Author Spotlight – Heather Weidner

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Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia. 

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of CabernetDeadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

You’re getting ready to release a new cozy mystery series that features “glamping.” What inspired you to write this series? What other books have you written? 

My husband does a lot of restoration projects (vintage cars, boats, and room remodels), so we watch a lot of renovation shows. We landed on one where a team refurbished vintage trailers, and I thought this would be a cool twist on a traditional campground. Jules Keene owns the Fern Valley Camping Resort full of posh trailers that she and her father saved from the scrapheap. It’s so much fun coming up with cool amenities for “glamorous camping.”

I write the Jules Keene series. This is the first. The next two are FILM CREWS AND RENDEZVOUS, and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND CAT FIGHTS. I also write the Delanie Fitzgerald series. She’s a sassy PI from Central Virginia who gets into way more trouble than I do.

Describe a typical writing day for you. 

I still have a day gig in IT, so I try to write every day. I start at 5 AM, and I write until works starts at 7:30. Then I write during lunch, and if I didn’t hit my word count, then I’ll do some more in the evenings.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? 

There are so many. My mystery habit started out with the Nancy Drew series and Agatha Christie. I’m still an English major at heart, so I love Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Austen, Hitchcock, and Dickinson, but I always gravitate back to mysteries and thrillers. My favorites are Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, S. A. Cosby, K. L. Murphy, Kellye Garrett, Ellen Byron, Laura Childs, Libby Klein, Sherry Harris, Louise Penny, Diane Kelly, and Bree Baker (to name just a few).

What things influence your writing?

I’m a C. K. (cop’s kid). I thought everyone talked about murder, mayhem, and crime at the dinner table. (I was shocked to find out that they didn’t.) One of my first jobs as a kid was to pick up the shell casings on the range after my dad practiced. He’s retired now after 46 years on the force, but he’s still my best resource. There are just some things that you don’t want to Google like, “hey dad, what’s a meth lab smell like” or “how long would a body stay submerged if I weighted it down with a cinderblock.”

I think the people around me are big influencers, too. They all have great stories to tell. I listen to dialogue, and I’m always jotting down ideas that often make it into a story.  

What do you want readers to experience when they read your work?

I would love for them to experience a fun story and be challenged by a mystery with a lot of possibilities. I also want them to see that it’s not always about the murder or the crime. It’s about justice and fair play winning in the end.  

What kind of research do you conduct for your books?

I actually do a lot of research for fiction. I want to make sure that things I mention are real or plausible. For VINTAGE TRAILERS AND BLACKMAILERS, I did a lot of research on classic campers and tiny houses. I am fascinated by both, and people have done some really creative things. Jules Keene decorates each trailer with a theme, so I do research to make sure my history and details are correct.

Describe a book that changed your life.

That’s a tough one because I learn something from every book. I like books that inspire me and that generate creative ideas. Going back to elementary school, I was fascinated with the Nancy Drew series. My friend and I raced through the whole collection at the school library and later at the public library that summer. Nancy was teen who was able to solve crimes that the adults couldn’t. She had great friends, a cool car, and the freedom to sleuth. I loved that she was a normal teenager, and that was inspiring to a little girl in the fifth grade.

If your books were to made into films, who do you see in the major roles? 

Jules has long red hair. I could see Chloe Grace Mortez, Florence Pugh, or Hayden Panettiere as my sleuth. Tyler Posey or Taylor Lautner could play Jake, and I see Kyra Sedgewick, Mary Steenburgen, or Helena Bonham Carter as Jules’s aunt, Roxanne.

I’m a Gen-Xer who loves pop culture, so the book does have some movie allusions. Jules’s name came from Demi Moore’s character in ST. ELMO’S FIRE, and Jake was named after Jake Ryan in SIXTEEN CANDLES.

What book do you think everyone should read? 

I think people should read everything they can get their hands on. Read lots of genres and different authors. Read different cultures and points of view. To be a good writer, I think you need to be well read. (And you can never have too many books.)

