Book Review: In the After by Demitria Lunetta

In the AfterIn the After
Demitria Lunetta
HarperTeen, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-06-210545-5

From the publisher—

In what seems like an instant, Amy Harris’s life is changed forever. They arrive and quickly begin killing off humanity one by one. No one knows how they got here—and even worse, no one knows how to stop Them.

Marooned in a high-security house, Amy manages to stay alive—and even rescues “Baby,” a toddler she finds in an abandoned supermarket. For years they escape death, forging a bond as strong as sisters, until they are finally rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living on a former government research compound.

On the surface, New Hope is the happy ending Amy was looking for. She’s even started falling for Rice, a handsome researcher she’s become close with at the facility. But then she makes a shocking discovery. And staying in New Hope could mean losing her freedom . . . or her life.

With pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate, In the After is an action-packed dystopian page-turner that will keep fans guessing until each secret is revealed and every lie is uncovered.

I like a decent night’s sleep as much as anyone else. In fact, I can get downright surly when I’m deprived but I don’t mind in the least when it’s a book that’s keeping me up because, after all, that’s a pretty good sign the story is truly enthralling. That’s exactly what I would call In the After, enthralling.

Post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction is high on my list of favorites and I’m even happier when both subgenres are present which is the case here. There’s a very distinctive and abrupt shift from one to the other and also a shift in reading excitement, if you will, and that leads to the only reason I can’t give this a full 5 stars. Not only is there a shift in theme and intensity but there is also a drop in the effort spent in character development.

Amy and Baby are two of my favorite characters in memory. They’re both so intelligent and they make the best of a terrible situation, learning as they go how to survive and do so in a fair amount of comfort. The love that develops between the two girls who become as sisters is natural and heartwarming and they each know that they can depend on the other without question. Would Amy have grown into such a strong and empathetic young woman if disaster hadn’t happened? There is no way to know but, if there is ever a bright side to an apocalyptic scenario, it’s in the ways that some people rise above their circumstances. On the other hand, there is Baby who is just a toddler when Amy finds her and, while she is preternaturally aware of how to protect herself, it is certainly unlikely that she would have survived long without an older companion. The two girls need each other and the payoff is huge.

The second and third parts of the story are where I felt a lack. After pouring so much effort into helping the reader understand and care about Amy and Baby, character development of the new people in their lives is really pretty thin. I would have liked to know Vivian much better and, while I liked Rice to a certain extent, I also had some niggling doubt about him. Kay and Gareth are better defined but, again, I want to know more and, considering the ending, I can’t be sure I’ll get that in future volumes. Other characters are unlikable to varying degrees but, again, it would help to know more about them, why they are the way they are. The “event” is really not enough to excuse some of the behavior even though they certainly fit into the usual dystopian mold. Finally, the very lightweight romance felt to me like the author believed she had to throw it in and it really didn’t add anything to the overall story. It didn’t actually bother me but I could easily have done without it.

Having said all that, I really did love this book—it’s scary, nail-biting, thought-provoking, heartwarming and different from the pack—and it did indeed keep me up all night 😉 . Demitria Lunetta is a fine writer and I am going to have a hard time waiting for the next entry.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2013.

Book Review: The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

The Cold Cold GroundThe Cold Cold Ground
Book One The Troubles Trilogy
Adrian McKinty
Seventh Street Books, November 2012
Trade Paperback

1981. The Pope is almost assassinated. Lady Diana is soon to be married. Prime Minister Thatcher is in charge. The Yorkshire Ripper trial is ongoing. Juice Newton and Blondie sing their pop hits on the radio. Riots and bombings in Northern Ireland. Welcome to Belfast and its suburbs. Where the IRA and other initialed Catholic and Protestant factions battle against the government, the cops, and each other.

Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy is called to a murder scene where a man has been shot, his hand cut off and laid nearby. Except it isn’t his hand and soon another body is found…with the first victim’s hand on the scene. Another major piece of evidence is that both men were homosexual, which, in 1981, is illegal in Northern Ireland. Duffy and his team barely get a chance to start working the cases when they’re assigned to investigate the death of an IRA member’s ex-wife found hanged in deep woods. Suicide or murder? What are the connections between the deaths? How do the deaths relate to the homosexual community and the local gangsters? Duffy is faced with not only the murders, but growing tensions from the community, within the police force…and his own morals.

