Monday, July 29, 2013

Interview with Kathleen Toomey Jabs, Author of Black Wings

Kathleen Toomey Jabs is a 1988 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. She served on active duty for six years and is currently a Captain in the Navy Reserve.  She holds an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her stories have been published in a number of literary journals and received several prizes, including selection in the National Public Radio Selected Shorts program.  She lives with her husband and two children in Virginia.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Milton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.

When did you begin writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I kept a diary starting in grade school, wrote bad poetry as a teenager and continued with a journal through high school, college and even now. Writing helps me think through issues, remember good times and capture special moments.

What is this book about?

Black Wings is a mystery centered on Navy Lieutenant Bridget Donovan and her quest to discover what really happened when her former Naval Academy roommate, Audrey Richards, dies in a botched take-off from an aircraft carrier. The setting shuttles between the Pentagon and the United States Naval Academy as Bridget confronts secret societies, gender politics, and the possibility of murder. Bridget’s unofficial investigation into what really happened, both during their past Academy days and in Audrey’s final hours, forces her to examine the concepts of honor, justice and the role of loyalty in the pursuit of those ideals.    

What inspired you to write it?

I had a vision of a female Navy pilot crashing into the sea. I hate flying but I’ve always been fascinated by aviators. I wanted to understand what happened to Audrey and why she crashed and it kept going back to her time at the Naval Academy. The only person who would be able to put the pieces together was her roommate, Bridget.  I worked on this novel for almost ten years, with some breaks, and during that time, I interwove Audrey’s past with some of the events in her current position as one of the first female aviators. I also developed Bridget as the protagonist.  

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I’m torn between Bridget and Audrey, the two Academy roommates. They’re so different. Audrey is strong, fierce, resolute and insanely confident. I admire her a lot even as she makes mistakes. Bridget is smart and mouthy, more introspective, but just as dogged in her own way. Especially once she suspects that Audrey’s death wasn’t an accident. I’m probably closer to Bridget, but I love both of them.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride? 

Bumpy! The entire process of writing, rewriting, sending out, revising, and finally, publication took 10 years.  After too many rounds of interest then rejection as well as outright silence from agents, the novel (literally) sat in a drawer for 2 years. I felt like Edgar Allen Poe’s character in “The Telltale Heart” – instead of a beating heart, I had a failed dream, knocking at my conscience. When I connected with Fuze Publishing, the process was a lot smoother but it still took time. I was working full-time so I had to do most of my editing and revising on weekends. The Fuze team was incredibly helpful so I enjoyed that long but smooth ride. 

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

My book is available at and also at Amazon in trade paperback and e-book formats.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it? 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere? 

Keep moving forward! If you really want to write, keep writing. The publication of Black Wings is a testimony to perseverance. If anyone had told me the whole odyssey would take 10 years, I wouldn’t have believed them. I’m so happy to have this novel out in the world. 

What is up next for you? 

I’m working to promote the book and taking notes for a follow-on novel involving Bridget Donovan. 

Is there anything you would like to add? 

I really appreciate the opportunity to blog with readers! Thank you to the hosts of this site and also to the followers. It’s wonderful to be part of a community dedicated to reading and writing.

Price: $19.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780984141272
Pages: 314
Release: December 2011

Amazon paperback buy link:

Fuze Publishing paperback buy link:

Amazon Kindle buy link:

Barnes& Nook buy link:

Kathleen Toomey Jabs' Facebook:!/KathleenToomeyJabs

Black Wings GoodReads page:

Fuze Publishing's Facebook:

Fuze Publishing's Twitter:!/fuzepublishing

Fuze Publishing's Website:

Fuze Publishing's Blog:

Black Wings Blog Tour Site:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: Blue Eyes by Jerome Charyn

An exquisite hard-boiled mystery awaits you in Blue Eyes: An Isaac Sidel Novel by Jerome Charyn.

