Book Review: Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James

Dead Man's GripDead Man’s Grip
Peter James
Minotaur Books, September 2012
ISBN 978-0-312-64321-8
Trade Paperback

Set in Brighton, England, the story begins with a horrific traffic accident. A bicycle rider is killed, run down by a work-release convict who isn’t where he’s supposed to be. The bicyclist’s body is thrown under a truck driven by a man with too many hours on the clock, and the whole collision is barely avoided by a woman who drank too much the night before. Quite straight forward, or so one would think. But the victim is the son of New York Mafia royalty, and his mother is pissed. A hitman is hired to provide the most gruesome deaths he can devise for the people involved in the death of her son and she wants video of every death. After the first two hits–the two men–the police catch on and the woman, Carly Chase is provided protection. But she has a son, too.

This is a tense, exciting novel that will keep you turning the pages and burning the midnight oil. Even at 400+ pages, there is very little down time. Everything moves forward quickly, with one caveat. If I have a complaint–or caveat–it is that there are so many characters I had a hard time keeping track of them all. Each was named and each was painstakingly described, which to my mind slowed things down a tiny bit, especially for characters with minor bit parts who frequently never turned up again. But if, like I ended up doing, you skip over these parts, I think you’re going to be enthralled.

Police procedure, the author informs us in his “acknowledgments,” has been vetted by real life Sussex and Brighton police, so we can be assured details are accurate.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2013.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
MTV Books, August 2012
ISBN 9781451696196
Trade Paperback


This book was recommended to me by one of my high-school students.  I’m glad she made the recommendation; I am completely smitten with Charlie, in a big sister kind of way.  Sadly, I think I was missing the point.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told by Charlie, a high school freshman, via letters to “Dear Friend”. We quickly learn that he doesn’t feel the need to “fit in”; however, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that he is comfortable in his own skin.  “Wallflower” is definitely the most apt description. Although not necessarily content with it, he generally watches life happen.  When he does act, or more fairly, react, I wanted to cheer, to pat him on the back and say “there, you see, you CAN do it”.  This is not what Charlie needs to hear.

Throughout the freshman year letters, there are certainly allusions to Charlie having issues–more so than the typical teen.  I tried to diagnose.  Depression?  Too simple.  Asperberger’s Disorder?  Yeah, probably not.  I really didn’t expect a revelation, and I most certainly did not expect the issue that was revealed towards the end of the book.  I felt a bit guilty.  I almost want to read it again now, as if under a brighter light.  I won’t, it would feel like cheating.  I’ll just say that Mr. Chbosky created a lovable character, one that spans the generations—loved equally by my 15-year old student and me (a not-so-young adult).

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2012.

Sisterly Doings—and a Giveaway!

K.J. LarsenCat DeLuca and her Pants On Fire Detective Agency are the creation of three sisters who haven’t outgrown their Nancy Drew childhood. Some Like It Hot is third in the Cat Deluca mystery series, after Sticks & Stones and Liar, Liar, one of Library Journal’s Best Mysteries of 2010. Julianne, Kari, and Kristen Larsen live in the Pacific Northwest and Chicago area.


People sometimes ask why three sisters write together.

“Are you crazy?” was the question out of one reader’s mouth.

“Sanity is optional.  And highly overrated.”

Another reader responded, “I can’t be in the same room with my sister without wanting to kill her.”

I get it.  I have five sisters.  There are days I’d cheerfully knock them off like wooden ducks at an arcade.

Here’s the thing.  Sisters inspire murder.  And this is a good thing when you write mysteries together.  You can plot out someone else’s grisly demise.  Writing with sisters is both exhilarating and exhausting.  It’s inspiring.  It also sucks the life out of you.  At the end of the day you won’t have the energy to brew your hemlock tea.

I’m thankful for the life I share with my sisters.  They are my best friends.  Writing together gives us a chance to connect every day.  Even if it’s on Skype, hanging out in our pajamas.  Our protagonist, Cat DeLuca, makes us laugh.  She’s got spunk.  And her Pants On Fire Detective Agency is a kick.  Cat’s third adventure, Some Like It Hot, released on March 5th.  We hope she makes you laugh too.

