Tag Archives: good books

More Good Books You’ll Like

My idea of an ideal day is nice weather for porch sitting and reading an excellent book. That said, I’ve had some good reading days. Not all the books I read are exceptional and I can’t list all my favorites on one page, but I’ve listed a few good ones here for you to think about when you’re out of something good to read.

bookPsychophilia: A Novel: A Disturbing Psychological Thriller by Michelle Muckley

Wow! Just wow! When I began reading this I had a hard time getting acclimated. When I was finally there, I ran with it. This poor, poor lady is delusional. Or is she? She keeps repeating things. She couldn’t seem to remember the most simple things, like her accident on the lake. Everyone else thinks she’s crazy, so she must be, right? I couldn’t tell until the end what was wrong with her. This writer got me. I really didn’t see it coming.  This was j
just as good as anything by Gillian Flynn. Wow!

book2Broken Harbor by Tana French

I have loved all of Tana French’s books. This was no exception. I loved the first person point of view. I thought it was handled well and I had no trouble picturing the action. The story moves quickly from the start when the bodies are discovered, and then throughout the interviews with the doubts this detective has. The sadness about the children was done well. I didn’t like that I knew about mid-way through who had done it. I wasn’t disappointed, however, at the twists that happen near the end. I did love how the characters are so well-developed it hardly feels like a first person narrative, which I often find irritating in fiction.

23783496In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

This was an interesting premise. The entire hen party (like a bachlorette bash for the bride to be) was to take place in the middle of the woods in a glass house with no curtains and lots of snow. It was like a “closed” room murder mystery. Who could have done it?? Who else was there? The person whose POV the story is in, wakes up in the hospital with little or no memory of what happened. I really didn’t know who done it until almost the end. The author kept me guessing and I liked that. Recommended.

A brief word about dogs: A Review of Stephanie Jaye Evans’ books

51MLA5fnRbL._AA160_When I read Faithful Until Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans I loved the story for several reasons. First, it is set in Sugar Land, Texas. Yes, Sugar Land, two words. As a resident of Sugar Land for more than twenty years, I could locate all the places mentioned in the story, but I could also relate well to the type of people who live in the various neighborhoods, and to Bear Wells, the humble, kind-hearted gentle giant of a Church of Christ preacher. I lived there. I don’t live there now. The book rang true. All the way.  It could happen,  finding a body on the golf course during a morning jog. It could, surprised it hasn’t. Secondly, there was a Newfoundland dog. I’ve always wanted a Newfie. So I wrote one in my book, Deadly Thyme. They are great dogs – great as in huge, and great as in dogs who love humans and other animals. If you have a 180 pound dog, that’s a good thing.

This week I finished reading Safe From Harm and I loved that preacher Bear Wells is having trouble with his teenage daughter again. Only this time, she is trying to figure out what happened to her friend, who wasn’t a friend. She insists it was not suicide. But every time she attempts to find out more, she ends up looking down the barrel of a gun, with her father watching in horror, not knowing how to prevent his daughter’s death. It’s so well written. Truly. I recommend this author’s books. She’s so good. There was so much humor. I loved the pugs. I take that back. I adored the pugs. And I was truly surprised to find out who the killer was.

Missing Cats, and Best Sellers

comfortable-catHere I am. Me. Fallible. Ready to disappoint. It’s Friday February 5, 2016 (can you believe time has flown so quickly?) and I have decided that my YA novel, which is in the second draft stage is just toooo darn boring. Well, okay, I realize it’s just me saying that, but it is now on my proverbial shelf, being thought about but not worked on. I think of that shelf as the back burner of my stove, the one with the various degrees of “simmer” which may mean that spaghetti sauce could sit there all day getting better by the minute. Thing is I need to put conflict on every page as my friend Roger Paulding always says in critique group. He is so correct. Conflict on every page moves the reader to turn the pages. If there is no conflict the reader is just going to fall asleep. My YA has no conflict in it, or at least not enough to keep every reader involved. So say goodbye to the YA novel I’ve been working on for two years, and say HELLO to a new murder mystery set in London with Jon Graham as the hero. It’s true. I think it’s going to be a winner. And I don’t mean that in a Donald way. I mean, if you liked Deadly Thyme I think you might like the one I am now writing set just before Jon Graham goes to Cornwall.

