Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hunted on the Fens - Joy Ellis

Hunted on the Fens by Joy Ellis

First Paragraph(s):

DS Joseph Easter's eyes snapped open.  Instantly he was wide awake and experiencing a rush of automatic reactions left over from his years as a special ops soldier.
     His ears strained for sounds that shouldn't be there.  He sniffed the air for unexpected smells and his eyes systematically checked the moonlit bedroom.  When he was certain that he was still alone, he noted the time on his backlit radio alarm and forced himself to relax.  It would appear that old habits died hard.

My Thoughts:

I've really been enjoying this DI Nikki Galena series.  Hunted on the Fens is the 3rd book and it was quite suspenseful.  Nikki has recently suffered a loss and as she returns to work, she has her hands full.  Her team is trying to solve a difficult case, but soon they find themselves targeted individually.  One ends up in the hospital, one has a fire, one has bank accounts emptied, and it seems the perpetrator is not even close to being through with them.  A quick read that kept me engrossed - definitely looking forward to what's next for Nikki Galena, Joseph Easter, and the characters that are becoming familiar and dear. 


DI Nikki Galena faces her toughest challenge yet. Can she save her team and herself from a cruel and determined adversary who will stop at nothing to harm Nikki and her colleagues? First she must work out who wants revenge against her or one of her detectives.  And what is the connection between the series of attacks on the police and the mystery of a woman found dead in a seemingly impregnable locked room?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Disappearing

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I'm sharing this week is by an author that I've had on my TBR for a long time.  And I've still not read any of her books.  Why is that?  She's won two Edgar awards!  Hoping this one is the one that will change that.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  July 17th

When Lane Fielding fled her isolated Florida hometown after high school for the anonymity of New York City, she swore she'd never return. But twenty years later, newly divorced and with two daughters in tow, she finds herself tending bar at the local dive and living with her parents on the historic Fielding Plantation. Here, the past haunts her and the sinister crimes of her father--the former director of an infamous boys' school--make her as unwelcome in town as she was the day she left.

Ostracized by the people she was taught to trust, Lane's unsteady truce with the town is rattled when her older daughter suddenly vanishes. Ten days earlier, a college student went missing, and the two disappearances at first ignite fears that a serial killer who once preyed upon the town has returned. But when Lane's younger daughter admits to having made a new and unseemly friend, a desperate Lane attacks her hometown's façade to discover whether her daughter's disappearance is payback for her father's crimes--or for her own.

With reporters descending upon the town, police combing through the swamp, and events taking increasingly disturbing turns, Lane fears she faces too many enemies and too little time to bring her daughter safely home. Powerful and heart-pounding, The Disappearing questions the endurance of family bonds, the dangers of dark rumors and small town gossip, and how sometimes home is the scariest place of all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I'll Keep You Safe - Peter May

I'll Keep You Safe by Peter May

First Paragraph(s):

All she can hear is the ringing in her ears.  A high-pitched tinnitus drowning out all other sounds.  The chaos around her has no real form.  Flaming fragments from the blast still falling from the night sky, bodies lying on the concrete.  The shadows of figures fleeing the flames extend towards her across the square, flickering like monochrome images on a screen.
     She can make out the skeleton of the car beyond the blaze, imagining that she sees the silhouettes of the driver and passenger still strapped in their seats.  But how could anyone have survived such an explosion intact?

My Thoughts:

I'll Keep You Safe is Peter May's newest book, published just this spring and it's a standalone.  Set in both Paris and the Isle of Lewis, it tells the story of a couple, Niamh (wife) and Ruairidh (husband), who are struggling a bit and then one is killed.  I listened to this one on audio and Peter Forbes provided most of the narration, with Anna Murray relating the development of the relationship over the years from Niamh's perspective.  Both narrators did an excellent job.  There was a lot of information about the fashion industry and the making of tweed cloth.  That was mostly interesting, but my favorite parts were when the setting was Lewis and the wonderful descriptions of the landscape, the weather, the villages, and the people.  Detective Sergeant George Gunn makes an appearance again as he assists the French Detective in her investigation.

OK, let me say that even though Peter May is a favorite author of mine, this book was not my favorite.  There were parts that I loved - the setting, the descriptions of Niamh and Ruairidh's history together since childhood.  However, other parts were not as pleasing to me.  And there was a twist at the end that I saw coming very clearly.  That being said, I definitely do not want to discourage anyone from trying this book.  It's good, just not his best, in my opinion.  I'll be watching for what comes next and hoping beyond hope that the location will once again be The Outer Hebrides. 


