“Louise’s War” and “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah R. Shaber


Book Cover - Louise's War


“Louise’s War,” by Sarah Shaber, introduces us to widowed Louise Pearlie, a file clerk in World War II Washington, DC. Louise is not just any file clerk. She has college training, is smart and resourceful, and is a bit of a risk taker. She works in the Office of Strategic Services (aka spy agency) where all the work is classified and government regulations dictate that she can’t even reveal where she works. Louise’s job is to look for information that will help the Allies win the war, perfect for this woman who has escaped her dead-end life on the Carolina coast.  


France is increasingly coming under German control at this stage of the war and it’s been a while since Louise has heard from a close college friend who lives there. Her husband is important to the war effort, and Louise searches for a way to get this Jewish family out of France before they are taken to internment camps.


When papers that would save her friend go missing and a murder is committed, Louise realizes that she can’t trust anyone. She must make alliances she would not have made in less desperate circumstances, and time is not her friend. Shaber creates a tension filled atmosphere of subterfuge and betrayal that keeps us guessing and swept up in the story.


In “Louise’s War,” Shaber demonstrates the gravity of the events of the war through her well-researched picture of life in WWII America, with its details of domestic sacrifices, and the effects of gas and food rationing. Louise’s time at a D.C. boarding house shows the reality of the jammed housing situation in wartime Washington. Massive amounts of food were needed by the troops, so the backyard gardens and chicken coops that Louise tended at the boarding house were true to the period, necessary supplements to rationed civilian food supplies.


Book Cover - Louise's Dilemma



In “Louise’s Dilemma,” Louise’s job focus has shifted to acquiring and cataloguing intelligence about Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic. Louise and an FBI agent travel to nearby Maryland after a suspicious postcard is forwarded to the OSS. Their investigation takes alarming twists and turns and puts Louise in danger from a surprising villain. Her clever mind and dogged determination uncover something incredible, yet completely believable, given the real-world terrain in that area. “Louise’s Dilemma,” the third book in the series, delivers an engaging historical mystery and a compelling read. I had read it first, then picked up “Louise’s War,” to see how Louise Pearlie’s journey began. I’m glad I did.


Please click here for more information about award-winning Mrs. Shaber and her other books.


Squeaky Clean Romances – 2018



Valentine’s Day will be here soon! Love is in the air, with bouquets of flowers, tasty chocolates, and romantic gestures melting our hearts. The Season of Sighs is upon us.

This year, I put out an open call for writers to tell me about their squeaky clean romance novels, novellas, and short stories. There are mysteries with a touch of romance, historical romance, inspirational romance, and more, with links to all the books. Click on the 35 titles to find the 'buy' pages, with information about each story. You will find bestselling authors as well as debut authors.

Isabella Louise Anderson  “Cards from Khloe’s Flower Shop

Ines Bautista-Yao  “When Sparks Fly

Jennifer McCoy Blaske  “Out of My League

Faith Blum  All the Way My Savior Leads

Franky A Brown  What Happened to Romance?”

Bridget Burnett  “U R Missing: Andrea’s Story

Linda Covella  “Yakimali’s Gift

Tamie Dearen   “Best Intentions

Cindy Dorminy  “Left Hanging

Donna Getzinger Driver  “Passing Notes

Marianne Evans  “Bella Natale

Aileen Fish   “Charmed at Christmas: Collection of Sweet Regency Novellas

Beatrice Fishback  “Winter Writerland

Kellie Coates Gilbert  “Sisters

Jennifer Griffith  “My Fair Aussie

Tammy James Hesler  “Mountains of Love

Liwen Ho “Straight to You” part of ‘Taking Chances’ series

Rachel John  “The Start of Us

Stacy Juba  “Fooling Around with Cinderella

Nadine C. Keels  “Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads

Christine Kersey  “Illegal Procedure” (Fair Catch Series – sports series)

Nerys Leigh  “The Blacksmith’s Heart

Christina Lorenzen  “The Silvershell Beach Inn

Kay Lyons  “This Little Light: Stone River series

Edith Maxwell  "Called to Justice"

Michelle Pennington  “The Trouble with Billionaires

Audrey Rich  “Thinking About Love, Part 2

Christina Rich  “The Negotiated Marriage

C.J. Samuels  “Christmas in Trace Hollow

Margaret Lynette Sharp  “Uncertain Love

Rachel Skatvold  “Guardian of Her Heart

Christy Smith  “Forever and Always

Melanie Snitker  “Finding Grace

Rebecca Talley  “Speak to My Heart

Denitta Ward  “Somewhere Still


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and as always, Happy Reading!





New York Times – Top Five Best Fiction for 2017


Book Cover - Pachinko

The New York Times Top Five Best Fiction Books of 2017 list was posted on November 30th. 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 2017, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Click on the links below the book titles to read their reviews.



“Autumn” by Ali Smith



“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid




“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee




“The Power” by Naomi Alderman




“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward



Let us know in the comments if you’ve read any of the books. Happy Reading!  


Macavity Awards – 2017



The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International (and friends) as well as subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. The winners were announced at Bouchercon, the international mystery fans convention, this year held in October in Toronto. Mystery Readers International, Mystery Readers Journal, and the Macavity Awards, were created by the Fabulous Janet Rudolph.


Presenting the nominees & winners (indicated in red) for the Macavity Awards – 2017:

Best Novel 
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott

Dark Fissures, by Matt Coyle
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
Real Tigers, by Mick Herron
Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny

Best First Novel 
The Widow, by Fiona Barton
Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry
Dodgers, by Bill Beverly
IQ, by Joe Ide
Design for Dying, by Renee Patrick

Best Short Story 
• “Autumn at the Automat,” by Lawrence Block
• “Blank Shot,” by Craig Faustus Buck
• “Survivor’s Guilt,” by Greg Herren
• “Ghosts of Bunker Hill,” by Paul D. Marks
• “The Crawl Space,” by Joyce Carol Oates
• “Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel 
A Death Along the River Fleet, by Susanna Calkins
Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye

Delivering The Truth, by Edith Maxwell
The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson
What Gold Buys, by Ann Parker
Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin

Best Nonfiction 
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, by Jane K. Cleland
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin
Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, Margaret Kinsman
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula, by David J. Skal
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer, by Kate Summerscale


Congratulations!  :-)

The 2016 Macavity Award winners were:

Best Mystery Novel  The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney
Best First Mystery Novel  Past Crimes, by Glen Erik Hamilton

Best Critical/Biographical  The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, by Martin Edwards
Best Short Story  “The Little Men,”  by Megan Abbott
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award  The Masque of a Murderer, by Susanna Calkins


The 2015 Macavity Award winners were:

Best Mystery Novel  The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood
Best First Mystery Novel  Invisible City, by Julia Dahl
Best Mystery Short Story  Honeymoon Sweet,by Craig Faustus Buck
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award  A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, by Catriona McPherson


Great titles!  Happy reading!  :-)


The Carol Awards – 2017



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:

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


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


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


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!    :-)



Author Profile: Edith Maxwell



Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for this year’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!


I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.


While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.


For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.


Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!


The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.


The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.


Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series!



Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.


So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  :-)


Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.


Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die


Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.






Book Cover - Grilled for Murder


Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)










Book Cover - Delivering the Truth



Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here:-)







"Delivering the Truth" has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.

Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com


Edith MaxwellDeliveringtheTruth AgathaBanner


Photo "Writer" taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell



“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.