Some Like It HotWriting is hard work.  It’s not glamorous. The hours are forever.  But for me, there’s nothing I would rather do.  And when you write with your sisters, you only have to be 1/3 as smart as a real writer.  Do the math.

As I write this, it’s a starless Saturday night in the Pacific Northwest.  I’m hunkered over my computer, sipping on a glass of Trader-Joe’s Fearless Flyer Special of the month.  There’s a leftover pizza in the oven.  The TV is on in the other room.  I can make out snatches of Bogie playing Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.  Not exactly a sizzling Saturday night in Seattle.

But I can tell you what PI Cat DeLuca’s doing tonight.  She’s in a smoky Blues bar in Chicago, hot on the tail of a client’s run-around husband.  A hunky guy walks through the door: FBI lover, Chance Savino.  Her breath catches in her throat.  Her eyes lock with the cobalt blues.  Cat’s head is dizzy with martini.  She nibbles on bruschetta and crunchy French bread and she’ll have chocolate mousse for dessert.  Cat DeLuca is my alter-ego.  She doesn’t get fat.  And she always gets her man.

Maybe that’s why we write.  The world is a magical place.  I close my eyes and the cold pizza becomes Rigatoni Bolognese.  And sometimes, when we write, we brush the magic.


Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a print copy of

Liar, Liar, first in the Cat DeLuca series by K.J. Larsen. There will be five

(yes, 5!) winners, names to be drawn on the evening of Tuesday, April 2nd.

Open to readers worldwide.

Vampire Hunting With Aurora Sky

Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter Tour Banner


Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #1 
Publication: December 9th 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal


Purchase Links:

Amazon               Barnes & Noble

Book Trailer


Aurora Sky Vampire HunterAurora Sky: Vampire Hunter
Volume 1: Transfusion
Nikki Jefford
Nikki Jefford, December 2012
ISBN 978-1481153201
Trade Paperback

From the author—

If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either.

Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job… by hand.

Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he’s a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?


I have wanted to visit Alaska for more years than I can count but only if I can go in July or August because I really, REALLY hate cold weather. I’m even willing to put up with the legendary mosquitos if it can just be warm. As much as I don’t like being cold, though, I enjoy reading about it in fiction, maybe because it makes me feel warmer here in Virginia. Will I ever get there? I don’t really know but a lady can dream, right?

Er, hold the phone. It seems that the state has been overrun, inundated, taken over by vampires, of all things, drawn there by…get this…the cold. See, I knew there was a reason I prefer heat.

When I started Transfusion, my first thought was that this is kind of a cool idea but, after a while, I began to think that some of what was going on was just plain silly and goofy. By the time Aurora goes on her first mission with Dante, I had decided that it was all good fun and I’d just enjoy the ride. Agents Melcher and Crist are the perfect parody of government agents, especially Melcher who always seems to have a smile plastered on his face even as he’s dooming Aurora to a life of hinky blood and chasing down the undead. These two are actually indicative of how engaging almost all the primary and secondary characters are. Aurora herself, with all her snarkiness and resistance to authority and to her future, is really appealing as is her new friend Noel. Fane and Dante, while they play very different roles in Aurora’s life, are among the best young male characters I’ve come across.

Worldbuilding is not nearly as important here as in some novels since a crucial aspect of vampires is their existence in a world like our own but Ms. Jefford has used her personal experience of Alaska to create an atmosphere of danger and, yes, cold. So, all in all, have your humor hat on and sit back for an enjoyable journey—and stop trying to be logical 😉 when you read this first in the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series. I’m already looking ahead for the next book, Northern Bites.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.



Nikki JeffordNikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt. She is the author of the Spellbound Trilogy and upcoming Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series. Nikki married Sebastien, the love of her life, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They now reside in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands, 70 miles northeast of Forks, Washington.

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Book Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley and Double Crossed by Ally Carter

Pretty Girl-13Pretty Girl-13
Liz Coley
Katherine Tegen Books, March 2013
ISBN 978-0-06-212737-2

From the publisher

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she’s returned home…only to find that it’s three years later and she’s sixteen-or at least that’s what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn’t know.

But there are people who do-people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?