Friends since childhood, and lovers and business partners as adults, Niamh and Ruairidh are owners of a small Hebridean company, Ranish Tweed, that weaves its own very special version of Harris Tweed. Although it's a small company, their fabrics have become internationally sought-after as a niche brand in the world of fashion and haute couture.

But the threads of their relationship are beginning to fray. As they prepare for an important showing at the Première Vision fabric fair, held in Paris every year, Niamh accuses Ruairidh of having an affair with Irina, a Russian fashion designer they work with--a fight that ends with Ruairidh storming off and getting into Irina's car. Moments later, Niamh watches in horror as the car containing her life partner explodes in a ball of flame.

With Niamh a prime suspect in the murder, the Parisian police hound her even after she returns to Harris to bury the pitiful remains of her lover and business partner. Amid the grief and struggles that follow, she begins to suspect that things are not what they seem; and when there is an attempt on her life, she becomes convinced that what looked like a terrorist attack on her lover might be something more personal by far . . .

Monday, May 28, 2018

Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

First Paragraph(s):

Death does not suit me.  I wear it like a borrowed coat; it slips off my shoulders and trails in the dirt.  It is ill fitting.  Uncomfortable.
     I want to shrug it off; to throw it in the cupboard and take back my well-tailored clothes.  I didn't want to to leave my old life, but I'm hopeful for my next one--hopeful I can become someone beautiful and vibrant.  For now, I am trapped. 
     Between lives.
     In limbo.

My Thoughts:

Let Me Lie is the third book by Clare Mackintosh and, as with her previous books, I Let You Go and I See You, I was caught up in the story.  Anna Johnson has lost both her parents to suicide or so it seems.  First her father and then, some months later, her mother, in exactly the same way.  She now has a child and would like to move on with her life, but she still has niggling doubts about their deaths.  On the first anniversary of her mother's death, Anna receives a card that suggests a closer look is warranted.  She goes to the police and relates her story to ex-detective (now civilian employee) Murray Mackenzie.  Even though he's unofficial, Murray decides to ask some questions.  And what he finds, well, I'll let you read the book and discover for yourself. 

I did like Let Me Lie and actually listened to it on audio, very well narrated by Gemma Whelan.  As I walked my usual daily route of exercise, I was muttering though.  The characters were not completely unlikable, but I was annoyed with many of them.  I'm finding that I talk to characters that bug me (now, that doesn't look or sound odd does it?  Ha!) and say things like - 'Seriously?' or 'That's where your mind went?' or 'How clueless are you?'.  My favorite person was Murray, the ex-policeman, and how he cared for and supported his wife, Sarah.  Oh, I also liked Anna's baby, Ella.  She was a normal baby and really just interested in where her next meal would come from.  And there was a nice little dog named Rita.  There were certainly twists and I had a good time puzzling what they might be.  I was mostly correct, but not entirely.  I'd love to see Murray again in another book.  And, yes, I'll be reading the next one by Clare Mackintosh.  She's pretty much moved to my 'must read' list. 


Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents' deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother's absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it's safer to let things lie....

Friday, May 25, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - May 2018

Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for May 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:

May 1998 - The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett - I honestly don't remember a whole lot about this book, but do remember liking it.  It was written long before the author was involved in her Nashville bookstore and a few years before she wrote Bel Canto, which is the only other novel of Patchett's that I've read.  I do recall that this book was about the widow of a magician who had been his assistant for many years.  And she finds that there was a lot about him that she didn't know. 

May 2003 - Practically Seventeen by Rosamond du Jardin - This was the first book in the Tobey and Midge Heydon series that I read as a young teen.  I loved this series, which had 6 books and was originally written in the early 1950's, I believe.  I found that a small press, Image Cascade, had reprinted all this author's works along with several other authors from the same era.  Stories about teens and malt shops and dances and boyfriends - loved them.  They were available again in print and also as e-books.  And I enjoyed rereading the whole series.

May 2008 - On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill - This book is the 18th in the award-winning series featuring Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe.  It was one of the first books we read in our Mystery Book Group, which began in 2008.  We paired it with In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson.  Both books featured crimes that came to light when lakes or reservoirs were drained.  It still remains the only book I've read by Hill, but perhaps one day I'll change that.  It was an excellent mystery.

