Reader Profile – Jessica Lewis


Jessica Lewis headshot1Jessica Lewis is the Communications Specialist for ROC the Future and Principal Publicist & Owner of LáLew Public Relations. She is a 2018 ATHENA Award Young Professional finalist and a Woman to Watch for the Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper. Jessica is a successful entrepreneur, owning the fastest growing, Black-owned public relations firm in Rochester, New York. Jessica is also the host of Ujamaa Rising, a television show that features Black-owned businesses and real-life stories of entrepreneurs. Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College in Social Studies Education grades 7-12 and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education at the University of Rochester. Jessica holds membership in the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, the Democrat & Chronicle Young Professionals Advisory Council and the Theta Omega Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

What are you reading now?
I just started reading the Autobiography of Assata Shakur.

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?
I like both.

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?
I would love the Autobiography of Assata Shakur to be made into a movie. I’m only on the 3rd chapter and am fascinated by her life story. It’s striking how her experiences as a child living in NYC in the 50s and 60s attending a predominantly white school mirrors the experience I had in the 90’s.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?
I would say Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. Those two books opened my mind to a new perspective on race relations in America. I was educated in predominantly white institutions all my life. In school we learned about slavery, then jumped to the Civil Rights Movement, only learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and maybe a few others. We never delved deep into what actually happened during slavery and the ramifications of slavery such as laws enacted by the federal government which instituted racist policies that still have an effect today. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome dives deep into these issues and Stamped from the Beginning gives insight into how racist ideas spread from Europe to American and how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society. The book also talks about the role of media and how media perpetuates stereotypes only further influencing the minds of the American people (exacerbating bias) which then effects behavior and subsequent actions.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?
Yes, it does because I’ve been enlightened by several books that I’ve read and now am not ignorant to certain things like before.

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?
I think I’m a stopper. If a book is uninteresting I’ll just put it down.

Why do you read?
I read to learn and to open my eyes to things I did not have knowledge about.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
I would say Becoming by Michelle Obama, Outliers and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?
No, but now I’m more intentional about reading the Preface and Foreword.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?
I’d like to be my favorite author because I’d like to be skilled enough to tell a story in a way that’s compelling and interesting.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?
I would get a tattoo of my favorite passage or scripture. Maybe in a nice script font.

End of the Year Micro-Reviews


woman in lakeWoman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

Cornick is fast becoming my go-to author for suspenseful, fascinating time-slip stories, and she delivers another one with The Woman in the Lake. Moving between present time and the 18th century, Cornick tells the intertwined stories of Isabella, Constance, and Fenella, all bound together by a gorgeous and deadly golden gown. Each woman struggles with her place in the world, complicated by aggressive, violent, and manipulative men who, in turn, cause the women to take drastic measures to survive. The story is well-paced, with lovely description and dialog, and characters who attract and repel the reader equally. My favorite among them is Constance, the insignificant lady’s maid who turns out to have more brains and balls than any of her “betters.” Consider this a one-sitting story – you won’t be able to put it down.

Publication date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin-Graydon House
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

loch nessThe Loch Ness Papers by Paige Shelton

I stumbled on Paige Shelton’s first book in the Scottish Bookshop series purely by accident. I was looking for authors like Kate Carlisle and Shelton’s name came up. I was hooked from the first page and have devoured each entry in the series. In book 4, we find main character Delaney working hard to manage her upcoming wedding to Tom, including introducing her Kansas family to her Edinburgh family. While tracking down a reverend to officiate at the wedding, Delaney meets yet another interesting person. This time, it’s Norval Fraser and he draws her deep into a mystery involving the Loch Ness Monster, a missing father, and a murdered nephew. As usual, Delaney and all her Edinburgh friends are charming, the story is fun and engaging, and there are interesting developments in the personal lives of the characters. I’m beginning to think, though, that it’s time to let go of the books talking to Delaney. In the first book, the convention worked well, but here it felt kind of forced. Delaney is interesting enough on her own.

