24 in 48 Readathon!


0595C70A-75E1-4F76-A2F2-5D1643404AB3Who needs an excuse to read, right? Well, if you do, here’s a fantastic opportunity! Over the weekend of January 27-28, participate in the 24in48 global readathon where you read for 24 of the 48 hours of the weekend, share your progress on social media using #24in48 and win fabulous prizes while you spend your time doing what you love best – reading!

This whole thing started a few years with a handful of people who connected online over  their love of reading. It has grown to a worldwide phenomenon, with thousands of people participating in the last event in 2017.

You can learn more and sign up to participate here: https://24in48.com

I know what I’m doing January 27-28. I hope you’ll join me!

January Micro-Reviews


956CB410-2B16-4E46-A846-46296A0499F1The Black Painting by Neil Olson – Can paintings be possessed? The family at the center of this story thinks so. They’ve been haunted by a Goya painting for years, and blame it for the horrible things that have happened in their lives. Goya’s work *is* startling in its rawness (Saturn Devouring His Son is pictured here) but it’s the evil perpetrated by the living that startles me the most. Good book….

Published by Harlequin/Hanover Square, January 2018. Mysteries & Thrillers. Literary Fiction.

93103035-7177-40E3-B1F7-E4CFC9654173Magical Match by Juliet Blackwell – Juliet Blackwell’s Lily Ivory is back in another delightfully witchy adventure, along with all the colorful characters we have come to expect from this series. Blackwell’s breezy, engaging writing and twisted, intriguing plotting create the atmosphere fans have fallen in love with in previous entries. Here, we learn more about Lily’s past, get to meet her amazing grandmother, and wring our hands over her “will they/won’t they” relationship with Sailor. If you haven’t read the Lily Ivory books, get them all out of the library and binge-read them on a cold, snowy day. It will be the best day of the year, I bet! Highly recommended.

Published by Berkley, May 2018. Mysteries & Thrillers.

90FCB44E-B2B9-47F5-ADF1-5706EF2330E3Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle – Tuttle offers a new adventure featuring Jesperson & Lane, the crackerjack investigation team that includes a well-heeled young man and an outspoken young woman. They are dropped headfirst into their new case when a man pounds on their door in the middle of the night, proclaims he is pursued by witches, and drops dead in their front hall. Their investigation takes them from London to the country, where they encounter an unusual collection of “cunning” men and women, pious preachers, curious scholars, and even “little people.”

While the plot is interesting, with a variety of twists & turns, it’s bloated. A bit more than halfway through, I found myself losing interest. Jesperson’s annoying habit of assuming Lane knows what he’s thinking, causing her to drag every bit of information out of him got old really fast. They never seemed to click for me as a pair of investigators, or as a couple, or whatever they are supposed to be to each other. I did enjoy Miss Lane’s character, however. She reminded me of a young Amelia Peabody. While this is far from the worst thing I’ve read lately, it’s also not nearly the best. The text needs editing, and I found the whole subplot around the stolen baby to be completely unnecessary. I will probably pick up another in this series when looking for a quick, easy read, just to see if Jesperson & Lane find success in their investigative business.

Published by Random House-Hydra, October 2017. Mysteries & Thrillers; Sci-Fi & Fantasy

6A72661D-37B9-4BB6-B5E5-643A21EBBD59Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano – This is a pleasant enough story. The lead character, Aurelie, is likable and plucky, the “leading man” is mysterious but kind-hearted, and the relatives are appropriately boorish. The basic story is familiar – disadvantaged girl gets shipped off to unknown wealthy relatives after father’s death, meets handsome but mysterious man, uncovers devastating family secret – all in a grand manor house in the English countryside. What makes this stand out is the action around Aurelie becoming a writer, which is wonderful. What made this less enjoyable for me was the heavy-handed religious overtones, making this highly reminiscent of 19th century gothic romance pedantic style. All in all, a pleasant enough story but not one that I will remember.

Published by Revell, October 2017. Historical fiction.

F097E807-9118-49E4-9788-ECF16AF22F57Ludlow Lost by Kate Robinson Dunne – What a refreshing change! A book about fairies that isn’t dripping with with wide-eyed sweetness! Ludlow and Harry make a dynamic duo for the ages. Their unexpected (and unwanted) friendship becomes the anchor in this witty tale of kidnapping, betrayal, and revenge. I was reminded a bit of the Artemis Fowl books, but just a bit. This is new, fresh, and just plain fun.

Published by Two Pigeons Press, March 2018. Middle grade fantasy.

3B06A232-5038-4D11-8FF4-E44BB31AE3FABook of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle – I’m sorry to say, I did not get past the second chapter of this confusing, muddled story. The description intrigued me, but the two opening chapters were so unconnected and rambling that I could not connect. This is a translation of a French book that has received high praise, and Goodreads reviews are mixed.

Published by Candlewick Press, February 2018. YA fantasy.

Thanks to NetGalley for review copies of all these titles.

Strong to the Bone by Jon Land

4

Strong to the Bone by Jon Land Banner

on Tour December 4, 2017 – January 31, 2018

Synopsis:

STRONG TO THE BONE by Jon Land

1944: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a triple murder inside a Nazi POW camp in Texas.

The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself pursuing the killer her father never caught in the most personal case of her career a conspiracy stretching from that Nazi POW camp to a modern-day neo-Nazi gang.

A sinister movement has emerged from the shadows of history, determined to undermine the American way of life. Its leader, Armand Fisker, has an army at his disposal, a deadly bio-weapon, and a reputation for being unbeatable. But he s never taken on the likes of Caitlin Strong and her outlaw lover, Cort Wesley Masters. To prevent an unspeakable cataclysm, Caitlin and Cort Wesley must win a war the world thought was over.

This is my first experience with a Jon Land novel and with heroine Caitlin Strong, but it won’t be my last. Land spins an intriguing, well-plotted story that seamlessly blends past and present, right through to a hair-raising and satisfying ending. Reading an action-adventure novel featuring a capable, intelligent female lead like Caitlin Strong is most welcome. Strong’s character is well-developed, with an interesting backstory and an even more interesting present. Her relationship with the male lead is remarkably equitable, with the two riffing off each other without one needing the upper hand. The story, while the typical good guys vs. bad guys, is compelling and clever.

Fans of action-adventure will eat this up. My only question? Why isn’t Caitlin Strong a TV series???

Strong to the Bone is another fine effort by Jon Land, who manages to mix character development with gripping, page-turning plots. This is his best novel yet.”

StrandMagazine

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Forge Books

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 368

ISBN: 0765384647 (ISBN13: 9780765384645)

Series: Caitlin Strong Novels (Volume 9)

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗| Macmillan 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Austin, Texas

What the hell?