May 2013 - How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny - This is the 9th book in probably my favorite mystery series ever, ever, ever.  And it is a pivotal book.  Whatever you do, if you've not read Louise Penny's books - don't start with this one.  Begin at the beginning.  The title comes from a poem/song written by Leonard Cohen, 'Anthem'.  The verse goes:

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.

The book is awesome.  The series is awesome.  The story and writing are awesome.  I love this author and I love her characters, flaws and all. 


And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Have you read any of these books or authors?  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what June books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird - A.J. Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

First Paragraph(s):

When I first saw the advertisement in the newspaper I thought I might actually burst.  I'd had rather a cheerful day so far despite the Luftwaffe annoying everyone by making us all late for work, and then I'd managed to get hold of an onion, which was very good news for a stew.  But when I saw the announcement, I could not have been more cock-a-hoop.
     It was a quarter past three on one of those wretched December afternoons when the day seemed to start getting dark before it had quite made up its mind to be light, and even with two vests and a greatcoat on, it was impossible to get warm.  Sitting on the top deck of the number 24 bus, I could see my breath if I huffed.
     I was on my way home from my job as a secretary at Strawman's Solicitors and looking forward to a sit down before my overnight shift on the fire-station telephones.  I had already read every word of The Evening Chronicle's news pages and was now looking at the horoscopes, which I didn't believe in but thought worth a go just in case.  For my best friend Bunty it said, 'You will be in the money soon enough.  Lucky animal: polecat,' which was promising, and for me, 'Things may pick up eventually.  Lucky fish: cod,' which in comparison was rather a dud.

My Thoughts:

What lovely debut novel this was!  First of all, Dear Mrs. Bird will not be available here in the US until early July, but put this one on your list for sure.  It's already out in the UK, so I decided it was fair game to share my thoughts.  This was the perfect story to slip between thrillers and more 'serious' type reads.  Emmy and Bunty are good friends, best friends in fact.  They live in London during the Blitz and life is crazy and exciting and scary.  One never knows when a night will be spent in a shelter or when more bombs will drop.  Each of them does their part to help out with the war effort.  Emmy's dream of becoming an ace reporter is a bit far-fetched, but taking a job with a women's magazine is a toe in the door of journalism.  The characters she meets are funny or charming or annoying beyond all measure.  Mrs. Bird, the advice columnist, is really something else - like from the Dark Ages.  There shall be no 'Unpleasantness' in the letters that she answers in her 'help' column.  Emmy tries to follow the strict rules, but her heart is touched and she becomes daring and bold and a bit reckless.  And that's all I'll say.  If you like a book that will make you laugh, touch your heart, and take you back to an earlier but not easier era, give this one a shot.  I liked it very much.  Highly recommended for just the right time.     


London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Death of Mrs. Westaway

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I'm definitely excited about the book I'm featuring this week and the publication date is almost here.  I've read all of this author's other books - In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game.  Though I didn't like The Lying Game as much as the previous books, I'm ready to try the new one - more than ready.  I like the info that the author shared about it on her website and have included it below as a blurb.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  May 29th

Dear Miss Westaway,

Your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trepassen House, St Piran, passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

In accordance with the wishes of your late grandmother, I am instructed to inform beneficiaries of the details of her funeral. As local accommodation is very limited, family members are invited to stay at Trepassen House where a wake will also be held.

Yours truly,

Robert Treswick
Treswick, Nantes and Dean, Penzance

When Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – receives a letter from the blue informing her of a substantial inheritance, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The loan shark she borrowed from is becoming increasingly aggressive, and there is no way that her job as a seaside fortune-teller can clear her debts.

There is just one problem: Hester Westaway is not Hal’s grandmother. The letter has been sent to the wrong person.

But Hal is a cold reader, practised in mining her clients for secrets about their lives. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a strange woman’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

With only one way out of her problems, Hal boards a train for Cornwall, and prepares for the con of her life. But something is very, very wrong at Trepassen House.  Hal is not the only person with a secret, and it seems that someone may be prepared to do almost anything to keep theirs hidden…

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Shadow Over the Fens - Joy Ellis

Shadow Over the Fens by Joy Ellis

First Paragraph(s):

As Detective Inspector Nikki Galena locked the door of her Fenland home, a shiver of anticipation coursed through her.  She gazed across the wide expanse of remote marsh, took a deep savouring breath of the fresh salty air and smiled.  It felt good to be back where she belonged.
     Across Cloud Fen she could see the mist clearing, and a green gold morning slowly waking up the salt marsh with its bright clear light.  She stepped into the garden and wondered what this new dawn would bring with it, apart from the arrival of her new sergeant.  Her smile widened.  She had been waiting for this moment for a while and it was something she both welcomed and dreaded.

