Philosophers FlightThe Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller – Imagine a world where the patriarchy is flipped. Where women who have unusual skills (think those traditionally associated with “witches” like flying, healing, and magic) have shaped the world and women have the power. Now imagine that the son of one of the most decorated “Philosophers” wants to join what seems to be the equivalent of the Air Force, but to do so he must graduate from the Philosopher program at Radcliffe, where he one of only 3 men. At the same time, the Philosophers are threatened by the “Trenchers” who believe the skills possessed by the Philosophers are evil.

And that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Miller has built a world that is at once familiar and topsy-turvy, and made that world a whole lot of fun. There’s unbounded humor and imagination here along with plenty of breathtaking excitement. Highly recommended.

Edna LewisEdna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original – If you pick up this book expecting it to be a cookbook, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a highly readable collection of essays about a remarkable woman, this is your book.

Yes, there are some recipes, but they are superfluous to the story told here. Edna Lewis is the star, and food her supporting actors. This collection of essays and reminiscences about Lewis, who passed away in 2006 after decades of holding court as the Queen of Southern Cooking, is a beautiful testament to a woman who successfully introduced real Southern Cooking to the masses. Cooking in a time when food was “complicated,” Lewis made her mark and built her audience by staying true to simple recipes using the freshest ingredients. Along the way, she influenced countless chefs and cooks. This book collects their stories, each one unique and interesting. Recommended for curious cooks.

Well Timed MurderA Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn – I stumbled upon de Hahn’s first Agnes Luthi book, Swiss Vendetta, quite by accident while browsing in a book store one day. I took it over to a comfortable chair to read a few pages and was hooked after the first chapter. I’ve waited for this, her second in the series, with much anticipation and I was not disappointed.

Agnes returns with the same quiet, sturdy, wry spirit, despite the injuries she sustained at the end of Swiss Vendetta. We learn more about Agnes and her family here, as well as about Julian Vallotton, as the two investigate the death of a master watchmaker. I have a fondness for mysteries that include well-researched information about unusual topics; in this case, de Hahn delivers some fascinating information about the Swiss and international watch industry.

The author skillfully develops key characters, and crafts a tricky and surprising plot which fully engages the reader. Tracee de Hahn is quickly becoming a new favorite author and Agnes Luthi a favorite character. Highly recommended.

Foodimentary by John-Bryan Hopkins

1577151534I am a cookbook reader and collector, and the concept behind Foodimentary intrigued me. Every day a Food Holiday? Hell, yes!

I was not familiar with the author’s blog so opened the book to a cold read through. I found the introduction, where he describes the “a-ha” moment when he discovered the word “foodimentary” and how he built his blog just a little too precious and uninteresting, but I am *not* an “Introduction” reader and usually skip them, so no matter.

What does matter is the content of this marvelous book! Hopkins has produced a readable, fun book filled with interesting facts about food and 365 reasons to celebrate it.

Every. Single. Day.

I’m not entirely clear on how he selected the Food Holidays, but I do like his flexibility in changing them up and his encouragement to readers to decide on their own food holidays. The food holidays described in the book are fascinating to read and will be a blast to celebrate. Since reading this book, I have celebrated Stuffed Mushroom Day (Feb 4), Oreo Cookie Day (March 6), and Potato Chip Day (March 14). There are so many possible uses here – in classrooms, libraries, and most certainly bars & restaurants.

The book itself is big and chunky, and filled with retro illustrations that remind me of old cookbooks. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but am looking forward to testing a few. This would make a wonderful gift for the foodie in your life, and there is tremendous potential to connect with the author through social media and share your pics of how you’ve celebrated his Food Holidays. Recommended.

