Powerful Lyrics—and a Giveaway!

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He has also worked on scripts for motion pictures and domestic television in his home country.

He’s a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor for their official e-zine The Big Thrill.

POISONED TEARS is his third novel in English and has already garnered positive reviews and recommendations. Jon Land calls it “a splendid piece of crime noir,” while Douglas Preston says it’s a first class roller-coaster ride.

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Music is an essential part of my life. At one point, I blogged about how my life is so much like a movie I even have the soundtrack! I guess it must be because of my passion for stories—which would also explain why I write—but I find some of the messages delivered by lyrics as fascinating and quite powerful. As writers, I truly believe there’s much to be learned from powerful lyrics that are able to encapsulate an idea, a thought, or a feeling in very few words. Please allow me to share some of my favorites with you.

“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

Does she know how you told me you’d hold me | Until you died, till you died |But you’re still alive.

This complaint to a former lover about a broken promise is exceptionally powerful. To me, it speaks of how easy we make promises we can’t keep and how the spurned lover feels when realizing the deception.

Along the same lines, you can also feel the unrequited love in Adele’s hit “Rolling in the Deep” when she claims:

Think of me in the depths of your despair.

Or take a moment to thing about “Numb” by Linkin Park

Every step that I take is another mistake to you.

Here’s another complaint to a lover. This time includes a feeling of self-defeat that is both disturbing and sad.

But not all songs are about lovers current or old, some are just plain stories that even include a moral. Look for instance at Kenny Roger’s song “Coward of the County” where a father imparts the following advice to his son:

Promise me, son, | Not to do the things I’ve done | Walk away from trouble if you can |

Now it don’t mean you’re weak | If you turn the other cheek |

And I hope you’re old enough to understand | Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man

After a lifetime of being obedient to his father’s last wishes, the man comes to find his loved-one raped by three other men. What choice does he have?

“Papa, I should hope you understand |Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”

Almost every time I get to check the news I see nothing but trouble in all parts of the world. Invariably, this line from the tune “The Miracle” by Queen comes to mind with a little bit of hope as it reminds me these news are not so new anyway but also, that there’s hope in some of the other things that are permanent:

Super powers always fighting, |But Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling.

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To enter the drawing for an
ebook
copy of Poisoned Tears,
leave a comment
below. The
winning name will be drawn
Tue
sday evening, April 25th.

My Ukuleles…I May Have a Problem…and a Giveaway!

Leslie Langtry is the USA Today Bestselling author of three cozy comedy series. She lives in the Midwest with her family and a few cats who do not appreciate her. And she hoards ukuleles (she might need an intervention).

Leslie Langtry’s first book in her Ukulele Mystery Series, Ukulele Murder, is on sale for 99c from April 10-16! You can check it out with the other books in the Aloha Lagoon Mysteries here:

http://www.gemmahalliday.com/Aloha_Lagoon/books-leslie.html

After a long day of writing, I decompress by messing around with the ukulele. The results aren’t pretty, but I enjoy it. I can play a few songs (for some strange reason they’re all Beatles songs and Edelweiss), and I’m just now taking lessons like from a real professional musician and everything. So now, I can read tabs and notes and fingerpick (albeit very, very slowly) a few more songs, including the Theme from Batman (I’m nothing if not eclectic), Fur Elise and Haele – a Hawaiian song.

My Grandpa Smiley played ukulele. Fun little songs like Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey & Harvest Moon. That’s his instrument above on the far left. I can’t really play it because the tuning pegs are shot. It’s a sweet little uke.

The green instrument next to Grandpa’s is a Waterman by KALA. It’s waterproof, made of a tough plastic that still resonates well. I’m taking it with me to Florida for the Novelists Inc conference in October. My husband thinks I bought it just for that one event. He may not be wrong…

The middle uke is a Kahuna ukulele. I bought that one because I liked the hula girl and tiki on it. AND it has pink strings! It was a completely frivolous buy but I couldn’t resist. Who doesn’t want a uke with pictures and pink strings? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Which may be why my first uke was the KALA Pineapple uke, second from the right. Several years ago, on a whim, my friend Michele and I decided to buy ukes and take a group class at West Music. This is us:

Michelle, rocking her sweet Hawaiian Punch hat

Anyway, my friend bought a normal, hourglass shaped blue uke. And I bought one that looked like a pineapple. Literally.  I guess I can’t do things like everyone else. Anyway – it’s a nice instrument with a little more of a mellow sound, probably because of its shape. It’s my go-to uke for my private lessons.

