Book Review: Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil


Title: Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper
Series: A New Orleans Gilded Age Mystery #1
Author: Ana Brazil
Publisher: Sand Hill Review Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Genre: Historical Mystery


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Indiebound


Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper
A New Orleans Gilded Age Mystery #1
Ana Brazil
Sand Hill Review Press, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-937818-63-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.

Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.

Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.

As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?

In yet another foray into the world of young women in historical times who flaunt the “rules” of the day and pursue lives of their own creation, Fanny Newcomb enters the scene. Fanny is a bright, appealing teacher of immigrant women, attempting to help them attain better lives in a city that has its own brand of shadiness.

Fanny doesn’t believe it when Karl, a German carpenter of her acquaintance is accused of murdering Nora, an Irish prostitute (maybe) and one of Fanny’s favorite students. Neither her beau or the local police detective want to really listen to what she has to say so Fanny enlists the aid of her employers, the Giddings sisters, to make their way through the seediest and most dangerous parts of New Orleans in search of the truth, eventually gaining a little help from the reluctant Lawrence Decatur and Detective Daniel Crenshaw.

Fanny and the sisters, Olive and Sylvia, are a smart and endearing trio and I thoroughly enjoyed their intrepid adventures in pursuit of justice. They’re especially appealing in their determination to live life by their own rules rather than being hemmed in by the ruthless requirements of the Victorian period and I also appreciated the author’s skillful evocation of New Orleans in its wild and wooly days. I really hope that more adventures are to come.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2018.

About the Author

A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.)

The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends.

Although Ana, her husband, and their dog Traveller live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.

For more information, please visit Ana Brazil’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.


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A paperback copy of Fanny Newcomb
and the Irish Channel Ripper

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Book Review: Girl Divided by Willow Rose


Girl Divided is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel infused with magical
forces. If you like immersive worlds, strong characters, and a tale
that reads like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King combined, then
you’ll love Willow Rose’s provocative story.


Purchase Link:



Girl Divided
Willow Rose
Buoy Media, January 2018
ISBN 978-1973279426
Trade Paperback

From the author—

They think she’s a monster, but she’s their only hope…

In a divided nation, 14-year-old Jetta belongs nowhere. Her face is split right down the middle: half-black and half-white. The non-white residents of her New Orleans camp call her a demon. The white oppressors who took over during the 2nd American Civil War have called her much worse…

After years as an outcast, Jetta uncovers her true heritage as the daughter of an African storm god and a Finnish death goddess. As she attempts to harness her terrible new abilities to turn the tide in the war, trouble comes to those she tries to help. Only Jetta has the power to heal her divided homeland… or destroy everything in her path…

It’s always nice to see diversity in fiction but Willow Rose has taken it to a new level by having a protagonist who is not only biracial but who also literally looks the part with a face that’s white on one side and black on the other. As you might anticipate, this makes life difficult for Jetta because, even in her future world, bigotry is still rampant. Whether the author’s choice to do this evidences her understanding of both white and black lives I’m not sure because I can only speak for the white side. To that end, I don’t think it quite works because, in this story, white people are almost universally bad.

I do think I might have connected better if I really understood the circumstances of this very different society (or is it so different?) Unfortunately, worldbuilding is a little weak so some answers are missing. What I did find especially interesting is the concept that two deities have created Jetta with the intent of causing vicious racial tension in America…and succeeding to the point of civil war. As a harbinger of what might come in reality if we don’t pay attention, Girl Divided is quite effective and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2018.

About the Author

The Queen of Scream aka Willow Rose is a #1 Amazon Best-selling Author and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 40 novels. She writes Mystery, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy.

She lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting pageturners. Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 20 of ALL books in the US, UK, and Canada. She has sold more than two million books.


Website // Facebook // Twitter // Bookbub // Amazon // Goodreads


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A Passel of Teeny Reviews Part 1

Once again, big surprise, I find myself with
an overload of books read but not yet reviewed
so I think it’s time for a roundup or two.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
Colin Goodwin
2QT Limited, July 2015
ISBN 978-1-910077-60-3
Trade Paperback

This book had me chuckling quite a bit with its premise—blackmailing an English village’s cricket club to either win  a trophy or lose its playing ground. Along with this audacious crime, we have village ladies who truly appreciate the hired ringer’s skills and a shady real estate development plan. It’s all great fun even with sabotage and perhaps a little murder.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.