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

ghost manuscriptThe Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick

Fans of stories about King Arthur will appreciate this interesting treatment of the Arthurian legend and the people obsessed with it, but The Ghost Manuscript will also appeal to readers who just enjoy a good mystery. The characters are appealing and the story is by turns riveting and engrossing, mostly due to the author’s skillful switching between the more cerebral puzzle-solving and the physical activity of dealing with bad guys while actively searching for treasure. The big shocker about Arthur’s origins was somewhat similarly treated in an early Elly Griffith’s “Ruth Galloway” book, but the tribal involvement here makes this wholly original. Plus the female protagonist is a librarian. Kind of.

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

salt windsOrphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks

Oddly enough, it looks like this was published earlier this year as Call of the Curlew, and reviews generally echo my reading experience. Brooks delivers a solid, shivering, atmospheric piece centering on an old tragedy. She uses the common alternating time convention, switching between 1939 and the present day as she tells the story of Virginia and how she came to Salt Winds. The characters are vividly drawn and the story clever and suspenseful. This stands with the best of Kate Morton and M.J. Rose. Well done.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Tin House Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome


The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome

For tour guide Emily Ryder, the turning point came on that fatal early morning when her beloved mentor met an untimely death. It’s labeled as an accident and Trooper Dave Roberts is more interested in Emily than in any suspicions over Chris Cooper’s death. For Emily, if Chris hadn’t been the Village Planner and the only man standing in the way of the development of an apartment and entertainment complex in their quaint village of Lydfield, Connecticut, she might have believed it was an accident, but too many pieces didn’t fit.

As Emily heads across the pond for a prescheduled tour of Lydfield’s sister village, Lydfield-in-the-Moor, she discovers that the murderer may be closer than she thought.

Shelly Frome has delivered a fun and quirky murder mystery full of appealing characters and a clever plot. Frome is a skilled writer who delivers crisp dialog and lovely descriptions which help move the plot along. I sometimes hesitate to read novels written by academics because they tend to be so literary. (I readily admit that I am a blue-collar reader…) At the end of the day, I just like a good story with suspenseful action and characters that don’t make me want to throw the book at the wall, and I got that here. I started The Secluded Village Murders around 6 pm on a Friday night and finished it around midnight. Then I opened up my Libby app and started looking for more books by Shelly Frome.

If you are a fan of M.C. Beaton, Joan Hess, and Carolyn Hart, you will enjoy Shelly Frome. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: BQB Publishing

Publication Date: September 1st 2018

Number of Pages: 339

ISBN: 1945448202 (ISBN13: 9781945448201)

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

Read an excerpt:

Picking up speed, she passed the rows of Victorian houses with their pilastered front porches and attached shutters in homage to last century’s Colonial Revival. She’d grown up here, always lived here except for college and her transatlantic jaunts. But at this moment, her village might as well be a scattering of old photos.

Before she knew it, the rain was beating down harder, her wiper blades barely able to keep up. Among the nagging questions flitting through her mind was how could Miranda Shaw have suddenly gotten wind of her leaking roof? Or did somebody just put her up to it, to get Chris rushing pell- mell in the rain so he would…

Emily eased her foot off the pedal, barely able to see through the downpour. She switched the wipers on high and kept her eyes on the road, intent on avoiding an accident.

Minutes later, she pulled into Miranda Shaw’s place at a slow but steady crawl. As she reached the circular drive, straining her eyes through the thwacking blades, she peered up two stories above the stone archway.

There she caught sight of the familiar gangly figure climbing higher toward the peak of an eight-sided turret. At a point where the grayish-blue slate, copper flashing, and a mullioned window merged, the figure suddenly became a shuddering blur.

Emily honked her horn, blasting as loud as she could. But it was too late. The figure flopped over and slid down the turret, glanced off the aluminum ladder and toppled like a broken doll.