My Thoughts:

Shadow Over the Fens is the second book in Joy Ellis' series featuring DI Nikki Galena and her talented colleague, DS Joseph Easter.  I listened to this one ably narrated by Henrietta Meire.  In the first book, the author set up the characters of Nikki and Joseph and we saw how well they worked together.  After an exciting ending, I was happy to see that these two would once again be fighting crime in the Fens.  We have learned that Nikki has some dark spots within her, but in this book we get to explore a part of Joseph's past as a soldier in Special Forces.  I liked the way the author related the tale - a good police procedural.  I guessed who might be behind all the murders, but I completely enjoyed the investigation.  And as there are several more books in the series, well, I'm trying to keep myself from a binge read of all of them.  We'll see if I'm successful.  The third book is called Hunted On the Fens and I can see it appearing on my Kindle in the near future. 


Detective Nikki Galena’s friend and neighbour meets a tragic end but there’s more to his death than meets the eye . . .

And someone terrible from DS Joseph Easter’s past is back . . .

A man is found executed on a piece of wasteland in Greenborough town.

The cold-blooded murder triggers terrible memories for DS Joseph Easter. Just when things seemed to be going well for DS Easter, he realises that the nightmare is coming back, threatening his career, his sanity, and maybe his life.

In a breath-taking conclusion even Nikki begins to doubt DS Easter as he faces a race against time to save someone very close to him.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sometimes I Lie - Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

First Paragraph(s):

My name is Amber Reynolds.
There are three things you should know about me:
     1. I'm in a coma
     2. My husband doesn't love me anymore.
     3. Sometimes I lie.

I've always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wakefulness.  Those precious few semiconscious seconds before you open your eyes, when you catch yourself believing that your dreams might just be your reality.  A moment of intense pleasure or pain, before your senses reboot and inform you who and where and what you are.  For now, for just a second longer, I'm enjoying the self-medicated delusion that permits me to imagine that I could be anyone, I could be anywhere, I could be loved.

My Thoughts:

Sometimes I Lie is a book that I think I'll have a hard time talking about without giving spoilers, so...I'm not going to share too much.  First of all, I'll say that I did a read/listen of it.  Narration was by Stephanie Racine.  She did a really good job.  This is Alice Feeney's debut and I'll definitely be watching for what she writes next.  Oh my goodness!  This book is all kinds of crazy.  Told in several different ways - by Amber in a coma in the present, in the recent past just before the accident that placed her in the coma, and also through diaries written over 20 years ago - the reader thinks certain things, but no...thinks other things, no again...and then comes the 'all kinds of crazy'.  Who would have ever thought that a certain phrase would scare the living daylights out of you?  Can't/won't tell you the phrase.  And, yes, that's all I'll say.  If you try this one, be prepared.  All...kinds...of...crazy...


Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Malice Domestic 30 - The winners!....and a wrap up...

First of all, thank you so much sticking with me as I revisited my time at Malice Domestic 30.  I've enjoyed putting these posts together and today is the final one.  You may be wondering - who won the the Agathas?  Well, we'll get there.

Let's start with the Awards Dinner.  As an attendee, you get an email telling you the individuals or groups that will be hosting a table at the special dinner.  You get to give them your top 3 choices.  Last year, I sat at Lori Rader-Day's table.  This year, I asked for the table hosted by Laura Oles - one of the new authors nominated for 'Best First Novel'.  Her nominated book is Daughters of Bad Men.  I had not met Laura before, but I knew from the info on her website that she hails from my area of the world.  In fact,  I live north of the Austin area and she lives south, but not that far apart.

This is a picture of Laura (R) and yours truly (L) taken by her husband prior to our meal.  She is just lovely and we got to visit for several minutes.  I told her that I selected her table because I noticed several authors from Texas and thought I would fit right in.  Her book is set in the fictional town of 'Port Alene, TX' (based on Port Aransas, TX) right on the Gulf Coast.  Laura said that she and her family had spent a lot of vacation time in Port Aransas and we talked about how that small area was part of the larger area that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey last year.  The library in that small town was completely ruined and remains closed to this day.  I may have more about that at a later date of possible donation opportunities - books or funds.

This was the very nice bag of 'goodies' each person sitting at Laura's table found on their seat.  Very kind of her. 