Manfred Coen is Hollywood gorgeous and has a penchant for ping-pong. He is Issac's man and everyone knows it. Once Issac falls from grace, Coen's easy rise to the top stalls and the resentment of every rank-and-file detective is focused on the young blue-eyed cop. He is assigned to track down the kidnapped daughter of a porn-film producer, but there are a lot of people eager to see him out of the picture, including a crazed hitman.

This is an e-book reprint of one of Charyn's earlier releases. With a gritty style that defines the genre, the author delves into the lives of Manfred Coen and Isaac Sidel with persistence and precision.

Before the reader unfolds a literary crime novel that captivates and digs deep into the lives of its characters. Charyn spends a great deal of time developing Coen, Sidel, Arnold the Spic, the Chinaman and others. The story evolves slowly, and once the reader is done, she knows every part of it.

The material is a bit dated, which accounts for its lack of political correctness, but it's genuine for the world in which Coen and Sidel exist.

Blue Eyes isn't a normal read for me, but I enjoyed it.

Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Issac Sidel's Twitter:!/IsaacSidel

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Blue Eyes blog tour site:

Price: $9.99
Release: April 10, 2012

Kindle buy link

iBookstore buy link

Google buy link

I received a paperback copy of this book from the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview with Linda Weaver Clarke, Author of The Adventures of John and Julia Evans

Today we are  joined by Linda Weaver Clarke. Fascinated with history and family ancestry, Linda travels the United States giving workshops that encourage others to turn their family history and autobiography into interesting stories. She is the author of A Family Saga In Bear Lake, Idaho series and also The John and Julia Evans Mystery Series. Three books in her mystery series have already been released—Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, and Montezuma Intrigue—and the next book, Desert Intrigue, is being launched this month.

Welcome, Linda. It’s great to have you here! Why don’t you start us off by telling readers about you and your family?

I was raised on a farm surrounded by the Rocky Mountains of southern Idaho and have made my home in southern Utah. I am the mother of six daughters and am happily married. After my family began leaving the nest, I decided to go back to college and get a degree. At first I was apprehensive about my decision, but I soon realized that I had made the right choice. I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree at Southern Utah University and received the Outstanding Non-Traditional Student Award for the College of Performing Arts in 2002. After graduation, I submitted some manuscripts to publishers and became an author in 2005. I was doing things that I never dreamed would ever happen to me in my later years.

I loved, Melinda in the Wild West, and for a while I thought you would stick with historical romance. What made you decide to switch gears?

Each genre has its own challenges. I knew this and wanted to try something new and different, so I changed to mystery/adventure. Of course, I did a lot of study and learned how to create a mystery. This was exciting to me but I was a little worried that my readers might figure out the plot. So I experimented on my husband and had him read it before I sent it to my publisher. He said that he had not been able to figure it out and I had some twists and turns that surprised him. So I felt confident enough to submit my mystery series. In each book, I try to add mystery, adventure, romance, humor, and intrigue!

Did you find your mystery series more challenging to write than your romance novels?

Oh yes! The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know the outcome. But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they haven’t figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it’s just a mystery or mystery suspense. In a mystery, the reader doesn’t know who the bad guys are until the end of the book. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who they are and it makes for a more suspenseful outcome.

Can you tell readers about John and Julia Evans?

Julia is a newspaper reporter and John is a professional knife maker. This series was inspired by one of my favorite TV shows long ago called Hart to Hart, which featured a married couple investigating and solving crimes staring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. The couple was madly in love–you laughed at the humor and sighed at the romance.

What is the plot of Desert Intrigue?

When Julia’s brother announces that his dude ranch is haunted, she believes that someone is trying to sabotage his place and force him to sell. The mysterious happenings have to do with Superstition Mountain, the lost Dutchman’s goldmine, and the great Thunder God. Is it possible that the legend of the Thunder God is actually true? After a terrible thunderstorm, everyone begins to wonder. John and Julia quickly head to Mesa, Arizona and discover a few mysterious events. Will they find out who is behind these disasters before Uncle Kelly’s dude ranch is ruined?