What book are you recommending right now? 

It’s always the book that I’m reading at the moment. There are so many good books out there. I’m reading the Louise Penny Gamache mysteries right now. I just finished THE NATURE OF THE BEAST. Next up is S. A. Cosby’s RAZORBLADE TEARS. I loved his first novel, BLACKTOP WASTELAND.

 Social Media Links

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

Book Summary

There is nothing like finding a dead body, clad only in a red satin thong, on your property to jolt you from a quiet routine. Jules Keene, owner of the posh Fern Valley Camping Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is thrust into the world of the Dark Web when one of her guests, Ira Perkins, is found murdered in the woods near her vintage trailers. Jules quickly discovers that the man who claimed to be on a writing retreat was not what he seemed, and someone will go to any length to find what he left at her resort. Jules, along with her Jack Russell Terrier sidekick Bijou, has to put the rest of the missing pieces of a blackmailing scheme together before her business is ruined.

Jules’s resort, set in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville in the quaint town of Fern Valley, offers guests a unique vacation in refurbished and upcycled vintage trailers. Hoping to expand her offerings, she partners with her maintenance/security guy to create a village of tiny houses, the latest home DIY craze, but a second murder of a reporter interrupts Jules’s expansion plans. Curiosity gets the best of her, and she steps up her sleuthing to find out what Ira Perkins was really up to and what he was really hiding at her resort.

Book Links

Apple Books: ‎Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers on Apple Books

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GGBFWT5

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Trailers-Blackmailers-Heather-Weidner/dp/1685120369

Barnes and Noble: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers by Heather Weidner, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

BookBub: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers: A Jules Keene Glamping Mystery by Heather Weidner – BookBub

BookShop: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers a book by Heather Weidner (bookshop.org)

Booktopia: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers eBook by Heather Weidner | 9781685120375 | Booktopia

FNAC: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers – Dernier livre de Heather Weidner – Précommande & date de sortie | fnac

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Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/vintage-trailers-and-blackmailers

Target: Vintage Trailers And Blackmailers – By Heather Weidner (paperback) : Target Thalia: Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers von Heather Weidner – eBook | Thalia

The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery

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The Memory Bell
by Kat Flannery
September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Grace Penner’s safe haven crumbles when a body is found outside of town.

Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather’s will, Grace’s excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing.

Determined to find them, she is halted when the new detective, Bennet James, investigates her family. Grace is intent on showing the detective her family isn’t capable of murder, but as the investigation deepens, and pieces of the bell show up with ominous notes, Grace soon realizes the Penners are not what they seem. Amidst the tightly knit family; dark secrets, deception, and possibly even murder unfold.

Will Grace be able to save the family she loves more than anything without losing herself forever?

My Thoughts

About a chapter into this book I started getting strong Jodi Picoult vibes. Kat Flannery is skilled at creating flawed but strong characters living complicated lives. Here, a murder starts to slowly peel back years of lies, cruelty, and deception as terrible things are revealed.

I found Grace a bit inconsistent – sometimes a strong, capable women and other times not so much…but isn’t that all of us? Her budding relationship with detective Bennet James was predictable but sweet, adding a bit of romance to an otherwise messy murder story.

Overall, this is a well-plotted and well-written mystery that will appeal to fans of Picoult and Liane Moriarty.