The last instrument is a KALA Travel Soprano. It’s a smidge smaller and half the width of the other ukes. When I was paying for it, my daughter asked why I needed it.

“Because it’s smaller,” I said, assuming this made sense to everyone.

She rolled her eyes, “Oh, right. Like an instrument like the ukulele needs a smaller version…”

I suspect she was being sarcastic.

Oh well. I love the ukulele and the calluses on my fingertips from playing. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to play more than a few songs. I doubt I’ll ever be a virtuoso, but that doesn’t matter. Playing around with this instrument relaxes me. And that’s all that matters.

Right?

Leslie Langtry’s first book in her Ukulele Mystery Series, Ukulele Murder, is on sale for 99c from April 10-16! You can check it out with the other books in the Aloha Lagoon Mysteries here:

http://www.gemmahalliday.com/Aloha_Lagoon/books-leslie.html

Ukulele Murder (A Nani Johnson Mystery)
Aloha Lagoon Mysteries book #1

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! Unfortunately her Julliard training doesn’t help her break into the local music scene due to some heavy competition from the Terrible Trio—three hostile, local musicians. The only work she finds is a few bar mitzvahs and gigs at the kitschy Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel.

But when one of Nani’s competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police’s main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she’ll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange. Enter hunky local botanist Nick Woodfield, who just might be able to help her clear her name…that is if he doesn’t have secrets of his own. With the bodies stacking up, the danger closing in, and the authorities circling, Nani must track down a killer…before she ends up the latest victim of the Ukulele Murderer!

BUY LINKS:

Amazon // B&N // iBooks // Google Play

Kobo // Smashwords // Print

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In addition to the 99c sale of
Ukulele Murder, Leslie is giving
away a signed, print copy of
the book to one lucky US
commenter on today’s post!
The winning name will be drawn
on Wednesday evening, April 19th.

 

Book Review: A Fatal Twist by Tracy Weber—and a Giveaway!

A Fatal Twist
A Downward Dog Mystery #4
Tracy Weber
Midnight Ink, January 2017
ISBN 978-0-7387-4878-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s life takes a chaotic turn once she agrees to not only be the doula for her pregnant best friend, but also play foster mother to two puppies. The chaos only gets worse when Kate finds the dead body of a philandering fertility doctor and Rachel, one of her yoga students, fleeing the scene.

Kate is convinced her student is innocent, and she sets out to find the real killer before her testimony condemns Rachel to a life behind bars. But her hands are full with caring for three dogs, teaching yoga classes, and gaining an unexpected crime-solving partner. If she’s not careful, Kate’s next yoga pose may be a fatal one.

Babies! They’re springing up everywhere, both humans and puppies, and Kate has her hands full learning to be a doula for her best friend, Rene, as she and her husband Sam await twins. In the meantime, Kate’s boyfriend, Michael, has brought home a pair of six-week-old abandoned labradoodles, Mutt and Jeff, and Kate agrees to foster them for a short while as long as Bella, her anxious German Shepherd with special needs, doesn’t get a chance to kill them.

First to get killed, though, is a doctor Kate knows superficially, a man who appears to have been as low as a man can be. His wife is a student of Kate’s and the killing happened in a birthing center where Rene plans to go so Kate has reasons to snoop among a plethora of girlfriends (current and ex), nurses and other doctors, not to mention prospective parents who might have had reasons to hate the fertility doc. She really needs to step in because all clues seem to nail the wife, Rachel, and the police don’t want to look further.

With each murder Kate encounters, she becomes more adept at investigating and at least one of the homicide detectives doesn’t really object so much because Kate frequently has something useful to offer. Humor abounds as does a cracking good sleuthfest, not to mention reminders of the perils of puppiedom and the joys and heartbreaks of animal rescue. Tracy Weber never lets me down.

This time, Rene would have been justified—and I would have approved—if she killed Sam who’s incredibly obnoxious and obsessed with what Rene eats. On the positive side, Bella and the puppies are delightful and I’m more enchanted with her than I was before, especially since she reminds me of my beloved granddog who also suffers from social anxiety around people and other dogs. All the characters I’ve come to enjoy are back, even the somewhat annoying ones, and I felt right at home with old friends.