***

Excerpt from The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome. Copyright © 2018 by Shelly Frome. Reproduced with permission from Shelly Frome. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Shelly Frome

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, and Murder Run. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

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

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Shelly Frome. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2018 and runs through November 16, 2018. Void where prohibited

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In the Grip of It by Sheena Kamal

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In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal

On a surveillance assignment for a child custody case, PI-in-training Nora Watts finds herself ensconced in a small farming community on a beautiful hippie island in the Pacific Northwest, a place with a reputation for being welcoming to outsiders. But when she arrives there, she discovers her welcome quickly wears thin. Perhaps too quickly.

Salt Spring Island, with a history as a refuge for African Americans fleeing the bonds of slavery, is not a place of refuge for her—and, she suspects, may not be for the people who live there, either.

As she investigates, nothing about this remote community seems to add up. It gets personal as Nora confronts her own complicated feelings toward her estranged daughter and becomes increasingly concerned about the child she’s been tasked to surveil. She discovers that small, idyllic communities can hide very big secrets.

More of a novella than a full-length novel, In the Grip of It touches on a number of interesting and tension-bearing plot devices. There’s the custody angle, where one parent has made choices that affect the other parent’s ability to see his child; this one is blended with the cult angle, where the custodial parent has joined a “community” that is causing the visitation issues. Kamal also touches on integrated “haven” communities, alternative drug therapy, and even veganism. Everything, however, comes back to relationships, and Kamal does a good job of introducing a number of those throughout the mere 90 pages of this story.  The primary characters here, Nora and Leo, are smart and likable, but the story isn’t long enough to really get to know them. While I enjoyed In the Grip of It, I was left wanting more and really hoping the author will produce a full-length novel featuring Nora Watts.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: May 15th 2018

Number of Pages: 96

ISBN: 0062879324 (ISBN13: 9780062879325)

Series: Nora Watts #1.5

Grab Your Copy of In the Grip Of It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Last week a man came into our PI office, looked around the shabby interior, frowned, and said, “I must have gotten the address wrong.”

“Depends,” I replied. “What are you looking for?”

“An investigator.”

“Nope, you’re in the right place,” I said, looking at his nice suit, shiny shoes, and expensive watch.

“Are you sure? Maybe I should come back later.”

He was clearly trying to make a graceful exit. Before the man could leave, I got up from behind my desk and opened the door to Leo Krushnik’s office. “Leo, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Well,” said the man, who was hesitating behind me, “I’m not really sure that this is the right fit for me.” He was trying to be diplomatic about the condition of our office and what it might say about his own level of desperation that he was here, but we weren’t about to let a potential client go without a fight. His level of desperation was no match for ours.

Leo Krushnik, the head of our little operation, walked around his desk and beamed at the man. “We’re the right fit for anybody,” he said, grasping the man’s hand and giving it a firm shake. “We prefer to keep our overhead low so that we can offer competitive rates to people who need our services, regardless of their personal incomes. Please, have a seat.”

The man sat, a little overwhelmed by Leo’s charm, which is considerable. That day Leo was dressed in linen pants and a simple cotton shirt, as a nod to the heat wave the city was experiencing. He could pull off this look as easily as he pulled off the lie about our rates. We keep our overhead low because this dump on Hastings Street, in the derelict Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, is all we can afford, but clients didn’t need to know that. And even I could admit that the “competitive rates” line sounded good—even true—coming from Leo.

“How can I help you?” Leo asked.

“My name is Ken Barnes, and I’m concerned about my son, Trevor. My ex-wife Cheyenne moved to Salt Spring last year with Trevor and I think she’s gotten into some kind of trouble there. She won’t bring him back to Vancouver and visitation has been difficult.”

Leo frowned. “Because they’re on an island?” Salt Spring wouldn’t be easy to ferry to and from on a regular basis.

“Yes, but that’s not the only reason. She keeps putting off my visits and it’s been difficult to arrange for Trevor to come into Vancouver. I think . . . I think she’s in some kind of cult, to be honest. They call it a commune, but you know those stories about Bountiful?”

“Yes,” said Leo. Everyone knew the stories about Bountiful, British Columbia, where fundamentalist polygamous communities live and proliferate seemingly freely.