A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn



A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn

“A true page turner…I found the plot fascinating, and de Hahn builds the tension and suspense perfectly to a satisfying conclusion. I was left wanting to read more about Agnes, and I am looking forward to her next adventure “– Charles Todd on Swiss Vendetta

Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

I stumbled upon de Hahn’s first Agnes Luthi book, Swiss Vendetta, quite by accident while browsing in a book store one day. I took it over to a comfortable chair to read a few pages and was hooked after the first chapter. I’ve waited for this, her second in the series, with much anticipation and I was not disappointed. Agnes returns with the same quiet, sturdy, wry spirit, despite the injuries she sustained at the end of Swiss Vendetta. We learn more about Agnes and her family here, as well as about Julian Vallotton, as the two investigate the death of a master watchmaker. I have a fondness for mysteries that include well-researched information about unusual topics; in this case, de Hahn delivers some fascinating information about the Swiss and international watch industry.

The author skillfully develops key characters, and crafts a tricky and surprising plot which fully engages the reader. Tracee de Hahn is quickly becoming a new favorite author and Agnes Luthi a favorite character.

Tracee de Hahn’s mystery, A Well-Timed Murder, is another magnetic mystery that will engross readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: St. Martin’s / Minotaur

Publication Date: February 6th 2018

Number of Pages: 340

ISBN: 1250110017 (ISBN13: 9781250110015)

Series: Agnes Luthi Mysteries #2

Click these links to see A Well-Timed Murder on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

There was a crowd but none of them mattered. Agnes Lüthi had eyes for only one man, the one she’d nicknamed the Roach. The one she’d only dreamt of finding in Switzerland.

She moved quickly despite her injured leg, focused on her destination, closing her umbrella when she reached the high canopy. A chain of busses discharged passengers in front of the Messe Basel Exhibition Halles, and they flowed past her toward the doors as if the world’s premier watch and jewelry show might sell out of goods if they dallied. She had never before been to Baselworld, but from the look of the well-dressed crowd judged it was a fitting place to find this particular man.

She was within grasping distance of a door handle when Marcel Aubry appeared from behind a kiosk. He was cloaked in a long, belted raincoat and had a finger pressed to his ear, listening. Before she could speak, he grasped her wrist with his free hand, and pulled her behind the advertising stand, out of sight of the glass front of the lobby.

“Slight change of plan,” Aubry said, his voice low and hurried. “The Roach is headed this way.” He frowned, listening to the voices in his earpiece.

Agnes moved closer to Aubry; it felt like stepping into a shadow. He was a big man, not exactly fat, but big enough to make her feel slim. She could hear the scratch of a voice broadcast from his earpiece, but not the words. Her pulse quickened. They’d worked together for years in financial crimes. Despite that, she’d never seen him run a field operation. This was an important arrest for him, one he’d not leave to others. She was thrilled to be included.

“Did you ever think you’d see us catch him?” Aubry said to her, still focused on the chatter in his ear.
“No, and I don’t believe it yet today.” She’d had the Roach in her grasp three times, only to have him scurry back into a crack at the last moment. All of Europe and half of Asia was looking for him. In addition to Swiss francs, he’d stolen millions of euros, yen, dollars, and pounds—all electronically. Despite his methods, she’d always believed that he occasionally appeared in person at a place he’d targeted. Now it looked as if her suspicions were proving true.

“This time he’s definitely here,” said Aubry. “Problem is, the place is littered with exits and there’s a record crowd. Feels like half the world’s come to Baselworld. Good for the economy, bad for us, since on-site security doesn’t want a fuss disturbing their clientele.” He nodded. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re here to see it.”

“I was nearby when you called. I left my mother-in-law at the Beyeler Museum like a bride at the altar. She may not forgive me.” Agnes watched the crowd stream into the building, oblivious of the police operation. Aubry had orchestrated a smooth intervention despite having to move quickly.

“Your call was the best news I’ve had in weeks,” she added. “A few days ago one of my kids accused me of missing the criminals.”

Vincent – her oldest – had phrased it more bluntly: that she liked spending time with the bad guys more than with them. Before she could protest, her youngest son had added that at least she wasn’t a criminal herself. They’d all laughed. It was true, she did miss work. Surely that wasn’t a bad message for the boys? Their father had had a strong work ethic.

Aubry pulled his wrist up and spoke into a microphone, asking a question. He looked at her. “When are you officially back on the job?”