Some others at Laura's table were (L to R), Laura's mother (so proud of her daughter), author Terry Shames (writes the Samuel Craddock series set in rural Texas), and author Nancy G. West (writes the Aggie Mundeen series set in San Antonio).  The food was good and then came the awards.

A special toast and remarks by Catriona McPherson, Toastmaster.

Lifetime Achievment Award - Nancy Pickard  

The Poirot Award - Brenda Blethyn

Special Amelia Award given to the late Joan Hess
Remarks by Becca King (Joan's daughter) and Beth Mertz (daughter of Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters - creator of Amelia Peabody and this award)

Louise Penny - Best Contemporary Novel

Cindy Callahan - Best Children's/Young Adult Novel

Gigi Pandian - Best Short Story

Mattias Bostrom - Best Nonfiction

Kellye Garrett - Best First Novel

Rhys Bowen - Best Historical Novel


I guess that's about all I have to tell.  Hope this wasn't too, too long.  If you'd like to see a list of all the nominated books, look here.  Thank you for stopping by and reading about my adventure.  Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments.  And I encourage you to think about attending a mystery conference if this looks fun.  It's amazing and tiring and quite an experience.  And next week, back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Ha! 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Malice Domestic 30 - Very special author and fan encounters and the cutest attendee ever!

Today, I'd like to slow down a bit and tell you some stories.  And share a few pictures.  As I said in my first post, I was alone at Malice this year.  That worked well, but I didn't have eating companions planned or friends to talk with at breaks.  I had to be 'brave' (and you need to know that for this lifelong introvert, that was scary) and initiate conversations.  I did that and it was very sweet and satisfying.  Let me tell you about a few people:

Early Friday morning, I saw this group of ladies - from L to R - Alice Loweecey (always in a hat and costume), Gretchen Archer (nominated for Best Short Story), and Dru Ann Love (has the great blog - dru's book musings - just nominated for an Anthony Award for Best Online Content!)

This is author Misty Simon (L), who I met outside the book dealer room and, yes, me (R).  When she came around at the Malice Go Round, I noticed her dress.  After seeing her in the hall, I told her that her outfit was great - the skirt had a creepy forest vibe.  Told her it looked like something Abby Sciuto would wear on NCIS.  She said, just wait until tomorrow for the skulls.

The next day, I looked specifically for Misty and found her wearing her 'skull' dress.  Great for a mystery convention, right?  So, I had to buy her book and get her to sign it.  Of course.  LOL

I also met author Susan Reiss in the book dealers room.  We talked about a bunch of things and she was so kind to agree to pose with her book, Hammered Silver (4th in her Silver Mystery series).  Susan was helping out in a special way in the book room.  As I so enjoyed visiting with her, I picked up this book and hope to try the other 3 as well. 

The picture here is of author Christine Trent (L) and yours truly (R).  This was taken after the live auction.  As I said yesterday, I won the items donated by Christine and I was thrilled with the Elizabeth George books.  However, I really, really wanted to support her and her new series about Florence Nightingale.  Christine had shared online somewhere (a blog post that I read probably) that she is writing this series as a tribute to her late mother, a gifted nurse.  She said she was so pleased that the first book, No Cure For the Dead, would be available during National Nurses Week, May 6-12.  It seemed fitting.  I said that I had already bought a copy of her book in the book dealers room, but was happy to obtain another copy with the auction win.  The first copy I wanted her to personalize to my daughter, a gifted Labor and Delivery nurse, for National Nurses Week.  We bonded over our special nurses and she wrote a very sweet note to my girl.  I told her that I was sure her mother would have been so proud of her.  And we agreed that we were the biggest fans of nurses.  I was glad we got to share our stories with each other.     

This picture was taken at the Sisters in Crime Breakfast that I attended on Saturday morning.  Both of these lovely ladies are authors - Jane Willan (L) and Triss Stein (R).  Had a great visit at our table.  I spoke with Triss outside the room and we continued chatting after we found a table and picked up our food.  She writes a series set in Brooklyn - published by the Poisoned Pen Press.  I've read the first book, Brooklyn Bones.  Jane was at her first Malice and she is the author of The Shadow of Death, the first Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn mystery, set in Wales.  I picked it up for my Kindle soon after the breakfast (and just finished it - loved it - watch for the review!).  The second book in the series is The Hour of Death and it will be published in October.     

These lovely authors are Nicole Leiren (L) and Libby Klein (R).  They were sitting next to each other at a signing and I was glad to get a great picture of both.  Libby's first book in her Poppy McAllister series is Class Reunions Are Murder.  Her second, Midnight Snacks Are Murder, will be out at the end of July.  I told her that I had a number of blogging friends who had enjoyed her 'Class Reunions' book - said it was reported to be very funny.  And I was pleased to get her to sign a copy for me.  Can't wait to read it.  She was delightful to visit with.