By the time readers get to Desert Intrigue, John and Julia have already been on three other exciting adventures. What’s different about this new book?

This is the only one that doesn’t deal with artifact theft. This one deals with Arizona history surrounding Superstition Mountain. The research for this novel was so much fun.

Are these books written as stand-alone novels or should readers start at the beginning?

Each book in this series has its own plot and can be read alone, but I think it’s best to start at the beginning with Anasazi Intrigue so you can get to know the family.

Where can readers purchase these books?

At Amazon, bookstores, or my own website.

How can readers find out more about you and your writing?

People can find me at my website called “Make Believe”:

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, I interview authors on my blog each week and have book giveaways. Please stop by and be a part of the book giveaway each week at

Thanks for spending time with us today, Linda. I wish you continued success.

This post first appeared at The Book Connection. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack

Sadie Hoffmiller needs this vacation. The last year and a half of her life has been one non-stop trial and tribulation, and after Boston, everyone hopes the time away will help her.

When she discovers the body of a young woman near Anahola Beach, her time off goes out the window; especially when the woman's son finds her and wants Sadie's help to figure out what happened to his mother. 

I haven't read any of the other culinary cozy mystery novels in this series, but I kept hearing about them. So, when Tristi Pinkston emailed me to see if I was interested in reviewing this book, I hopped at the chance.

Sadie's previous adventures in crime solving--and especially her time in Boston--have left her afraid and triple-locking her doors. Even being in paradise hasn't been the ideal medicine.

Invited by the Blue Muumuus to go snorkeling, little does Sadie know how much this dreaded trip is going to change her life. After a panic attack, she discovers the body of a known drug addict. The official investigation seems to be going in one direction, but after meeting the woman's son, Charlie, she's not so sure the police are looking at it the right way. For Charlie's sake she works to uncover the truth.

Banana Split is a page-turning read with a sea full of twists and turns. Just when you think you've figured out what happens, another clue leads you in a new direction. I honestly didn't see the ending coming.

Kilpack masterfully creates wonderful characters whose lives you soon become invested in. I can easily see why this series is so popular. Cozy mysteries are always fun, especially when you have a reluctant sleuth. Sadie definitely fits this bill. In addition, the reader will sympathize with her desire to get well again, while they applaud the support given to her by her family and friends. I also love how the author includes recipes from the story in her book.

My one tiny nitpick is that the events in Boston are kept so secret in this novel. In the previous book, Pumpkin Roll, she found herself involved in another mystery that based upon the references made to them in Banana Split, caused a good deal of Sadie's distress and was a reason her family encouraged her to go on this vacation. It's frustrating to know Boston played such a huge role in Sadie going away, but never really knowing even the tiniest part of why. It's the only aspect of the book I was disappointed with, but I would definitely read more from this author.

If you like cozies with great characters and a mystery that will keep you guessing, you'll want to pick up a copy of Banana Split by Josi Kilpack.

  • Paperback: 368 pages

  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain (March 6, 2012)

  • ISBN-10: 1609089030

  • ISBN-13: 978-1609089030

  • SRP:  $18.99

  • I received a FREE paperback of this book from the author or her representative in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    First Chapter Review: For the Birds by Aaron Paul Lazar

    When I first posted this First Chapter Review at The Book Connection, I toyed around with the format a bit. 

    Aaron graciously sent me this book months ago, despite the fact that I hadn't reviewed the other book he had sent me before--FireSong. This man has the patience of Job, so he is to be commended. We  know each other online from the MurderBy4 blog, which I visit from time to time. Wish I had more time to visit blogs like that one, since I would love to write a mystery one day.