But back to being a winner. You see, Deadly Thyme is a winner. I say that because for all of three nano-seconds in January, I was a true BEST-seller. I was #1 in mystery, thriller, detective series and in several other categories. I was so thrilled I think I couldn’t see straight. Yes, I may have actually made a bit of money there. And if the world’s idea of success is making money, then I won in the world’s opinion of best-selling author. Plus, I paid a few bills, or at least I will when the royalties hit the bank sometime in the next four weeks.

Most people don’t realize, and when I say most people I include myself here, because I never thought about what kind of money authors made before trying to become an author. I just figured authors made a lot of money. Best-seller doesn’t always translate into what you and I would consider rich. Last year I went in the hole only $665.00. That’s pretty fantastic! The year before my debt was over $3,000. That’s what I spent getting my books out in front of you versus what I made selling said books. But this whole book idea/plan needs further expose. Let me break it down for you in a super simplified way because I am a super simplified-thinking person. I put Deadly Thyme on sale for .99 for the month of January 2016. Bookbub, bless their hearts, accepted me into their daily deal campaign. I sold three thousand Deadly Thyme ebooks on Kindle alone in one day. For the month of January, between all the various e-book outlets I sold over 6 thousand ebooks at .99. On Kindle I made 35% of that .99. Amazon made the rest. I am not complaining. A penny is still a penny to me, as old-fashioned as that sounds, and 29 cents is still a lot times three thousand. Compare that to what happens when a traditionally published big-name author sells their e-book for $14.99 on Amazon. Check this out! The publisher makes 15%, the author’s agent makes 15%, and because it isn’t in the price range of 2.99 to 9.99 with Amazon (that’s the 70% profit range) the profit is only registering at 35%, Amazon is making the rest. The author is taking home 35% of that $14.99, less 15% less 15%. Oh bother, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say.

Deadly Haste. There, I’ve said the title of my new effort. I even found the most gorgeous Byron quote for it. “Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.” So apropos. Don’t be mad. I love really cool classical quotes. Morris would be pleased. My setting is Harrow a northwest borough of London. And there are missing cats involved here.

Full disclosure. This is a preliminary draft and I realize that as time goes by what I love won’t always get to “stick” because, though I love it, the “thing” no matter what it is doesn’t always move the plot forward. I am all about story. I want you, my precious readers, to enjoy my story. If my little beloved “thing” — like missing cats, doesn’t move the story forward it’s going to be kicked outside into the snow.

I know, it makes me sad, too.

So this is the news from my end. I hope you all are enjoying a little quiet and comfort wherever you are. Stay warm. It is cold out there.

So it was Christmas!

free-christmas-clipart-santa-vector[1]I know I’m a day or two late, but Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We had a memorable one this year. We have a new grand boy and after a rough start, he’s doing great! Yesterday his great-grandparents saw him. The smiles were unending. What a joy that four generations were able to celebrate – all in relatively good health – in the same room.  I took lots of photos. They are on my phone. I don’t know how to get them to the computer yet. But I’ll update as soon as I’m able.

News of note for my career. I’ve tried to get my books on Bookbub for over a year. My publisher found out, and got me on bookbub. Thank you SkipJack publishing!  If you want Deadly Thyme for 0.99 January is your month. But I encourage you to sign up for Bookbub.com. This is a free sign-up thingy. It’s a service that sends you a daily email – to your inbox with free or seriously discounted books. Not just any books. Obviously it takes a lot of oomph to get a book on bookbub. I’ve gotten Charles Todd (a favorite author) books for $1.99 on Bookbub. It’s a wonderful service, you will never be disappointed. Consider my advice a Christmas gift. I couldn’t recommend them higher. Sign up and then recommend the service to your friends. They will thank you.

My book will be featured on January 4, so sign up NOW!

Another amazing thing to happen is that Deadly Thyme is part of a five book set to be released exclusively on Amazon January 1. Pamela Fagan Hutchins (Amazing Grace), Marcy McKay (Pennies from Burger Heaven), and Ken Oder (The Closing) have their wonderful books in this set also. Their books are incredible reads. Yes, there are four books listed but Pamela Fagan Hutchins has added a bonus book.

Did You Know I’m a Woman of Mystery?

Shhhh. My affiliation as Secret Agent Danger-woman with this world-famous group of women is little known. What we do and who we are has been kept under-wraps for centuries.  For a sneak peek at what we are up to you must meet with us to see us in action.