“Three days. Monday.” She gave her wool jacket a downward tug and straightened the matching skirt. Her stint in hospital had melted a few kilos away. Nearly being killed wasn’t the easiest diet, but it was no doubt effective. A few more kilos and she would consider thanking the man who had knifed her.

Aubry held up his hand, listening to chatter in his earpiece. “Any minute now,” he whispered, as if they could be overheard. “He’s heading to the lobby. It’s perfect. Fewer civilians and more space gives us an advantage.”

“He’ll run.” Agnes shifted weight off her bad leg. Critically, she eyed the long bank of doors. The building’s sleek overhang soared across the street, sheltering trams, taxis, a restaurant, and a flower stall. She hoped Aubry really did have all exits covered. She had a vague notion that the five or six halls of the Messe Basel facility were connected by upper corridors and enclosed walkways. It was a large complex.

Aubry tapped his thigh impatiently. His gaze strayed to her leg. “How’s life in violent crimes?”

A voice sputtered in his ear and Aubry listened, sparing her the need to answer. “He’s on the move,” Aubry said quietly.

Agnes tensed.

“Now,” Aubry shouted, running to the doors and yanking one open.

Two men in suits moved from another angle and Agnes spotted their earpieces. The men broke into a half run, and a few bystanders gasped while others pulled out mobile phones set to record video. The officers pushed ahead toward the turnstiles leading to the show, and Agnes followed. Aubry put a hand to his earpiece and stopped her. He angled his head down and she could hear voices talking on top of one another. Someone yelled and Aubry flinched.

Suddenly, in the distance, car tires screeched. There was a loud thump and a scream, followed seconds later by other shouts. Agnes turned toward the noise and Aubry followed. They ran to the right side of the building, ignoring the drizzle. The side street was closed to all but exhibitors’ vehicles and Agnes pushed her way through the gathered crowd. What she saw stopped her in her tracks. Aubry, close behind, collided with her.

The street was dedicated to instruments of luxury and speed, and in the middle of the road a gleaming red Ferrari had struck a man. He lay in a shallow pool of rainwater a meter from the front bumper. Both car and man were broken. The hood of the car was dented and smeared with blood. The man’s leg was angled midcalf, and the fabric of his pants was split by a bone. Blood spilled from the back of his head, pooling around his hair, missing with rain and running in rivulets to the curb. Agnes recognized the man immediately. She put a hand to her mouth. A second glance at the unique shape of his ears confirmed it: the Roach.


Excerpt from A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn. Copyright © 2018 by Tracee de Hahn. Reproduced with permission from Tracee de Hahn. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Tracee de Hahn

Tracee de Hahn is author of the Agnes Lüthi mysteries, which were inspired by her years living in Switzerland. Prior to writing full time she practiced architecture and was head of university alumni relations at a major west coast university. Born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Tracee lived most of her life in Kentucky. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. Currently she and her husband live in southwest Virginia with their Jack Russell Terriers.

Catch Up With Our Author On traceedehahn.com, Goodreads: Tracee de Hahn, Twitter: @LuthiMysteries, & Facebook: TraceedeHahnWriter!

Tour Participants:

Click here to view the A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn Participants


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tracee de Hahn. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1 and runs through April 1, 2018.

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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!

Strong to the Bone by Jon Land


Strong to the Bone by Jon Land Banner

on Tour December 4, 2017 – January 31, 2018



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.”


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:


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.”


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.”



“Got any ideas, Ranger?”

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


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!



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.

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The Goblins of Bellwater – Update

MollyRinglesmI wrote about this book back in July, and it was one of the best I read all summer. It is scheduled for publication October 1, just in time for 31 Days of Halloween reading and I highly recommend you find a copy and devour it. In the meantime, here are some goodies for you to enjoy which will certainly whet your appetite for the book.

Author Molly Ringle agreed to some Q&A on Goblins, so enjoy!

How closely did you follow Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market as a basis for the story?