Praise for The Memory Bell:

“A naïve small-town girl and a disillusioned big-city cop, drawn together by an unsolved crime that is itself only the tip of the iceberg, The Memory Bell serves up the perfect steamy summer read.”
–Jenny Jaeckel, author of House of Rougeaux

“The story moves beyond a small town whodunit to probe the underlying bonds of history that connect a family.”
-Midwest Book Review

“Wonderful, engaging, and fast-paced! Flannery knows what she’s doing!”
-Jonas Saul, author of the Sarah Roberts series

Author Bio:

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. A member of many writing Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. When she’s not busy writing, or marketing Kat volunteers her time to other aspiring authors. She has been a keynote speaker, lecturer and guest author inspiring readers and writers at every event she attends. Kat’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career, and continues to write for blogs and online magazines. A bestselling author, Kat’s books are available all over the world. The BRANDED TRILOGY is Kat’s award-winning series. With seven books published, Kat continues to plot what story will be next. Creativity is in all aspects of Kat’s career. She does Social Media and Marketing for her own career and businesses, writing ads, and other content.

Catch Up With Kat Flannery:
www.KatFlannery.com/Books-1
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatFlannery
Instagram – @katflannery_
Twitter – @KatFlannery1
Facebook – @kat.flannery.5

Tour Participants:

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

Click here to view The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery Tour Hosts

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter


Description

From singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, a lyrical, sweeping novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age during the last days of the lumberjacks.

In the tiny timber town of Cordelia, Idaho, ninety-nine year old Weldon Applegate recounts his life in all its glory, filled with tall tales writ large with murder, mayhem, avalanches and bootlegging. It’s the story of dark pine forests brewing with ancient magic, and Weldon’s struggle as a boy to keep his father’s inherited timber claim, the Lost Lot, from the ravenous clutches of Linden Laughlin.

Ever since young Weldon stepped foot in the deep Cordelia woods as a child, he dreamed of joining the rowdy ranks of his ancestors in their epic axe-swinging adventures. Local legend says their family line boasts some of the greatest lumberjacks to ever roam the American West, but at the beginning of the twentieth century, the jacks are dying out, and it’s up to Weldon to defend his family legacy.

Braided with haunting saloon tunes and just the right dose of magic, The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is a novel bursting with heart, humor and an utterly transporting adventure that is sure to sweep you away into the beauty of the tall snowy mountain timber.

Advance Praise

“I loved this mythic American story. My heart overflowed with affection and raced with terror for Weldon Applegate! Josh Ritter’s lyrical imagination frolics unfettered on page after fast-turning page.”

–Anaïs Mitchell, author of Working on a Song: The Lyrics of Hadestown

My Thoughts

This is a hard book to pigeonhole. It is part adventure, part tall-tale, part memoir, part I-don’t-know-what. The story is glorious – it’s everything a little boy dreams of when wishing for an exciting life. Peopled with crazy, larger-than-life characters, a delightful protagonist, an awful arch nemesis, and plenty of wild and wooly action, this is a story to be told around a roaring fire or in a bar over lots and lots of drinks.

I will also say, though, that this is a story with a slow burn. It moves along like a float down the river – faster at times, then a slow drift, and back again. This takes some persistence and attention in reading, but it is well worth the effort. As I was reading, the rhythm and the story often reminded me of David Wallace’s novel “Big Fish” and the subsequent Tim Burton film of the same name. I would love to see this story on film. Such fun!

Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Published By: Harlequin; Hanover Square Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Another Kind of Eden by James Lee Burke


Image of a cover of a novel: James Lee Burke Another Kind of Eden

Description*

New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke brings readers a captivating tale of justice, love, brutality, and mysticism set in the turbulent 1960s.

The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral paradise: golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals. Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for both inspiration and odd jobs.

Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter. Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne’s involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult. When a sinister businessman and his son who wield their influence through vicious cruelty set their sights on Aaron, drawing him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic landscape harbors tremendous power—and evil. Followed by a mysterious shrouded figure who might not be human, Aaron will have to face down all these foes to save the life of the woman he loves and his own.

The latest installment in James Lee Burke’s masterful Holland family saga, Another Kind of Eden is both riveting and one of Burke’s most ambitious works to date. It dismantles the myths of both the twentieth-century American West and the peace-and-love decade, excavating the beauty and idealism of the era to show the menace and chaos that lay simmering just beneath the surface.