Caitlin Strong and Cort Wesley Masters had just emerged from Esther’s Follie’s on East 6th Steet, when they saw the stream of people hurrying down the road, gazes universally cocked back behind them. Sirens blared off in the distance and a steady chorus of honking horns seemed to be coming from an adjoining block just past the street affectionately known as “Dirty Sixth,” Austin’s version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

“Couldn’t tell you,” Cort Wesley said, even as he sized up the scene. “But I got a feeling we’re gonna know before much longer.”

* * *

Caitlin was in town to speak at a national law enforcement conference focusing on homegrown terrorism, and both her sessions at the Convention Center had been jam-packed. She felt kind of guilty her presentations had lacked the audio-visual touches many of the others had featured. But the audiences hadn’t seem to mind, filling a sectioned-off ballroom to the gills to hear of her direct experiences, in contrast to theoretical dissertations by experts. Audiences comprised of cops a lot like her, looking to bring something back home they could actually use. She’d focused to a great extent on her most recent battle with ISIS right here in Texas, and an al-Qaeda cell a few years before that, stressing how much things had changed in the interim and how much more they were likely to.

Cort Wesley had driven up from San Antonio to meet her for a rare night out that had begun with dinner at Ancho’s inside the Omni Hotel and then a stop at Antone’s nightclub to see the Rats, a band headed by a Texas Ranger tech expert known as Young Roger. From there, they’d walked to Esther’s Follies to take in the famed Texas-centric improve show there, a first for both of them that was every bit as funny and entertaining as advertised, even with a gun-toting woman both Caitlin and Cort Wesley realized was based on her.

Fortunately, no one else in the audience made that connection and they managed to slip out ahead of the rest of the crowd. Once outside, though, they were greeted by a flood of pedestrians pouring up the street from an area of congestion a few blocks down, just past 8th Street.

“What you figure, Ranger?”

“That maybe we better go have ourselves a look.”

CHAPTER 2

Austin, Texas

Caitlin practically collided with a young man holding a wad of napkins against his bleeding nose at the intersection with East 7th Street.

“What’s going on?” she asked him, pulling back her blazer to show her Texas Ranger badge.

The young man looked from it back to her, swallowing some blood and hacking it up onto the street. “University of Texas graduation party took over all of Stubb’s Barbecue,” he said, pointing in the restaurant’s direction. “Guess you could say it got out of hand. Bunch of fraternities going at it.” He looked at the badge pinned to her chest again. “Are you really a Texas Ranger?”

“You need to get to an emergency room,” Caitlin told him, and pressed on with Cort Wesley by her side.

“Kid was no older than Dylan,” he noted, mentioning his oldest son who was still on a yearlong leave from Brown University.

“How many fraternities does the University of Texas at Austin have anyway, Cort Wesley?”

“A whole bunch.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, continuing on toward the swell of bodies and flashing lights, “it sure looks that way.”

Stubb’s was well known for its barbecue offerings and, just as much, its status as a concert venue. The interior was modest in size, as Caitlin recalled, two floors with the bottom level normally reserved for private parties and the upstairs generally packed with patrons both old and new. The rear of the main building, and several adjoining ones, featured a flattened dirt lot fronted by several performance stages where upwards of two thousand people could enjoy live music in the company of three sprawling outdoor bars.

That meant this graduation party gone bad may have featured at least a comparable number of students and probably even more, many of whom remained in the street, milling about as altercations continued to flare, while first responders struggled futilely to disperse the crowd. Young men and women still swigging bottles of beer, while pushing and shoving each other. The sound of glass breaking rose over the loudening din of the approaching sirens, the whole scene glowing amid the colors splashed from the revolving lights of the Austin police cars already on the scene.

A fire engine leading a rescue wagon screeched to a halt just ahead of Cort Wesley and Caitlin, at the intersection with 7th Street, beyond which had become impassable.

“Dylan could even be here, for all I know,” Cort Wesley said, picking up his earlier train of thought.

“He doesn’t go to UT.”

“But there’s girls and trouble, two things he excels at the most.”

This as fights continued breaking out one after another, splinters of violence on the verge of erupting into an all-out brawl going on under the spill of the LED streetlights rising over Stubb’s.

Caitlin pictured swirling lines of already drunk patrons being refused admittance due to capacity issues. Standing in line full of alcohol on a steamy night, expectations of a celebratory evening dashed, was a recipe for just what she was viewing now. In her mind, she saw fights breaking out between rival UT fraternities mostly in the outdoor performance area, before spilling out into the street, fueled by simmering tempers now on high heat.

“You see any good we can be here?” Cort Wesley asked her.

Caitlin was about to say no, when she spotted an anxious Austin patrol cop doing his best to break up fights that had spread as far as 7th Street. She and Cort Wesley sifted through the crowd and made their way toward him, Caitlin advancing alone when they drew close.

“Anything I can do to help,” she said, reading the Austin policeman’s nametag, “Officer Hilton?”

Hilton leaned up against an ornate light pole that looked like gnarled wrought iron for support. He was breathing hard, his face scraped and bruised. He noted the Texas Ranger badge and seemed to match her face to whatever media reports he’d remembered her from.

“Not unless you got enough Moses in you to part the Red Sea out there, Ranger.”

“What brought you boys out here? Detail work?” Caitlin asked, trying to account for his presence on scene so quickly, ahead of the sirens screaming through the night.

Hilton shook his head. “An anonymous nine-one-one call about a sexual assault taking place inside the club, the downstairs lounge.”

“And you didn’t go inside?”

Hilton turned his gaze on the street, his breathing picking up again. “Through that? My partner tried and ended up getting his skull cracked open by a bottle. I damn near got killed fighting to reach him. Managed to get him in the back of our squad car and called for a rescue,” he said, casting his gaze toward the fire engine and ambulance that were going nowhere. “Think maybe I better carry him to the hospital myself.”

“What about the girl?”

“What girl?”

“Sexual assault victim inside the club.”

Hilton frowned. “Most of them turn out to be false alarms anyway.”

“Do they now?”

Caitlin’s tone left him sneering at her. “Look, Ranger, you want to shoot up the street to get inside that shithole, be my guest. I’m not leaving my partner.”

“Thanks for giving me permission,” she said, and steered back for Cort Wesley.

“That looked like it went well,” he noted, pushing a frat boy who’d ventured too close out of the way, after stripping the empty beer bottle he was holding by the neck from his grasp.

“Sexual assault victim might still be inside, Cort Wesley.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.”

“Got any ideas, Ranger?”

Caitlin eyed the fire engine stranded where East 7th Street met Red River Avenue. “Just one.”

