Harper Lee and Me

Sunny Frazier 4Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to talk about Harper Lee’s re-emergence as an author and how her own writing career got off track for a while.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, will be released on January 24, 2015.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

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You heard the news that Harper Lee has a new book coming out in July, right? After 55 years the author is following up the success of her Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (actually, she wrote Go Set a Watchman prior to Mockingbird and it’s set 20 years AFTER Mockingbird).

Fifty-five years! And here I was feeling guilty for taking six years to complete and release my third Christy Bristol novel, A Snitch In Time. With fans nipping at my heels, waiting for the next installment in the life of my underachieving astrologer, I felt like a slacker. One of my closest friends warned me I would lose my fan base if I didn’t feed them another book. That didn’t happen. In fact, I increased my visibility. How did I do that without anything to market?

There was no Internet when I started my career. Social media hadn’t been thought up yet. I was typing on a word processor. Prior to that innovation, we all thought electric typewriters and Wite Out were cutting edge technology. No more carbon paper!

Next came print on demand and the surge of independent presses. No longer were authors at the mercy of Big Publishing and the agent system. Even self-publishing had respect.

When I volunteered to do acquisitions for a small house, it was a labor of love. My own career fell by the wayside as I helped others get published. What I didn’t anticipate was the loyalty of those new authors. By giving freely to the writing community I reaped enormous rewards. And a fresh fan base.

Along the way I discovered I loved promotion, but others were clueless or struggled. Why not lead them to sites I was already monitoring to make it easier? I created the Posse and audaciously told them I could cut five years off their career path. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Reach out and help people who simply didn’t know where/how to find information. Train them.

My fan base continued to grow. I revived a column I’d done for a mystery newsletter but this time it was on a widely circulated mystery ezine, Kings River Life. “Coming Attractions” highlighted books just before they hit the marketplace. Response from readers and authors was overwhelming. My fan base exploded.

A Snitch in TimeThey say necessity is the mother of invention. I might not have gone in this direction if life hadn’t thrown me a curve ball. I’d been poisoned (cat flea medicine), lost a kidney, one parathyroid was removed and lactic acid in my muscles put me in physical therapy. Basically housebound, I had to find ways to keep my career going. Now in dialysis (and waiting for a transplant), I work around restrictions.

Along the way, I lost faith in my talent. I lost interest in writing. Did the world need yet another mystery?

Who knows why Harper Lee disappeared from the scene for half a century and why, at 88, she’s decided to release a new book? Was the spotlight too soon and too much? Did she think she couldn’t top her literary masterpiece? Maybe she wants back in the game just one more time.

Just as my fans waited patiently for me to retain my traction, the world has waited for this icon to reappear. Whatever her reasons for making us wait, we will never know. And, it doesn’t matter.

Welcome back, Harper Lee!

Book Blitz: Hunting Season by Nikki Jefford

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Title: Hunting Season
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter
#4

Author: Nikki Jefford
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Better to be a hunter, not prey.

Ever since her partner was kidnapped, Aurora Sky has been on a
personal mission to get him back. To do that she needs the
vampire responsible for destroying her life.

In order to have a snowball’s chance at success, she’ll have to
team up with her most loyal friends—including a certain
vampire in black with a provoking talent for distraction.

Old cravings aren’t easily quenched, nor past passions. With
knowledge comes danger and Aurora is at risk on all sides.

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Dante has just been assigned Aurora Sky’s mentor. Before they
meet, he goes on a mission in the Alaska Interior with his old partner
and informant, Janine. Full of thrills, chills, and… Dante! Bonus
story at the back of Hunting Season on all pre-orders and release
week sales. Ends: March 9. Don’t miss out on Dante’s mission.

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An Excerpt from Hunting Season

Practice Safe Sex
Sleep With a Vampire

Fane smiled when he saw my expression. “Don’t forget, I know all about you and your stash of Trojans.”

I’d nearly forgotten about my pit stop at the Jewel Lake Quickie Mart on my way to Scott Steven’s house. Fane had the unfortunate timing of buying smokes at the same time I was buying protection.

Hunting Season“Your face turned so red when you saw me in line behind you,” Fane said. “Sorta like it’s doing right now.”

He reached his hand forward to touch my cheek. I uncrossed my arms and batted it away.

“That’s because I’d just come in from the cold,” I said.

Fane shook his head. “You were embarrassed.”

“You were an ass.”

“Don’t forget, I offered to drive you home. Should have taken me up on it.”

I sucked in a breath.