A police procedural with bite. The cultural references of the time period (music, cars, technology) take me back to my early days in school. This story wouldn’t have worked had it been written back then. Now it brings that period of history to life in all its wonderful, sordid, and explosive ways. Don’t worry about the foreign setting. I wasn’t confused or disappointed but relished the chance to settle into the Irish culture and the chance to revisit the past. McKinty‘s first in the Troubles trilogy is the beginning of what is sure to be a series to anticipate.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, April 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.

From Neighborhood Bully to Killer … or Murder Victim

Lauren Carr 2Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder, was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son, Old Loves Die Hard, and Shades of Murder have all been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Blast from the Past is the fourth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. The next installment in the Mac Faraday series will be released in October of this year.

Released September 1012, Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. The second installment in the Lovers in Crime series will be out in 2013.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Websites:   and
Blog: Literary Wealth:
Gnarly’s Facebook Page:
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie



The other day, I was sharing a hearty loud laugh with my good friend Fay Moore, whose first book is coming out this summer; and Tom Logan, another great friend. We were meeting for lunch at Panera Bread and I couldn’t resist telling them about my latest encounter with our neighborhood bully.

Yep, bullies aren’t confined to big rude kids picking on smaller children to steal their milk money … maybe nowadays it’s cell phones. Have you ever wondered what becomes of those bullies when they grow up?

Three things can happen:

1.    He can encounter a bigger guy willing to take the time to give him an attitude adjustment, after which he will become a contributing member of society, or—
2.    He can end up in jail or dead after bullying the wrong person, and/or—
3.    He can move him and his bad attitude into a nice neighborhood where he’ll end up becoming a victim or killer in a murder mystery writer’s books.

Blast from the PastMy husband has given me a shirt that reads: CAREFUL, YOU MIGHT END UP IN ONE OF MY BOOKS. It’s the truth. Writers study people and situations to put into their books. Drawing traits from real people, these writers are better able to bring their books to life for the readers. It is situations like these that will make readers sit up and say, “I know a guy just like that.”

One reader told me that she was floored when Gnarly made his den under Mac Faraday’s bed in It’s Murder, My Son. Her dog does that same thing. She had no idea other dogs do that. Well, I drew that trait from my dog Ziggy. Now, the real life Gnarly is making his den under my bed.

Therefore, it should not be surprising that murder mystery writers will vent their anger or frustration at a foe by killing them or making them the killer in their books. One writer I read in a forum confessed to killing his boss four times. Another author I saw on a panel at a conference admitted to killing a stranger who had cut her off on the expressway. I made an ex-friend a killer in one of my books. In another book, I used a mean girl I had gone to school with. I hadn’t seen her in over twenty years, but it sure felt good to have my revenge.

In Blast from the Past, I killed a writer with horrible body odor and bad breath who had me pinned in a corner with bad ventilation at a workshop. I knew nothing about him except that he needed a really good shower.

In The Murders at Astaire Castle (coming September 2013), one of the murder victims is the billionaire owner of a software company whose program gave me grief for several days.

This particular bully has lived in our neighborhood for twelve years, during which he has never said one civil word to me in our half-dozen encounters. The words he has said have all been in a volume way above conversational. Plus, he’s never short of personal insults to direct at me. Ironically, after twelve years, we still don’t know the bully’s name.

However, Bully has said not one word to my husband, which proves that there is truth to the soothing words parents tell their children: Bullies really are cowards.( I never pictured husbands saying that to their wives about grown-up neighbors.) Obviously, Bully fears that my husband would give his attitude a really good adjustment if he were to strike out at him for being so rude as to exhale carbon dioxide in the direction of his property.

With no warning of any issues that I may be causing, Bully strikes like a mugger in the dark of the night to verbally assault me. Once his complaint was about one of my dogs peeing in his driveway the first week that he had moved in. This attack occurred several years after he had moved in and the dog had passed away years earlier. Obviously, Bully has too much time on his hands if he was stewing about that urine in his driveway all those years.

The Murders at Astaire CastleThat was the first time I killed him in It’s Murder, My Son. After blowing him and his house up, I had closure and was able to move on with my life.

This latest attack came again early in the morning, before I had my first cup of coffee while I was out walking Gnarly.

So … I need to kill him AGAIN. Luckily, he struck while I was putting together my next Mac Faraday Mystery which I am releasing in November: The Lady Who Cried Murder. Bully and his nasty ways fit perfectly into my plotline. He filled the role I needed to perfection.

Oh, this time I’m going to kill him in a deliciously violent manner befitting a neighborhood bully. Of course, I’m not going to tell you how I kill him. You’re going to have to read The Lady Who Cried Murder  (coming in November 2013) to find out.