Review

I am an on-again-off-again James Lee Burke fan, so I put off cracking this one open. I’m sorry it took me so long! Burke has delivered a sort of wet hug of a story here that makes you feel increasingly uncomfortable as those arms tighten and tighten and tighten until you just have to break away, gasping and dripping wet.

Burke delivers his usual eloquent prose – skillful character development and taut descriptions enhance a twisted plot that climaxes in a weird and scary way. I’m still not sure if I would classify this as a mystery or horror novel – the librarians will have a hard time genrefying this one.

Recommended for those who like their stories deep and dark.

Publication Date: August 71, 2021
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink


Description*

From New York Times bestselling adult author Joseph Fink comes a wickedly fun middle grade novel about a Halloween-obsessed girl named Esther Gold, who goes out trick-or-treating for one last year, only to find her town under the thrall of a mysterious presence.

Esther Gold loves Halloween more than anything in the world. So she is determined to go trick-or-treating again this year despite the fact that her parents think she is officially too old. Esther has it all planned out, from her costume to her candy-collecting strategy. But when the night rolls around, something feels . . . off.

No one is answering their door. The moon is an unnatural shade of orange. Strange children wander the streets, wearing creepy costumes that might not be costumes at all. And it seems like the only people besides Esther who are awake to see it all are her best friend, her school bully, and her grown-up next-door neighbor.

Together, this unlikely crew must find a way to lift the curse that has been placed upon their small town before it’s too late. Because someone is out to make sure Halloween never comes to an end. And even Esther doesn’t want to be trapped in this night forever.

Review

I am a Halloween Girl. It’s always been my favorite holiday, and Halloween-themed and spooky stories some of my favorites. When I read the description of Halloween Moon, I thought it sounded vaguely like a 21st century version of the Ray Bradbury classic The Halloween Tree, so I thought I’d give it a read. All I have to say is WOW!

The Halloween Moon is one of the most entertaining and visceral (n a good way) books I’ve read in a long time. The basic story is one so many American children have experienced – how old is too old to go trick-or-treating. Fink has taken that coming-of-age decision and turned it on its head, layering on all the things 13-year-olds grapple with – fear of change, new friendships, new loves, aging parents, and a wily, unpredictable, ever-changing future.

This is storytelling at its best, with a relentless, brave protagonist, her band of three sturdy friends, an evil, snarky antagonist, and a quest, all rolled into a delicious Southern California setting during the best time of the year.

But, here’s the thing. I absolutely loved this story. I am a 58 year old, Halloween-loving librarian who felt all the feels about growing older and experiencing change that are included here. Will a real 21st century 13-year-old feel the same way? I’m just not sure, but I really hope so!

Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Published By: Quill Tree Books
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

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On Tour July 12 – August 6!

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Review

This witty mystery set in the 19th century features a strong female protagonist who defies convention of the times in how she lives, works, and plays. We first meet her as she graciously accepts the obviously unwanted presence of her father in her home. The condescension and outright disrespect he shows her reinforced for me that the “good old days” were definitely not that good for women.

The plot is well-crafted, the dialog clever and skillfully written, and the sense of place remarkable. The author takes time to develop Lily’s relationships and responses to the people and situations she encounters, which helps the reader become part of the story.

All the boxes are ticked here for a rollicking good mystery. Fans of Deanna Raybourn, Carole Nelson Douglas and Tasha Alexander will enjoy this series, and vice versa.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering. 

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman 

Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks

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July 12-23, 2021 Tour

Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks combines her expertise as a forensic artist with her ability to craft a gripping story in this page-turning web of light and shadow.

A woman off the grid.

Darby Graham thinks she’s on a much-needed vacation in remote Idaho to relax. But before she even arrives at the ranch, an earthquake strikes—her first clue that something is amiss. Then when a cabin on the edge of town is engulfed in flames and problems at the ranch escalate, Darby finds herself immersed in a chilling mystery.