Fane moved his chin back and forth as though saying, you know I’m right.

In the end, it would have been better to return home. I could have avoided the worst sex ever. I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but I was convinced it couldn’t get worse than Scott Stevens. Doing him ranked somewhere up there with stabbing a vampire to death.

Schools ought to hire me to preach abstinence.

“Hey guys, don’t do it. It sucks—unless you meet a nice vampire because he probably knows what he’s doing and I bet he does it really well. Plus you won’t get pregnant or any STD’s. Remember, don’t take him to bed, unless he’s undead.”

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About the Author

Nikki Jefford 2Bookaholic, nature girl, and animal lover.

Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who found paradise in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands (WA) where she is, once more, neighbors with Canada in a town without a single traffic light.

She married the love of her life, Sebastien, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They reside with their Westie, Cosmo in Friday Harbor.

Loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt.

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Book Review: Helia’s Shadow by K.C. Neal

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Title: Helia’s Shadow
Part One: Into Darkness
Series: The Starlight Age #1
Author: K.C. Neal
Published by: Andara Publishers
Publication date: November 23, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

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Helia's ShadowHelia’s Shadow
Part One: Into Darkness
A Starlight Age Novel
K.C. Neal
Andara Publishers, November 2014
Ebook

From the author—

When the aliens arrived, they were hailed as the saviors of a dying Earth and dwindling human race. But the aliens didn’t come to help. Now, one human girl’s ingenious invention and one alien boy’s awakened heart are humanity’s last hope…

Nineteen years ago, aliens arrived on a barely habitable Earth with advanced technology and the promise of ensuring human survival in exchange for a place to settle. They were hailed as the saviors of humans and Earth.

Today, 16-year-old Helia wants two things in life: to step out of her over-protective mother’s shadow and become an engineer, and to stop hiding her relationship with alien boy Kalo. But the world definitely isn’t ready for a human-alien romance. And worse, the human-alien partnership is crumbling. Humans are arrested without explanation. Some of them are never seen again.

When the alien leader imprisons her mother on a false charge, Helia discovers the aliens never intended to help humans at all. Now, she must join forces with alien rebels. If she succeeds, humans have a chance at survival and she has a chance at love. If she fails, the dwindling human race dies out in slavery.

There are a bunch of very likeable people in Helia’s Shadow who  go up against the bad guys—our heroine, Helia, her best friend, Ellerine, and the alien, Kalo, to mention a few. Then there are Helia’s friend and third cousin, Gordon, his girlfriend, Minnow, and a hybrid named Alder. Helia and Kalo are the stars of the show but they all play important roles and it’s a strength of Ms. Neal that she’s able to make them all come to life. Helia is especially appealing because she’s not only smart but also mechanically clever, something we don’t often see in female major characters. As for the romantic feelings between Helia and Kalo, that’s already a pre-existing condition, so to speak, as the story opens so the reader doesn’t have to fear the dreaded insta-love.

The leader of the aliens is a shady fellow named Tal-Reku who has only the worst interest of humans at heart. The upcoming 19th anniversary of Arrival Day is going to be a very important day but not in the way most humans are anticipating and Haven’s existence may become a thing of the past.

Worldbuilding is nicely done for the most part. The time is unknown but is after the Final War and the Collapse, the last two cities to collapse were Oasis and Elysium, and the world was poisoned by industry and overpopulation, then finished by nuclear war. We also know that the air in Haven is bad but the Followers of the Light in the Outlands are rumored to have developed clean air without technology. What we don’t know is how these young people are going to overcome the many obstacles to help save Earth from this new threat.

Science fiction that centers on the younger generations sometimes feel forced, as though the authors are trying to make young adults fit into an adult scenario but that is most definitely not the case here. Readers looking for well-done young adult science fiction are likely to really enjoy Helia’s Shadow and I’m already looking forward to the next book, Helia’s Shadow, Part Two.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

About the Author

K.C. Neal 2In previous iterations of my professional life, I worked as a bench chemist, a lab equipment tester, a biotech researcher, and a medical writer. Strangely, this sequence has not led to my dream job: drummer in a rock band. But my current gig is pretty sweet.

I love colored pens and sticky notes, sunsets and sunrises, digging my fingers into the dirt and nurturing the things that grow in it, and learning anything and everything. I’m a scientist who studies astrology, a go-with-the-flow Type A, and an impatient practitioner of daily meditation. A big bag of contradictions, just like everyone else.

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Book Review: Where the Bones are Buried by Jeanne Matthews—and a Giveaway!