I call this a book “inspired by” Rossetti’s poem rather than saying it’s “based upon” it, because I did veer from the poem a significant amount. I first read the poem a few years ago, and it intrigued me deeply. It’s evocative and strange, and, like a fairy tale, has many symbols and events that could be interpreted as having several different meanings. My assignment to myself was to use it as a jumping-off point for a modern paranormal novel, which would then go its own way as the plot required. What I kept from the poem was the basic surface framework: we have a pair of sisters, grown but on the young side, one of whom becomes enchanted by eating goblin fruit in the forest and begins wasting away as a result, alarming the other sister into seeking a way to save her. Since Rossetti’s poem ends with a fast-forward to the women being “wives” and telling their children about their adventures, and since I wanted to write a paranormal romance anyway, I gave my modern sister characters a pair of men to get involved with, in a double love story with eerie angles that I think match the eeriness of the original poem. Mind you, another interpretation of the poem is that the two women aren’t really sisters but lovers, which would be a different route to take and which I think would be lovely to see too.

What is the significance of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in this story?

The four elements are common fixtures in many ancient cultures, and have remained popular into the modern day. One of my favorite TV shows is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which uses the four-element framework brilliantly in its world-building. In reading up on faery lore for this book, I found that scholars often classify types of fae under the four elements, and since that appealed to me, I did the same. As one of the characters in
The Goblins of Bellwater muses, there’s something human and emotionally real
about looking at nature that way, even if we technically know, thanks to science, that nature contains far more than four elements. And in my novel, the only way to break the goblin spells involves respecting and trusting each of the four elements, even when they’re at their most daunting.

Why do you think fairy tale and other myth and legend retellings are so popular right now?

I think they’ve always been popular! Maybe it’s a case of selection bias, because I personally have always been into ghost stories, fairy tales, and other supernatural lore, but it seems to me that human culture has never stopped telling such stories. As scholars of fairy tales will tell you, reading and writing about fantasy and the paranormal may look like escapism from reality, and sometimes I tell myself that’s what I’m doing, but in truth these stories end up giving us all the useful lessons about real life that any good
stories do: empathy, courage, love, respect for nature and community, and the importance of thinking fancifully and creatively.

Goblins of Bellwater hits the stores October 1, and to celebrate, the publisher is giving away 5 prize packages. Enter the Giveaway

Grand prize package:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Goblins of Bellwater
  • $10 Starbucks gift card
  • “Flowerwatch” necklace/pocket watch
  • Artistic guided journal/sketchbook
  • Copy of Brian Froud’s Goblins!

Air prize package:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Goblins of Bellwater
  • Air-element necklace
  • 1 oz of Goblin Market tea from Dryad Tea

Earth prize package:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Goblins of Bellwater
  • Earth-element necklace
  • 1 oz of Goblin Market tea from Dryad Tea

Fire prize package:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Goblins of Bellwater
  • Fire-element necklace
  • 1 oz of Goblin Market tea from Dryad Tea

Water prize package:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Goblins of Bellwater
  • Water-element necklace
  • 1 oz of Goblin Market tea from Dryad Tea

Reading Apps


A couple days ago, my friend Mr.Book (aka Jason Vigorito) posted a question on Litsy asking everyone to list their favorite reading or bookish apps. I dutifully went off to look at my Reading folder, and realized I might have a teeny-tiny problem.

I have A LOT of book-related apps. However, they are all there for a purpose, meaning I use most of them at least once a month. Some are better than others, some are spectacular. I thought I’d share them with you here.

Apps for Reading E-Books

I source my e-content from multiple locations, and some require different apps to download and open the content.

  • Kindle – probably my most frequently used app. Judge me if you will, but I adore Amazon.
  • Bluefire Reader – an alternative to Kindle which I use most often to open advanced reading copies from NetGalley.
  • Aldiko Reader – another alternative, when Bluefire won’t format the content in a readable size.
  • Adobe Digital Editions – the Momma of PDF readers. Sometimes a little quirky depending on which device I’m using.