    TITLE/AUTHOR:  For the Birds/Aaron Paul Lazar

    BLURB:  What happens when a parakeet named Ruby gets an unexpected mind-meld with Marcella Hollister's quarrelsome mother, Thelma? After Thelma is kidnapped from her hospital bed, Marcella must find her -- somewhere in the tall pines of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. With the help of her Native American husband Quinn and bizarre "tips" from Ruby, Marcella butts heads with quirky bird psychic Earl Tiramisu, much to the chagrin of the FBI, who wants her to stay out of the investigation.

    Why is Tiramisu asking questions about Thelma's past and the money she's been spending? The FBI agents hint that it may be related to an unsolved fifty-year-old bank heist, but Marcella can't believe her annoying, but honest-to-a-fault mother could be involved.

    Across the rugged Adirondack park landscape, a brutal scenario evolves, where the good guys aren't what they seem, and only Ruby's newly acquired talents provide slim hope for survival.

    COVER: This is a neat cover. Based upon what I know from the first chapter, the rustic landscape is perfect. The orange bird ties into the title, and according to the blurb I know it has something to do with the plot. Except for suffering from looking way too computer generated, I like it.

    FIRST CHAPTER:  Driving down a remote Adirondack dirt road, Marcella and her husband, Quinn, are looking for a hotel. They're lost, they're sweaty, and Marcella thinks her hubby is a bit of a control freak. Snoring in the back, oblivious to all the bumps in the road is Thelma, Marcella's mother. This doesn't look like a good way to start their adventure.

    KEEP READING:  Definitely. Lazar manages to give the reader a lot of information in this first chapter without making her feel overwhelmed. Within a few pages, we learn Marcella is a bit of a cheapskate and a control freak. Her husband calls her babe, a lot. He's the calm and patient pitter to her hyper and impatient patter. There's even a hint that the relationship with her mother might not be perfect.

    The author does a fine job of describing the setting and painting a picture for his reader, so that she feels like she is riding in the van alongside Marcella and Quinn, having her own teeth rattled going over each pothole.

    My tiny nitpick, and it's really more a pet peeve, is that the main character's name isn't made known to the reader in the first chapter. You know it's Marcella from the back cover blurb, but Quinn only refers to her as babe, so you don't know her name until the second page of chapter two, when her mother talks to her. Here I am supposed to connect with this character on some level, and I don't even know her first name. Why does it bother me? I guess it's because I like to remember people's names and for them to remember mine. Silly? Yes.

    Paperback: 242 pages
    Publisher: Paladin Timeless Books (November 15, 2011)
    ISBN-10: 1606191667
    ISBN-13: 978-1606191668
    SRP: $16.95

    I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this first chapter review.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    Interview with A.K. Alexander, Author of Daddy's Home

    I started writing when I was nine-years-old. I used to write short stories on my dad’s notepads. One day he read one and he said to me, “You are a writer.” It stuck. My dad is still my biggest supporter and he is also my mentor in many ways. I went to college at The University of Southern California. My parents though didn’t think that “creative writing” at USC was a major that would likely be lucrative in the long run, so I figured I would be logical and look at writing in the journalistic field. God (the Universe), etc. had a different plan for me. Soon after I graduated from USC I gave birth to my first son. He was six weeks premature and he had some health issues, which caused me to decide that going into a career at that time would not benefit my son. So, I stayed home with him and I wrote my first book. That first book is tucked away in a box somewhere because it’s pretty darn bad, but it gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could start, write, and finish a book. From that point on, it took me twelve years to become a published author and several manuscripts. It has been a wonderful and amazing process, and although many challenges have presented themselves along the way, I have never quit writing. It is my passion!

    My other passion is Horses. These amazing animals are very dear to my heart and I have been known to take in “strays.” My daughter and I are very active in the horse world. My daughter is involved in pony club and three day eventing.

    I enjoy work with other writers when I can , especially kids. I designed a program for young writers to help them learn how to write short stories and picture books to writing complete novellas for older kids. I have mentored several students now and it’s a joyful experience to see young writers and their creative minds at work. It is something I am working on expanding with some local teachers in my area.