CHAPTER 3

Austin, Texas

Four firemen were gathered behind the truck in a tight cluster, speaking with the two paramedics from the rescue wagon.

“I’m a Texas Ranger,” Caitlin announced, approaching them with jacket peeled back to reveal her badge, “and I’m commandeering your truck.”

“You’re what?” one of the fireman managed. “No, absolutely not!”

The siren began blaring and lights started flashing, courtesy of Cort Wesley who’d climbed up behind the wheel.

“Sorry,” Caitlin said, raising her voice above the din, “can’t hear you!”

* * *

The crowd that filled the street in front of Stubb’s Barbecue saw and heard the fire truck coming and began pelting it with bottles, as it edged forward through the congested street that smelled of sweat and beer. What looked like steam hung in the stagnant air overhead, either an illusion or the actual product of so many superheated bodies congealed in such tight quarters. The sound of glass braking crackled through Caitlin’s ears, as bottle after bottle smashed against the truck’s frame.

The crowd clustered tighter around the fire engine, cutting off Cort Wesley’s way backward or on toward Stubb’s. The students, their fervor and aggression bred by alcohol, never noticed Caitlin’s presence atop the truck until she finally figured out the workings of the truck’s deck gun and squeezed the nozzle.

The force of the water bursting out of the barrel nearly knocked her backward off the truck. But she managed to right and then repositioned herself, as she doused the tight cluster of students between the truck and the restaurant entrance with the gun’s powerful stream.

A wave of people tried to fight the flow and ended up getting blown off their feet, thrown into other students who then scrambled to avoid the fire engine’s surge forward ahead of its deafening horn. Caitlin continued to clear a path for Cort Wesley, sweeping the deck gun in light motions from side to side, the five hundred gallon tank still plenty full when the club entrance drew within clear view.

She felt the fire engine’s front wheels mount the sidewalk and twist heavily to the right. The front fender grazed the building and took out a plate glass window the rioting had somehow spared. Caitlin saw a gap in the crowd open all the way to the entrance and leaped down from the truck to take advantage of it, before it closed up again.

She purposely didn’t draw her gun and entered Stubb’s to the sight of bloodied bouncers and staff herding the last of the patrons out of the restaurant. Outside, the steady blare of sirens told her the Austin police had arrived in force. Little they could do to disperse a crowd this large and unruly in rapid fashion, though, much less reach the entrance to lend their efforts to Caitlin’s in locating the sexual assault victim.

She threaded her way through the ground floor of Stubb’s to the stairs leading down to the private lounge area. The air felt like it was being blasted out of a steam oven, roiled with coagulated body heat untouched by the restaurant’s air conditioning that left Caitlin with the sense she was descending to hell.

Reaching the windowless sub-level floor, she swept her eyes about and thought she heard a whimpering come from a nest of couches, where a male figure hovered over the frame of a woman, lying half on and half off a sectional couch.

“Sir, put your hands in the air and turn around slowly!” Caitlin ordered, drawing her SIG-Sauer nine-millimeter pistol. “Don’t make me tell you twice!”

He started to turn, without raising his hands, and Caitlin fired when she glimpsed something shiny in his grasp. Impact to the shoulder twisted the man around and spilled him over the sectional couch, Caitlin holding her SIG at the ready as she approached his victim.

She heard the whimpering again, making her think more of the sound a dog makes, and followed it toward a tight cluster of connected couch sections, their cushions all stained wet and smelling thickly of beer. Drawing closer while still keeping a sharp eye on the man she’d shot, Caitlin spotted a big smart phone lying just out of his grasp, recognizing it as the object she’d wrongly taken for a gun. Then Caitlin spied a young woman of college age pinned between a pair of couch sections, covering her exposed breasts with her arms, her torn blouse hanging off her and jeans unbuttoned and unzipped just short of her hips.

Drawing closer, Caitlin saw the young woman’s assailant, the man she’d just shot in all likelihood, must’ve yanked them down so violently that he’d split the zipper and torn off the snap or button.

“Ma’am?” she called softly.

The young woman tightened herself into a ball and retreated deeper into the darkness between the couch sections, not seeming to hear her.

“Ma’am,” Caitlin said louder, hovering over the coed while continuing to check on the man she’d shot, his eyes drifting in and out of consciousness, his shirt wet with blood in the shoulder area from the gunshot wound.

Caitlin only wished it was her own attacker lying there, from all those years before when she’d been a coed herself at the Lone Star College campus in West Houston. Some memories suppressed easily, others were like a toothache that came and went. That one was more like a cavity that had been filled, forgotten until the filling broke off and raw nerve pain flared.

Caitlin pushed the couch sections aside and knelt by the young woman, pistol tucked low by her hip so as not to frighten her further.

“I’m a Texas Ranger, ma’am,” she said, in as soothing a voice as she could manage. “I need to get you out of here, and I need you to help me. I need to know if you can walk.”

The young woman finally looked at her, nodded. Her left cheek was swollen badly and one of her arms hung limply from its socket. Caitlin looked back at the downed form of the man she’d already shot once, half hoping he gave her a reason to shoot him again.

“What’s your name? Mine’s Caitlin.”

“Kelly Ann,” the young woman said, her voice dry and cracking.

Caitlin helped her to her feet. “Well, Kelly Ann, I know things feel real bad right now, but trust me when I tell you this is bad as they’re going to get.”

Kelly Ann’s features perked up slightly, her eyes flashing back to life. She tried to take a deep breath, but stopped halfway though.

Caitlin held her around the shoulders in one arm, SIG clutched in her free hand while her eyes stayed peeled on the downed man’s stirring form. “I’m going to stay with you the whole way until we get you some help,” she promised.

The building suddenly felt like a Fun House Hall of Mirrors. Everything distorted, perspective and sense of place lost. Even the stairs climbing back to the ground floor felt different, only the musty smell of sweat mixed with stale perfume and body spray telling her they were the same.

Caitlin wanted to tell Kelly Ann it would be all right, that it would get better, that it would all go away in time. But that would be a lie, so she said nothing at all. Almost to the door, she gazed toward a loose assemblages of frat boys wearing hoodies displaying their letters as they chugged from liquor bottles stripped from the shelves behind the main bar on the first floor. How different were they from the one who’d hurt her, hurt Kelly Ann?

Caitlin wanted to shoot the bottles out of their hands, but kept leading Kelly Ann on instead, out into the night and the vapor spray from the deck gun now being wielded by Cort Wesley to keep their route clear.

“’Bout time!” he shouted down, scampering across the truck’s top to retake his place behind the wheel.

Caitlin was already inside the cab, Kelly Ann clinging tight to her.

“Where to, Ranger?”

“Seton Medical Center, Cort Wesley.”