Angie’s parents have experienced what every parent fears, the abduction of a child with no resolution, no knowledge of what really happened on that fateful day. When Angie suddenly reappears three years later, the repercussions are not what we might imagine, should we find ourselves in such a situation. I would not be the least bit surprised that the child can’t drop back into life as though nothing happened but, in this case, I found her father’s behavior baffling and sometimes her mother’s was also. Yes, her mom has the excuse of pregnancy wreaking havoc on her hormones and moods but her dad’s aloofness is nothing but hurtful and it’s even shameful when he has to choose whose story to believe.

Angie, on the other hand, is an extremely sympathetic character and I understood her desire to have a normal life as well as her rage against her parents. When it began to be apparent that “others” had an active say in what normal meant, I completely bought into the premise. Although multiple personalities are a fairly rare condition, it makes sense for Angie when her alters start to reveal what Angie’s life has been like—and not just for the past three years.

I’ve read other books that feature a kidnapped child, including those who are held for long periods, but this one struck me as particularly appealing. I like Angie very much and applaud her strength, no matter it’s source. Ms. Coley has done a fine job of telling not only Angie’s story but that of the people who love her, including those who will always be a part of her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.


Double CrossedDouble Crossed
A Spies and Thieves Story
Ally Carter
Disney/Hyperion, January 2013
ISBN 978-1-4231-8747-9

From the author—

Macey McHenry—Glamorous society girl or spy-in-training?

W.W. Hale V—Heir to an American dynasty or master thief?

There are two sides to every coin. Whether these two can work together is a tossup.

Born into privilege, Macey and Hale are experts at mingling with the upper class. But even if they’ve never raised an eyebrow at the glitz, neither teenager has ever felt at home with the glamour.

When Macey and Hale meet at a society gala, the party takes a dangerous turn. Suddenly they’re at the center of a hostage situation, and it’s up to them to stop the thugs from becoming hostile. Will Macey’s spy skills and Hale’s con-man ways be enough to outsmart a ruthless gang? Or will they have to seek out the ultimate inside girl to help?

Two very uncommon teens discover each other, and their respective talents, at a high society charity auction just before a band of masked intruders breaks in and a heist begins. It begins but why doesn’t it end as quickly as most such things do, allowing the robbers to abscond with the goods before the cops get there? Macey and Hale are on their own to try to save the day—but, then again, they’re not really on their own when Kat and Abby make their presence known in Hale’s earbuds.

This is a novella that combines the characters of Ms. Carter‘s two series and then offers excerpts from those series. I’ve known about these books for quite a while but have never read any of them—now I’m a convert and am heading on over to fill up my Nook. Hmm…not sure which series to start with but probably Gallagher Girls since that was first. Can’t wait to get started!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.

Does Life Influence Your Reading?

Melissa FosterMelissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women’s NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

My Books
My Website
Author Education Fostering Success
Follow me, Facebook, Twitter, FB Fanpage
Chat w/me on The Women’s Nest
The World Literary Cafe, Where readers and authors unite!
My Amazon page


When I thought about visiting Lelia’s blog, I wanted to write something that was interesting to her readers, so I scoped out the blog, of course, and read all sorts of guest posts about books and writing and reviews of different genres…and it got me thinking…Yes, I’m a writer. I’ve written four International bestsellers and my books have won awards, blah, blah, blah. Okay, let’s not bore you to death. I became a writer for my love of reading, so let’s talk books!

I am fascinated by people who can read just about any genre and enjoy it.  I wish I was one of those people. Imagine the doors it would open for me if I could read science fiction or fantasy and jump into those worlds and then create new ones. My brain is not wired that way. I also cannot read horror. I can’t even watch horror movies, but so many people LOVE them! What is it that makes readers enjoy one type of book over another?

I wondered if enjoyment was based on characters, setting, time period, or something else all together. So I began evaluating what I liked about the books I was reading, and then WHY I liked that aspect. What I learned about myself changed the way I read and the way I write.

I realized that what pulls me into books are the connections with the characters, but those characters have to be people (as opposed to say…aliens), and their plight needs to be connected to the real world in some way. I think that’s why I don’t enjoy science fiction and fantasy—it’s not real life. I wish I did—I can only imagine how great of an escape that would be! To live in a whole different world for a few hours? WOW! Fantastic! I try, but I can’t do it.