On a personal note, I’ve been taking warm water Yogilates classes and have become more interested in the ins and outs of yoga. I actually paid more attention this time to Ms. Weber‘s pointers and got more out of it; I won’t say I’m ready for land yoga but I love the water kind and can’t help thinking how my instructors compare to Kate (other than running around looking for killers). I just need to figure out how to listen to these books on my iPod when I’m in the pool 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2017.

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To enter the drawing for a gently
used advance
reading copy of
A Fatal Twist
by Tracy Weber,
leave a comment
below. The
winning name will
be drawn
Thursday evening,
April 13th.
This drawing is open
to residents
of the US and Canada.

Book Review: Compromised by James R. Scarantino—and a Giveaway!

Compromised
A Denise Aragon Mystery #2
James R. Scarantino
Midnight Ink, February 2017
ISBN 978-0-7387-5040-8
Trade Paperback

The body of a teenage girl is found in a dumpster—she’s beautiful, even in death, and is surrounded by six dozen red roses. Santa Fe police detectives Denise Aragon and Rick Lewis , along with FBI Special Agent Tomas Rivera, investigate. Their job is complicated by the fact that their witness, former model Lily Montclaire, is not being entirely truthful with them. Montclaire is currently working for ruthless attorney Marcy Thornton, who is involved with Judge Judy Diaz. The detectives are sure that Thornton and Diaz used the victim for sexual purposes, but can’t connect her to the murder without Montclaire’s help. Montclaire only wants to save her own skin.

When the detectives contact the waste disposal company that owns the dumpster, E. Benny Silva Enterprises, they discover that Benny Silva and his twin brother are involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit that they want to come to a speedy decision. Marcy Thornton and Judge Diaz are not moving fast enough for them.

Scarantino’s detective, Denise Aragon, is the character that makes the story breathe in jagged, sharp gasps. The reader slowly discovers her disturbing and violent backstory, and it puts her obsession with bodybuilding and Krav Maga, the Israeli self-defense system, into perspective. She is hard as nails, wears her hair shorn so that the scars on her scalp are visible, and her arms bulge with muscles she has worked obsessively to develop. Also proud of her heritage and her family’s ties to the Santa Fe area, she emerges proud and triumphant in the books final scene at the Santa Fe Fiesta. Compromised is the second book in the series, after The Drum Within.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, March 2017.

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To enter the drawing for a gently
used advance reading copy of
Compromised by James R. Scarantino,
just leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on Tuesday night,
April 4th. This drawing is open
to residents of the US and Canada.

Family Scandals Never Sleep—and a Giveaway!

Martha Reed is an award-winning, independently published crime and mystery fiction author. Book one in her Nantucket Mystery series, The Choking Game, was a 2015 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion nominee for Best Traditional Mystery. Book two, The Nature of the Grave, won an Independent Publisher IPPY Honorable Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction.

Martha recently completed a four-year term as the National Chapter Liaison for Sisters in Crime, Inc. She loves travel, big jewelry, and simply great coffee. She delights in the never-ending antics of her family, fans, and friends, who she lovingly calls The Mutinous Crew. You can follow her online at reedmenow.com or on Twitter @ReedMartha.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do …

I was one of the lucky kids. My adorable grandfather Pop-Pop had a rambling family cottage on Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada. I spent my summers hanging out on a splintery wooden dock working my way through a hundred years’ worth of trashy paperback novels left to molder away in damp bookcases in one of the back rooms. It was pure heaven.

Pop had one brother and three sisters. After five o’clock, they’d all get comfortable on the porch, start sipping cocktails, and goof on each other. Because their generation grew up during the Great Depression, they knew how to entertain themselves, because basically that kind of entertainment was free. Besides criminally intense games of Gin Rummy, they would sass each other using conversations filled with jokes, double entendres, terrible puns, and true nimble wit. If I was very quiet, I was allowed to sit on the nearby steps, and listen.