Cat in an Alphabet Endgame
The Midnight Louie Mysteries #28
Carole Nelson Douglas
Wishlist Publishing, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-943175-05-5
Trade Paperback

I confess, I put off reading this as long as I possibly could, so long I’m really embarrassed but I just did NOT want to see the end of this series I love so much. I didn’t want to know who Temple would marry, didn’t want all the little loose ends tied up in neat bows. Midnight Louie is the alpha and omega of feline sleuths and I adore his hardboiled, attitudinous self and, even knowing he was going to continue in different adventures sometime in the future, letting go was so very hard. But…I eventually had to give in and, of course, I enjoyed this book as much as all the others. Temple is distracted by thoughts of saying yes to one guy or the other, the mob has reared its ugly head, there are hints of terrorism and Louie and his Cat Pack are on the case(s). When it’s all said and done, Louie leaves us—and multitudes of Las Vegas felines—with a rousing speech and an offer of appetizers. Ah, Louie, Temple and the rest, I’m going to miss you (until you show up again).

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.


Sharon Ervin
The Wild Rose Press, March 2017
ISBN 978-1-5092-1290-3
Trade Paperback

Mistaken identity takes on a whole new meaning when a woman is killed and everyone thinks it’s Memory Smith. She hasn’t been run over but somebody certainly has thrown a punch at her and Assistant DA Mac McCann wants to know what’s going on with his former classmate. Did someone really mean to kill her? Memory is an odd woman but Mac is drawn to her and the mystery surrounding her supposed death. As you might expect in romantic suspense, an emotional attachment between the two of them soon takes on a life of its own but Memory may not survive long enough to see what might develop with Mac.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.


Crepe Factor
A Scrapbooking Mystery #14
Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2016
ISBN 978-0-425-26670-0

Ms. Childs and Ms. Moran continue their collaboration in a charming mystery featuring the death by fork of a food critic (stick a fork in me, I’m done, anyone?) practically right in front of Carmela and Ava, sleuthing duo extraordinaire. Carmela’s previous relationship with the #1 suspect makes sticking her nose in a little dicey and her current boyfriend, police detective Edgar Babcock really wants her to stay out of his investigation but she and Ava can’t resist. A nifty whodunnit and characters that feel like old friends, not to mention a few recipes and scrapbooking tips round out this entertaining entry in the series. I always enjoy these two, especially the slightly loony Ava, and for a few hours while I’m reading one of these books, I can’t help wishing I had the patience and dedication to get into scrapbooking…but the urge passes until the next book 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.


The Locket
On Dark Shores #0
J.A. Clement
Weasel Green Press, December 2016

Every child gets excited and exceedingly nosy when Yuletide approaches and the seven-year-old Nereia is no exception. Her father has brought her a special surprise, her Godmother, stopping off for a visit before returning to her diplomatic duties in the midst of war and a beautiful silver locket marks Nereia’s first time taking part in the Yule ceremony. This is a sweet story, very short, and a prequel to Ms. Clement‘s On Dark Shores fantasy series. I think I would have gotten more out of it if I knew anything about the series and I don’t understand the description’s reference to “there is mystery in the air…” but I spent a pleasant few minutes with this small family.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.


Book Review: The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

The Hideaway
Lauren K. Denton
Thomas Nelson, April 2017
ISBN 978
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

When it comes to eye-catching book covers, The Hideaway is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Immediately, it made me think of summers on a Southern front porch of an old house with floor-to-ceiling windows and, in fact, that’s exactly what this book is about, an old house that’s as much a character as its humans. I’d like to acknowledge the artist but the advance reading copy I have doesn’t give the name. Whoever it is, kudos!

If it weren’t for the fact that running a bed and breakfast requires much more labor than I’ve ever been willing to do, it has always appealed to me but Sara’s reluctance to restore The Hideaway to its former life is understandable. Sara has her own life in New Orleans and she’s truly happy as an antiques dealer; at the same time, she loved her grandmother and there are memories in Sweet Bay, Alabama. It’s easy to see why she would be drawn in by her grandmother’s last wish, her directive for Sara to not only renovate the house but live in the house during the work.

Mags and Sara had different and yet very similar lives and as Sara’s time in Sweet Bay goes by, we see Mags through her own eyes and narrative. While their respective tragedies weren’t at all alike, the one constant is the importance The Hideaway played in their pasts and Sara begins to learn so much about Mags that she had not known before.