“Well, I think it’s something like that. Cheyenne wants to be in some kind of crazy sex cult, sure. She’s not my wife anymore and I really don’t care what she does. But I’m fighting for custody of Trevor. I want him out of there.”

“And you need some ammo.” Leo looks up from his pad, where he’s been taking notes. “You’ve come to the right place, Ken. We’ve done surveillance work for many child-custody cases.” Another lie, but Ken didn’t notice. We’d only done a handful of those, but “many” is relative. “You understand that this won’t be cheap? We’ll have to get out to the island and spend some time gathering information.”

“That’s fine. There’s nothing I won’t pay to get my son out of there. Cheyenne, she . . . well, she struggled with depression and anxiety for years and she let a lot of toxic people into her life who fed on her struggles. It was like a sick downward spiral. When she started doing yoga and got certified as a teacher, I thought she’d changed. But I’m not sure anymore. I know this sounds terrible—I know it does—but I don’t trust her judgment about the people she lets into her life. Especially men.”

“She married you,” Leo said.

“I know, but this is the thing: it’s not about me and her anymore. We’re done. This is about Trevor—and me doing my part as a father, making sure he’s safe. That he has a good life. I just want results.”

“We can’t guarantee results.” This is the first time I’d spoken since the initial exchange. Ken Barnes’s startled gaze meets mine. He’d clearly forgotten I was there, which was not unusual. “Maybe it is a sex cult, maybe it isn’t. All we can do is take a look and document what we find.”

“I know that nothing is certain, but I know my son deserves a healthy, normal life. Whatever they’re doing on that island is not normal. It just isn’t. It’s one step away from homeschooling, and who’s to say they’re not making him do hard labor?”

What is normal, anyway? I didn’t ask Barnes for clarification. I just kept silent as Leo agreed to take his money in exchange for the work. Before he let Barnes go, he pulled him aside. “Nora’s right, Ken, about any sort of guarantee. But what I can say is that if there’s something to find, chances are we will get a sense of it.”

In the next few days, I started the file on Cheyenne Barnes and looked through the information Ken had provided us. “Cheyenne scrubbed her social-media profiles last year,” he explained to me, over the phone. “I thought she was punishing me by erasing the memories and keeping me away from what’s happening with my son, but now that I think about it, there’s something fishy about this whole thing.” So he kept saying.

Cheyenne is smiling in all the photos, and in every single one there is something wistful about her, a faraway look in her eyes. Something that suggests a romantic nature. She’s an instructor for hot yoga, which I thought was stretching for attractive people but later discovered is actually sweaty stretching. Who knew. She’d gone to Salt Spring Island two years ago to work at a yoga retreat and, according to Ken, never came back. She met a man there, a fellow yoga enthusiast, and rebuffed all of Ken’s attempts at reconciliation.
There is very little to be found on Cheyenne Barnes’s new man. He has no social-media profiles of his own, but I did find a picture of him on the Spring Love website. Some people are so attractive it’s almost surreal, and Vikram Sharma is one of them.

***

Excerpt from In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal. Copyright © 2018 by Sheena Kamal. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Sheena Kamal

SHEENA KAMAL holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Her debut novel, The Lost Ones was inspired by this and by Kamal’s most recent work as a researcher into crime and investigative journalism for the film and television industry.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
sheenakamal.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and features!

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sheena Kamal and WitnessImpulse. There will be 10 winners of one (1) print copy of Sheena Kamal’s THE LOST ONES. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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June Micro-Reviews


8B37192E-A543-4504-B64D-0471320DBA07Dark Tide Rising by Anne Perry – Anne Perry has delivered yet another well-plotted mystery featuring Inspector Monk and his band of Thames River Police. If you are a fan of the Monk series, this will not disappoint. If you haven’t read Monk, the nice thing about Perry’s series is that you can pick it up in the middle and stillunderstand what’s happening. Then, you will go back and read them all. Recommended.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

 

9BEAF73C-CF38-4127-BDB2-B31BFAF6986CFlorida by Lauren Groff – Lauren Groff has delivered a collection of absolutely gorgeous prose in the form of short stories all tied to Florida. Strung through with common threads of family, women, and children, each story is an exquisite vignette showcasing the often ugly underbelly of life in the Sunshine State. From children abandoned on a deserted island, to a temporarily failed scholar-turned-homeless, to a common character who seems to be Groff herself, these stories resonate and amplify the real possibility that your life, no matter how idyllic, can be fucked up at any time by circumstance and chance.

