Saturday, February 18, 2017

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is one of those stories that has you looking over your shoulder. We live in a world that is constantly under surveillance. It seems common place to the point we tend to ignore it. Think of all of the criminals who are caught because they forgot there is the ability to provide surveillance in most every situation. Zoe finds herself stuck on a train on her way home one night. When she begins to read the ads in her paper she sees a picture of herself. There is also a website attached to her picture. Later she finds out that another woman who’s picture was in the paper ended up dead.  This pattern keeps happening and she is sure that she is being targeted.  I tend to do a lot of reading late at night after I’ve finished grading papers. This one had me so creeped out about being watched that I dreaded having to get out of bed and go to the bathroom. I kept hearing what are normal creaks of our house, but kept imagining someone was in the house.
We have Kelly a detective who has her own issues and is actually trying to build her reputation back up. She is one person who believes Zoe.  This is one of those books where things build up slowly until you suddenly realize how tense the situation is. I was unable to guess who was behind this. That is a plus for me. I hate reading a book and figuring things out so quickly.  I loved this book and the way it was written in different points of view.  This is a book that I will definitely recommend.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Guest Post: John Achor Author of "Five-Six Deadly Mix

A short while ago, I was musing about the infinite number of events that had to occur before I would meet my wife. Considering she was born in Vermont while I was raised in Indiana, there was a darn good chance we would never meet. But … World War II, the Manhattan Project and dozens of less significant occurrences did happen and we did meet.
I began thinking about my female protagonist, Casey Fremont, and how and why she came to be and where she lives ― in my warped mind. We were living in Phoenix, Arizona when I completed a pair of thrillers with a male protagonist. I was casting around for a change of pace ― I decided to switch from male, third person thriller to female, first person mystery. Casey’s odyssey began.
In my home library, I found “Writing the Private Eye Novel,” edited by Robert Randisi — and a chapter by Jeremiah Healy titled: Developing a Series Character. I used the information there as my basis for developing a new character. I began the work in Phoenix.
During a workshop presented by the Scottish author,  Val McDermid, she said it took her a couple of years to take an idea to fruition. I wondered if it would take that long for me. Little did I realize … You may wonder how I was able to attend a seminar by such a prestigious writer. Easy answer ― in Phoenix, Barbara Peters who owns The Poisoned Pen bookstore arranged the class. Barbara is well known for her acumen and as an independent bookseller; she is often invited to present at large conferences in the U.S as well as the United Kingdom.
Back to my story. I worked on my character, using a four-page development checklist I devised combined from several other writer’s efforts. It’s so comprehensive, I’ve never completed the entire checklist ― even for Casey. I did decide on her physical characteristics, her back story, where she would live and other details which may never be revealed in her books. Then fate/karma/coincidence stepped in.
My wife and I decided to move from Phoenix to Arkansas. Don’t ask: we didn’t have relatives there; we didn’t know anyone there ― but the state did have green things. I later learned the things were called trees and grass. Phoenix, is basically brown.
I moved Casey from Arizona to Little Rock, Arkansas. Our retirement village was about thirty miles southwest of Little Rock, so I found it easy to visit the big city often enough to gather needed details ― and know when to make it up.
We recently moved 600 miles north to the Omaha, Nebraska area. Will fate catch up with Casey and find herself in Nebraska? Or will she remain in Little Rock. In her third mystery  “Five, Six - Deadly Mix” (released January 2017) she’s in Little Rock. I’ve begun writing the next one ― working title of “Seven, Eight - Full of Hat” ― and she’s still in Arkansas. Where next? We’ll see …

Casey Fremont’s latest mystery  

John Achor posing with a poster at his first book signing  

Author Bio
The first of John Achor’s three careers spanned twenty years as a U.S. Air Force pilot. He accumulated over 4,000 hours flying planes from Piper Cubs to the military equivalent of the Boeing 707. After the military, he entered the real estate industry. He joined a national real estate franchise as a management consultant working at the regional and national levels. Those positions led him to Phoenix, Arizona, and an affiliation with a major Savings & Loan institution.
In John's words, “When the Savings and Loan industry melted away like a lump of sugar in hot coffee, I knew it was time to develop a third career.” He became a freelance computer instructor, user-developer, consultant, writer and Community College instructor.
In mid-1999, John moved to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he lived in the piney woods with his wife Pat and their two cats, Lexus and Betsy Ross. As you may know from his latest book or web site; these two cats are no longer with them. Big hole in their lives, but both are waiting for us by The Rainbow Bridge. Their latest move was a recent relocation to the Omaha, Nebraska area where John is busy meeting and greeting new writers, readers and writing groups.
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Guest Post: Judy Alter author of Murder at Peacock Mansion

