Historical

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.  🙂

 

“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

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2017 Books

 

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The winners for the Agatha Awards for 2017 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were bestowed upon mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in late April, 2018. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2017.
 

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.
 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red).  🙂

 

Best Contemporary Novel 
“Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery” by Allison Brook
“A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery” by Ellen Byron
“No Way Home: A Zoe Chambers Mystery” by Annette Dashofy
“Take Out” by Margaret Maron
“Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny

 

Best Historical Novel 
“In Farleigh Field” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery” by Jessica Ellicott
“Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery” by Edith Maxwell
“The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery” by Susan Elia MacNeal
“Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Novel” by Renee Patrick

 

Best First Novel 
“Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery” by Micki Browning
“The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop” by V.M. Burns
“Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery” by Kellye Garrett
“Daughters of Bad Men” by Laura Oles
“Protocol: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery” by Kathleen Valenti

 

Best Nonfiction 
“From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon” by Mattias Boström
“The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books” by Martin Edwards
“American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land” by Monica Hesse
“Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction” by Jess Lourey  

“Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier” by Tatiana de Rosnay
 

Best Short Story 
“Double Deck the Halls” by Gretchen Archer
“Whose Wine is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman in 50 Shades of Cabernet
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
“The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat

 

Best Children’s/Young Adult 
“City of Angels” by Kristi Belcamino
“Sydney Mackenzie Knocks 'Em Dead” by Cindy Callaghan
“The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carlson
“Audacity Jones Steals the Show” by Kirby Larson
“The Harlem Charade” by Natasha Tarpley


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Happy Reading!

 

New York Times – Top Five Best Fiction for 2017

 

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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
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/books/review/autumn-ali-smith.html

 

 

“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/books/review/exit-west-mohsin-hamid.html

 

 

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/books/review/pachinko-min-jin-lee.html

 

 

“The Power” by Naomi Alderman

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/books/review/naomi-alderman-power.html

 

 

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/books/review/tracy-k-smith-on-sing-unburied-sing-jesmyn-ward.html?_r=0

 

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

 

Macavity Awards – 2017

 

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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

 

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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!    🙂