Before he got going, Caitlin noticed Officer Hilton and several other Austin cops pushing their way through the crowd toward the entrance to Stubb’s.

“Don’t worry, Officer, I got the victim out safe and sound,” she yelled down to him, only half-sarcastically. “But I left a man with a bullet in his shoulder down there for you to take care of.”

“Come again?”

“I’d hurry, if I were you. He’s losing blood.”

***

Excerpt from Strong to the Bone by Jon Land. Copyright © 2017 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Jon Land

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 43 books, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller, and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. Strong Cold Dead became the fourth title in the series in a row to win the International Book Award in 2017 and about which Booklist said, “Thrillers don’t get any better than this,” in a starred review. Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, was published by Forge in January of 2017. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jon Land. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card AND 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Strong To The Bone by Jon Land. The giveaway begins on December 4 and runs through February 2, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Micro-Reviews, December


I’ve been reading a lot, but not finding much time to write full-on reviews. So, here are some micro-reviews, all for books that are either just published, or coming out in the next few months.

8703F7E4-AA98-463F-9179-F2CB1EB0CEA1Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins – New fantasy series get started all the time; some are better than others. This one, my friends, is going to be EPIC! There is nothing here not to love, from the gorgeous cover to the big, fat, luscious story that features women in non-traditional roles (well, at least one of them!) The power held by the women in this story is remarkable, even if some of the characters aren’t always likable. Bluebell is a character to remember. Is there anyone like her in literature today (I haven’t read Game of Thrones, so maybe there is…). Even so, she is the alpha and omega here, the male and female, hero and antihero, and oh, how I love her! Highly recommended.
Publication Date: March 2018

 

2A530BA3-E296-46CF-A7B5-6FF5B4FD18BBChord of Evil by Sarah Rayne – Sarah Rayne has become a go-to author for me – I eagerly read anything she writes, and I constantly recommend her to people in the library and friends in my Reader world. Rayne has a remarkable ability to weave history, horror, mystery, and a little bit of romance into can’t-put-it-down books. She succeeds again with Chord of Evil, the second in her Phineas Fox series. Not every author can pull off a parallel narrative with one set of characters in the present day and another in the past. Rayne has mastered this technique in previous books, and uses it again here as we learn the present day story and how it entwines with the past. If I have one issue with this book, it’s Phin’s reaction to actually meeting the fabulous Arabella in person. He’s disappointed? Are you freaking kidding me? At that moment, Phin is pretty much a jerk, but he comes around. Despite this one issue, this is a winner.
Publication Date: December 2017

72ADCE41-784A-46A7-BC38-AE7768839B2EThe Darkling Bride by Laura Anderson – This transported me back to the 1970s, when I would spend hours browsing the Gothics section of bookstore and library shelves. Everything I loved about Gothics is here – the spunky heroine with a tragedy in her past, the brooding but ridiculously handsome “lord of the manor,” his disagreeable sibling, and the forbidding matriarch – all squished up together in a remote castle or manor with a mystery and maybe a few ghosts. If you love Irish folklore, you will love this book. The story here is original and well developed, the characters appealing, and the outcome satisfying. I had a hard time putting this one down. Recommended for lovers of mysteries & family drama, and for the YA audience.
Publication Date: March 2018

400E1E62-1235-4258-B8FD-77893114B8EADemon Crown by James Rollins – James Rollins delivers another pulse-pounding, action-packed, roller-coaster ride of a story. Once again, we’re dropped down into the world of Sigma Force, and are carried along with the action as Gray and the team race against time to stop a deadly enemy from ending the world. There’s no question about Rollins’ writing ability. He *knows* how to write in a way that grips you by the throat and doesn’t let you go until the very last moment, when you need to breathe more than anything in the world. And that definitely happened here. I’m still having dreams about those effing bees! There are a lot of authors writing action-adventure like Rollins, but where he draws ahead of the pack is in his ability to weave non-fiction elements into whatever global disaster he’s cooked up. In Demon Crown, we learn about bees, a little bit about Imperial Japan, and about amber. Pair that with likable, kickass characters, and there’s no way this one won’t shoot to the top of the charts. Highly recommended.
Publication Date: December 2017

Reader Profile – Maria Thomas Fisher


maria fisher

Maria Thomas Fisher is currently the Chief of staff for the Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation. She is the host of the radio show “Still I Rise” on WAYO 104.3 FM, and has worked for the City of Rochester, Rochester City School District, and Rochester Regional Health. Maria is a strong advocate for libraries and a Reader with a capital R!

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

I’m a non-fiction reader and library fanatic who thinks the stories of real people are the most captivating.

What are you reading right now?

I just started reading Gold from the Well. It’s the story of Jocelyn “Josh” Apo and details his journey as a Haitian refugee. Josh survived 17 days crossing the ocean in a flimsy raft in order to make a better life for himself. Josh is now a beloved custodian at Pittsford Central School District. My family came to this country as refugees after surviving a Nazi slave labor camp. Because of their experience, I’m moved deeply by stories of survival and the positive impact refugees have on our communities.

What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamont
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

I’m more of a delayed finisher. I’ve been working on a doctorate over the last few years and just get so busy sometimes that it can take me a long time to finish a book. If I’m really bored with a book I don’t mind stopping. There are too many great books still to read for me to spend time reading a book that doesn’t interest me. I did force myself to finish reading the book Kindred Spirits which was part of a work reading group. I was bored with it from the beginning and that never changed.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

I would never read the end of the book first. I love the element of surprise and enjoy not knowing the ending. Plus, I would feel too guilty.

What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?

A Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

Lately, I recommend Ta-Nehesi Coates. He’s an incredibly powerful author.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

I would definitely rather be an author. I like to write and the idea that my writing could move people would be a dream for me.

​What book do you wish you’d never read?

There isn’t a book I read that I regret. However, I am really glad I’ve never read any of the 50 Shades books. They sound dreadful.

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

I found Animal Farm to be a powerful, impactful read when I was young and have reread it numerous times. As a young person, it helped me relate to my family’s experiences of living in Ukraine under the Stalinist regime. Obviously, Animal Farm was based in part on Stalin. There are so many powerful words in the book that I still remember “Four legs good, two legs bad.” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Every time I read the book I am reminded that it is my job to speak for the voiceless and fight for the rights of the vulnerable. It’s very easy to marginalize certain groups of people, just like my family was marginalized. We must always stay vigilant. Everyone should read this book more than once.

Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?