Where the Bones are BuriedWhere the Bones are Buried
A Dinah Pelerin Mystery #5
Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen Press, January 2015
ISBN 978-1-4642-0346-6
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback and ebook

From the publisher—

Dinah Pelerin has finally put her life in order. Living in Berlin with her boyfriend Thor, she has landed a job teaching Native American cultures at the university. She’s never felt happier. And then her Seminole mother Swan shows up with a crazy scheme to blackmail a German tax dodger and dredges up a secret Dinah has kept hidden from the IRS and from straight-arrow Norwegian Thor, a former cop now with hush-hush international duties.

Germans harbor a century-long fascination with the American Wild West and American Indians. Some enthusiasts dress up as Indians and adopt Indian names. Like Der Indianer Club which has invited Swan to a powwow where she plans to meet her blackmail victim. Dinah tries to head her off, but arrives at the scene too late. A man has been killed and scalped and Swan quickly becomes the prime suspect. Torn between love for her mother and dismay at her incessant lies, Dinah sets out to find the killer—hoping the killer doesn’t turn out to share her DNA.

But Swan isn’t the only liar. Everyone is lying about something. Margaret,Swan’s dead ex-husband’s former wife, come to the city with Swan. Dinah’s teen-age “ward.” Thor. Especially Dinah. Ghosts of Germany’s terrible history haunt Berlin while she faces exorcising a hateful ghost of her own.

I haven’t read all of the Dinah Pelerin books, not because I haven’t wanted to but because I can’t keep up with any of the series I like so much. One of these days, I’ll stop hosting blog tours because it’s those books that keep me from reading more of my personal choices; on the other hand, it’s this blog tour that has given me the nudge I needed to read Where the Bones are Buried and I’m grateful for that.

When Dinah’s mother and Margaret—who’s not, precisely speaking, her friend—make an unexpected visit to Berlin, it’s just the first of a number of surprises Dinah will be faced with, at least one of them life-changing. The two older ladies are in hot pursuit of a German who seems ripe for blackmailing, never mind the fact that will be quite illegal. That’s small potatoes, though, when Swan lands herself in the midst of a murder investigation and Dinah, with considerable help from her boyfriend, Thor, has to try to save her very sketchy mother.

I adore Dinah and Thor and must say I have warm fuzzies for Margaret and Swan, reprehensible though they might be. Dinah and Thor, in particular, are people I’d like to hang around with because they’re, well, so normal despite Thor’s rather exciting occupation. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning about the love Germans have for the Wild West. I’d heard of it in passing but Ms. Matthews has taught me quite a lot about it.

As with the earlier books, Where the Bones are Buried is indeed part of a series but is also self-contained and can be read as a standalone. Readers new to Ms. Matthews should feel comfortable trying this one first and I can promise you a truly engaging story ;-)

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

An Excerpt from Where the Bones are Buried

Chapter 1

Dinah Pelerin wasn’t used to waking up happy and it scared the daylights out of her. She pulled the blanket to her chin and snuggled close under Thor’s arm. They had known each other for almost ayear, but had moved in together just three weeks ago. With every passing day, her confidence grew that she’d made the right decision. She cared about him more than she’d cared about anyone in a very long time, but the people she cared about had a habit of turning into liars or dying. Thor was too honest to lie.

She said, “I wish you didn’t have to go. It’s not fair. I haven’t learned my way around the city yet and the only person I know besides you is the wacko across the hall.”

“You have a dozen Berlin guide books and street maps and Geert isn’t a wacko. He’s the resident caretaker. If the lights go off or the furnace dies, tell him and he’ll take care of the problem. Anyway, I’ll only be away for five days. Norwegian Intelligence can’t function without my unerring wisdom.”

“Can’t you send your unerring wisdom to them in an email?”

“I’m glad you’ll miss me, kjære, but I have my orders.” He looked at his watch and sat up. “I need to be at the Embassy in an hour. I’m picking up two diplomats who will join me on the flight to Oslo.”

“Just my luck to fall for alatterday James Bond, forever charging off to save the nation.” She placed a hand over her heart. “I could not love thee dear so much loved I not honor more.”

He kissed her in a particularly melting way, then rolled out of bed abruptly and headed for the shower. “Hold that thought.”

“You’re a tease, Thor Ramberg.”

“Like Bond, I leave them begging for more.”

“Them?”