Before I show the cutest attendee at the conference, I want to give a shout out to a few others.  After I arrived tired and hungry on Thursday evening, I went to the restaurant for a salad and met another person coming in - it was author Nancy Cole Silverman, who suggested that we eat together.  Again, 'brave' - we had a wonderful meal and visit.  Nancy took a picture of us, but honestly I felt you could see up my nose - decided not to share it.  Ha!  She was great and I was happy to hear about her books and writing.  

I also sat with a couple of authors at the Brenda Blethyn interview and then for the opening ceremonies.  Two historical authors that I had definitely heard about.  Anna Loan-Wilsey writes the Hattie Davish series in 1890's America - Hattie is a travelling secretary and each book is set in a different place.  Anna told me she had lived in Texas, but now lived elsewhere.  Her friend was Ashley Weaver, writer of the Amory Ames series set in the 1930's.  I know some of you have read books in this series.  It was Ashley's first time at Malice.  She's a librarian in Louisiana and writes her books at night.  Amazing, I told her and will check them out as well.

As I mentioned on Monday, I had a nice visit with Karen Olson as we were both walking through the 'Silent Auction' room.  I told her that her 'Black Hat' books were big favorites of some of my blogging friends and she told me that she never intended for it to be a series.  Plus, she didn't know all that much about computers - which was fine in the first book, Hidden, when the protagonist is staying off the grid, but later, not so much.  She researches - a lot.  We also shared some other family things and I was so glad I got to talk to Karen.

And, yes, I saw other authors and visited with them all over the place.  Chatted with Louise Penny at the Starbucks in the hotel.  The day before, I had also chatted with Rhys Bowen at the same place.  And Lori Rader-Day suggested a great tea for me to try on the 3rd day at, yes, Starbucks.  So, hang out at Starbucks in the lobby of your hotel.  You never know who you will see!

There were several ladies that I ate with and sat with and visited with that were fans like me.  Some were at their first conference, some were veteran attendees.  I enjoyed every conversation and gave most of them my blog address.  Did not ask permission to share their names, so if you are reading this, ladies - thanks so much for making my time at Malice so...much...fun!!!   

Finally, this is the cutest puppy ever!  Koa is a service dog that accompanied his human (who is diabetic) to the conference.  They are from Hawaii and Koa was very, very popular with everyone!  Somehow, one just thinks that he might appear on a book cover somewhere.


Tomorrow, the last post.  You're probably sighing with relief!  Ha!  We'll talk about the Agatha Awards Banquet and who won, my table host and do a wrap up.  See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Malice Domestic 30 - Auctions for charity and all the books that came to Texas...

Today, I'd like to talk about books and auctions.  Each year (and I'm sure at most book conventions), auctions are held to benefit charity organizations.  A little way of giving back to the community where the event is held.  Malice Domestic 30 had both a silent auction and a live auction (which included desserts and coffee - yum!).  Last year, I bid at both events and won some things.  This year, I visited the silent auction room, but I decided I would only bid at the live auction.

Let's talk about the charity to start - KEEN Greater DC is a non-profit organization which provides one-to-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities at no cost to their families and caregivers.  Such a worthy cause.  The proceeds from the auctions at this Malice will go towards incorporating a new reading and literacy element into the current programs that KEEN already offers.  Again, such a wonderful aim!  And I understand that at this Malice conference, over $24,000 was donated.  Well done everyone!!!

The auctioneers were two lovely authors - Christine Trent and Hank Phillippi Ryan.  They both were quite good at getting the audience to 'bid it up'!  I won two auctions and was very pleased.

This was the 'Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance Gift Set', donated by Christine Trent.  Since this year was the 30th year of Malice, Christine told us that she wanted to honor that milestone.  Elizabeth George's first Inspector Thomas Lynley book, A Great Deliverance, was published in 1988 - 30 years ago.  This gift package included both an advance copy and 1st edition of that book - signed by the author.  Also a copy of George's latest book in the series (#20), The Punishment She Deserves, also signed.  A picture of Elizabeth George from 30 years ago, the current issue of Mystery Scene Magazine with cover and feature article about this author, and a DVD set of the TV adaptation, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.  Plus - Christine included a signed copy of her own new series opener, No Cure for the Dead - first in the Florence Nightingale books.  Way cool or what???  So excited to win this.  More about Christine tomorrow. 