Today, December 12, 2015 The Women of Mystery will be at Murder by the Book bookstore on Bissonnett at 4:30.  I hope you’ll join us.

http://www.murderbooks.com/event/houstons-women-mystery-event

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon: A Review

27793667After I finished reading Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon, I sat stunned from some time absorbing the feelings I had about the story. There aren’t many stories that I can say that about. You may even say this story left me breathless.

The story begins with a series of flashbacks from a then, fifteen-year-old Amy Stevenson. Then flash forward about fifteen years to more present day and the reporter who is trying desperately to get her life back after a series of disasters and struggles with addiction. Alex Dale, the reporter, is a believable and sympathetic character. Alex is the same age as Amy who is now what we might consider a vegetable because of a brutal attack that left her in that condition when she was fifteen.

As the story unfolds we jump from Alex’s increasingly fragile existence to the POV of Amy who flashes through “wake” and “sleep” periods as do some “vegetative” patients. The suspense builds as we readers try to figure out who did it and why we need to worry that whoever did it is about to do something equally horrifying. There are many layers and folds as this story pivots and twists into what it becomes – a complex story with believable characters who left me rooting for them.

I won’t ruin the story for you by telling any more than that but just know this – if you are privileged to get this book as soon as it comes out, do so. You won’t regret it.

I was fortunate to receive the book from Net galley for a fair and honest review.

Five Big Stars for a lovely engaging read.

The Light Between Oceans: A Book Review

51zES0qTvqL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_The story is about a lighthouse keeper. The time period is just after World War I. The place is a small rocky island off the coast of Australia. Now you want to read the book, right?

The lighthouse keeper is an honest young man who is having trouble escaping the ghosts of his fallen comrades from the war. He feels as if he cheated death and he shouldn’t have. In one of the first scenes, he rescues a woman on the ship he is traveling on as she is about to be sexually assaulted. (This is the famous “Save the Cat” moment. The reader loves him from this point on.) And this is not just any woman.

He continues to rescue things, fastidiously record his lighthouse duties, and fall in love with a girl from the mainland.

Fast forward in the story and he and his wife have had two miscarriages and a stillborn baby when the lighthouse keeper finds a rowboat washed up on his island with a dead man and a live baby in it.  Of course he and his wife keep the baby and quietly bury the man, though the lighthouse keeper believes he is doing something very wrong.

They won’t realize how wrong until they accidentally learn the truth about the child’s parents while on shore leave.

This book has so many layers and delights for the serious reader. I love the play on words in the title. The information about lighthouses and how the lights work in those days blends so well into the narrative the reader hardly feels they are learning something. The Light Between Oceans could be the actual light of the lighthouse or it could be the revealing of love between husband and wife, or between parent and child.

This was a great book. Recommended. 5 stars.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

51a8IkuiK9L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_[1]This book was my book club’s book of the month during one of those months I didn’t have time to join them. But I read it and here’s a very simplified idea of what it was about.
The story is told from the point of view of two girls who grow up over the course of the story. One girl is Sarah Grimke, the outspoken middle daughter of a slave-owning southern businessman. The other girl is a slave called Handful. Each chapter is one or the other girl. I like that. It makes things clear.
I love the difference in their voices and found it interesting that by the end of the book they sound very similar. I especially liked looking at the world from the point of view of Handful. The story became a sort of “upstairs/downstairs” kind of story, which was wonderful. Even as Sarah moves to Pennsylvania, we are able to watch what happens back at the house in Charlestown.
We see an attempt at a slave uprising. We see the terrible work house where slaves are sent to be punished, because their owners didn’t want to get their hands “dirty”. We see Handful’s mother teaching Handful how to sew and what it means to have a history. You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going.
From Sarah’s point of view I learned more about the Quakers than I ever knew. I knew they were against slavery but didn’t realize they were as bigoted as anyone else from that time.
And most fascinating of all is that the story is based on real people and real historical events.

I WON!

NEW Deadly Thyme cover for EbookLast spring Deadly Thyme won first place in Young Adult with Texas Association of Authors. Today, I just found out Deadly Thyme won first place in psychological suspense with the CLUE Awards.  I’m so thrilled!! Two First Place awards for Deadly Thyme!!

Chanticleer Book Reviews

Reviews, Writing Competitions, & Author Services

 

The CLUE 2014 AWARDS FIRST PLACE Category Winners for Suspense and Thriller Novels

 

Chanticleer Book Reviews is honored to announce the First Place Category Winners for the CLUE  AWARDS 2014 for Suspense and Thriller Novels, a division of Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.