I absolutely hate romance novels and romantic comedies for that matter. I find grand romantic gestures boring in novels. I would much rather have someone who picks up my prescriptions and puts gas in my car than a room filled with candles and roses any day. Romance novels just feel so unrealistic. My favorite writing on love was oddly in the classic children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit. I love the part where the horse tells the rabbit that being real happens when someone loves you not just to play with but really loves you – then you become real. And most of us don’t become real until we’ve lost our hair and we’re loose in the joints. That writing is so powerful for a children’s book and I’m moved to tears every time I read those lines. Romance novels never scratch the surface of real love.

Describe your favorite place to read.

Libraries are my absolutely favorite places to read. We didn’t have much money as a child and my mom would bring me to the library at least three times a week. I never felt poor at the library. At the library, I had the same access to resources as anyone else. I instantly feel at home as soon as I walk in the door of a library. The Irondequoit Library is especially impressive. There are lots of nice, comfy quiet spaces and it’s just a very lovely building. In addition, librarians are about the coolest people in the world.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

I prefer books to movies. Books can go into in depth character detail that movies can’t. I also like that you can use your imagination in books. It isn’t a movie, but I prefer the TV show Orange is the New Black to the book. A significant reason for this is because the actresses on the show are spectacular. Also, the show has had multiple seasons and has gone beyond the stories in the book. I like that the TV show goes into great detail telling each women’s story when the book was focused on Piper’s story.

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I only read hardcover and paperback books. There is a satisfaction I get from holding a book and turning pages that I could never get from an audio book. Since I started volunteering with people who are visually impaired, I’ve realized how important it is to have audio books available in order to increase access to books to everyone.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

I would get the quote. “Books are the best weapon in the world. Arm yourself!” (from a Dr. Who episode).

Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky

2

on Tour October 30, 2017 – January 6, 2018

Synopsis:

Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky

Private investigator Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.

If you like your mysteries quirky, this one is definitely for you. Charlie is a likable character, for a dead guy. He’s not a zombie, nor a vampire but he is also not dead or alive. That adds a little weirdness here, since it seems he can just pick up and carry on after “dying.” His cognitive problems add a fuzziness to the whole dead-not-dead thing. I really struggled with liking then not liking this book. The “detective” part is a decent mystery, but the “dead-not-dead” state of the main character added an unnecessary layer of confusion. Javorsky has shown he can write a really good and witty detective story; he just doesn’t need all the other stuff going on.

Earl Javorsky’s DOWN TO NO GOOD is wildly original, wildly energetic, wildly funny – it’s just straight up wild, and I mean that in the best possible way.

– Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE

It’s a shame you missed Down Solo:

“Earl Javorsky’s bold and unusual Down Solo blends the mysterious and the supernatural boldly and successfully. The novel is strong and haunting, a wonderful debut.”

– T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of Full Measure and The Famous and the Dead

“Awesome”

– James Frey, New York Times bestselling author

“Don’t miss Earl Javorsky’s Down Solo. It’s kick-ass, man. Excellent writing. This guy is the real deal.”

– Dan Fante, author of the memoir Fante and the novel Point Doom

“Javorksy’s writing reminded me of the Carl Hiaasen novels I’d read sprawled out on the deck on one sunny Florida vacation. Perfect entertainment, with the right amount of action to keep me alert (and to keep me from snoozing myself into a sunburned state). But there’s also a deeper layer in Down Solo, which left me thinking past the final page.”

– Bibliosmiles

“Javorsky’s dark and gritty prose is leavened with just enough humor to make Down Solo a compelling story that will take readers to the outer limits of noir.”

– San Diego City Beat

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: The Story Plant

Publication Date: October 31st 2017

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 1611882532 (ISBN13: 9781611882537)

Series: This is the sequel to DOWN SOLO.

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗| Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

I wake up looking down at my body, naked on a gurney at the morgue.

No.

That’s a memory.

This has happened to me before.

I was riding my bike, working a case, high as a meteorite that doesn’t yet know it’s about to crash and burn, still happily tooling along in space, at night, wrapped in a warm blanket of summer air, Jack Daniels, and a smidgen of heroin. Some creep shot me in the temple, and I woke up hovering above my own corpse.

This time is different.

Not a gurney. Not the morgue.

A bed. My body, eyes closed, on a bed. I’ve got a bird’s-eye view, hovering like a kite, still tethered, but barely, by an invisible string.

Let’s get clear on my condition. I don’t know what it is, but I know what it is not. I am not a vampire, or a zombie, or a ghost. I’m not a thousand years old, I have no superpowers, and I’ve never been a hero. What I do have is a broken life, a broken family, and, so far, an inexplicable inoculation against dying. And a daughter I would die for—or, in this case, return to life for.

The tether reels me in. I descend toward the body, a mirror image to it, my arms at my sides, my feet slightly apart. Three bullet holes in my face—and one in my gut—are going to need some repair. At contact, I am absorbed and no longer looking down at myself but looking up at the ceiling.

I stretch my fingers, curl them into fists, and stretch them again.

“Jesus holy fucking Christ!”

I know that voice.

I turn my head. It’s awkward, after the lightness of floating, to be in the body, to know its heaviness and vulnerability. There’s a man sitting in a chair next to the bed. He’s a cop, and the first thing I think is: He knows my secret. Now he really knows it. But it’s okay, because he’s also my friend and I trust him. I have to.

“Hey, Dave, how’s it going?” My voice sounds artificial—a forced process of pushing air, modulating vibrations with my vocal cords, shaping syllables with my mouth and tongue. I make my lips grin.

Dave sits there like a stuffed panda in his rumpled white shirt and cheap black sports coat. There’s blood on his clothes. It’s in his fingernails—my blood, dried and caked on his hands. His right hand is clasped around a Heineken, which he finally tilts to his mouth and drains.

I force the body up and into a sitting position, feet on the floor. I flex my fingers a few more times, roll my shoulders, and look at Dave. For a moment, I close my eyes and leave the body, just as an experiment, and roam around the room. From over Dave’s shoulder I watch it slump back into the pillows like a marionette whose strings have been cut. Dave stands and moves toward the bed, but I slip back into the body and work my mouth and tell him it’s okay.

I sit back up and ask Dave, “Why am I naked?”

“Because you were shot full of holes and clinically dead. I brought you back to my place and cleaned you up. I took off your clothes to see how many more bullets there might be in you. Your things are right over there.” He points to a chair in the corner.

“You’re taking this pretty well.”

He shrugs. “I feel like I’m in a bad movie, but hey . . .”

“I appreciate your bringing me here.”

“I knew if I called the paramedics you’d have been sliced and diced at the coroner’s.”

“How long have I been here?”

Dave looks at his watch. “It’s noon. Call it thirty-six hours.”

“What day is it? And date?”

“Wednesday. Last day in August.”