Living—or Writing—My Dream  by Judy Alter

I learned to cook well before I was ten. My mom was a terrific cook with an intuitive sense about flavors and textures and what works together and what doesn’t. She was also a nurturer, as eager to feed her maiden lady friend who didn’t eat properly as she was twenty of Dad’s colleagues.
At ten I was first assist in the kitchen for dinner parties, specializing in appetizers but always alert to what Mom was doing with a roast or mashed potatoes or whatever the menu called for. While my parents entertained guests, I cleaned the kitchen. By the time the guests departed, there was little left to done in the kitchen. Except the night it got to be eleven and the guests hadn’t left. “Well,” my dad said rising from his chair, “I guess I’ll vacuum the floor.”
My first specialty was a blue cheese dip that mixed the cheese with sour cream, cream cheese, and scallions seasoned with dry mustard, Worcestershire, and whatever else caught my fancy. Guests loved it, but one close friend of the family swore I didn’t give here the right recipe because it was a disaster when she tried it. Actually, there is no recipe—it was and is only in my head.
In creating Kate Chambers of the Blue Plate Café Mysteries, I called up these childhood memories. Kate inherits half her grandmother’s café in the small Texas town of Wheeler and buys out her twin sister’s half. Kate will leave her high-powered job and the unsatisfactory singles life in Dallas to return to her hometown and the café where she spent her early days watching Gram cook and beginning her own first ventures into food service. My mom was nothing like Gram, but they serve the same purpose in the young girls’ lives.
Kate inherits a café where chicken-fried steak and fried catfish are the staples, pies are store-bought, and the tuna salad comes straight from Sam’s. She works to upgrade the menu without driving off the locals who are loyal to Gram’s food. One recipe she introduces is Shepherd’s Pie, an English dish that combines hearty foods café patrons relish—ground beef, vegetables, cheese and potatoes.
In her personal life, Kate resigns herself to a lack of social life in Wheeler, and she is surprised when she finds not one but three men vying for her attention. To see who wins out,
you’ll have to read Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Kate cooks to win hearts, and her small-scale entertaining—one man at a time—gives her a chance to. fix the more elaborate dishes she’s come to love in Dallas, such as Scallops Saint Jacques. Unfortunately, this part of Kate’s life does no mirror my own.
Oh yes, Kate has mysteries to solve. Small towns are supposed to be idyllic and peaceful, but Kate soon learns Wheeler is not the comfortable place it was when she grew up. First there’s Gram’s sudden death, which leaves her suspicious, and then the death of her married sister’s lover. Kate must defend her sister against a murder charge, solve a food poisoning charge to keep her business open, and figure out where the café’s profits are going. Even Kate begins to wonder about the twin sister she has a love-hate relationship with. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s advice is off the wall.
Shepherd’s pie
Mashed potatoes, made of about 1⅓ lbs. red potatoes. (Kate doesn’t skin them to mash anymore.) A good trick: put some garlic cloves in the water when you boil the potatoes. Another good one: as you add butter, salt, and pepper, substitute sour cream or cream cheese for the milk.
½ c. shredded sharp cheddar—stir into hot, freshly mashed potatoes and set aside
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 Tbsp. flour
4 c. frozen mixed vegetables (Kate prefers corn, green beans, and sweet peas.)
¾ c. beef broth
2 Tbsp. ketchup
¼ c. shredded sharp cheddar
Heat oven to 375°.
Brown meat in nonstick skillet (an iron skillet is always best). Stir in flour and cook briefly. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, for five minutes.
Spoon into 8 in. square baking dish. Cover with mashed potatoes. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over the top and bake another 3-4 minutes, until cheese melts and casserole is bubbly. Serve six, but only if they’re not hearty eaters.

Author Bio
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her home town, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Skype: juju1938

Buy link for Murder at Peacock Mansion:

Buy link for The Gilded Cage