The second prize I won was the Guppy Book of the Month Club.  The Guppies are a chapter of Sisters in Crime (an organization formed to promote women crime writers).  Guppy stands for 'Great-Unpublished-Writer'.  And many very well known crime novelists joined when they were still unpublished and remained afterward to encourage and mentor other writers.  Hank Phillippi Ryan is still very involved in the Guppies and this 'Club' is one that she brought to the auction.

The Guppies collaborate to offer one or two or even three books a month to the winner.  And that's me!!!  So, I'll be receiving many books over the course of the next year from authors who are Guppies.  And I've decided that I'll include a 'Guppy Book of the Month' feature here on the blog.  After receiving each book, I'll do a special post highlighting it and the author - so watch for those - Guppy Book of the Month.  Now on to the books that I sent home to Texas - two boxes full!

This picture shows the books that I sent home unsigned.  Plus it shows the bag that each attendee received.  Some of the books were bought, some came in my bag, and some were given to me.  Kensington and Midnight Ink - both publishing houses - did fabulous events/signings/giveaways with a bunch of their authors.  I could have brought home a lot more books, but I tried to limit myself.  Really, I did!  Ha!

Still Life - Louise Penny
A Cold Day in Hell - Lissa Marie Redmond
Fiction Can Be Murder - Becky Clark
Bookmarked For Murder - Marion Moore Hill
Lone Star Lawless - Austin Mystery Writers - Laura Oles
Old News - Ed Ifkovic
Fractured Families - Charlotte Hinger
The Burial Society - Nina Sadowsky

Here we have the 2 stacks of signed books.  Great, right?  And yes, you are seeing a 2nd copy of A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond.  I got an additional copy for a friend.

Beyond the Pale - Clare O'Donohue
Room For Doubt - Nancy Cole Silverman
Murder in an Irish Churchyard - Carleen O'Connor
The Silver Gun - L.A. Chandlar
A March to Remember - Anna Loan-Wilsey
A Cold Day in Hell - Lissa Marie Redmond
Read Herring Hunt - V.M. Burns

Cremains of the Day - Misty Simon
Death By Eggnog - Alex Erickson
Murder in the Bowery - Victoria Thompson
Murder on Union Square - Victoria Thompson
Hammered Silver - Susan Reiss
Yesterday's News - R.G. Belsky
(this was the new anthology that came out at Malice 30 - got most of the authors with stories included to sign it)


Tomorrow I'll share some pictures and stories of special people that I met - some authors, some fans, and the cutest attendee.  Hope you'll stop by and check them out.  And I know this is a lot to take in.  I encourage you to bookmark these posts and read them at your leisure.  Plus, ask any questions you'd like in the comments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Malice Domestic 30 - Fabulous Panels and not so much volunteering...

Today's post is about all the panels that I attended at Malice Domestic 30.  Last year, I volunteered to assist with every panel that I attended - not that I really intended to do that.  This year, I told them I would help with 3 of them.  I'll note those as I come to them.  So, in order of my attendance, here's 'All The Panels'.

Simply the Best: Our Agatha Best Contemporary Novel Nominees

(top L to R)
(bottom L to R)

Such a great group here.  A very lively panel and there was more than a bit of banter between Louise and Margaret.  Very funny.  It was clear why each had been nominated for this 'big' award.  If you haven't tried their books, well, what are you waiting for???

Poirot Award Interview: Brenda Blethyn

(L to R)

In case you've been 'under a rock' (ha!) and don't know this lovely woman - it's Brenda Blethyn, who plays Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope in the TV adaptation Vera - inspired by author Ann Cleeves books.  Great, great interview.  Martin Edwards is also an author and was a nominee for Best Nonfiction with his book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.  I know many of you have enjoyed the books by Ann Cleeves, have watched the TV show Vera, and have also read Edwards' latest.  I loved listening to all of them.

The Art of Murder

(bottom L to R)
Molly Weston - Moderator
(top L to R)

I selected this panel because I wanted to hear Karen Olson, but I really enjoyed all the authors.  Alexia Gordon is a physician herself, but writes about Gethsemane Brown, a classical musician.  Robin Templeton has been a professional photographer and also contributed short stories to several anthologies.  