A town on fire.

A serial arsonist sends taunting letters to the press after each fire. As a forensic linguist, this is Darby’s area of expertise . . . but the scars it’s caused her also the reason she’s trying to escape from her life.

A growing darkness.

As the shadows continue to move in, the pieces of the town around her come into sharper focus. Can she trust the one man who sees her clearly?

Review

Fans of fast-paced, taut suspense novels will find this one by Carrie Stuart Parks one that can’t be put down. The wounded but smart protagonist appeals to the reader right away and you just know she’s going to triumph over the bad guys.

The author does a slow-reveal of the reasons for Darby’s presence at the isolated ranch, culminating in a really heartbreaking scene. At the same time, Stuart Parks does a good job of building relationships between Darby and those at the ranch, which all play into the starting ending.

The storyline is engaging and tricky enough that the revelations towards the end are unexpected and the end itself quite satisfying. I appreciate an author who can write mysteries with eloquence and flair, and Stuart Parks demonstrates that skill over and over here. Fans of Douglas Preston, Kathy Reichs, and Lisa Scottoline will enjoy this.

Praise for Woman in Shadow:

“Unique, witty, and hilarious, Carrie’s voice shines throughout Woman in Shadow. The perfect mix of intrigue, mystery and danger, this is most definitely a book for my keeper shelf.”
Dani Pettrey, bestselling author of the Coastal Guardians series

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785239847 (ISBN13: 9780785239840)
Series: Woman in Shadow is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy, multiple Carol, and Inspy Award–winning author. She was a 2019 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mainstream mystery/suspense and has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Catch Up With Carrie:

www.CarrieStuartParks.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @CarrieStuartParks
Instagram – @CarrieStuartParks
Facebook – @CarrieStuartParksAuthor

Or Join the Conversation on Twitter – #CarrieStuartParks

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear


Description

As Europe buckles under Nazi occupation, Maisie Dobbs investigates a possible murder that threatens devastating repercussions for Britain’s war efforts in this latest installment in the New York Times bestselling mystery series.

October 1941. While on a delivery, young Freddie Hackett, a message runner for a government office, witnesses an argument that ends in murder. Crouching in the doorway of a bombed-out house, Freddie waits until the coast is clear. But when he arrives at the delivery address, he’s shocked to come face to face with the killer.

Dismissed by the police when he attempts to report the crime, Freddie goes in search of a woman he once met when delivering a message: Maisie Dobbs. While Maisie believes the boy and wants to help, she must maintain extreme caution: she’s working secretly for the Special Operations Executive, assessing candidates for crucial work with the French resistance. Her two worlds collide when she spots the killer in a place she least expects. She soon realizes she’s been pulled into the orbit of a man who has his own reasons to kill—reasons that go back to the last war.

As Maisie becomes entangled in a power struggle between Britain’s intelligence efforts in France and the work of Free French agents operating across Europe, she must also contend with the lingering question of Freddie Hackett’s state of mind. What she uncovers could hold disastrous consequences for all involved in this compelling chapter of the “series that seems to get better with every entry” (Wall Street Journal).

The Maisie Dobbs series has to be one of the best historical mystery series ever written. Jacqueline Winspear has built a solid-as-stone world around Maisie, with people, places and things so detailed and well-researched that the reader is enveloped by it all.

Fans of the series will find a much-tested, more mature Maisie who is finally figuring out what really matters. She has made her peace with the past and laid to rest old ghosts while preparing to launch herself into a whole new chapter of life. This Maisie is a little less brittle, a little less compliant, and a lot more sure of herself and of what’s right. There is an interesting narrative thread throughout about fear and balancing it, as evident in the title. Fear is a balance beam – stay in the middle and you stay alive; go too far one way and you become reckless while too far the other way is paralysis. This was especially poignant given that the story occurs in Great Britain during the days leading up to the entry of the United States into World War II when Allied leaders were most definitely walking a balance beam.