Traces of KaraDoes anyone else find that when they’re reading? Are there certain genres that just don’t suck you into their worlds? I have a theory about why I don’t love them. I grew up with three older brothers who took control of the television when we were stuck inside, and I ended up being made to watch Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica, and the like. Think there’s a little rebellion in me? If you know me well, then yeah, you know it’s probably spot on! And regarding horror, well, I’m a big chicken, so it’s no wonder that I climb between the sheets with a horror villain in my head.

Realizing and understanding this brought me to a realization about my own writing. I write emotionally compelling stories about women (primarily), stories about women’s worst fears and things that can happen in real life. One of my brothers has begged me to write a science fiction book (with women blessed with ample bosoms, and space crafts, of course), but I just can’t do it. I’ve finally given that up and accepted that I’m a real life writer. If I can’t imagine it happening here on earth, you won’t find it in one of my books. Although, the paranormal/spiritual aspect is certainly explored in my books with regard to characters and their intuition.

Traces of Kara, my newest release, is a much darker book than any of my other titles—it’s a true psychological thriller. The villain is violent and aggressive, and someone who I would not want to encounter in my life—but he’s also someone who could easily exist.

I don’t recommend reading Traces of Kara alone at night, but if you like emotionally driven characters, you’re in for a real treat.

Thanks for stopping by Lelia’s blog, and I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.


Book Reviews: Reunion by Carl Brookins, Crashed by Timothy Hallinan, Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman, and When the Past Haunts You by L. C. Hayden

A Jack Marston Mystery
Carl Brookins
Echelon Press, 2011
ISBN No. 978-1590806685
Trade Paperback

Jack Marston, a former investigator for the Navy, is now a student service director at City College in Minneapolis.  Jack is living with Lori Jacobs and Lori has just received an invitation to the reunion of the Class of 1989 in the town of Riverview. Lori isn’t too excited about going but Jack encourages her to accept the invitation.   Lori accepts but wants Jack to attend the reunion functions with her.

The couple travel to Riverview to attend.  There are some interesting sounding events set up for the attendees at the reunion.  Jack takes a walk outside on the first night and finds a dead body and this won’t be the first murder to happen during the reunion.

Lori didn’t expect things to remain the same in Riverview but it isn’t the town that she remembers.  It seems that there are a lot of shady dealings going on and certain people will go to any length to keep their secrets hidden.  Jack is using his investigator skills to attempt to figure out what is actually going on in this crooked town and Lori is helping with her knowledge of the people.

The couple’s investigations lead them to a discovery that puts their lives on the line.  Can Jack possibly figure out a way to save them both before they become the next victims?

Reunion is a book that I didn’t want to end and I was surprised when the complicated plot and the actual murderer was finally revealed.

Carl Brookins is a retired professor, author and reviewer.  I would recommend Reunion as well as The Case of the Greedy Lawyers, another Brookins novel.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2012.


Timothy Hallinan
Soho Crime, November 2012
ISBN No. 978-1616952747

Junior Bender is a burglar but he has some rather unique ways of approaching his jobs.  Some of his methods will have you rolling on the floor laughing but they seem to work for him – at least most of the time.  There are a few moments when the reader wonders if Junior will survive to steal another day.

An LA crime boss is producing a porn movie starring Thistle Downing. Thistle is a former child star who was loved by her fans but time has taken a toll on Thistle and she is currently living in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable.  The movie would bring income to Thistle but would only send her further down her current path of destruction.

Junior is blackmailed into accepting the free-lance job of finding out who is sabotaging this movie.  His job is to keep the movie on track. The problem Junior is running into is that he likes Thistle and knows the movie is not the best thing for her even though she needs the money.  Junior sets out to fulfill his obligation but at the same time do right by Thistle and this isn’t an easy thing to do.  Junior has some very interesting friends who lend a helping hand  along the way.

I want to read more and more about Junior.  He is a character that is full of charm and certainly has some interesting escapades.   Crashed is written in a totally different style from the Bangkok series.  This novel proves that Timothy Hallinan can entertain us with more than one type of novel and I for one want to read everything he writes.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2013.


