In Stitches

Diane Vallere 3After close to two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. Suede to Rest, the first in her new Material Witness Mystery Series, comes out November 4. In addition, she writes the Style & Error Mystery Series, featuring former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd, and the Mad for Mod Mystery Series, featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Find her at

Ever have one of those relationships where you don’t talk, you don’t visit, and you pretty much don’t communicate at all except for maybe once a year? And when you’re reunited, everything feels natural, like it hasn’t been that long, and any weirdness you anticipated just isn’t there? Until something happens and all of a sudden you realize maybe you should not have ignored things for so long. Maybe if you’d make more of an effort for the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year, then today, when you really need this relationship, you’d receive a bit more cooperation?

That’s the way I feel about my sewing machine.

I admit, I have something of a love-hate relationship with sewing, largely driven by a 50-year old machine that may or may not have come from the same assembly line as Stephen King’s Christine. But temperamental equipment aside, when October rolls around, it’s Game On.

For the past few years, my sewing machine has been a willing partner in the construction of my (and a few other) Halloween costumes, otherwise relegated to a dark corner of the closet. The art of making a costume lies not in the craftsmanship. You’re not looking to construct a piece of couture that will last for the next twenty years. Instead, you want maximum impact that will last for a couple of hours. Quality is not a factor, except that it’s best that your costume not fall apart while you’re wearing it!

Suede to RestI haven’t always loved sewing, but I love the idea of sewing. What’s not to love about the fact that you can create something with a pattern, fabric, thread, and time? It’s like how a seed packet begets flowers (except you don’t add water and dirt, and you can’t just sit everything in the sun and wait a few days/weeks for the garment to bloom, so I guess it’s not like a seed packet after all). But spending time with Polyester Monroe, the protagonist from Suede to Rest (out November 4!), who inherits a fabric shop, has been like revisiting an old favorite playground. Even before it was time to start working on my costume, I was digging out patterns and cuttings of fabric that have been sitting on a shelf and enjoying a new outlet for creativity.

So this Halloween, whether you’re into scary movies, haunted hayrides, trick or treating, or just enjoying the crisp fall air, think about the fun skills you used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside. Maybe it’s time to dust off your own temperamental machinery and see what creations you can bring to life.

Follow Diane’s blog tour:

Oct 16: Midcentury Style Magazine, Contest/ Cover Reveal for WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL

Oct 31: Buried Under Books

Nov 1: Brooke Blogs.

Nov 2: Queen of All She Reads

Nov 3: Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers

Nov 4: Facebook Launch Party with Molly MacRae, 7-10 ET/ 4-7 PT

Nov 4: Dru’s Book Musings

Nov 4: Socrates Book Reviews

Nov 5: Mysteristas

Nov 6: Get Lost In A Story

Nov 7: Shelley’s Book Case

Nov 7: Marie’s Cozy Corner

Nov 8: Booklady’s Booknotes

Nov 9: Melina’s Book Blog

Nov 10: Back Porchervations

Nov 10: Fresh Fiction

Nov 11: StoreyBook Reviews

Nov 12: Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Nov 12: Stuff and Nonsense

Nov 12: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

Nov 13: Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows

Nov 14: Deal Sharing Aunt

Nov 19: Mysteristas

Nov 20: Thoughts In Progress

Nov 22: Lori’s Reading Corner


Halloween Kitty

Happy Hallowe’en!!

Spotlight on Sabotage by Matt Cook—and a Giveaway!



Title: Sabotage
Author: Matt Cook
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adventure



A cruise ship loses power in the North Atlantic. A satellite launches in the
South Pacific. Professor Malcolm Clare—celebrated aviator, entrepreneur, and
aerospace engineer—disappears from Stanford University and wakes up
aboard an unknown jet, minutes before the aircraft plunges into the high seas.

An extortionist code-named “Viking” has seized control of a private warfare
technology, pitting a U.S. defense corporation against terrorist conspirators in a
bidding war. His leverage: a threat to destroy the luxury liner and its 3,000 passengers.