He didn’t hear. The bathroom door snicked shut and she slipped on her robe and padded into the kitchen to make coffee. Rain pelted against the windowpanes and the pedestrians on the Niederwallstrasse down below carried umbrellas and wore their collars turned up like KGB operatives. Until the Wall fell in 1989, this street and the area for miles around was Soviet-dominated East Berlin. Since that time, the Germanys had reunified and Berlin had reinvented itself as the cultural and financial hub of Europe. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the KGB weather.

She shivered. If September was this cold and dreary, she didn’t want to think what winter would bring. But in spite of the gloom, she’d never felt so happy. It seemed that the stars had aligned and for the first time in living memory, every aspect of her life clicked perfectly. Thor was wonderful, her new job asguest lecturer on Native American cultures at Humboldt University was a plum, and the weather aside, Berlin was one of the most exciting cities she’d ever visited. She tried to put the thought of all this happy synchronicity out of her mind lest the gods grow jealous and snatch it away.

She brought in the International Herald Tribune, poured herself a mug of the local Einsteinbrew, and sat down at the kitchen table to read about the turmoil in Greece and Pakistan and Kenya. The world seemed fragmented, a jigsaw of violent factions that refused to fit together and fanatics willing to do anything in furtherance of their cause. She worried about Thor’s work carrying out counterterrorism missions on behalf of his native Norway. He’d almost been killed in Greece last June while investigating a ring of arms traffickers. She had encouraged him to go to law school or return to a less hazardous police job in Norway. But he was a patriot and he craved adventure. She had learned not to try and argue him out of his dream job as an international sleuth.

He breezed into the room in a dark suit and tie, bringing with him the ferny scent of Fitjar soap. With his deep brown eyes and almost black hair, he did look a bit Bond-like – a cross between Sean Connery and Genghis Khan. He was descended from the Sami people of Arctic Scandinavia and he loved cold weather as much as she hated it. He poured himself a cup of coffee and glanced out the window. “Museum weather. You should go to the Pergamon this afternoon. The Gates of Ishtar will start your anthropologist’s juices flowing.”

“It’s on my list.”

“And there’s a market in the platz with local fruits and vegetables and flowers.”

“I’ll check it out.” His tie didn’t need straightening, but she pretended it did, standing ready for a kiss that would have to last her for five days. “I’ll probably spend the day preparing for my first class. I know that most Germans speak English and the ones who sign up for my class will be fluent, but I don’t want to use too many Americanisms or too much jargon.”

“Most Germans under the age of fifty have studied English in school. Even those who say they speak ‘only a little English,’ can talk politics like a senator, which by the way is the German word for senator.”

He was so relaxed and reassuring. Too relaxed? She felt a frisson of superstitious fear. “You will be careful, won’t you? Don’t let the bad guys sneak up on you.”

“I’m off to Oslo, not Kabul.”

Her iPhone erupted in a concatenation of percussive plinking.

Thor took a quick swallow of coffee and set down his mug. “Answer your xylophone. I’ve got to run.”

“No, wait…” she turned toward the phone.

“I’ll call you.” His kiss landed in her hair somewhere in the vicinity of her left ear and he hurried out the door.

Frustrated, she picked up the phone. “Hello.”

“Dinah, is that you? It’s your mother. Your friend Margaret and I are in the Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta waitin’ for our flight. What’s that number, Margaret? Here it is, Air France, seven seven-oh. Don’t we change planes somewhere, Margaret?”

“You’re coming here? To Berlin?”

“What? Good heavens, that’s too little for me to read, Margaret. Anyhow, we’ll be arriving this evenin’ at…what? Can that be right? All right, tomorrow evenin’ at eight-thirty at TXL, which we think is the name of the airport. If you can come get us and put us up for a few days, that’ll be just lovely.”

Dinah fought back a groan. “How long do you plan to be here?”

“That depends, baby. We have a little detective job we need you to help us with.”

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About the Author

Jeanne Matthews 2Jeanne Matthews was born and raised in Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama teacher, and a paralegal. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband, who is a law professor.

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Two Giveaways:

(1) There will be one winner of 1 Box of Poisoned Pen Press books
including Where the Bones Are Buried. The giveaway begins on
February 28th, 2015 and runs through April 3rd, 2015.

Enter the Rafflecopter drawing here.

(2) Leave a comment below to enter the drawing for an ebook
copy of Where the Bones are Buried. The winning name will be
drawn on Wednesday evening, March 4th, and the book
will be sent out after April 4th.

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Book Review: Remote by Lisa Acerbo

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Title: Remote
Author: Lisa Acerbo
Published by: Etopia Press
Publication date: November 20, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult

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RemoteRemote
Lisa Acerbo
Etopia Press, November 2014
ISBN 978-1-941692-34-9
Ebook

From the publisher—

When technology fulfills every dream, reality becomes a nightmare.