I met Groff at a literary event shortly after Trump was elected, and boy was she pissed. I sense much of that anger in these stories and have to assume writing these was somewhat of a catharsis for her. We often produce our best work while under stress, and I think that’s happened here. This one should appear on all the “Best of 2018” lists because it’s that good. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Penguin
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

7005C9A4-1EA8-4651-AF3F-0E5FF3F73EC0The Deepest Grave by Jeri Westerson – Ellis Peters set the standard for medieval mysteries with the Cadfael series, but Jeri Westerson’s Crispin Guest more than matches up with the intrepid monk. Westerson has delivered a tightly plotted mystery with just enough human drama and a didn’t-see-it-coming plot twist at the end that had me sitting up and taking notice that this is an author to watch. The protagonist, Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight now turned “Tracker” (the medieval version of a PI), is a flawed but dignified, smart, and decent man who uses his deductive powers to solve crimes for money. His relationships are complicated to be sure, but Westerson writes Guest as the Good Guy who will always put the greater good above his own needs and desires. I look forward to more of Crispin Guest. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Publisher: Severn House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

May Micro-Reviews


445D17F0-2560-4C5E-A733-139FE248408ABellewether by Susanna Kearsley – Similar to Kearsley’s previous stories, this one again features a blend of storylines from the past and present. One nice change is the location, which is Long Island, New York. As we have come to expect from Kearsley, there is meticulously researched history here, as well as laid-back romance. Her writing is lovely, with just the right blend of description and action. This is recomended for Kearsley fans as well as fans of Kate Morton.

Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Sourcebooks Landmark
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

41D21F7A-0F0A-4EB4-8855-5D2F221E8F69World of All Souls by Deborah Harkness – Deborah Harkness has created a whole mythology in her All Souls trilogy which is dependent on the fairly complicated genealogies of the Bishop and Clairmont families, plus associated characters. And there are A LOT of characters. The World of All Souls is a handy guide to that cast of characters where all the disparate tidbits of information Harkness wove into the trilogy are gathered in one place and expanded upon. As I read this book, I felt like I had both a peephole into Deborah Harkness’ imagination and a peek at her writing notes. This is a must for fans of the trilogy. Recommended.

Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Viking
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

484412CB-A37B-4AF6-9BBE-15F57C66A4FFSins of the Father by Stephen Weeks – This isn’t *terrible* in that it’s fairly well written, with some instances of true wit, but the characters and story are fairly shallow and uninteresting. It’s a light, quick read, but not something I’ll remember.

Publication Date: May 2, 2018
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

 

 

03C12724-FA8C-4042-BF8C-8F91FB1C61D9Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston – Paula Brackston has produced an intriguing time slip mystery here, which is not exactly what I was expecting. The story is interesting and somewhat unusual. I cannot recall many other time slip stories where the person from the present is forced into the past by a ghost as menacing as Mistress Merton. The characters are appealing, and the relationship between Xanthe and her Mum is heartwarming. I thought the whole drug back story was a little odd, but it didn’t detract from the story. All in all, this book provides a pleasant escape for a couple hours.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

206BA534-56F6-4B8E-8102-51E4519AD351The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell – As a fan of Blackwell’s Lily Ivory series, I was excited to try out something different from her. I enjoy Blackwell’s breezy writing style and quirky characters, and was not disappointed in this sweet, captivating story. At first, I found Cady a little jarring, but she grew on me as the story progressed. I love stories featuring strong women who have overcome difficult circumstances, and Blackwell certainly delivered on that account. Blend that with a truly interesting story of carousel carving and you have a winner.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Berkeley
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

 

 

Micro-Reviews


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

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Synopsis:

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!

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