Stanford doctoral student Austin Hardy, probing the disappearance of his
professor, seeks out Malcolm Clare’s daughter Victoria, an icy brunette with a
secret that sweeps them to Saint Petersburg. Helped by a team of graduates
on campus, they must devise Trojan horses, outfox an assassin, escape murder
in Bruges, and sidestep treachery in order to unravel Viking’s scheme. Failure
would ensure economic Armageddon in the United States.



Purchase Links:

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About the Author

Matt CookMatt Cook wrote Sabotage while an undergraduate at Stanford University, along with two nonfiction books. The 24-year-old writer is also a close-up magician who has performed in Hollywood and across the globe. For his support of the military, he was honored with the President’s Call to Service Award. Currently working on his second novel, Cook’s work has been compared to the dramatic narratives of beloved and best-selling thriller authors Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum.

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To enter the drawing for a signed print
copy of Sabotage by Matt Cook, leave a
comment below. The winning name will be
drawn Saturday evening, November 1st. This
drawing is open to residents of the US.


“…A high-adventure page-turner that succeeds on almost
every level. The future looks bright indeed for Cook.” —Booklist

“A top-notch thriller set in a world of international intrigue,
terrorism, extortion, and murder.”
—Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Impact

“Matt Cook is the leading edge of the next wave of thriller writers.
Hop aboard now and enjoy the ride.”
—Jack du Brul, New York Times bestselling author of Havoc

“A high-stakes, rapid-fire adventure, with all the trappings of a
great series to come.”—Graham Brown,
New York Times bestselling author of Zero Hour

Book Review: Ghosts of Belle Isle by Steven K. Smith

Ghosts of Belle IsleGhosts of Belle Isle
The Virginia Mysteries, Book Three
Steven K. Smith
MyBoys3 Press, October 2014
ISBN 978-0-9893414-8-6
Trade Paperback

The charmingly impish Jackson boys are back and their parents are out of the country!

Before their teen-aged cousin/care-taker could speed-dial her boyfriend, Derek and his younger brother Sam unwittingly embark on another adventure. Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, the duo has developed a pleasing fascination with the multitude of historical events that took place in and around the area. Steeped in Civil War lore, buoyed by the requisite ghost stories and punctuated with statues mid-street, it is no wonder that their curiosity was piqued.

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Book Reviews: Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout, The Ashes That Remain by A.M. Griffin and The Whispers by Lisa Unger

Dog Gone, Back SoonDog Gone, Back Soon
Nick Trout
Hyperion, April 2014
ISBN 978-1-401-31089-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When Dr. Cyrus Mills returned home after inheriting his estranged father’s veterinary practice, The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals, the last thing he wanted was to stay in Eden Falls, Vermont, a moment longer than absolutely necessary. However, the previously reclusive veterinarian pathologist quickly found that he actually enjoyed treating animals and getting to know the eccentric residents of the tiny provincial town-especially an alluring waitress named Amy.

So Cyrus is now determined to make Bedside Manor thrive. Not an easy goal, given that Healthy Paws, the national veterinary chain across town, will stop at nothing to crush its mom-and-pop competitor. And the rival vet practice isn’t Cyrus’s only competition; a handsome stranger shows up out of nowhere who clearly has a mysterious past with Amy. To top it off, Cyrus finds himself both the guardian of a very unique orphaned dog and smack in the middle of serious small town drama.


I’m a pushover for veterinarian stories, fiction or nonfiction, no matter where they take place, and Dog Gone, Back Soon filled the bill quite nicely indeed. It’s funny; I know I’m going to get essentially the same tale every time but that never feels same old same old like it does in other books. I include country (human) doctor and small town minister stories in the same bag—they’re all what I call comfort fiction and nonfiction and, basically, they can do very little wrong in my eyes. When it comes to veterinarian authors, James Herriot is the gold standard for me, and Nick Trout has followed in his footsteps in a lovely way.

The cynical Cyrus is a guy I could relate to, feeling guilt over the way he and his father spent recent years but intent on bringing his dad’s practice back from the brink of failure without destroying its appeal to local animal lovers. I found myself rooting him on in his efforts, especially as he begins to realize how much it means to him and that he really does love this small town and its four-legged and two-legged citizens.