Below the streets of New State, the undergrounders fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above. Every night, Yara risks her life fighting New State’s deadliest weapons, the drones. Half human and half machine, their living half tortured until everything human is gone, the drones have only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.

Yara is good at her job and committed to her raids on New State. Until one of those raids brings her face-to-face with Joshua, a New State citizen who doesn’t quite fit her preconceived expectations. After a couple of awkward encounters, he shows her the meaning of hooking up—a computer simulation that allows people to live out their fantasies—without the complication of emotional entanglements or physical reality. But what Yara feels for Joshua is very real. And it’s punishable by law.

As she and Joshua grow closer, she convinces him to leave New State for her underground cause. But as the unrest between New State and the underground escalates, and the drones move in to destroy her world, nothing goes as planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Yara’s forced to choose between her people and her feelings. The wrong choice could mean the end of her people, and reality could slip away—forever…

Recently, I’ve been unable to read due to a death in my immediate family. Not only have I been wrapped up in what was going on but I also found I just couldn’t concentrate on any book. Remote is my return to reading and, although I can’t say I did it justice by giving it my full attention, it was a very good re-entry for me.

I’m fond of dystopian fiction as well as science fiction in general and Remote is a worthy representative of the subgenre and genre respectively. Ms. Acerbo has conceived a really good scenario and carries it forward with a strong plot full of possibilities and excitement and her characters are as engaging as any I’ve seen before. Yara and Josh are an appealing duo with a connection that grows quite naturally and I was also attached to Mason and Yara’s parents. If there’s any flaw in Ms. Acerbo’s character development, it’s that the great majority of secondary characters have no real fullness to them.

New State is frightening but, as the author leads us to understand, this world is not an impossibility. We see today how people, especially the younger generations, are wedded to technology to the detriment of society in a number of ways. Perhaps we won’t go so far as to create the horrendous drones in this story but there is much here that could become reality.

Strictly speaking, this book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but there clearly will be a sequel or, at least , I certainly hope so. I’ll be looking out for it to find out how the rebels’ war with New State will progress.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2015.

About the Author

Lisa AcerboLisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including “The Patch” and “Hollywood Scriptwriter”.

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Chocolate in Berlin

Jeanne Matthews 2Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press.  Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust.  Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning Where the Bones are Buriedabout other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels.  She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now .  You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at www.jeannematthews.com.

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In 1641, a German scientist named Johann Georg Voldkammer traveled to Naples and discovered the Neopolitans drinking a strange concoction called cocoa, which was believed to stimulate the spleen and aid digestion. He returned to Germany with a supply of the stuff and introduced it to his fellow countrymen. They lapped it up and quickly adopted the custom of taking a cup of hot cocoa at bedtime. Gradually, the medicinal benefits of drinking chocolate gave way to the sheer pleasure. Today the average German consumes approximately twenty-four pounds of chocolate a year and the city of Berlin lays claim to the largest chocolate house in the world.

Jeanne Matthews Brandenburg Gate

Chocolate Brandenburg Gate

Two chocolate-making families – Fassbender & Rausch – combined forces in 1999 and opened their chocolate mecca on Charlottenstrasse in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. As you enter the shop, the first thing you see is a chocolate volcano erupting aromatic spurts of molten chocolate. A few steps more and you come face-to-face with a display of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks – recreated in chocolate. A monumental replica of the historic Brandenburg Gate topped by its chariot with four perfect horses stands over three feet high and weighs three hundred pounds. A model of the Reichstag, the building that houses the German parliament, measures five feet tall by five feet wide. Its spectacular mirrored cupola is crafted from mousse and glittering gold leaf. One can only marvel that the chocolatiers found receptacles large enough to melt such a quantity of chocolate, a stove large enough to support the receptacles, or a mold that could duplicate the structure’s shape in such intricate detail.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is another work of jaw-dropping chocolate artistry. The bell tower and part of the entrance hall is all that remains of the original church, which was bombed by the Allies during World War II. The new church – a tall, slender edifice (nicknamed “the lipstick” by Berliners) and the flat, hexagonal building (“the powder box”) – were built around the ruins of the old. Fassbender has rendered this symbol of Berlin’s resilience as lovingly in chocolate and gold as the architects rendered the real one in stone and glass. And suspended from the shop’s ceiling is the one of the most famous symbols of the Cold War – a chocolate airplane like the ones used during the Berlin Airlift.