I stand and walk to the chair to get dressed. Roaming—moving freely out of the body—is easier than this, but I’ll adjust. I have before. The gorilla-suit quality of living in the body becomes commonplace, the intentional management of operating the system, beating the heart, making the blood run in the veins, the conscious act of breathing: all of it becomes second nature.

It’s almost like being alive.

***

Excerpt from Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky. Copyright © 2017 by Earl Javorsky. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Earl Javorsky

Daniel Earl Javorsky was born in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and author of two previous novels, Down Solo and Trust Me.

He is the black sheep of a family of high artistic achievers.

Catch Up With Our Author On: earljavorsky.com 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Earl Javorsky and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Down Solo by Earl Javorsky. The giveaway begins on October 30 and runs through January 8, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

2

on Tour November 6 – December 6, 2017

Synopsis:

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers

This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?

When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…

Gray has a tightly plotted crime drama here, with a well-developed cast of characters. DCI Lorimer reminds me a bit of Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury, plucked out of the 80s and dropped into 21st century Glasgow. The story is clever and delivered in fairly short chapters, making the switching among points of view a help rather than a hindrance to the overall flow. I’ve not read Gray’s earlier novels, but if this is indicative of her work, I’ll seek them out. I would not be surprised to see this series turned into a television drama and it would make an excellent one. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: November 7th 2017

Number of Pages: 368

ISBN: 0062659227 (ISBN13: 9780062659224)

Series: DCI Lorimer #9

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

It wasn’t always easy to see the moon or the stars. This city’s sodium glow rose like yellow fog from its streets, blotting out any chance of star gazing. But she knew it was there. That cold white face dominated her thoughts tonight and she shivered as though it already saw her flesh naked and exposed to its unblinking watchfulness. Perhaps it was because she was trying to be seen that she felt such awareness. The red jersey pencil skirt folded over to create a too-short mini, those agonisingly high-heeled sandals cutting into her bare toes; spread across the bed back in the hotel they had seemed the garb of an adventuress.

Now, revealed in the glare of the street lamp on this corner she felt a sense of…what? Shame? Perhaps. Self-consciousness, certainly. But such feelings must be overcome if her plan was to work.

She had already overcome the blank indifference of the girls down in Waterloo Street, their body language both defiant and compelling. Her hips shifted, one slender foot thrust forwards, as she remembered how they had stood, languidly chewing gum, waiting for their punters. Their desperation drove them to return night after night, the price of a wrap of drugs equating to an hour with some stranger.

Her own need was just as strong, fuelled by a passion that would not be spent until she had fulfilled her desire. It was warm in this Glasgow summer’s night and her black nylon blouse clung to her back, making her uncomfortably aware of her own flesh. The thin cotton coat she’d worn to conceal these trashy clothes as she’d tapped her way across the marble foyer of the hotel was now folded into the black bag at her feet, along with her more sober court shoes. When it was over she would slip them on and return the way she had come, hair clipped in a businesslike pleat. She smiled thinly. Being a woman had some advantages; the facility for disguise was just one of them. Her carefully made-up face was stripped of colour in the unforgiving lamplight, leaving only an impression of dark eyes, darker hair tossed back to reveal a long, determined mouth. She recalled what Tracey- Anne, one of the girls at the drop-in centre, had told her: I get through it by pretending to be someone else for a few hours, then I can be myself again.

Tracey-Anne was lucky, though. After tonight she could never again be the person that she used to be. Glancing at the elegant façades around the square, the dark-haired woman suddenly saw these city streets through different eyes: the shadows seemed blacker, the corners harbouring ill intent. Her chin tilted upwards, defying those inner demons tempting her to turn back.

After tonight things would change for ever. When the car slowed down at the kerb her heart quickened in a moment of anticipation that astonished her. She had expected the thrill of fear, not this rush of excitement sweeping through her blood.

The man behind the wheel had bent his head and she could see his eyes flicking over her hungrily, appraising his choice. He gave a brief nod as if to say he was pleased with his first instinct to stop. Her lip-glossed mouth drawn up in a smile, she stepped forward, willing him to reach across and open the window, ask her price. For a moment he seemed to hesitate and she could see tiny beads of sweat on his upper lip, glistening in the light. Then the door of the big car swung open noiselessly and she lowered herself inside, swinging her legs neatly together to show as much thigh as she could. But the gestures were still ladylike, almost reserved, as if she knew that would quicken his senses.

‘How much?’ he asked. And she told him, one shoulder moving insouciantly as if to declare that she wasn’t bothered whether he could afford her or not: someone else would pay that price if he wouldn’t. She glanced at him briefly, catching sight of the tip of his tongue flicking at his lips like a nervous lizard, then he made a gruff noise of assent, looking at her again, as though to be sure of his purchase, before accelerating into the night.

***

Excerpt from A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & Twitter 🔗.

 

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winner of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray’s SLEEP LIKE THE DEAD. The giveaway begins on November 6 and runs through December 10, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Killer Holiday by Amy Korman

2

On Tour October 23 – November 30, 2017

Synopsis:

Killer Holiday by Amy Korman

Kristin Clark and her offbeat crew of Bryn Mawr socialites are ready for a fun and festive winter holiday—one that involves sipping martinis by a crackling yule log, hot guys beneath the mistletoe, and Gucci under the Christmas tree. But this year, Old Saint Nick has something more dangerous in store. A stranger dressed in a Santa suit has Kristin’s friends on his naughty list. First, Sophie’s favorite handbag is blasted by a bullet. Then, Father Christmas shatters her brother Chip’s car window with a golf club and leaves a threatening note demanding fifty grand. Both are convinced it has to be a mistake. But when Chip goes missing, the stakes become deadly. Eula Morris is also back in town for the holidays, more bossy and boastful than ever after winning a mega-jackpot in the lottery. She’s returned from a luxury cruise around the world with a handsome new boyfriend (who looks oddly familiar…) and a Samsonite suitcase filled with gold bars. When the suitcase is snatched, Eula implores Kristin and the team to track it down. Where is Chip? Why is a vengeful Santa targeting the gang? Who stole Eula’s suitcase? And how are these events linked? The WASPs and Kristen’s basset hound Waffles are on the case—before this white Christmas turns even darker.

If you’re looking for a ridiculously funny mystery populated with Drama Queens who shriek and scream one-liners and non-sequiturs, this series is for you. I’ve lost my taste for “cozy” mysteries because they have all become so formulaic – full of cardboard, deadly dull characters. With Killer Holidays, Amy Korman has taken the cozy mystery, dressed it in Gucci, soaked it in good vodka, and then propped it up with clever, in-your-face storytelling. Implausible? You bet. Does it work? Absolutely. Recommended for mystery readers who take their mysteries with a good red wine and some quality cheese.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: October 24th 2017 by Witness Impulse

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 0062431366 (ISBN13: 9780062431363)

Series:  A Killer WASPs Mystery, #4

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Bootsie McElvoy burst through the front door of The Striped Awning, a bag of ice in her right hand and the biggest bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon I’ve ever seen in her left. She dug into her L.L. Bean tote for a bottle of red wine, a shaker of nutmeg, and a bag of fun-size candy canes, all of which she deposited next to a display of 1940s barware near the front of my antiques store.