A bit of romance is not out of order and there’s a gentle humor about the troubled path of love between him and Amy. Still, it’s Cyrus’s battles against the “evil” conglomerate and his growing attachment to a Labradoodle service dog named Stash that truly drew me in.

I hold out my hand in front of Stash’s mouth. “Stash, lick.” Nothing. “Stash, lick.” Not a flicker in his eyes. Either this is not in hisrepertoire or, more likely, I’m using the wrong language.

“Stash, pucker up.”

No dice.

“Stash, kiss.”

The world goes black as sixty pounds of dog leaps onto my chest and begins coating every exposed surface of my skin with a shellac of saliva from a serpentine tongue.

“Stash, sit, Stash, sit.”

It’s as if the feeding frenzy never happened, Stash calm and distant, me dripping drool and panting.

Stash probably should be on the cover but the English Mastiff, Tallulah, is his first patient so that’s OK. My other favorite stars of the show were an obese cat named Marmalade Succabone , a cow named Ermintrude and a taxidermied dog named Crispin. I was also more than a bit fond of a pair of teens named Charlie Brown and Gabe Stiles and office manager Doris.

Dog Gone, Back Soon is the sequel to The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs. Since I now have to claim Dr. Trout as one of my favorite authors, I’m heading over to get Patron Saint just as soon as I can.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.


The Ashes That RemainThe Ashes That Remain
Cimmerian Moon #2
A.M. Griffin
Three Twenty-One, August 2014
From the author—

We’re at war against the aliens that have invaded Earth, fighting the only way we can—by surviving. I have more than most people do, but although I know it’s stupid to hold on, I can’t let go of what might have been—can’t help dreaming of something more. No matter how I tell myself it would be easier to do what everyone else wants me to, there’s a part of me that can’t give in.
Making the best of the situation is one thing. Settling, even to make other people happy, is something else.

Then we hear the alien mother ships have disappeared. Of course we have to go and investigate. What we find lands us in a huge mess that we somehow have to clean up and, as our little enclave is rocked to the core with even more changes, I’m learning a hard lesson.

The more things change—for the better or the worse—there’s no fighting human nature, and building on the ashes that remain will take everything we have. And maybe more.


I mentioned in my earlier review of Against the Darkness that worldbuilding was somewhat lacking but that didn’t impede my enjoyment of the novel. The same lack continues in this second book but it mostly revolves around not knowing what the aliens are really here for; we know much more this time about how our small band of humans is surviving, actually thriving in some ways.

Time hasn’t passed much since we left Sinta and her companions at the end of Against the Darkness but there has been a distinct change in the teens, a maturing that only dire circumstances can bring about. Sinta and Mia are still thick as thieves and Ian, Wade, Jason and MJ are as likeable as I remembered them but their travails have turned them into thoughtful and self-reliant young adults who have melded into a community with little trouble. in fact, were it not for the aliens, Iife would be fairly decent. However, the lizards are still around and, when disaster strikes, some of the crew sets out on a rescue mission fraught with peril from rats and the cold as well as the lizards. Most puzzling is the recent news that the alien population may be thinning out.

Romance plays a much larger role in this second book but an amusing passage about the Sinta-Wade-Jason love triangle with 10-year-old Brook and teens Lexi, Sinta and Mia in the cafeteria helps make said triangle a little more palatable. Mia makes fun of the drama, as I have done in my own thoughts, and Brook gazes off with her dreamy musings about an “older man” named MJ.

As with the first book, it’s unfortunate that this book is riddled with construction errors, primarily typos and incorrect word choices, but I’m still completely engaged and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, In Danger’s Embrace, coming this winter.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.