Apps for Acquiring Content

I read widely – current fiction and non-fiction, stories, essays and recipes published in earlier centuries, self-published work, longreads, shortreads, and so on. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Overdrive/Libby – The BEST source of free content, offered through your local public library. As a New York resident, I have library cards for my home (Monroe County), New York Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library, which triples the amount of content I can access. The Overdrive app has dramatically improved since it was first launched so downloading and opening content is a breeze.
  • BiblioBoard/Self-e – Provides access to classics, rare volumes, and independent publishing.
  • Playbooks – Provides access to reading content via GoogleBooks.
  • Audible – The best source for quality e-audiobooks. Pricey, but they often run amazing deals.
  • BookShout – Another source for purchased content which frequently offers great deals.
  • Open eBooks – I have access to this huge database of children’s books because I am a librarian and have worked to make this content available to kids who qualify for it. This was an initiative of the Obama Administration.
  • Serial Reader – Very like “Chapter a Day,” an email reading “club” from the 90s. A portion of a selected title (usually a classic) is pushed to your app daily. This is one I use less than most. I have found that Wuthering Heights is no more engaging in small chunks than it is in full.
  • Simply-e – The fabulous app from New York Public Library that makes selecting, downloading, and reading from their enormous e-book collection a total snap. You’ll also find content here that is not available in other library collections.
  • Gutenberg – Gives you access to a variety of public domain books.
  • FanFiction – A treasure trove of fan fic, heavy on the sci-fi/fantasy side but still entertaining.

News Readers

I use fewer news readers, but do find different content on each that I regularly check.

  • Pocket – You can save longreads from various websites to Pocket so you can go back later when you have time to spend with your selections.
  • Flipboard – Aggregates stories based on my preferences; I really like the grid layout of the app.
  • Feedly – Sort of a grown-up version of a RSS aggregator.
  • Medium – My current favorite for longreads written by real people on topics that matter. Each article tells you how long it will take to read. Slightly similar to Reddit in that articles get more exposure as people “like” them.

Miscellaneous Apps

  • NYPL Biblion – This was an early product from NYPL that opened access to some of their marvelous collecitons of images and documents. Get lost in the World’s Fair, or Frankenstein collections. My iPad keeps telling me Biblion is not compatible with future versions of iOS, so I hope NYPL updates it.
  • BookOut – This is a neat little app that lets you track how long you spend reading.
  • Litsy – I’ve saved the best for last, so I hope you’ve read all the way through. Litsy is the best thing to happen to Readers…maybe ever. Simply put, this is a mashup of Instagram and Goodreads and is a community of people who (gasp!) are nice to each other! There’s no judgment – people share romances next to graphic novels next to classics next to whatever.

So, are you beginning to see why I say I am a Reader with a capital R? I hope you check some of these apps out and find one or two that speak to you.

Helen by Anita Mishook

IMG_1299A dream turned inside out. That was California.” Helen Rice, the protagonist in Anita Mishook’s masterful debut novel, Helen, certainly finds truth in this statement. We first meet Helen as she travels from New York to California to join her older sister and her family in lovely Glendale, California. The sisters, Polish Jews orphaned jointly by the Great War and influenza, survived great hardship and made it to New York, where Sarah labored to ensure Helen acquired the best education possible. Now an adult, Helen finds herself drifting and decides to join Sarah, her husband Harry, and their two children in the land of golden opportunity.

However, Helen soon learns that sunny California has a dark and dirty underbelly which includes gangers, corrupt cops, and Nazis. Helen, passing as a “Good German Girl,” becomes the darling of a dangerous group of Nazi supporters known as the Silver Shirts. At the same time, Helen’s friend from New York, a spy for the Anti Defamation League, arrives and immediately enlists Helen as a spy. Helen, by default, begins to live a dangerous double life, culminating in foiling a Nazi plot and triggering a new life as a double agent.

