REVIEW: Off the Grid by CJ Box

off-the-grid

5 stars!

If you like Joe Pickett’s best friend Nate Romanowski, then dive into “Off the Grid” as fast as you can!

I came late to the table in discovering CJ Box’s wonderful Joe Pickett series, and I think I’m now all caught up and so sad to have to wait for the next new one.

This latest entry is another well-written, beautifully plotted mystery with great characters, except in Off the Grid, Nate Romanowski gets equal star billing alongside his best friend Joe Pickett. When they finally meet up in the midst of a potentially devastating crime, you can’t help but think Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, only way more complex because these good guys are flawed and perfectly suited to our complicated time.

Start reading and you’ll quickly discover that you can’t put it down! Highly recommend.

https://www.amazon.com/Off-Grid-Joe-Pickett-Novel/dp/0399176608

Enter This Fun Fall Giveaway for Readers!

Fall into Books Giveaway

 

Fall Into Books $250 Giveaway

September 23rd to October 15th

An awesome group of bloggers and authors has joined with me to bring you one fabulous prize!!

Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card

Ends 10/15/16

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MOVIE: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss

5 STARS – Saw this on a list of all-time best detective movies!

Okay, so every once in a while I put down the book and pick up the remote control. I’ll take my mysteries in any format!

If you like your murder mysteries served up with humor, then this is the one! An odd-ball buddy movie that quickly becomes a trio when they are joined by a wonderful “dame” (in the 1940s sense of the word). The dialogue is snappy, clever and fun, and the plot goes a mile-a-minute with some twists you don’t see coming. I loved the climatic keystone-cops-type chase scene and shoot ’em up, and all of it with a strong dash of LA noir! Don’t know how I missed this when it first came out.

REVIEW: Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews

Palace

5 STARS – A woman spy like no other!

Perhaps the best spy novel I have ever read! Matthews’ authenticity when he writes about the world of the CIA is unparalled. And in Russian agent & femme fatale Dominika Egorova, he has created one of the great “good guys” in all of the spy genre. I loved “Red Sparrow,” his first book, where we first meet Dominika, and this novel is even better. I can hardly wait for the third installment.

The Ugly Truth about Book Reviews

Confession time about my books reviews: I will only ever review books, TV shows, and movies that I like. There are plenty that I don’t like, but I’ll never review another person’s work with a negative review, because a substantial part of what we like comes down to a matter of personal taste. Plus, all of us work so hard and pour our hearts and souls into our creative efforts that I couldn’t publicly put down another writer. Book reviews should be the last thing we have to worry about.
Obviously, not everyone agrees. Just do a search for “Goodreads bullies” or “authors behaving badly,” and you’ll see what I mean. On second thought, don’t do it. You don’t want to see what happens when angry people leave scathing book reviews.
And that’s the reason you will only see 4 & 5 star reviews on my Facebook page and blog. Does that make me disingenuous? Of course not. There are plenty of things I didn’t enjoy. Actually, I’m kind of picky about my mystery stories, so more often than not, I’m left a little underwhelmed. It’s just that I refuse to spread a negative opinion when it’s just that… an opinion.
To better understand it, here’s an article I loved from the NY Times, because Sittenfeld’s “most gratifying” review was from an anonymous Amazon reviewer!

REVIEW: Open Season

Open Season

Can hardly wait to read all the other Joe Pickett books in this series!

Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Friends just told me about this series, so I started at the beginning with an audiobook of Open Season. I loved it so much that I gave the paperback to my husband for his birthday, and he thought it was so fabulous that he shared it with friends. We love the west, and in Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, C.J. Box has created one of the most authentic western heroes out there. This everyman with a grounded sense of morality is ready to risk everything to right a wrong in a story that is fast and furious and full of surprises until the end!

Review: Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell

111

My review: Feisty, Gilded Age Heroine-Detective!

Set in the glamorous whirl of late nineteenth century Newport, Rhode Island, Maxwell creates a charming female character in Emma Cross, a poor relation to the powerful Vanderbilt clan. Although she’s a writer for the society pages, she ends up as an accidental detective when her black-sheep half-brother is arrested for a murder during a huge Vanderbilt ball. I love how author Maxwell shows her determined heroine at work using the full range of investigative techniques available at the turn-of-the-century. Wonderful, light-hearted read!

From the book description:
As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder darkens a glittering affair at the Vanderbilt summer home, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood. . .

Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do–report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost. . .

Murder at the Breakers

Review: All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer

Knives

My Review of All the Old Knives, by Olen Steinhauer:

“A solid read, but some of the jumping between different periods of time left me confused. The ending more than made up for it — one of the best ever, and I never saw it coming!”