I actually came out of this attack better than in our previous encounters. For days after this attack, I giggled with delight while molding Bully into my storyline. He had inspired me in a way that nice people don’t.

That was when I made a discovery. Murder mystery writers need bullies. Upon that discovery, I wrote this dedication for The Lady Who Cried Murder:

To the arrogant, envious, rude, self-centered, demented, and twisted souls amongst us. For without you, murder mystery writers would be without inspiration.

What would murder mystery writers do if everyone just got along?


From Writers to Published Authors Conference

To Be Held Saturday, October 5

The first annual From Writers to Published Authors Conference

is scheduled for Saturday, October 5 from 8:45 am to 5:00 pm.


This writers conference will be held at Oakland Church, located on 70 Oakland Terrace in Charles Town, WV.

The From Writers to Published Authors Conference offers writers the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of writing and

publishing directly from those who have gone before them. At this first annual event, authors and publishers will gather

together to spend the day helping new writers to reach their goal of not only publishing their books, but doing it right.


For further information, please see the brochure here—

Contact Lauren Carr at for more information about submissions to

Acorn Book Services or about attending the From Writers to Published Authors Conference.

Book Blitz: Haven by Laury Falter—and a Giveaway!


Title: Haven, Part I of the Apocalypse Chronicles
Author: Laury Falter
Release date: June 22, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Group:  Young Adult
Event organized by: AToMR Tours

Haven, the first book in the Apocalypse Chronicles…

On an ordinary day in early September, Kennedy Shaw leaves for school unaware that within a few minutes the

world she knows will be gone – succumbed to an outbreak of epidemic proportions. After finding a safe haven

inside the security of her enclosed high school, she learns that four others have survived, one being a bold,

mysterious transfer student from Texas whose unruffled demeanor harbors more than a cool interest in her. As

they struggle to survive the dead fighting their way inside, will Kennedy discover there is more to life than survival?

And will she and the others find a way to live in this terrifying new world?


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble                              Amazon


Excerpt from Haven

The first Infected who came into view was balding. The half moon of white hair around the back of his head was severed in half by a gash that left his neck and the collar of his light blue business suit a crusty red. His hand on the railing was the same ruby color. The one coming up behind him was a girl in her twenties with bleached blonde hair and a tattoo that curled up the side of her neck. The Infected trailing her was a woman with an afro and oversized gold hoop earrings. There were more – I could hear their feet on the stairs – but they hadn’t located me yet. Once they did, I knew nothing could tear them away. This was why I had the rifle pointed at Mr. Suit. If I hit him just right there was a possibility he would collapse against the wall and topple backwards, into the crowd, momentarily blocking the rest from advancing. That might buy me enough time to run for the next set of stairs and, possibly, to safety.

My heart was pounding so hard that I was afraid it would interfere with my aim, even at this short distance. The muzzle was bobbing so rapidly it reminded me of peaks on a hospital pulse monitor. As I’d been trained, I stopped, took a deep breath, and attempted to steady my heart rate. One of my dad’s favorite sayings coursed through my mind, reminding me how to take an accurate shot and calming me instantly. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, Kennedy. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

As I contemplated my plan, biding my time to get the right shot off, something happened on the floor below. It started with a roar, which was odd because I’d never heard a single Infected roar. Then a commotion followed that caused Mr. Suit and the others to seek the source of the interruption behind them. Apparently, their judgment hadn’t been so dramatically impaired that they knew enough to turn around. This took their focus away from me and I immediately stepped toward the stairs I’d been eyeing. But then I froze…because Ms. Afro had suddenly been yanked out of sight. I watched as Ms. Biker Girl prepared to lunge but also quickly disappeared down the stairs. Mr. Suit was then yanked away, his head snapping back as he vanished in the same direction as the others. Whatever was making its way up the stairs was cutting through the Infected like they were paper dolls. Then the turmoil came to a sudden end and the warehouse settled back into silence, with only the wind whistling through the openings in the building to fill the void. Beneath that hushed sound came another one. A footstep. It was sturdy, landing solidly and with intent. The sound came again. And again. And then there before me stood Harrison, chest heaving, eyes bulging, lips drawn back in a snarl.

My heart leapt at the sight of him, both because I didn’t expect him to appear and because I didn’t expect him to appear like this. What I saw in him was the same behavior so visibly obvious in the Infected. Only one word could describe them both: enraged.