The WhispersThe Whispers
A Whispers Story #1
Lisa Unger
Pocket Star, October 2014
ISBN 978-1-4767-9778-6

From the publisher—

It’s a day like any other for Eloise Montgomery—until tragedy strikes. While she is recovering from a horrible accident that takes the lives of her husband and oldest daughter, and as she works to help her younger daughter move forward, Eloise experiences her first psychic vision. Though she struggles to understand her newfound gifts, Eloise finds a way use them to save lost women and girls—for whom her help may be the only way out…


Lisa Unger is one of my go-to authors when I’m in the mood for a thriller, something intense and nail-biting, a book that will keep me up at night. She does it so very, very well  😉 but The Whispers really doesn’t fit  the mold. The first of three short stories that comprise a novella, this is more of the psychological suspense sort and I was not the least bit disappointed.

After the tragic deaths of her husband and elder daughter, Eloise is nearly crushed emotionally and, yet, she’s strong enough to stay focused on her younger daughter, Amanda, who may not be suffering physically but is just as wracked with survivor’s guilt. When Eloise begins to have psychic visions, she’s naturally confused and disturbed but she’s driven to pass the information about these missing girls and women on to the authorities. Why is she hearing whispers and “seeing” these people in extreme distress? We don’t really know—perhaps more answers will be forthcoming in the next two short stories—but the true essence here is how the four lived a life of love and normalcy and then what’s left after the accident. It’s a compelling tale and I’m looking forward to the second story, The Burning Girl, due out in late November.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.

How to Build Your TBR Stack

Sunny FrazierReturning 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 remind avid readers of all the book giveaways out there for those trying to build their TBR stacks.   //

Once upon a time, I did not read mysteries. It was the “Cat Who” books that got me started as I was a feline fanatic. I found myself scouring used book stores and grabbing books by their titles because I didn’t know anything about the authors. This was well before the Internet.

Fast forward 35 years. My house is now crowded with mysteries and thrillers. I know authors personally and am a mystery author myself. My shelves runneth over.

There must be beginners out there trying to navigate their way through the vast number of mystery genres and authors. Books can be costly and you may have to sample a lot of reads to find what appeals to you. If you’re one of those people I want to show you a way to build your “To Be Read” pile that won’t cost money or much effort.

Book give-aways abound throughout the Internet. Authors are generous and they want to attract new fans. It takes very little time to enter and often the competition is scarce. What have you got to lose?

You’re at one such site right now. Scroll back a few posts and you’ll see Lelia is offering a copy of DEAD BROKE IN JARRETT CREEK by Terry Shames—

There are many other sites out there and they take just a little bit of monitoring. I will give you the sites and give-aways I uncovered this week with just a little sleuthing.

Lesa is giving away Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland. Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins are sleuths! Also, Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton. The contest ends Oct. 29.

Closing on Wednesday the 29th is Debbi Mack’s contest. She’s giving away a boxed set of her books if you can answer this question: who was the famous author who’s credited with writing the screenplay for the original movie, “The Big Sleep”? Hint: it’s not Raymond Chandler.
Email your answer to:

Elaine Viets has a contest site on her website. She just finished a contest offering her mystery Doc In the Box and will be having other offers.

Lorie Ham offers extensive give-aways over at Kings River Life Magazine. Here’s what’s up until November 1.
CATastrophic Connections by Joyce Ann Brown & Brooklyn Graves by Triss Stein
One Potion in the Grave by Heather Blake
Midwinter’s Tail, a Magical Cats mystery, by Sofie Kelly
Stages of Grey by Clea Simon
A Spirit of Fraud by Barry Wiley.
For fantasy readers a giveaway of The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey
The Corpse With the Platinum Hair by Cathy Ace
Plus three books by Kensington authors:
Murder at Marble House by Alyssa Maxwell; To Fudge or Not To Fudge by Nancy Coco, and French Pastry Murder by Leslie Meier

Where Angels FearGood Reads divides into two groups: Cozies and Thrillers. At the Cozy Mystery Corner scroll down to Free/Cheap Reads. At The Mystery Crime and Thriller Group look under Press, Blog Sites.

Are you a member of Murder Must Advertise or DorothyL? Many authors announce give-aways on those sites.

Even if your taste does not run to cozies, cats and craft mysteries, I’ll bet you have friends on your Christmas list who would love a book in their stocking! What a great way to get presents without dipping into your holiday budget!