“Kristin, it’s December fifteenth, which means it’s time for you to start offering shoppers a specialty cocktail the minute they set foot inside your store,” Bootsie told me. “I’m going to mix up a batch of the Delaney family Christmas drink, the Bourbon Blitzen, which never fails to produce a White Christmas vibe. One sip and you’ll feel like you’re singing and dancing with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye at a snowy Vermont inn. This should double your sales totals for the month.”

“Thanks!” I said gratefully, since Bootsie’s family’s boozy drinks are known throughout our village of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, for their potency and tendency to produce unwise purchases.

“The drinks sound good, but you’re also going to need about four thousand more of these pinecones, triple the greenery, and eight hundred additional strands of lights,” Joe Delafield informed me; he’d arrived twenty minutes earlier to help me decorate my store for the Christmas rush.

To lure in passing foot traffic, I’d brought in armloads of holly and spruce branches from my backyard (cost: free, thankfully), spray-painted pinecones silver (the paint was only $5.28 at the hardware store), and added some cheerful-looking blinking white lights. This would probably bring tons of holiday shoppers through my front door!

Joe paused, eyeing the room with his signature critical stare. “The effect I’m going for is that a bunch of HGTV-crazed elves with subscriptions to Veranda magazine snuck in and decorated for four straight days. Gerda, we’re going to need the blinking lights to stop blinking, pronto. Pull the plug, please.”

Joe’s assistant for the day was the eponymous owner of Gerda’s Bust Your Ass Gym, which is housed inside the beauty salon across the street. Since Gerda stands a lofty six feet tall in flats (or sneakers, which is her usual footwear, since fancy shoes aren’t her style), she’d agreed to hang ornaments, bringing her signature grim attitude to the proceedings.

“Cute idea,” Bootsie observed, casting a dubious stare at my front window, which was filled with antique silver-plated candlesticks, flatware, and wineglasses. “Is that your holiday inventory?”

“Nobody going to want that stuff,” said Gerda, who moved here from her native Austria a few years back. Gerda, who’s incredibly muscular and brings in sell-out crowds at her Pilates classes, isn’t the most tactful person in the world. “People want, like, scarves and Fitbits and iPhones.”

I sighed, knowing Gerda was right. Those were the gifts on most holiday wish lists.

“Luckily, I’ve solved all your problems,” Bootsie told me. “I ran into Eddie from the Pub this morning, and he needs a place to hold some late-night poker tournaments this month, so I brokered a deal for The Striped Awning. You’ll be hosting twice-weekly games from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays till Valentine’s Day.”

“What!” I erupted, alarmed by this idea. “First of all, that doesn’t sound legal.”

“It’s fine,” she told me, waving away my concerns. “I mean, it’s not like it will be a professional betting operation. Eddie’s limiting each night to ten players and three hours. Some cards, a few drinks, a few small wagers. What could go wrong?”

“A lot!” I said. “They’ll blow cigar smoke and drop Dorito crumbs everywhere. Not to mention get arrested for operating a casino without a license. A lot could go wrong!”

“You worry too much,” Bootsie informed me dismissively. “Plus, he’ll pay you two hundred dollars a night.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but no words came out. Bootsie knew she had me—there’s no way I can refuse an extra four hundred dollars a week, even if it puts me on the wrong side of the state gaming commission.

Just then, though, the front door was thrown open by one Sophie Shields, a tiny blonde who at the moment was looking slightly wild-eyed.

“Ya won’t believe what just happened!” shrieked Sophie. “The Colketts were helping me put up curtains in my new dining room, since Joe here never finished decorating my place—and the curtains are orange silk, by the way, they’re totally Elle Decor meets a J. Lo red-carpet gown. So Tim and Tom Colkett were talking paint colors when I heard a horn honking, so I opened the front door, thinking it was the delivery boy from the Hoagie House. I figured I’d go out and pay the driver, when boom!

“A guy dressed as Santa leaned out of the driver’s seat of a black SUV that had pulled right up in my driveway and aimed a gun at me and the Colketts!” The Colketts are the town’s leading landscape designers, who’ve lately turned their talents to party planning and interior design.

“Then the guy yelled, ‘Hey, Sophie, this one’s from your ex, Barclay!’ and shot my favorite handbag!” Sophie finished. “I was reaching into it to pay for the hoagies, thank goodness, so it acted as a protective shield. Also, I think maybe this Santa guy doesn’t have great aim.”

We all stared at her for a moment.

“Are you sure, Sophie?” said Bootsie finally. “Because this sounds like BS.”

“Yeah, Sophie, maybe you been hitting the wine bottle today,” seconded Gerda. “I know the Colketts are day drinkers. Maybe you been guzzling alcohol, too.”

“It’s true!” Sophie bleated. “Just look at this Ferragamo satchel! If it hadn’t had gold hardware to block the trajectory of the bullet, me and the Colketts would have been toast!”

***

Excerpt from Killer Holiday by Amy Korman. Copyright © 2017 by Amy Korman. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

 

Amy Korman

Author Bio:

Amy Korman is a former senior editor and staff writer for Philadelphia Magazine, and author of Frommer’s Guide to Philadelphia. She has written for Town & Country, House Beautiful, Men’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. Killer WASPS is her first novel.

Catch Up With Ms. Korman On: amykorman.com 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Amy Korman and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of KILLER PUNCH by Amy Korman. The giveaway begins on October 23 and runs through December 3, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Creating a Culture of Reading In Rochester


img_0427Recently, local reporter Erica Bryant wrote about a “reading crisis” in Rochester, expressing outrage and alarm over the apparent lack of reading skills among Rochester residents. Bryant proposed creating a “gigantic youth literacy initiative” as a gift in honor of Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday coming up in 2018.

Speaking as the Director of the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System, and as a member of Mayor Lovely Warren’s Senior Management Team, I will argue that our reading crisis will be solved not by a huge “initiative” or another “blue ribbon panel” but by small, community based actions such as those put in place by the City and by community members over the last few years which demonstrate and promote a culture of reading.

It will be solved by average citizens modeling reading behavior to children and low-literate adults.

It will be solved by creating more and more opportunities to get books into people’s hands and homes, and by helping those who are learning to master the act of reading discover the beauty and power of the written word.