Ms. Denton’s debut is a charming tale of family and hidden lives blended with the sometimes annoying but always loyal people who become extended family, often more important than blood relatives. In essence, this is a tale of reaching for what one’s destiny can be and how those closest to us become embedded in our souls and anyone looking for a comfortable, easy story would do well to pick up The Hideaway.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2017.


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-A-Million

Audible // Amazon // Indiebound


About the Author

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.

Connect with Lauren

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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Book Review: Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran—and a Giveaway!

Parchment and Old LaceParchment and Old Lace
A Scrapbooking Mystery #13
Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2015
ISBN 978-0-425-26668-7

From the publisher—

Carmela couldn’t imagine a finer evening than dinner at Commander’s Palace with her beau, Detective Edgar Babcock. The food and the company are equally divine—with the exception of Isabelle Black stopping by to brag about her upcoming wedding. Resuming the romance with a walk in the evening air, the couple is interrupted once again—this time by a terrifying scream from inside the cemetery.

Having just seen Isabelle, Carmela and Edgar now find her lying across an aboveground tomb, strangled to death with a piece of vintage lace. Carmela would rather leave the investigating to Edgar, but she can’t say no to Isabelle’s sister Ellie, the tarot card reader at Juju Voodoo, when she asks her to help. As she untangles the enemies of Isabelle’s past, Carmela hopes she can draw out the killer before someone else gets cold feet.

In just a few short moments after enjoying a delectable dinner with her boyfriend, Edgar Babcock, Carmela Bertrand is thrust into the midst of yet another murder and is nearly a victim herself in the gloom of the old cemetery where she and Edgar heard those bloodcurdling screams. The murdered woman, Isabelle Black, was an assistant district attorney, leading to possibilities that her career had everything to do with her death, but Isabelle wasn’t exactly a favorite of her about-to-be mother-in-law, Vesper Beaudette, and the scrap of lace used to strangle the woman has its own implications. This time, though, Carmela has no intention of sticking her nose into the investigation; Detective Babcock is perfectly capable of handling things.

Fans of Carmela know very well that Carmela can’t stay out of it, especially since Isabelle’s sister, Ellie, is a friend and she works for Carmela’s BFF, Ava, in her voodoo shop. When Edgar enlists her aid in identifying the lace in question all bets are off and Carmela and Ava are in the thick of it (and loving it, truth be told).

Once again, New Orleans is a vivid setting and returning to Carmela’s scrapbooking shop, Memory Mine, is a treat for those of us who have been following this series all along but Parchment and Old Lace is also an excellent introduction for the reader who’s new to the series. Fans of Terrie Farley Moran will be delighted at her collaboration which has brought a freshness to the characters and to the search for a murderer. I don’t know if Ms. Childs and Ms. Moran plan to work together again but I will certainly be happy if they do 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2015.


To enter the drawing for a hardcover
copy of Parchment and Old Lace,
leave a comment below. Two winning
names will be drawn Friday evening,
ber 9th. This drawing is open
to residents of the US.


Book Reviews: Allure of Deceit by Susan Froetschel and Risking Elizabeth by Walter McCloskey

Allure of DeceitAllure of Deceit 
Susan Froetschel
Seventh Street Books, February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61614-017-5
Trade Paperback

Murder, fraud and greed on a grand scale, clashes of culture and intriguing misunderstandings litter the well-trodden ground in this novel. The strong and vibrant writing helps draw the reader in to a world long hidden from western understanding. And even with the recent deluge of news focused on the wars in Iraq Afghanistan, and Pakistan, western knowledge is rooted as much in lack of understanding of Muslim and tribal mores. Dissecting the motives and the perpetrators of these crimes and the application of justices is extremely problematical.

All of that requires a carefully constructed, well-written narrative with characters that speak to us even through the veil of poorly understood history and culture. And here it is. Add the setting, that mysterious –to Western sensibilities—culture of the Middle East, and one has the makings of an enthralling novel. And here it is!

The writing is superb, the tension almost unrelenting and the incisive eye of this author is everywhere available. This is a fine novel and deserves every rave it will acquire.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.