    Family and friends are extremely important to me. I am the proud mother of three amazing kids who have always supported me and are just great, awesome human beings (yes, I know I sound like every mother in the world about their kids, but I really mean it). My husband is my best friend and a very patient man, which is a real positive—he is married to a writer after all. We also have three dogs, a kitty, and eight horses.

    When not writing, riding, or being a taxi-cab driver for my youngest, I try to find time to do a little yoga, meditate or cooking. I love cookbooks and cooking!

    A.K.’s recent release is Daddy’s Home.

    You can visit her website at

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

    I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve now written 18 novels in various genres. I am a mom of three ranging in ages from 11-20. I love to cook. I am a passionate horse woman and have 9 horses who I adore. When not writing or taking care of my family, you will find me out with the horses or playing with our dogs. I have always brought home stray dogs and I seem to keep doing it. We are up to 4.

    Where did you grow up?

    In San Diego County.

    What is your fondest childhood memory?

    When I was nine and my dad brought home a yearling filly for me named Dandy. I loved that horse!

    When did you begin writing?

    I can’t remember when I wasn’t writing. I started as a kid and wrote my first novel at 12 in a notebook—about sixty pages. Of course horses were involved!

    Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

    I typically write during the day until the late afternoon when my family arrives home. My daughter and I ride up to five days a week so many afternoons are spent with the horses.

    What is this book about?

    The book is about a really bad man who wants a perfect family. He has his psychotic reasons as he stalks single mothers and their kids. He abducts them and when things don’t go so perfectly he gets rid of them.

    What inspired you to write it?

    I had been a single parent and I was out on a soccer field with one of my sons when a creepy guy kept watching me. He finally said something so inappropriate to me and scared the heck out of me that I couldn’t wait for the game to finish and get out of there.

    Who is your biggest supporter?

    My parents, my husband and my kids. I think my Mom is the biggest one though.

    Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

    Not any longer. I actually work with an editor and my very good friend and bestselling author Jessica Park is my “go to girl” for critique.

    Who is your favorite author?

    Too many to even pick one. I love all genres so I have various favorites within the different genres.

    Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

    I have had a few agents over the years, but now I only work with a foreign rights agent and a TV/Film Management team. I manage my own career at this stage of the game and happy to be doing so.

    Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

    Bumpy as all hell. It took me twelve years, a couple of hundred rejections. Then after finally publishing (9 mysteries) with Penguin both series were dropped. I went out on my own at that time two years ago and it has been a completely positive and wonderful experience with nearly all of my books hitting bestseller lists including The Wall Street Journal.
    If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

    I would have listened to my entertainment attorney and not signed so many of my rights away on my Wine Lover’s Mysteries!

    Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

    Amazon is where the e-book can be purchased. The print book can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

    Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

    You can find it on my site or on You Tube as well as on Amazon. Here is the YouTube Link:

    What is the best investment you have made in promoting our book?

    Pump Up Your Book and AuthorBuzz.

    What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

    Sit on your butt and write. The writing is the key to all of this. Write, write, write with the intention of entertaining readers.

    What is up next for you?

    I have a new release out in April titled The Grey Tier: A Dead Celeb Mystery. That book is a Michele Scott book. My next A.K. Alexander thriller will be out this summer and it is a sequel to Daddy's Home, so readers will have another chance to read about Holly Jennings.

    Is there anything you would like to add?

    I just want to say that I am grateful for my readers. They are the reason I do this. I love hearing from them and writing for them. They are an extension of this experience and it has been wonderful to develop a readership of great people.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    First Chapter Review: Design on a Crime by Ginny Aiken

    I love a good mystery. It's no wonder when I receive notice of a list of free mysteries for my Kindle, I download more than I should. It would not surprise me to find over half of the books on my Kindle are in this genre.