“Harrison?” I whispered, which seemed to bring him back to me.

He had been inspecting the upper floor before his eyes stopped on me. He blinked and straightened out of his crouch, relaxing his face until it returned to the same gorgeous Harrison so familiar to me. He came forward, up the remaining step, but no farther, as hesitancy spread across his face. I was vaguely aware of it wavering as I found myself running for him.
Before I knew it, I was in his arms and my face was pressed against his firm chest and his warm, secure arms were encircling me.

“Kennedy,” he whispered back, hoarsely, full of the emotion he held for me and vowed he would never show.


About the Author

Laury FalterLaury Falter is the author of the bestselling Guardian Trilogy. She writes young adult paranormal romances and urban fantasy when she’s not taking her stray dogs for a walk or enjoying a date night with her husband.

Laury has released two series, the Guardian Trilogy and the Residue Series (a spinoff of the Guardian Trilogy books), and is currently releasing her third series, the Apocalypse Chronicles.

To learn more about Laury and her novels, visit her at:



Leave a comment below to enter the drawing for an ebook copy

of Haven by Laury Falter. The book will be sent from Amazon or

Barnes and Noble and the giveaway is open to residents of countries

able to receive ebooks via email. The winning name will be drawn on the

evening of Friday, July 5th, and the ebook will be sent to the winner within

3 weeks. AToMR Tours and Buried Under Books are not sponsoring this

giveaway, only offering the opportunity from the author.

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Book Review: Crescendo by Deborah J. Ledford

Deborah J. Ledford
Second Wind Publishing, January 2013
ISBN No. 978-1-938101-34-2
Trade Paperback

A traffic stop that should have been nothing more than routine has gone terribly bad for Inola Walela and her partner, Cody Sheehan.  The two are members of the Bryson City, North Carolina police force.  The driver of the vehicle is known as Hondo and has been hired by Preston Durand to locate his son.  Preston’s ex-wife has disappeared with the boy and Preston is determined that the child must be found although he has no affection for the child and never has had.  Preston’s father is dying and unless Preston can produce a heir immediately he will be cut out of his father’s will.  The traffic stop, due to a busted tail light, winds up to be a death scene when Hondo attacks Cody.  When the air clears, Hondo is dead, Cody is dead, and the woman passenger in Hondo’s vehicle is dead.

The woman in Hondo’s vehicle was trying to tell Inola that her son had been kidnapped and she frantically leaped from the vehicle spilling money all over.  As the woman stumbled around, she was hit by another vehicle and killed.

Inola is put on administrative leave awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the incident.  There is a rumor that one of the shots she fired could have possibly been the one that hit Cody.  To think that she might have had a part in the death of her partner and friend is devastating to Inola.  Inola is Native American on her mother’s side and grew up on the reservation after her mother’s death.   Inola lives with Steven Hawk who is African American and is the Sheriff of the county.  Steven wants to get married but Inola puts off giving him an answer.  Because of her heritage, Inola is always on edge that someone else will take her place in the police department.

Inola is sure that the woman was telling the truth about the child being missing but no one seems to listen to her so she begins an investigation of her own. Steven has allowed a young man that Inola knows to work on the computers at his office and even though the young operater, according to his parole, is not to be using the internet, Inola works out a way for him to help her gain information about the woman and her child.

This is a tense, complicated book and a good read.  The author has two previous books in this series called Snare and Staccato.  Although Crescendo is referred to as the last book in the trilogy there is a secret between Steven and Inola that I wish had been revealed rather than left hanging.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2013.

Cats: Inspiration or Infestation?

Molly MacRaeDyeing WishesMolly MacRae is the author of  the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries, available in mass market paperback, e-book, and audio. Dyeing Wishes, second in the series, comes out July 2, 2013 and is available for pre-order.

You can find Molly on the first Monday of each month at Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts, on the 23rd of each month at Killer Characters, on facebook and Pinterest, or at



Cats and cozy mysteries go together like cat fur on black pants. They’re seemingly inseparable. That makes writing cozy mysteries a good fit for me, because my life has been full of cats. I wouldn’t say I’m gaga over cats.

I’m not like Mrs. C.L. Footloose who seeks advice from James Thurber’s Pet Department. Under a drawing of cats swarming a living room, she writes, “We have cats the way most people have mice,” and receives the answer, “I see you have. I can’t tell from your communication, however, whether you wish advice or are just boasting.”






