and publicists and friends of writers and publicists to review the latest book they had to offer.

 

It has been a fun problem to have. The strategy was (and remains) to choose great reads to chat about and share with the thousands of Nightstand Book Reviews followers around the world. The books on the site are by and large fiction, and tell a well-plotted story involving nicely developed characters. The authors are a mix of bestselling writers of longstanding, and newbies to the field when I first met them. Traditionally published or ebook only? Both happily co-exist on NBR. Occasionally I highlight biographies, great cookbooks, and helpful gardening books. A new feature in 2016 was Author Profiles. You’ll see more of those in 2017.

 

Below is the list of Top 10 books reviewed on Nightstand Book Reviews over the last four years, listed in ABC order by author. These were the books that garnered the most interest on NBR from the worldwide audience during the four years. Six books on the list were the debut novels from those authors. Some powerhouse writers (long, successful careers with great popularity) mixed in with newbies? A good book is a good book.

 

All of these authors now have multiple books out. Click on the book title to read the review.

 

Lee Child – “The Killing Floor”

 

Robert Dugoni – “My Sister’s Grave”

 

Robert Dugoni – “The Conviction”

 

Sherry Harris – “Tagged for Death”

 

Sue Harrison – “Mother Earth, Father Sky”

 

Erin Hart – “Haunted Ground”

 

Tami Hoag – “Alibi Man”

 

Craig Johnson – “The Cold Dish”

 

Leigh Perry – “A Skeleton in the Family”

 

Andy Weir – “The Martian”

 

 

Have you read any of the titles on the list? Wildly different books to be sure, with thrillers, sci-fi, traditional mysteries, and cozies in the group. 

 

And soooo much fun to read.  :-)

 

Thank you all, kind readers, for being part of the Nightstand Book Reviews community during the first four years. Your comments and participation make me smile as I search for the next great read to share with you.

 

The New York Times Best Fiction List 2016

 

book-cover-the-underground-railroad

The New York Times Best 100 Books of 2016 list was posted recently. It’s always interesting to see which books editors at the NYT will choose for their “Best of…” lists for the year. The titles are sometimes bestsellers, but more importantly, the editors have fallen in love with the story (or the writing) and Wahoo! the book makes the list.

 

Check out the top five fiction choices from 2016, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Click on the links below the book titles to read their reviews.

 

“The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/books/review/the-association-of-small-bombs-by-karan-mahajan.html?_r=0

 

 

“The North Water” by Ian McGuire
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/books/review/the-north-water-by-ian-mcguire.html

 

 

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/books/review/colson-whitehead-underground-railroad.html

 

 

“The Vegetarian” by Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/books/review/the-vegetarian-by-han-kang.html

 

 

“War and Turpentine” by Stefan Hertmans. Translated by David McKay.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/books/review/war-and-turpentine-stefan-hertmans.html

 

 

Have you read any of the top five titles? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.  :-)

 

 

Literary Cookbooks

 

 

bookcover-outlander-kitchen-cookbook

 

What cook can resist a great new cookbook?

Even better, what foodie/avid reader can resist a cookbook created by his/her favorite author?

 

The following twelve cookbooks have been recommended by the readers of Nightstand Book Reviews as part of their literary and/or cookbook collections. The cookbooks would definitely make a fun gift to a fan of any of the authors. There are some pretty famous writers in the mix and many of the cookbooks have been nominated for awards.  :-)  If you have tried any of the recipes, please let us know in the comments.

 

Click on the book title to learn more about the featured recipes.

 

"Cooking with Jane Austen" – Kirstin Olsen

 

"Food to Die For" – Patricia Cornwell, Marlene Brown

 

"Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook" – Diane Mott Davidson


"Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader" – Jan Karon

 

"KP Authors Cook Their Books" – 11 Kindle Press authors

 

"Mystery Writers of America Cookbook" – Kate White, editor; famous mystery writer contributors

 

"The Cat Who Cookbook" – Lilian Jackson Braun

 

"The Cozy Cookbook" – Laura Childs & other bestselling cozy writers

 

"The Hemingway Cookbook" – Craig Boreth

 

"The Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook" – Theresa Carle-Sanders

 

"Yashim Cooks Istanbul: Culinary Adventures in the Ottoman Kitchen" – Jason Goodwin

 

"Winnie the Pooh’s Teatime Cookbook" – A.A. Milne
 

 

Happy cooking!  :-)