Mishook, a psychologist, developed Helen’s story out of research into her own family history. She uncovered evidence of the emergence of an American Nazi Party in California in the 1930s as she researched her mother-in-law’s immigration from Poland to California, and spun that family history into a readable, informative novel. There are wonderful and disturbing nuggets of historical information here about the motion picture industry and American Nazis, much of which I never knew. Mishook’s writing is smooth and conversational, and she handles dialog well, especially given this is her first novel. The character development is skillful, resulting in some very well-drawn personas. Helen, for example, walks a fine line between irritating, charming, shallow, and badass. She’s a rather vain, unformed young woman who has drifted through her life pretty much guided by her older sister. We watch her move from uncertain girl still depending on older sister Sarah to tell her what to do, to a more confident, daring young woman who has a purpose.

Other characters like Harry and Ralph are interesting, while Joe and Winona could have used a bit more development. However, these characters all fit their roles just fine and contributed what was needed to the story. If I have one quibble with this story, it’s a small one. Sometimes authors really, really like a descriptive phrase and tend to repeat it multiple times throughout a book. That happened here, with the author repeatedly describing Helen as “chewing the soft interior of her cheek/lip” during moments of uncertainty. By the end of the book, the inside of Helen’s mouth should have been a bloody pulp if she chewed her cheek so much! But, that is a minor quibble with an otherwise wonderful book. I hope Mishook continues to produce novels and am looking forward to her next one! Recommended.

Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

dragonwatchFablehaven fans, rejoice! Kendra and Seth are back and as badass as ever!

Dragonwatch opens with a mysterious early morning meeting between Grandpa Sorensen and a shady, cloaked being, where Grandpa is warned of a coming disaster. Kendra, out for her morning run, over hears some of the conversation and realizes that she and Seth will likely be called upon to do battle again. This time, however, more will be asked of the two than ever before. Can they handle the responsibility?

As with the earlier Fablehaven books, Mull creates a vivid landscape filled with all sorts of glorious and deadly creatures. At center stage in Dragonwatch are, of course, DRAGONS! Celebrant the Just takes his places among Dragons of Literature here, right up there with Smaug, Orm, and Saphira. Mull moves the story along at a rapid pace, and successfully keeps Kendra and Seth pretty normal kids who just happen to have mystical powers. The dialog is breezy and colloquial, which will appeal to readers and keep them going. The story arc begun here leaves so much room for more entries in this series that fans will be thrilled and left eagerly awaiting the next. Well done, Mr. Mull. Well done.

The Death of Kings by Rennie Airth

airthRennie Airth’s first novel featuring Scotland Yard detective John Madden,River of Darkness, grabbed me by the throat in the first chapter and never let go. I’ve been a fan of the series ever since. The Death of Kings is the 5th Madden book, and confirms what I began to suspect by the 4th book: Airth’s intricate, suspenseful, brain-crushing storytelling has followed an arc from edgy-detective-damaged-in-the-Great-War to retired-detective-turned-farmer-and-doting-father.

The story here is, in turns, interesting and deadly dull. Madden is roped into quietly investigating an 11-year-old murder of a lovely young “actress” who suffered an untimely death on the estate of Black Jack Jessup. At the time, the murder was quickly solved when an itinerant hop-picker confessed to the crime and was executed for it. Now, new evidence has shown up but not enough to warrant an official re-opening of the investigation. Madden begins the tedious process of tracking down the people who were present that fateful weekend, and quickly realizes that there was much more going on than the police realized.

Airth does his usual skillful job bringing some colorful and appealing characters to life. In this case, Adele Castleton and Richard Jessup are the best drawn of the bunch. By the end of the story, I wanted to know these people, and Airth succeeded in surprising me yet again with the final resolution. Madden’s daughter gets more page time here as well, and she is also becoming a more interesting character.

While the plot kept my attention and the characters appealed, over all the story was sleepy and sometimes boring. Quite frankly, I’m bored with John Madden. If I had Rennie Airth’s ear, I would ask him to please drop John and Helen Madden down to peripheral characters and start writing about Lily Poole, the female Scotland Yard detective who Madden has mentored, and Lucy Madden. I envision a kickass series featuring Lily and Lucy. What a way to invigorate a tired series!

Overall, this will appeal to fans of the author, but my go-to recommendation for the series is still River of Darkness.