We see a few peripheral characters turn up in new roles, and see some old favorites in a new light as Maisie “does her bit” for the war effort while trying to help a young lad who witnessed a murder during an air raid in London. The story moves along at a good clip and keeps the reader invested.

Series fans will slurp this up in one sitting. If you haven’t read Maisie Dobbs, get you to a library right now and start with number one!

The Cookie Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum


Description

The ultimate cookie cookbook, from best-selling author of The Baking Bible Rose Levy Beranbaum

This is your must-have cookie book, featuring nearly every cookie imaginable, from rustic Cranberry Chocolate Chippers to elegant French macarons, and everything in between—simple drop cookies, rolled-and-cut holiday cookies, brownies and other bars, pretty sandwich cookies, luxurious frosted or chocolate-dipped treats, and much more. With legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum’s foolproof recipes—which feature detail-oriented instructions that eliminate guesswork, notes for planning ahead, ingenious tips, and other golden rules for success—it’s easy to whip up a batch of irresistible, crowd-pleasing cookies anytime, for any occasion. Standout classics and new favorites include: Rose’s Dream Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lemon Lumpies, Black Tahini Crisps, Peanut Butter and Jelly Buttons, Double Ginger Molasses Cookies, Caramel Surprise Snickerdoodles, Mom’s Coconut Snowball Kisses, Chocolate Sablés, Gingerbread Folks (with a special sturdy variation for gingerbread houses)Pecan Freezer Squares, Brownie Doughnuts, Brandy Snap Rolls, Plus “extra special” details including homemade Dulce de Leche, Wicked Good Ganache, Lemon Curd, and more.

I usually don’t get emotional about cookbooks, but this one is special to me. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s seminal Rose’s Christmas Cookies was the book I turned to when I was newly married and trying to bake after my mother’s death. That book has pride of place on my bookshelf and is obviously well-used with dog-eared pages stained with drops of egg and batter, some even falling out. Some of the cookies in that book have become part of the holiday traditions for my family and friends, and are baked with love every single year.

The Cookie Bible is a welcome addition and update to Rose’s Christmas Cookies. Beranbaum includes old favorites, even recounting the same stories as she used in Christmas Cookies, which feels like rediscovering long-lost relatives. Some of those recipes are absolute classics and do not need updates (like Rose’s Crescents and Coconut Snowball Kisses) while others have been updated to include trendier ingredients like pistachios and tahini. And, of course, there are a whole lot of new recipes. Hurray!

The instructions included here are pretty much fool-proof, and Beranbaum kindly provides them for multiple methods of mixing. She includes hints and tips gleaned and learned from decades of cookie making, and provides useful information in a chatty but knowledgeable “basics” section in the front. In fact, she solved an issue that’s been driving me crazy – I did not know that there is more protein in unbleached flour and that makes your cookies browner and more cake-like – both things that have been wrong recently with my tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I’m telling my family this book is the only thing I really want for Christmas this year! Highly recommended.

Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Published By: Cooking, Food & Wine
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves


Description

Ann Cleeves—New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—returns with the extraordinary follow-up to The Long Call, soon to be a major TV series too.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder–Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases. Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found–killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home. DI Matthew Venn returns in The Heron’s Cry, in Ann Cleeves powerful next novel, proving once again that she is a master of her craft.

Cleeves’ second in the Matthew Venn series is just as twisty and slick as her first, featuring skillful character development as well as engaging description and dialog. Cleeves is by far one of the best mystery writers practicing today, including intricate plots with lots of little off-shoot stories meant to deceive the reader until the final reveal.

The peek into the relationships that have shaped Matthew, Jen, and Ross lead to emotional investment in the story and characters while the detective work keeps you turning pages. Fans of Louise Penny and Martha Grimes (and of Cleeves’ other series – Vera and Shetland) will thoroughly enjoy this one.

Recommended.

Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Published By: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy