Book Review: High Country Nocturne by Jon Talton

High Country NocturneHigh Country Nocturne  
A David Mapstone Mystery #
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press, June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0398-5
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback

Author Jon Talton hails from a multi-generational line of Arizonians. As such he is privy to the historical development of the state. In 1915 the US Census registered fewer than 7,000 residents. In 2015, more than seven million. Lots of changes in that time. Most of them make Talton unhappy. His unhappiness occasionally gets in the way of a powerful, nuanced and complicated tale of murder and mystery.

Talton is a fine writer and you’ll realize it from the beginning. His sensitivity and understanding of more subtle pressure points in the relationship between Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff, David Mapstone and his wife, Lindsey, provide both complications and additional rhythm to this story.

Yes, Mapstone is still in Phoenix, first as a private investigator after his friend and former boss, Sheriff Mike Peralta, is defeated in the most recent election. Almost nobody likes the new sheriff in town and Mapstone is suspicious when the man coerces Mapstone into regaining his job as a deputy. This is particularly odd because Peralta is on the run, hotly pursued by an assortment of law enforcement types for stealing a large consignment of unset diamonds he was supposed to be guarding. It’s also an interesting development because it has unforeseen consequences for the new sheriff.

Nevertheless, and against his better judgement, Mapstone takes the badge and starts an investigation into a suspicious thirty-year-old death. Meanwhile, Peralta is still missing, Peralta’s wife is agitating Mapstone and vague accusations against Mapstone’s wife are clouding the picture.

The writing is clean, the characters are well delineated and separate and the pace relentless. Talton has a fine sense of when to insert emotional scenes that are important to readers’ understanding of character motivations and to readers invitation to bond with the attitudes of the protagonist, not just in relation to the crimes involved, but to the ongoing changes in the landscape of Arizona. And these are changes that the author resignedly accepts but not willingly. In some ways the novel is a plea for a return to older, simpler values.

Like others in the Mapstone series, the story winds up to a thrilling and tense solution. It’s well worth the ride and as a bonus, offers a look at some troubling aspects of modern Arizona.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Book Reviews: Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly and Sorrow Bound by David Mark

Keep Your Friends CloseKeep Your Friends Close
Paula Daly
Grove Press, September 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2320-6
Hardcover

This novel from Paula Daly (whose last book, Just What Kind of Mother Are You I absolutely loved!) brings back D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID.  The protagonist who crosses paths with Aspinall is Natasha (“Natty”) Wainwright, who with her husband, Sean, run a successful hotel in Windermere in  England’s Lake District, and has an enviable life with him and their two daughters, 16 and 14 years old, when their younger daughter becomes ill while on a school trip, and Eve must fly off to southern Normandy where the girl must have an appendectomy.  As fate would have it, Eve Dalladay, Natty’s best friend from college, has just come on a visit from the States and offers to stay at the house until Natty can return home.

As things transpire, it would appear that Eve is not who she seems, by any definition, and is a more devious woman than anyone could have guessed. The plot twists follow closely upon one another, but suffice it to say that Natty comes to the attention of the police, and D.C. Aspinall, when she rams her Porsche into the back of a Maserati where Eve is sitting in the driver’s seat.  And it is no accident.

Sean and Natty met at a sixteenth-birthday party when they were in school, deciding upon graduation that he would study law, and she would study biology.  After sixteen years of marriage, things did not work as they had hoped or planned.  But this turn of events is something far, far different.  The suspense mounts, and lives are altered, literally and figuratively.  The question arises, “Would you ever kill another person out of jealousy or hatred?”

The author has written another gripping novel, one that is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, March 2015.

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Sorrow BoundSorrow Bound
David Mark
Blue Rider Press, July 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-16820-8
Hardcover

This is the third entry in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, and is every bit as terrific as the first two. McAvoy is with the Yorkshire Serious and Organized Crime Unit, in the small English city of Hull, still working on a series of crimes committed by a vicious group seeking to take over the drug trade previously run by Vietnamese, something they had not been able to do in Original Skin, the predecessor novel. England has been going through a prolonged and oppressive hot spell, although the sky holds promise of a saturating rain storm at any moment.

The Scottish McAvoy, described as “a humble, shy giant of a man” at 6’ 5”, passionately in love with his much younger Romany wife, his young son and baby daughter and preparing to move into their new home, has been directed to attend sessions with a police-approved counselor because of perceived emotional problems. In a separate plot line, McAvoy is assigned the investigation into two killings which take place within 24 hours. McAvoy is second-guessing himself, and his career choice: “He has done this too many times. Sat in too many rooms with too much grief; felt too many eyes upon him as he made his promises to the dead . . . insists that he does his job as a police officer before he allows himself to become a human being.” Despite being written mostly with a light touch, the murders are quite sadistic, and it is speculated that a serial, probably deranged, killer is on the loose. The only connection between the victims seems to relate to events almost 15 years in the past, an even more horrific series of crimes perpetrated by a man who was incarcerated but sentenced to treatment in a psychiatric facility, and is now mostly incapacitated by a stroke.

The supporting cast of characters/police colleagues is very well-drawn, as usual: D.S. Trish Pharoah (with “four kids and a crippled husband” and a drinking problem, DIs Helen Tremberg and Shaz Archer et al, and McAvoy’s wife, Roisin. The novel is wonderfully well written, and gradually the suspense mounts until, with less than a hundred pages to go, I became actually fearful of reading further, not wanting to find out what is about to happen next, as I nonetheless started turning pages more and more quickly. The only certain thing about the plot is that one must expect the unexpected.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2015.

Cover Reveal: Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

Forget Tomorrow

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Title: Forget Tomorrow
Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Imagine a world where your destiny has already
been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else,
she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time
to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be.
A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger
sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested
and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law.
With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she
hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie
sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate.
If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from
the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself.

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Goodreads

Pre-order Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button        Amazon Buy Button

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About the Author

Pintip DunnWhen my first-grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied, “An author.” Although I have pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never wavered.

I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. I received my J.D. at Yale Law School, where I was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. I published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,” and received the Barry S. Kaplan Prize for best paper in Law and Literature.

I am represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. I’m a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

I live with my husband and children in Maryland.

Author Links:

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YA Bound Book Tours Button 2

All Stories Have a Beginning

Sons of Old Trilogy Tour Banner

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In which a “normal” 18-year-old girl is the
daughter of a witch and an occasional hunter
of rogue supernaturals until life gets a whole
lot weirder and seriously dangerous when her
best friend crushes on a most unusual guy…

LuciferLucifer
Published January 2013
Goodreads
Available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon
 *99 CENTS until MAY 31, 2015!*

MichaelMichael
Published May 2014
Goodreads
Available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon
*ONLY 99 Cents MAY 11-31, 2015*

Nephilim Prepub CoverNephilim
Coming in August 2015
Goodreads

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A Guest Post from Annabell Cadiz

Sons of Old Trilogy wasn’t necessarily where the story of a fallen angel hell bent on revenge began.

I had begun work on a different series featuring characters from Sons of Old Trilogy, primarily Endymion and Michael. I got stuck on the third book, third way through writing and realized something was missing. I felt as if I had run out of ideas and the story was no longer connecting the way I wanted it to.

I decided the best thing was to step away from working on the series—The Fallen Angel Series—and work on something else for a time.

It was during that time that I started to gather glimpses of ideas for the Fallen Angels Series. But those ideas turned out to fit better for a series BEFORE the Fallen Angels Series took place and so was born the Sons of Old Trilogy.

I wanted to tell the story before the big, epic war began between Heaven and Hell, before the world was overrun with powerful supernaturals, all vying for survival and the human race thrown right smack dab in the middle of the fray.

It began with the story of the fallen angels found in Genesis (6:4). It’s a very small mention but it awoke my curiosity. It’s not as if I hadn’t heard the story before but I never quite paid attention to the fact that angels and humans had actually had relationships with each other. Not just meet and greets but sexual relationships with each other that led to hybrid-children.

That’s where the idea for the trilogy sprang up like a root: What if Lucifer had been one of the fallen who had a child?

Which led into: If Lucifer had a child, WHO would he have a child with? Who in the world could he convince to have a child with him? What happened to the mother? What would happen to the child? HOW would a child born to the darkest angel ever born and a human survive? Who would that child become? And how would Lucifer respond to that child?

Exploring those answers is how I built the foundation for the trilogy. Lucifer’s fall from grace meant he had to betray His creator and it set a perfect stage for revenge. Pride is powerful and crippling weakness and Lucifer has that in droves—although he would never see it that way.

He has a child through lying and scheming and manipulation because that is the only way the angel of all lies knows how to operate. He uses his child to create a war but does not win that war. His drive for vengeance—for his version of justice—grows ever more deeply because of his loss.

Sons of Old Trilogy follows Lucifer’s first steps to recreating that war again but this time he has plans to win and set everything in his path ablaze in his wrath.

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About the Author

Annabell CadizBorn and raised in the sweltering suburbs of South Florida, Annabell Cadiz grew up fine-tuned to the cuisine of various Spanish cultures, learned to master the art of Puerto Rican cooking thanks to her parents, and learned to converse crazy thanks to her band of siblings. She is now working toward attaining a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity International University to better understand how to converse with the weirdoes and crazies of the world. (After all, she is one of them.) A self-proclaimed nerd and a book-a-holic (her room holds dozens of shelves with much evidence to prove that her claims are indeed true), she created TeamNerd Reviews along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, to showcase their EXTREME love for all things book related.

She published her debut novel, Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy #1), in January 2013. The second novel, Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy #2) was released on May 28, 2014. And the final installment in the Sons of Old Trilogy, Nephilim, will be out in Summer 2015.

Website/Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

May 11

Indy Book Fairy (Promo Post)

May 12

Mia in Narnia (Book Review: LUCIFER + Top Ten)

May 13

Dreams Come True Through Reading (Book Review: LUCIFER & MICHAEL)

May 14

An Aussie Girl’s WILD Book Addiction! (Promo Post)

Writing On the Sunny Side of the Street (Guest Post)

May 15

Book Lover’s Life (Top Ten)

May 18

Reading Away the Days (Top Ten)

May 21

Every Free Chance Books (Review of LUCIFER & MICHAEL)

May 22

Relaxed Reads (Promo Post)

We Live and Breathe Books (Book Review of LUCIFER)

May 24

Just Us Book Blog (Book Review: LUCIFER)

May 25

Read Write All the Time (Book Review: LUCIFER & MICHAEL + Guest Post)

May 27

Books and Sweet Epiphany (Book Review: LUCIFER & MICHAEL)

AlwaysJoArt (Guest Post)

May 28

Buried Under Books (Guest Post)

May 29

The Phantom Photographer (Promo Post)

Welcome to Book City (Book Review: LUCIFER)

May 30

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club (Top Ten)

May 31

Paradise of Pages (Book Review: LUCIFER & MICHAEL + Guest Post)

Kariny’s Teen Boox Frenzy (Book Review: LUCIFER & MICHAEL)

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GIVEAWAY!!
 

**E-copy of LUCIFER & MICHAEL**

**Signed Michael Bookmark**

**Handmade Bookmark**

**Sons of Old Trilogy Inspired Eyeshadow Kit**

**Rose shaped earrings, funky headbands & zigzag ring**

**Lipgloss**

**Notebook**

Enter the drawing here.

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Tour Setup by TeamNerd Reviews

Cover Reveal: Library Jumpers by Brenda Drake

Library Jumpers

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Title: Library Jumpers
Author: Brenda Drake
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is,
until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly
disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he
abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her
friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library,
where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with
protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the
gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be
a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or
dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and
human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a
young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her
head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

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Goodreads

Pre-order Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button        Amazon Buy Button

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About the Author

Brenda DrakeBrenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Author Links:

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YA Bound Book Tours Button 2

Book Review: Dietland by Sarai Walker

DietlandDietland
Sarai Walker
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2015
ISBN 978-0-544-37343-3
Hardcover

Reading Dietland is indubitably equivalent to walking a mile in the enormous shoes of our nearly thirty year old, three-hundred-four-pound narrator, Plum. I’ve never felt that I could genuinely understand a position I’ve not actually been in. Until now. This unprecedented presentation of current social issues is more than thought-provoking. It is painful and tragic, with portions that are harsh, raw, and deserving of deliberation.

Commanding characters create empathy and sympathy as they uncomfortably reveal reasons for actions. The potpourri of concerns surrounding our narrator include: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, female vigilantes, fat-shaming, feminism and self-acceptance. Ms. Walker unapologetically strips down her characters (yes, literally…occasionally), giving the reader circumstances and background information, along with bigger picture views that beckon the most open of minds to take in just a bit more.

Plum’s story unfolds most poignantly. The reader meets Plum in present day to fully understand her lifestyle and goals. Where she is, where she thinks she will be. Why she is being stalked.

The intriguing Stalker Girl leaves a book for Plum that upon opening mentally and emotionally whisks her twelve years back in time; to when she was about the same age as the girls that write “Dear Kitty” letters to her filled with “predictable topics…boys, razors and their various uses….” Three years of providing “big sisterly” support and advice regarding matters as pressing as “why won’t he call?” and “can a girl ask a boy out?” begins to seem frivolously indulgent.

Buried in the book, Plum gradually moves away from her daily correspondence with teen girls to spending face-to-face time with grown women. Life-goals beg re-examination. Violent acts of revenge exacted by a woman known only as “Jennifer” force Plum to consider matters she’s blissfully ignored as well as creating a bit of mystery that tickled the back of this reader’s mind with possible connections to Plum’s “work world” and new and improving small, intimate “world of friends”.

My very favorite thing about Dietland is the long list of quotes I pulled. The words grabbed me while I was reading, enough to be worthy of highlight, and that is a spectacular thing; but reviewing the quotes later, out of context…..was absolutely stunning.

My crystal ball tells me that after the May 2015 release, we are going to be hearing a lot about Dietland. I believe that it will be the “something totally different and efficacious” book of 2015.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2015.

Growing Old, Gratefully

Sunny Frazier 5Returning 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 how getting older doesn’t bother her in the least.

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

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

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“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

The Beatles asked that 50 years ago, and here I am, ready to turn 64 in three weeks. No, I don’t feel despondent about that, I love all my birthdays. I was born on Flag Day and my father once lifted me on his broad shoulders, pointed to the flags displayed all down our street, and said, “They put the flags out for your birthday, Sunny.” I believed him.

My mother hated growing old, resented every wrinkle and crows foot. I think when you are born beautiful it must be harder to see beauty fade. Perhaps she grasped too tight to hold on through makeup and youth creams. I was born adequately attractive. More brains than actual beauty. It’s easy to fool the eye with the right lipstick and blush as long as you don’t fool yourself.

I like myself at this age. I’ve cut my hair very short, no longer buying into the long-hair-is-beautiful myth. Old long hair looks dry and slightly silly when the face doesn’t match. My hairdresser doesn’t give me what he calls “helmet hair.” My cut has some sass to it and I always have bangs. They cover forehead wrinkles.

They also cover my eyebrows. I’ve never tweezed since they’ve never been seen. I look at eyebrows now and am aghast at the way they are drawn onto faces. It unnerves me. How much work does that take? Where did the real ones go? Same with artificial eyelashes. Mine are so long they smudge my glasses and I can’t wear mascara. How much work are fake eyelashes to put on? Why would you want them?

I love my glasses. They hide dark circles under the eyes and crows feet. Contacts can’t do that. I get a little more adventurous with every new pair. This year it’s purple frames with a bit of silver scrollwork on the sides and a few rhinestones. They make me smile. I think my happiness translates to others.

Some women my age pack on makeup with the idea it makes them look younger. What it really does is accent the wrinkles. I don’t understand why anyone would willingly inject botox into those well-earned lines. I use sheer foundation now, just thankful that my skin no longer breaks out. I have to resist trying flaming colors and iridescent eye shadows, which just looks like I’m trying too hard to keep up with teenagers. The black cat-eye liner? Been there, done that 40 years ago, around the time I wore go-go boots and mini skirts.

I have been single all but 7 years of my life. I think I put out a positive message of the single, childless woman as someone to be admired. I thrive best when I’m alone. Marriage was a strange state to me. Even though I’m still besties with the ex, I’m glad he’s found his rock ‘n roll heart, glad it came with tattoos after the divorce. Nobody tells me how many cats I can have and, after 11, it’s safe to say I’ve claimed the title of Crazy Cat Lady. But, I’ve never shelled out for a college education for them or sent them into rehab after too much catnip. They haven’t learned to dial Child Protective Services or the SPCA when I toss them out to the yard so I can write in peace.

My aging friends worry about flabby upper arms. They go to the gym to tone up. Me, I have trackmarks like a junkie and bruises on my right arm. Dialysis not only stops me from being self-conscious, I wear my unsightly arm like war wounds. I’m battling for my life here.

A Snitch in TimeSpeaking of illness, that seems to be the favored topic of people over 60. I suppose it’s the common denominator of aging. However, it’s hard for me to listen to minor complaints of intestinal problems, food issues, hospitalizations, headaches, fatigue and allergies, real or imagined. I’m not all about one-upping anybody, but seriously? You want to complain to me? Give me a kidney and shut up already! I hang out three days a week, three hours a day with people depending on needles and tubes to stay alive. The one thing we don’t do is complain about our health! We laugh, we share, we’re in this together.

One thing I never anticipated was being a “lady who lunches.” Yet, I have my groups and we do exactly that, once a month. I have Sisters-in-Crime, Lemoore Women’s Club and Retired Sheriff’s Ladies. Inbetween are individual lunch dates with girlfriends. They are exciting women, thriving after retirement, and so much more interesting than dates I’ve been on in the past. They are also supportive of my writing career and cheer me on from one success to the next.

I choose to enjoy the aging process. No, I embrace it. I don’t want to emulate my mother and mourn my youth. It was fun, crazy, adventurous and it’s in the past. I love my reward of Now and look forward to whatever the future holds.