Risking ElizabethRisking Elizabeth
Walter McCloskey
Berkley, August 1998
ISBN: 978-0-425-16413-6
Mass Market Paperback

This is the author’s debut novel. It takes the reader to enthralling places inside New Orleans society. One is dazzled by the convoluted slick politeness on the surface, even when one is aware of the chicanery and double-dealing that takes place at the same time on other levels. None of the activity chronicled by McCloskey is unknown to the wheelers and dealers in other cities around the world, but because New Orleans is the setting, there seems to be a special aura about this novel which enhances the plot and the characters.

Harry Preston is a successful widowed lawyer with an old-line prestigious firm. New Orleans is the city where he grew up and where legions of his relatives live and work. And play. So Preston brings his young son back to the bosom of his family. But Harry Preston discovers that he knows less about the convoluted undercurrents of the city and its power brokers than he imagined. How little he really knows he really begins to discover when he meets beautiful, willful, socially suspect, Elizabeth Bennett.

Set during Mardi Gras, Preston finds himself falling into a complicated swamp infested with some of the worst and some of the best of New Orleans residents. Big money, big oil, big power and murder are skillfully revealed. The pace is swift, the characters ambiguous and complex, and the atmosphere moody, damp and dark, even in the hot Southern sun. Well-written and very entertaining, rife with tension, Risking Elizabeth carries the reader carefully and completely to its inevitable conclusion.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2014.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.


Book Review: Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs—and a Giveaway!

Gossamer GhostGossamer Ghost
A Scrapbooking Mystery
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2014
ISBN 978-0-425-26666-3

From the publisher—

Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…

An evening’s work deciding on the class schedule for her scrapbooking shop has put Carmela in the mood to kick up her heels. But after some strange noises draw her into Oddities, the neighboring antiques shop, Carmela’s night is abruptly put on hold when a bloody body falls out of a curio cabinet—and into her arms.

While shop owner Marcus Joubert was known for being an eccentric with a penchant for eclectic merchandise, Carmela never thought he was the kind of man who could inspire the passion required to kill. But when Marcus’s assistant—and fiancée—Mavis reveals that a priceless death mask was also stolen, it becomes clear that murder wasn’t the culprit’s sole intention.

Carmela can’t resist the urge to investigate the growing mystery, but as the list of suspects increases, she realizes it’ll take every trick in the book to unmask the killer thief before there’s another night of murderous mischief….

Carmela is one of those protagonists who appeal to me even while they sometimes make me gnash my teeth. In an earlier book, she plucked my last nerve with her reckless snoopiness but I continued to follow her adventures and became a bit more accustomed to her ways somewhere along the line. So, yes, she’s snoopy when she thinks something might be wrong in Marcus’ shop but I just rode along with all her excuses and thought nothing of it. And, don’t you know it, her nosiness turns out to be justified. I also enjoyed the thought of the body falling into her arms and I LOVE this—

And still Carmela continued to scream.

When nobody showed up to help, when nothing seemed to be accomplished by her loud screeches of protest, she let out a garbled cough and closed her mouth with a snap.

That is Carmela—scenestealing, loud, annoying, and then she pulls herself together for the job at hand. And with that, she calls her boyfriend, Detective Edgar Babcock, who just happens to be on the scrumptious side as well as eternally patient with his girlfriend, and then immediately dials her friend and sleuthing partner, Ava Gruiex.

So, why would anyone want to kill Marcus? Granted, he was kind of weird but was that enough, along with the theft of a priceless artifact, to make someone want him dead? Carmela being Carmela, this clearly calls for a little sniffing around and, next thing you know, she and Ava are mixed up with Carmela’s least favorite countess, an antiques dealer with a fake British accent and a shady pawn shop operator, not to mention the Zombie Crawl and the Witches Run.

Fans of Ms. Childs—and they are legion—will love this return to Carmela’s exploits. Besides a cracking good mystery and a lot of engaging characters, one thing I’ve always loved about this series is the setting in New Orleans and Gossamer Ghost is no exception. Ms. Childs has a deft and colorful hand with her descriptions and she transported me right to Halloween with all its festivities and joie de vivre. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this wonderful city just once, many years before Katrina, and Gossamer Ghost reminds me of that time. Ms. Childs makes me want to go back and I think a Halloween trip might be in my future travel plans. I just wish Oddities, my kind of shop, really existed 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.


You have two chances to enter the drawing
for a hardcover copy of Gossamer Ghost by
Laura Childs. Leave a comment below and
then again tomorrow, October 9th, after an
interview with Laura. Two winning names will
be drawn on the evening of October 12th.
Open to residents of the US.