    TITLE: Design on A Crime (Deadly Decor Mysteries, Book 1)

    AUTHOR: Ginny Aiken

    BLURB: Haley Farrell is taking a chance on herself. After receiving her interior design certificate, she quits her job at the local furniture store and decides to open her own interior decorating business. But with all the advantages of her new career-meeting new people, and decorating new and old homes-comes a huge pitfall. Her new job allows her access into her clients' homes and their lives . . . but also their deaths.

    When Haley's mentor, Marge Norwalk, is murdered, Haley becomes the prime suspect. Armed only with the confidence that Marge instilled in her, Haley sets out to find the real murderer. But as she sets forth, she has no idea what twists and turns will bring her face-to-face with her long-hidden past.

    COVER:  Love it. Though I think the woman on the cover is a bit smaller than the person I read about in the first chapter, the layout definitely alludes to the occupation of the main character--interior designer Haley Farell. The woman looking behind her could symbolize the past Haley is running from or looking back at a killer. The one thing it doesn't portray at all is that it's a Christian cozy mystery.

    FIRST CHAPTER:  We meet Haley Farell at the auction of the Gerrity mansion. Her mentor, Marge Norwalk, is supporting her decision to leave a job at a furniture store to start her own interior design business, Decorating $ense. Hoping to land a job working for Noreen Daventry to redecorate the Gerrity mansion once the rich woman's bid is (hopefully) accepted to purchase the home, she offers advice on what items from the house Noreen should bid on. When Marge doesn't return from lunch break, Haley helps in the search, which ends with a gruesome discovery.

    KEEP READING:  Maybe. A murder coming at the end of the first chapter definitely makes you want to read more, but is that enough to keep going? The opening isn't bad, but I wish it were a bit different. There are several characters introduced in this chapter:  seven, in addition to mentions of a few other people in town. The reader also discovers a good deal of information quickly. Haley is a pastor's child, who also happens to own a brown belt in martial arts. She quit her job at the furniture store to open up her own interior design business at the encouragement of Marge and some of the other church ladies. Her mother is deceased and there is a mountain of bills to conquer. With Haley begging the ancient floors not to give way and a mention of her healthy frame, it seems she might not be the most petite girl.

    The reader is also treated to back story on some of the characters present at the auction. It's a very busy chapter. Not overwhelming, but busy. The only indication that this is a Christian novel is the Bible verse that precedes the first chapter and the fact that the main character is a pastor's daughter. I might read another chapter to see how it goes.

    Format: Kindle Edition
    File Size: 1423 KB
    Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2005)
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    Currently listed as FREE.

    I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    First Chapter Review: 30 Pieces of Silver by Carolyn McCray

    I picked up a Kindle copy of this book for two reasons: it was free and its subtitle is, "An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller." Who doesn't enjoy a bit of controversy? Historicals and thrillers are two of my favorites, so picking up a book that combines them seems the right thing for me. In addition, the Amazon description says you shouldn't read the book if you're disturbed by The DaVinci Code or The Passion of Christ's revelations. I remember the broowaha that surrounded the former, so I had to take a peek into McCray's book.

    TITLE:  30 Pieces of Silver

    AUTHOR:  Carolyn McCray

    BLURB:  Frustratingly enough, I couldn't find an official blurb for this book, even at the author's website. Pretty much, it looks like review blurbs are what is being used to compel readers to buy the book. I did, however, find this overview on Amazon -

    A Christian suicide bomber.

    John the Baptist's bones inscribed in ancient Greek.

    A dark secret carried from the foot of the crucifixion.

    Can science solve the world's greatest mystery?

    COVER:  Love it. The deep red cover with a slice through it that reveals coins definitely makes one think thriller and maybe some sort of mystery. The font used definitely gives the inkling that this is an historical novel. I don't believe this is the original cover, though. The one at the right is posted at Goodreads and also used in blog interviews, so I'm thinking the cover was redesigned at some point. Good thing. This other cover never would have attracted my attention, and for the most part, when I am scanning for free e-Books, I go by the cover and then read the blurb if the cover caught my eye.