Clue Awards for Suspense Thriller NovelsThe CLUE Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of  Suspense and Thriller Fiction. The First Place Category Winners will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala held in late September 2015.

Chanticleer Reviews is proud to be a literary affiliate of the Historical Novel Society.

Congratulations to The CLUE FIRST PLACE Category 2014 Award Winners:

  • Historical: Rachel B. Ledge for The Red Ribbon  
  • Romantic Suspense: Mimi Barbour for Special Agent Francesca  
  • International Intrigue/World Events: Lawrence Verigin for The Dark Seed
  • Contemporary Mystery/Suspense: Pamela Beason for The Only Clue
  • Private Eye/Noir:  Keith Dixon for The Bleak
  • Police Procedural: Jode Susan Millman for The Midnight Call
  • Spy/Espionage: Michelle Daniel for The Red Circle
  • Psychological Thriller: Rebecca Nolen for Deadly Thyme
  • Cozy/Amateur Sleuth: JoAnn Basset for I’m Kona Love You Forever
  • True Crime: Gayle Nix Jackson for Orville Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film 

CONGRATULATIONS!

To view the 2014 CLUE Finalists whose works made it to the short list, please click here.

Good Luck to the Chaucer First Place Category Winners as they compete for the CLUE AWARDS 2014 GRAND PRIZE position!

The 2014 CLUE FIRST PLACE category winners will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala that will take place in September 2015. The CLUE  2014 Grand Prize winner will be announced at the Awards Gala.

A Great Read

A huge welcome and thank you to all the Pearland folks I had the privilege and meet or get re-acquainted with yesterday at the Kroger on 518 and Berry Rose. I graduated Pearland High School, class of ’73. Thank you all for a great sales day. I hope you read my book(s) and give me a review. I love reviews. I do reviews of books myself because I know how important they are to each author. A review can be a few words or it can be wordy. Most of my reviews are not as extensive as the one below. But on my blog I like to recommend books to you, kind reader, for you enjoyment in future. So here is the latest:

513W3b5Ne+L__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_I don’t think I’ve read such a great book in a while, which means, though I’ve read several good books in the last few weeks, this one stands above the rest.

The White Devil by Justin Evans is told from the point of view of a seventeen year old American boy who has been sent to one of the most prestigious public (means private) schools in England. His fears and his goal are laid out immediately. He fears his parents have given him an ultimatum that if he can’t complete this last year of school before college they will kick him out, as in “to the curb’. His goal is to complete his year at this new school without incident. So now he is in a foreign country in a foreign environment where English – though English – is like a foreign language. English public schools are like this apparently. Not to worry, kind reader, he makes up a list of strange words with definitions at the beginning. You won’t get lost.

This boy, Andrew, was haunted by something that had happened at the last expensive private school, his parents had sent him to. Now at this new school Andrew experiences a strange heavy pall descending upon him. After the death of his friend, he recalls this experience and together with the horrible “sighting” of his friend being murdered (though it couldn’t possibly have happened that way) decides that he is being haunted. But by whom and why? All remains a mystery until he is declared the spitting image of Lord Byron who had attended the school – Harrow- over a century preciously. Andrew is cast in a play about Lord Byron put on by a headmaster who is himself being hounded by other faculty at the college for his ineptitude and drunkenness.

You know, I love a good story within a story within a story told in such a way that I understand everything. There is a story about Lord Byron in all this. And The White Devil is an old and obscure play by John Webster. The research that the author must have put into this is astounding. So much real history interwoven with a fictional story that is as fantastical as it is beautiful. Except for the ghost. The ghost is horrifying. I found myself choking for breath near the end of the story. I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I found this book cheap (or maybe it was free) on bookbub’s email they send me every day. The Kindle version is 9.99 at the moment. (It’s bookbub.com) I’ve made a policy of free books only this year but I don’t know how long I’ve had this book on my Kindle. I have to say that it is worth it to read. All the better if you can find it at your library. You can always ask your librarian to order it. (As you can with my books, too, by the way. Just saying.)

You want to know the real kicker? Here’s the kicker. At the end, in the author acknowledgments, he says that as he was writing he was recalling not only his own days at Harrow but that of another boy’s experience as well. Yikes! Spooky stuff.

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