My life isn’t quite like Mrs. C.L.’s. We don’t usually have more than one or two cats at a time. (Except for the time we had six and at that point we vowed never to have seven. And haven’t.) But if you’ve ever had cats, you know that even one cat can take over a house. So then you have to ask, do these cats pull their weight? Are they willing participants in the creative process? Or do they just take up space?

I haven’t done an authoritative survey with demographics and statistics, but I do have a lot of cat fur on myclothes and can offer enlightening anecdotal evidence. Two of our cats, Blackie and Neko, provided the inspiration for the cat who adopts Kath Rutledge, the protagonist in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Blackie is no longer with us, but he found us when we lived in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He was a sweetheart, but when he arrived, the poor old guy looked as though he’d stuck his paw in an electrical outlet. Neko, our current fur resident, ran away to us from a nearby fraternity that didn’t know any better than to feed a kitten on beer and who-knows-what. The cat in the books is an orange tabby, like Neko, and his back story is a version of Blackie’s. Two good cats.



Neko after a long day's work lying on the table

Neko after a long day’s work lying on the table


Someone told me once that every time she sat down at her computer to write, the cat she’d just adopted jumped into her lap. Like Thurber’s Pet Department advisor, I wasn’t sure what she was trying to communicate. “Um, yeah,” I said. “That’s what they do.”  Clearly aggravated, my friend asked if I’d ever tried writing with a cat in my lap. I saw the problem, then, and wasn’t able to offer any comfort. Everything I’ve ever had published was written with a cat in my lap.

So that brings me back to the titular question – Cats: inspiration or infestation?
The answer – Does it matter?

Molly with Polly or Gray Cat or Grey Cat---only the cat knows and she's not talking

Molly with Polly or Gray Cat or Grey Cat—only the cat knows and she’s not talking

Book Review: the s-word by Chelsea Pitcher

the s-wordthe s-word
Chelsea Pitcher
Gallery Books, May 2013
ISBN 978-1-4516-9516-8
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Lizzie wasn’t the first student at Verity High School to kill herself this year. But the difference is, she didn’t go quietly.

First it was SLUT scribbled all over the school’s lockers. But one week after Lizzie Hart takes her own life, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s own looping scrawl. Photocopies of her diary show up in the hands of her classmates. And her best friend, Angie, is enraged.

Angie had stopped talking to Lizzie on prom night, when she caught Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend. Too heartbroken to let Lizzie explain the hookup or to intervene when Lizzie gets branded Queen of the Sluts and is cruelly bullied by her classmates, Angie left her best friend to the mercy of the school, with tragic results.

But with this new slur, Angie’s guilt transforms into anger that someone is still targeting Lizzie even after her death. Using clues from Lizzie’s diary and aided by the magnetic, mysterious Jesse, Angie begins relentlessly investigating who, exactly, made Lizzie feel life was no longer worth living. And while she might claim she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, her anguish over abandoning and then losing her best friend drives Angie deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Sometimes it seems to be just a little thing that leads to a teen deciding to end her life but those little things loom very large in the minds of young people who are already awash in emotions just from life in general. In the s-word, we experience the journey of a girl who thought she was terribly wronged and another who truly was. The question is which is which or is it both?

I had an awful lot of affection and empathy for both Lizzie and Angie and their stories, which are really just two parts of the same story, pierced me to the heart. So much love, so much history, so much pain, , so much regret. In the final analysis, that little thing was not so little after all and it is at the center of at least one truth that could not be revealed lest it lead to disaster. How sad is it that not revealing it led to disaster anyway? In a powerful tale of heartbreak, it’s easy to understand Angie’s anguish about her best friend’s death and about the part she played in Lizzie’s decision.

Besides the two major players, I also really liked Jesse and, surprisingly, Kennedy. I do have to say, though, that I was a little put off by the rampant sex and alcohol. I’m not blind to teen behavior but this seemed a tad overboard, at least in the complete obliviousness of all the adults. Surely today’s parents and teachers are not all so divorced from reality and willing to abdicate their duty to look after the kids, at least not most of the ones I know.

Chelsea Pitcher is a good writer and there is very little about this book that I see in a negative light. I do wish some of the secondary characters had been a little more developed—I would have loved to know Kennedy better—and I found Angie to be a bit too devious and single-minded, not to mention being kind of a ridiculous “investigator”. Still, I believe the sleuthing activity was intended by the author to lighten the mood just a little and it was, in truth, a welcome distraction from the sadness. This is a worthwhile entry in the class of books about teen bullying and suicide and I’ll look forward to reading more by this author.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2013.