    FIRST CHAPTER:  I can't reveal too much about this opening chapter because it would ruin some of what transpires. What I can say is the reader meets Dr. Rebecca Monroe, who has been captured by maniacal warriors in Ecuador. She is currently staked to a pole, bleeding, and eagerly awaiting her end.

    KEEP READING: I really don't know, but I'm leaning toward no. Writers are told that readers don't bother with prologues. I've always read them, but when they are overdone, I get irritated. This one spans a few pages. In order to fully grasp some of what this book is about, however, you need to read this prologue. And before you read the prologue, you have to read the short piece that precedes it, where the reader meets Judas Iscariot, who is considering the role he played in the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus. So, before you even get to the first chapter, you have a bunch of reading to do, and what happens in the two parts that precede the first chapter have different characters and situations than it does.

    Any author worth her salt will connect these pieces. Toward the end of the first chapter we see it already happening, but having so many characters tossed at you quickly and not immediately connected, leaves the reader with a disjointed feeling. In addition, the reader is told that Dr. Monroe's vision is blurry from a blow to the head, yet, the reader gets detailed descriptions of everything and everyone around her. It seems as if this is being told from her point of view, so either she can clearly see what's happening or she can't. A tiny nitpick, but it aggravated me as I read the descriptions. That said, McCray definitely knows how to paint a picture for the reader. You feel like you're right there.

    After reading the three sections, I am intrigued by where this is going; how the dots are going to be connected; and what controversy might lie ahead, but I don't know that I am intrigued enough if the story is going to remain disjointed. I might be willing to give the next chapter a read before fully deciding to continue or not.

    Format: Kindle Edition
    File Size: 940 KB
    Publisher: Off Our Meds Multimedia (December 22, 2010)
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    ASIN: B004HB1W82
    SRP:  $3.99

    I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    First Chapter Review: Honeymoons Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton

    I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle.

    AUTHOR:  Connie Shelton

    BLURB:  Charlie Parker's romantic honeymoon in Taos, New Mexico, is interrupted when a ski instructor who works for her husband is fingered for the murder of his priestly brother, and a cache of priceless artifacts turns up in her ski chalet.

    COVER:  While I have to admit, this is not my favorite cover, I like that the author has been consistent since the first book's release. Each book is designed the same way: one color background, the title bordered off with a contrasting color, the author's name in bold at the top, and an eye hole with a picture in the middle--though this cover's appears to be less oval than the others. The hearts make you think love and honeymoons, so it works.

    FIRST CHAPTER:  We open with Charlie and her new husband Drake in what appears to be a spot of trouble. Drake is a pilot and Charlie is preparing for her license. In addition, Charlie is part owner of RJP Investigations with her brother, Ron. With their house being renovated, Charlie and Drake are living in the RJP offices. Because of their rush wedding, they never went on a honeymoon, so they are eager to accept a friend's offer to visit Taos and provide heli-skiing tours around the holidays.

    KEEP READING: You betcha! In case I've never mentioned it before, I like action to start off my books. It's part of why I am drawn so much to mysteries--usually a dead body turns up or someone's life is in danger within the first few paragraphs.

    This is the sixth book in the Charlie Parker Mystery Series, but it's the first one I've read, so that added a sense of mystery to the opening. I honestly wasn't sure what was going on. Shelton smartly didn't pull me around on a string for too long, knowing I might get ticked off. Once aware of what was happening, I was able to digest a bit of back story and then be thrilled with the cliffhanger end of this short chapter. I'm eager to find out what happens next.

    Format: Kindle Edition
    File Size: 362 KB
    Publisher: Secret Staircase Books (October 11, 2009)
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    Language: English
    ASIN: B002SG7OSU
    SRP: $4.99

    I received no monetary compensation for this review.

    This post first appeared at The Book Connection.