The City of Rochester and the Rochester Public Library have implemented many small-scale reading programs and projects in the last few years. Some of those include the library’s popular Raising a Reader program which focuses on reading as a family activity. Partnering with ABC Headstart classrooms and daycares, Raising a Reader provides new books to participating families every week over the course of several months. Staff works with the parents to help them understand the importance of reading with their children every day, and that the act of reading together as a family can be very intimate and special, both for the child and the parent.

41038A34-AEF9-4E59-9EFC-C8BF5107701ARaising a Reader has been successful in introducing young children to reading for pleasure, but it has also opened doors for parents who are ready and eager to improve their reading skills. As reading becomes important to the parent, it also becomes important to the child.

Recently, Raising a Reader families reported that their children more frequently asked to look at and read books at home, that they had more books in their homes, and that the average length of time the children and parents read together increased by more than 50% since last year.

Mayor Warren and her staff understand the importance of having books in the home, and have rolled out several programs and projects that help get books into the hands of community members, especially children.

Storytime with Style has distributed more than 2,000 books through twelve barbershops and beauty salons in the City. These books are placed on special shelves for people – adults and children – to read while waiting for a haircut, and then take home when they’re finished. The stylists, by having the books in their salons, demonstrate the value and importance of reading to children and adults alike. They make reading part of the community culture.

E80AAE3B-B2F0-4A2A-BA67-12E29CC441E4

Mayor Warren has also created an online community which encourages reading in the home. Rochester Families Read is a Facebook group where information about reading and education is shared with more than 300 group members. Reading recommendations, information about educational events and activities, and inspirational messages about reading are frequently shared in this group, which is open to anyone.

Distribution of books to children, teens, and adults has become an important part of the library’s outreach efforts. You will often find one of the library’s Books By Bike stations at area farmers markets and community events, giving books away. Our riders regularly report they are constantly flagged down on their way between stops by people who are anxious to get a book.

In addition, you will find shelves of free books in many locations throughout the City, maintained by community volunteers and by library staff. Since 2015, the library distributed more than 2 million free books through nearly 200 locations in the City, including WIC sites, Family Court waiting rooms, corner stores, and laundromats.

The most frequently requested books? The Bible and cookbooks.

Through a partnership with Monroe County, the library has placed Americorps volunteers in DHS offices to engage families in literacy activities while they wait, and to introduce them to the library system. Families can apply for library cards in DHS offices, and are welcomed to their local library once they receive their library card in the mail.

Other community led efforts to distribute books can be found in the dozens of Little Free Libraries located throughout the City. Some were built and distributed by City staff, but many were provided through a grassroots, citizen-led group called The Snowball Effect, which raised over $9,000 and distributed 20 pre-built little libraries several years ago. These libraries are maintained by their “stewards,” usually a homeowner or community member. They operate on the “take a book, leave a book” principle and are free to access. By installing a Little Free Library in your neighborhood, you’re telling the world that you are a Reader and that reading matters.

Perhaps the most impactful method of book distribution is the Books and Bears program begun by the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services and the Rochester Police Department. With supplies collected entirely through private donations, this program provides RPD officers with teddy bears and a books to give to children who are caught up in a traumatic experience. The bear and the book provide a small amount of comfort in a difficult situation, creating an experience for the child that equates books with something good.

Many community partners like Literacy Volunteers of Rochester provide programs for low-literate adults throughout the region. Adult literacy is critical to solving big issues such as unemployment, poverty, and crime. Bob Mahar, Director of Literacy Volunteers, recently shared these statistics:

  • 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
  • 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
  • 76% of adults on public assistance are low literate  or unable to read more than simple text
  • Public assistance recipients with the lowest literacy skills stay on assistance the longest
  • Parents who can’t read are likely to have children who can’t read well
  • 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

Clearly, low literacy affects ones ability to learn, work, and prosper, underscoring the critical need to address literacy first. Literacy Volunteers is always looking for volunteers to help deliver their services. Give them a call at 473-3030!

The number of children, teens, and adults who use our libraries every day are one indicator that we are making some progress in solving the “reading crisis” Bryant wrote about, but it is not enough.

Every person in our City who can read should embrace that skill and share it with others.

  • Model reading behavior by carrying a book with you and pulling it out while you wait in line.
  • If you’re a digital reader, comment to those around you that you just can’t wait to find out what happens next as you open your e-reading app on your phone.
  • Make a habit of talking about what you’re reading.
  • Add a line to your email signature about what you’re currently reading.
  • If you tweet, use #Recommendsday and #RocReads to recommend a book to your followers every Wednesday.
  • Become a Literacy Volunteer and teach someone to read.
  • Use your local libraries and encourage everyone you know to use them!

Solving this crisis is up to us. Read early. Read often. Read everywhere.

readmore

I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere de la Mare


12E9413C-CB5C-4D22-BE60-5E1584801C69Here’s an unusual factoid about Readers: not only do we love to read, we love to read about reading. There’s all sorts of books about books and reading, but Guinevere de la Mare has produced one of the loveliest little books-about-books I’ve seen in quite some time. She alternates a luscious variety of images – drawn, painted, collaged, photographed – with three heartfelt and earnest essays by Maura Kelly, Gretchen Rubin, and Ann Patchett. The images and essays blend into one delightful little book (and it is small enough to slip into a pocket or purse).

Maura Kelly writes about her “Slow Books Manifesto” in which she posits that we should all turn to literature, to books that take some time to read and will become our companions for weeks at a time. Books we savor and think about when we’re not reading. Books that we remember and books that change our way of thinking. I like it….

Ann Patchett writes a short essay explaining how she answered when asked to name her 25 favorite books. She gave it a lot of thought, and produced an eclectic list ranging from Jane Austen to John le Carre to Alice Munro to John Updike. After giving us her list, she went on to answer questions similar to those I pose in the Reader Profiles I feature in this blog. All in all, an intriguing insight into one of our most prolific and successful contemporary authors.

Gretchen Rubin writes about how she tries to organize her time so she can read more. She gives advice such as “Quit Books” – don’t force yourself to finish a book you’re not enjoying, There are too many other things to read out there! Other tips include watch recorded TV, skim, keep a big stack of books to be read, plan time to read more difficult books, and always have something to read.

The art here is engaging and lovely, and includes a colored rendering of a shelf of books that looks very much like it came from the Ideal Bookshelf, one of my favorite bookish artists. There are memes here, along with simple drawings of books, detailed renderings of books and readers, and some nice photography.

This would make a sweet gift for the Reader (with a capital R) in your life. It’s a quick read, but could become a book your favorite Reader goes back to again and again. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2017