I loved hearing about the world they grew up in. They were young when America partied through the Roaring Twenties, that insanely Gatsby-esque timeframe between the two great wars. I heard tales of grand weekend parties and big band swing dance contests, of car races, of dancing the Shimmy, the Black Bottom, and the Charleston. It sounded like marvelous fun. Then Pop would catch my eye, and he would sing:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’d look sweet, upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

–Harry Dacre, Daisy Bell, 1892

The funny thing is, that when I sat down to write No Rest for the Wicked, Book 3 in my Nantucket Mystery series, that little ditty kept playing in my head like an unstoppable earworm. When I finally paused long enough to wonder why, I realized that my new Nantucket Mystery needed to be set deeply in the past, in 1921, so that I could write about what I had learned from them.

In No Rest for the Wicked, state archaeologists uncover a suspicious steamer trunk buried in Nantucket’s landfill. The contents reactivate intense interest in the Baby Alice Spenser kidnapping of 1921. As Detective John Jarad pursues the Baby Alice investigation, myriad family scandals emerge from the Spenser’s privileged and gilded past. Modern day events flare white-hot when a copycat criminal snatches a second child.

No Rest for the Wicked is garnering 5-star reader reviews. Offering an array of colorful island characters and an intricate plot filled with surprising twists and reveals, No Rest for the Wicked promises to be a magical summer beach read. The Nantucket Mystery Series is available in trade paperback and e-book formats from Amazon and other retailers. Support your local bookstores!

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To enter the drawing for a signed
copy of No Rest for the Wicked,
leave a comment
below. The
winning name will be drawn

Monday evening, March 20th.
Open internationally.

Short Story Review: Wildcat by Sara Paretsky—and a Giveaway!

Wildcat
V. I. Warshawski’s First Case
Sara Paretsky
Witness Impulse, March 2017
ISBN 9780062689504
Ebook Single

From the publisher—

Sara Paretsky, one of the most legendary crime writers of all time, presents an exclusive and thrilling short story featuring beloved investigator V.I. Warshawski as a ten-year-old girl on her first investigation.


V.I. Warshawski developed her strength and sense of justice at a very early age. It’s 1966 and on the south side of Chicago racial tensions are at an all-time high. Dr. Martin Luther King is leading marches at Marquette Park and many in the neighborhood are very angry.

With nothing but a bicycle, eighty-two cents in her pocket, and her Brownie camera hanging from her wrist, Victoria sneaks off to Marquette Park alone to protect her father Tony, a police officer who is patrolling the crowds.

What begins as a small adventure and a quest to find her father and make sure he is safe turns into something far more dangerous. As the day goes on and the conflict at the park reaches a fever pitch Victoria realizes she must use her courage and ingenuity if she wants to keep herself and her family members out of harm’s way.

I don’t know if it’s actually true but, for years, I’ve thought that Sara Paretsky and V. I. Warshawski have one thing very much in common—they’re both total badasses. Now, I know that V. I. was that way even as a child and I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’m not going to say much about the plot of this story—it’s so short the description given above by the publisher is almost longer. Just kidding, of course, but this IS a very short short story. Still, Ms. Paretsky packs a lot into these few pages and it serves its purposes, to entertain and to give us a little insight into what makes V. I. Warshawski aka Victoria tick.

Chicago in 1966 was deep in the civil rights era and even a 10-year-old felt the tension so, when Victoria believes her dad is at risk, her first reaction is to rush off on her bicycle to his aid. As young as she is, Victoria has been raised by her Holocaust survivor mother to be aware of the evil that can begin with words of hatred. In fact, it’s this sense of right and wrong that’s at Victoria’s core, that will in later life lead her to work for justice whenever she can. Her venture this time is also her own personal introduction to police corruption, the Mafia, extreme prejudice and violence.

And a private investigator is born.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2017.

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Purchase Links:

               

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About the Author

Hailed by P.D. James as “the most remarkable” of modern crime writers, SARA PARETSKY is the New York Times-bestselling author of nineteen previous novels, including the renowned V.I. Warshawski series. She is one of only four living writers – alongside John Le Carré, Sue Grafton, and Lawrence Block – to have received both the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. She lives in Chicago with her husband.

Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. WARSHAWSKI. She took the mystery world by storm in 1982 with her first appearance in Indemnity Only. A gifted private eye with the grit and smarts to tackle the mean streets, V.I. transformed a genre in which women were typically either vamps or victims. As a “courageous, sexually liberated female investigator,” she “has a humility, a humanity, and a need for human relationships which the male hard-boilers lack” (P.D. James). She lives in Chicago with her dog.