What sites do you have info on where we can get more freebies? Come on, spill!

Book Blitz: The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith

The Land Uncharted Blitz Banner


Title: The Land Uncharted
Author: Keely Brooke Keith
Publisher: Edenbrooke Press
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Suspense, Romance



Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land,
a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When
injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war
engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans,
her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society. As Connor searches for
a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him
protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to
Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a
scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure
and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.



Purchase Links:

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Have your ebook of The Land Uncharted signed via Authorgraph!


The Land Uncharted“Not only is Keely’s writing beautiful and full of vivid detail, but the story and characters are incredible! I love the way she crosses genres and how well it all blends together.” -Christina Yother, author of Reverie

The Land Uncharted captured my interest from the opening lines. Keely Brooke Keith skillfully weaves an engaging story that explores the possibilities of a simple, peaceful existence in a society set apart from a world ravaged by conflict. Equal parts suspense and romance, this debut novel is a compelling read.” -Heidi McCahan, author of Unraveled



About the Author


Keely Brooke KeithKeely is a bass guitarist and lives on a hilltop south of Nashville. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.


You can now add The Land Uncharted to your shelf on Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, or FictFact.


Author links:

Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram // Pinterest



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Book Review: Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears by Ken Wheaton

Sweet As Cane, Salty As TearsSweet As Cane, Salty As Tears
Ken Wheaton
Open Road Integrated, July 2014
ISBN 978-1-6246-7246-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

There is nothing more dangerous than a spooked rhinoceros. It is just before lunchtime when Huey, the prized black rhino of Broussard, Louisiana, erupts from his enclosure, trampling a zoo employee on his way to a rampage in the Cajun countryside. The incident makes the rounds online as News of the Weird, and Katherine Fontenot is laughing along with the rest of her New York office when she notices the name of the hurt zookeeper: Karen-Anne Castille—her sister.

Fifty years old, lonely, and in danger of being laid off, Katherine has spent decades trying to ignore her Louisiana roots. Forced home by Karen-Anne’s accident, she remembers everything about the bayou that she wanted to escape: the heat, the mosquitoes, and the constant, crushing embrace of family. But when forced to confront the ghosts of her past, she discovers that escape might never have been necessary.

The first thing that struck me about Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears was the cadence of the language, the Cajun dialect. I spent a few years in Louisiana and was immediately taken back to that time. The sound of it felt accurate and, sure enough, the author hails from the very area he’s writing about.

Is this a happy book, a funny one? No; although there are spots of humor, especially when the sisters start going after each other, this really is a tale of the human condition, warts and all. The Fontenot family, down to all the grandkids and nieces and nephews, are a proud lot and make the most of what little they have in life but, above all, they are family. They may have major fights but, when all is said and done, they are loyal. Grand Prairie and Opelousas, Louisiana, are home to this Cajun clan.

When Katie-Lee aka Katherine left for New York City so many years ago, it was to escape a tragedy she just couldn’t cope with and, in doing so, she broke the hearts of all her siblings and her mother. Her life there has been fairly good but certainly not exciting or particularly comforting and she has little to look forward to other than more of the same. The occasional visit home was not enough to satisfy anyone and was never comfortable but they stayed in touch through Facebook. When tragedy strikes again, Katie-Lee heads home again and finds that perhaps it’s past time for a change.

The essence of the family connections and what all these people mean to each other is at the core of the story but it’s the characters themselves who captured my heart. The siblings—Kurt Junior, Karla-Jean, Kendra-Sue, Katie-Lee, Karen-Anne and Joey aka Kane are rambunctious, contentious, rowdy, smart, all the adjectives you can think of, and the sisters are like as not going to end up in a physical brawl just because it’s hot or somebody said something wrong. I appreciated Mama and Daddy, too, but it’s that bunch of kids I most enjoyed watching as they grew up and had families of their own.

As Southern fiction goes, Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears is one of the most memorable books I’ve read and I’m going to go get an earlier book, The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival, to get another taste of the area if not these particular people. I do hope Mr. Wheaton intends to take us back there again soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.