New Kids on the Block: Our Agatha Best First Novel Nominees

(L to R)
Margaret Maron - Moderator

I volunteered to help monitor this panel.  On purpose and pretty much begged for it.  I really, really wanted to meet Margaret Maron and I was able to do that.  One of my mystery author favorites for years and years.  She did a great job moderating.  Got to speak to all these ladies and sat at Laura Oles' table at the awards banquet.  She's from my area of the world, but more about that later.  Great panel - so very interesting.  And again, got to meet Margaret Maron!!  Take a look at my blog post from March here - I got to meet each and every one of those authors!!

Our Malicious Past: The Dark Side of Historical Mysteries

(L to R)
Verena Rose - Moderator (Chairman of Malice Board)

This was a very interesting panel.  Each of these ladies writes historical mysteries and they talked about the 'dark' side of the past.  Things like disease and war and death and undertakers, about dirt and 'how did they take care of calls of nature in those dresses'.  It was fascinating hearing about their research into all kinds of things.  Verena Rose, the Chairman of the Malice Board, was dressed in full costume.  And I'll talk a bit about Christine Trent tomorrow and Thursday - I had a special time with her.

Mysteries in Unique Settings

(L to R)
C. Michelle Dorsey - Moderator

This is the 2nd panel that I volunteered to assist.  I love mysteries set in interesting places.  Each of these authors have that going on and it was great to hear about whether they had actually visited the location of their books - some had and some hadn't.  Dane McCaslin is a big proponent of online camera research.  I visited with Christine Poulson a bit ahead of time and told her she was the reason I wanted to help with this panel.  Said I had heard great things about her books.  She seemed astonished, but pleased.  Her newest book, Cold, Cold Heart is the one I'm reading right now - set in Antarctica.  Matthew Iden also has a book set in Antarctica.  Matthew has been there - Christine has not.  Clare O'Donohue has a new series - World of Spies - and the first book is Beyond the Pale - yes, I got a copy.  Each will be set in a different country - first Ireland and next, Argentina.

Historical Mysteries: Back in the USA

(L to R)
Jeffrey Marks - Moderator

Another panel that I really enjoyed featuring historical mystery authors.  I found myself gravitating to these and think that some new historical series are definitely in my future reading.  These authors had such interesting things to say about their research.  I had seen Ann Parker before - she's published by the Poisoned Pen Press - but the others were new to me.  And I'd like to read them all.  Maybe I will!

Mysteries on the Edge of Night

(L to R)
Kristopher Zgorski - Moderator

This was the 3rd panel that I volunteered to monitor.  And it was a wonderful panel.  The room was absolutely packed.  People kept poking their heads in and then leaving because there were no seats left.  Malice is a conference for 'traditional' mysteries and these writers' books are on the 'edge' of that or really thrillers in a way.  I've read some of their books and met some of them before.  So excited to meet the rest.  Kristopher Zgorski had just been given an Edgar Award for his website - BOLO Books.  Catriona McPherson, who I have not shown as yet (on Friday at the dinner), was the Toastmaster for the conference.  I'll also have a picture of she and Lori taken right before Catriona's interview as Toastmaster that was conducted by Lori.  (I love Lori's books, by the way, and sat at her awards dinner table last year.)  So, they discussed darker mysteries and it was fascinating to this 'darker' mystery reader.

Murder in the Nation's Capital: DC-Based Mysteries

(L to R)
K.G. Whitehurst - Moderator

This was last 'official' panel that I attended and I was a little late arriving.  I missed a bit of it, but when I came in they were discussing women's roles in Washington, in the corporate world, in general.  Quite, quite interesting.  Arlene Kay shared that she had been with the IRS in her working life and talked a bit about being an agent there before there were many women at all in that role.  I understood as in my young years right after college, I worked for the State of Texas as a tax auditor.  And women were just beginning to be hired for those jobs as a 'normal' thing instead of the exception.  Sarah Shaber and Colleen Shogan both write historical mysteries set in Washington, so they had a lot to contribute from their research as well.  And Maggie Sefton, well, I love her books set in Colorado, but I haven't yet read her series set in Washington.  It's on my list.

A Toast to Catriona McPherson

This was a great interview and 'thank you' to Catriona McPherson (R) for her role as Toastmaster of this Malice conference.  Lori Rader-Day (L) did a great job talking with her and both women were funny, funny, funny - in a nice, snarky way.  I loved it.  If you get a chance to hear either of them, I suggest you take it.  You won't regret it.


And that's all the panels that I attended or helped with.  A wonderful time had by me.  Tomorrow, come back to hear about the auction for a special charity (I won some fabulous things) and also to see the 'Books that came home to Texas...'.