Jeanne Matthews Reichstag

Chocolate Reichstag

The most popular pilot of the Berlin Airlift was Lt. Gail Halvorson, known as the “Chocolate Flier” or “Uncle Chocolate.” He would signal his approach to the chocolate-starved children of East Berlin by wiggling his wings. As the children gathered and waited in anticipation, Lt. Halvorson dropped hundreds of chocolate bars attached to handkerchief parachutes.

Of course Germany’s history with chocolate also had a dark side – forgive the pun. In addition to his fondness for martinis and cigars, Winston Churchill liked chocolate. When Adolph Hitler got wind of this, he ordered his bomb makers to devise thin bars of explosives, coat them with a layer of rich dark chocolate, and giftwrap them in expensive black and gold foil. He planned to have his secret agents in Britain smuggle the package (labeled Peters Chocolate) into the dining room used by Churchill and his War Cabinet. The bomb was rigged to go off seven seconds after the chocolate was removed from its wrapper. If the plot had been successful, most of the British leadership would have been killed in the blast. Fortunately, British intelligence discovered the fake chocolates and posters were distributed, warning the public to beware of the Peters brand. That wasn’t the only Nazi plot involving chocolate. Declassified MI5 files reveal that they poisoned tins of powdered cocoa expecting them to be seized and consumed by the Allied troops.

Chocolate Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Chocolate Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Berlin has been the site of terrible crimes and skullduggery in the past, but today the city is filled with peace and goodwill and its happy denizens are stoked on endorphins and flavonoids derived from its rich bounty of chocolate shops. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can sample chocolate flavored with goat cheese and elderflower essence at in’t Veld Schokoladen. Walk around the corner and you will find Atelier Cacao with its curated selection of handmade chocolates made with organically produced raw cane sugar. And if your craving still isn’t satisfied, you can return to Fassbender & Rausch. Not only does it offer more than two hundred varieties of delicious chocolate candies, it has an upstairs restaurant where you can enjoy a four-course dinner that features chocolate in some form in each and every dish.

A while back, I wrote a blog about my fictional sleuth putting on a few pounds during her time in Berlin. I called it “Fattening Up the Franchise.” It’s just possible that I was projecting the wages of my own dark sins onto her.

Chocolate Berlin Airlift Plane

Chocolate Berlin Airlift Plane

Book Review: Faceless by Dawn Kopman Whidden

FacelessFaceless
Dawn Kopman Whidden
Brighton Publishing, November 2013
ISBN 978-1-62183-140-2
Trade Paperback

As a fan of the mysterious, the creepy, and psychological, twisted thrillers; I have questioned my sanity; but the quest is always short-lived, as I really and truly just want to start reading. When I delightedly ripped open the package containing my (very special, personalized, signed copy) of Faceless and began reading as I stumbled away from the still open mail-box, I was struck by a second, even quirkier query.

I had been stalking my post-man for days, not just because Ms. Whidden spins an alluring, captivating web of mystery, murder and mayhem; but because I knew that I was in for a special reunion, as the very characters I admired and grew fond of in A Child is Torn are the same characters in this tome! But wait. What does that say about me? I am thrilled to see how their lives have changed, what’s new, as if I am checking up on old friends, all the while knowing that, well, something bad is certainly going to happen.

A reader isn’t kept waiting, for indeed there is a gruesome, twisted murder and a delightful cacophony of surly teens that could easily morph into suspects with just a bit of finesse. But, true to form, Ms. Whidden doesn’t dare make the story so simple. Upon closer inspection, we have a respected adult that most certainly could have committed the heinous act, albeit the “why” is not so obvious.

As the townsfolk casually size one and other up, another victim is taken. The act of murder, in and of itself, raises thousands of questions; but when the perpetrator appears to have so much anger and hatred bottled up inside, but behaves normally on the surface, fear and apprehension rise to new terrifying levels. Faceless has all of the quintessential elements needed for a thrilling mystery and while you may think you know who the killer is, I have a feeling that this author will surprise you.

Ms. Whidden masterfully blends the captivating lives of the recurring characters with the turmoil and terror caused by the knowledge of the serial killer among them. These characters that entranced me in A Child is Torn, became beloved in Faceless. So much so, that one day I found myself tearing through chores and errands just so that I could squeeze in some time with my “pals” in Faceless…..until it hit me…..I had finished the book the night before. I had no choice but to immediately order the next chapter of their lives, Stolen. Now, where is that post-man?

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2014.