Don't Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Get Old
Daniel Friedman
Minotaur Books, May 2012
ISBN No. 978-0312606930

Buck Schatz has been married to his wife, Rose, for 64 years.  Buck can be pretty set in his ways but when Rose speaks Buck does listen.  Rose insists that Buck go to the hospital to visit Jim Wallace.   Jim is dying and is asking to see Buck.  Buck uses the excuse that he can’t drive to the hospital but Jim’s daughter Emily Feely agrees to drive him.  Jim and Buck have never been close but they did spend time together in a POW camp back in 1944.

Jim confesses to Buck that he had seen Heinrich Ziegler in France in 1946.  Ziegler was not a happy memory for Buck.  Zeigler was head of the POW camp and was very cruel to Buck, partly because Buck was Jewish but mostly because Ziegler was simply a very cruel individual.  Buck had heard that Ziegler was dead but Jim states that not only was Ziegler alive but he had given Jim a gold bar to let Ziegler go.

Buck having fulfilled his agreement to visit Jim is more than ready to return home and daytime TV.  A retired homicide detective, Buck has had many dangerous adventures in the past but is now pretty much content to just stay at home, visit the Jewish Community Center on occasion, eat Rose’s cooking and smoke Lucky Strikes.  Buck carries a “memory book” jotting down notes of things he needs to remember because at 87 a person can’t be expected to remember everything.  Buck can’t understand why he can’t light up a Lucky in public and that is just one of the many things Buck finds unacceptable.

But it seems that Jim Wallace told more than one person about Ziegler and the fortune in gold bars that Wallace seemed to think Ziegler possessed so soon Buck is very popular because some of these people think Wallace told Buck how to get his hands on the gold bars.

It turns out that Ziegler is still alive.  Buck’s grandson Tequila decides he will help out his Grandpa and find Ziegler and the gold bars.  So in spite of the fact that Buck isn’t too keen on this idea the two set out to bring home the treasure.  Buck’s almost forgotten detective instincts take over and soon the two have a very exciting adventure.

Don’t Ever Get Old is a joy to read, a wonderful story with great characters.  I am sure that all of us know some elderly person that has a lot of Buck’s attitudes.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2012.


When the Past Haunts YouWhen The Past Haunts You
A Harry Bronson Mystery
L. C. Hayden
Books by Hayden, February 2012
ISBN No. 978-1470074791
Trade Paperback

It would be difficult to find a happier married couple than Harry and Carol Bronson. Harry is retired from the Dallas police department and enjoys traveling with Carol.  Harry has been involved in a number of mysteries in spite of the fact that he is retired.

Carol Bronson would be the first to tell you that there are no secrets between her and Harry.  However, Carol is going to find out that this statement is not entirely accurate.  Harry has a huge secret that he has never discussed with his wife.  This secret is a sister that he has pushed to the back of his mind and never mentioned her existence to his wife.

Lorraine, Harry’s sister, had a terrible fight with Harry’s parents.   She immediately left home and Harry had no further contact with her until recently when she began calling him.  Lorraine begs Harry to come to Pennsylvania and meet with her.  Harry finally agrees and they meet in a state park that had been a location for good childhood memories for both brother and sister.  However, before the two had a chance to reconnect Lorraine was shot and killed right in front of Harry and there was not one thing Harry could do to save her life.

Even though it was too late to reconnect with his sister, Harry is determined to learn all that he can about her life since she left home.    As Harry traces Lorraine’s life by following up on any information he can discover, he learns that she lived quite a different life than he imagined.  He also learned that she had never forgotten her brother and was always very proud of Harry and his accomplishments as a police officer.

Harry’s quest to learn everything about Lorraine’s past since she left home puts his life in danger but he has no intentions of giving up.  Harry intends to uncover all of Lorraine’s secrets and to bring her killer to justice.  Harry feels that this is the very least he can do for the sister he has ignored for all these years.  Lorraine’s life has involved people from every walk in life, from pimps to millionaires.   Harry is in for many surprises as he investigates.

L. C. Hayden has written an exciting book that keeps the reader on edge every step of the way.  I have read several L. C. Hayden novels and would recommend them.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2013.