Catch Up With Our Author On:

             

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Follow the tour here.

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To enter the drawing for an ebook
copy of Wildcat, leave a comment
below. The winning name will be drawn
Thursday evening, March 16th and the
ebook will be sent out after the tour ends.
Open to residents of the US and Canada.

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Book Review: War Hawk by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood—and a Giveaway!

war-hawkWar Hawk
A Tucker Wayne Novel #2
James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
William Morrow, December 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-213529-2
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Tucker Wayne’s past and present collide when a former army colleague comes to him for help. She’s on the run from brutal assassins hunting her and her son. To keep them safe, Tucker must discover who killed a brilliant young idealist-a crime that leads back to the most powerful figures in the U.S. government.

From the haunted swamplands of the deep South to the beachheads of a savage civil war in Trinidad, Tucker and his beloved war dog, Kane, must work together to discover the truth behind a mystery that dates back to World War II, involving the genius of a young code-breaker, Alan Turing…

They will be forced to break the law, expose national secrets, and risk everything to stop a madman determined to control the future of modern warfare for his own diabolical ends. But can Tucker and Kane withstand a force so indomitable that it threatens our future?

I’ve loved practically everything I’ve read by James Rollins because he makes it all such an adventure but I have to admit that I don’t read all his books. Why? Because they’re massive and my zeal for really long books has diminished over the years. The other thing that makes me hesitate is that he sometimes collaborates with other writers, much like James Patterson does, and that can be dicey. On the other hand, I read a lot of reviews of the first book in this series and saw very little to alarm me so I decided to take the plunge with War Hawk, all 544 pages of it (which is a mere 372 pages in the epub edition, another reason I love ebooks).

Besides…there’s a cool dog 😉

It’s hard to think of a braver, more self-disciplined pair than a former Army Ranger and a war dog but Tucker’s goal at the beginning of this novel is to simply enjoy life on the road with Kane at his side. He still has money in the bank from a job he recently did so employment is not an issue but their trip to Yellowstone is aborted when a woman from their past shows up looking for help. A colleague is missing and others have died, leading her to flee with her young son. Jane Sabatello was important to Tucker in their Army days so he doesn’t hesitate but they certainly don’t anticipate the coming confrontation with a man determined to essentially control the world with secrets from World War II and the brilliant mind of cryptanalyst Alan Turing.

And thus begins a wild, tension-filled adventure that takes us into the world of drones and the wondrous albeit frightening things they can do. I imagine some of this is in Mr. Rollins’ and Mr. Grantwood’s imaginations but much has already come to pass in real life, giving this thriller a validity that’s more than a little unnerving. A bit of imagination (I think) comes into play with Kane’s abilities but I didn’t care about that because Kane is such an appealing dog and a great companion for Tucker. The two of them make a fine team and I think I might have to go back and read the first book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2017.

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Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button        Amazon Buy Button        Indiebound Button 2

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About the Authors

james-rollinsJAMES ROLLINS is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Catch Up with James Rollins on his Website , Twitter , & Facebook 

grant-blackwoodIn addition to his New York Times bestselling collaborations with Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, GRANT BLACKWOOD is the author of three novels featuring Briggs Tanner: The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War. A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. He lives in Colorado.

Catch Up with Grant Blackwood on his Website , Twitter , & Facebook

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Follow the tour:

2/13 showcase @ The Way I See It
2/13 Review @ Buried Under Books
2/14 Showcase @ Mommabears Book Blog
2/14 Review @ Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine
2/15 Review @ Mrs Mommy Booknerds Book Reviews
2/15 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
2/16 Showcase @ b00k r3vi3ws
2/16 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
2/17 Showcase @ Books Direct
2/17 Review @ fundinmental
2/18 Showcase @ Mythical Books
2/20 Review @ just reviews
2/21 showcase @ A Dream Within A Dream
2/23 Review @ Lazy Day Books
2/24 fuonlyknew
2/25 Review @ I am not a bookworm!
2/26 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
2/27 Review @ Luxury Reading

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To enter the drawing for a print
copy of War Hawk, leave a comment
below. The winning name will
be drawn
Thursday evening, February 16th.

Open to residents of the US.

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