From the book’s description:
Six years ago in Vienna, terrorists took over a hundred hostages, and the rescue attempt went terribly wrong. The CIA’s Vienna station was witness to this tragedy, gathering intel from its sources during those tense hours, assimilating facts from the ground and from an agent on the inside. So when it all went wrong, the question had to be asked: Had their agent been compromised, and how?

Two of the CIA’s case officers in Vienna, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, were lovers at the time, and on the night of the hostage crisis Celia decided she’d had enough. She left the agency, married and had children, and is now living an ordinary life in the idyllic town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Henry is still a case officer in Vienna, and has traveled to California to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all.

But neither of them can forget that long-ago question: Had their agent been compromised? If so, how? Each also wonders what role tonight’s dinner companion might have played in the way the tragedy unfolded six years ago.

All the Old Knives is New York Times bestseller Olen Steinhauer’s most intimate, most cerebral, and most shocking novel to date.

Tag! Author Post

If you’re going to write, you have to enjoy your own company because most of the time it’s a solitary endeavor. So when you come across a kindred spirit during the process, it’s a welcome bonus!

Donnie Light is definitely a kindred spirit. I met Donnie when I hired him to format my novel. He’s the consummate professional who is now devoting himself to working on his own books, including a new novel titled Delaney’s Cure. This thriller is about dogs in a small town who suddenly turn vicious and begin attacking the owners who love them.

Donnie recently tagged me in his blog post, for which I’m grateful. Check him out on Amazon  and his website and blog. Author tagging offers writers the opportunity to answer a few questions about their writing, gives a shout-out to the tagging author, and invites others downstream to participate. So here goes!

What are you working on right now?

My first book, Stunner: A Ronnie Lake Mystery, was a suspenseful mystery about family loyalty and possible betrayal, but my current WIP is a traditional mystery where someone is murdered early in the story. So it will be subtitled A Ronnie Lake Murder Mystery, and there’s also an important romance for Ronnie in this story. I write daily, and I’m probably two-thirds into the first draft.

How do your stories differ from others in the genre?

My protagonist, Ronnie Lake, is a fifty-something mid-life character who is divorced and was recently down-sized out of her corporate career. In Stunner, she was trying to figure out her next act when her niece comes to her in a panic that her recently widowed father (Ronnie’s brother) may want to marry again. It’s not only that his intended is a much younger woman, but that strange events have been happening ever since they’ve come home. Ronnie’s niece suggests they hire a private investigator, but Ronnie decides to see what she can find out on her own first. After all, how hard can it be? Bottom line—this is a story with a universal theme about betrayal and family loyalty with a protagonist who is not afraid to jump into a new endeavor as an amateur detective.

Why do you write what you do?

I can speak from the heart when it comes to the challenges of figuring out how to best navigate the babyboomer experience or mid-life adventure, so there was never a doubt that my lead character would fit that mold. And I love mystery, suspense, and thrillers, so I explore the mid-life experience within the context of those genres. I do believe in stretching beyond this category. I’m also working on a tween girls mystery with a writing partner, which we plan to publish later this year.

How does the writing process work?

I do best early in the morning (typically around 5am), while it’s quiet and before the distractions of the day set in. My time is split between writing and research, which includes my own reading to gather more background information that will play into the plot and characters. I treat writing as a job, but a job that goes beyond the typical eight-hour day because you never know when your imagination will let loose with a new angle, scene, or character just waiting to be explored in your work-in-progress.

TAG!!!

First on my list is Cindy Grogan. She and I go back years ago when she wrote the scripts for many television and video productions that I directed and produced, and we became friends along the way. I’ve always thought she has a wonderful way with language and a unique voice, and now she’s published her first book, which is available as both a paperback and eBook on Amazon.

Check out her blog and website.

Next up is Terence Flyntz. Like me, Terence is a debut author who’s writing like mad on the sequel to his first book. Also like me, Terence writes what he knows, bringing his day job into his plots and story lines. He’s the president of a cyber security company, and it was eerily coincidental that while his book, Virtual Conflict, was with his editor, the nearly-exact scenario from his book happened in the news headlines!

You can check out his first book here, and he blogs at TerenceFlyntz.com.

My final tagging goes to Lorca Damon. This author has been around the self-publishing world for a long time, but she’s also a traditionally published author and gets to see what works best about both routes. I love what she did with her young adult title, Driving the Demon, in which she gives readers a perfect juxtaposition to go along with a classic work of literature, The Catcher in the Rye. Take a look at the sample on this link and tell me you don’t want to revisit Salinger’s book while holding Damon’s in your other hand!

She also happens to be uproariously and irreverently funny when she blogs at LorcaDamon.com, and she shares insights about writing and publishing at SeeLorcaWrite.com.

Thanks for playing along…TAG! You’re IT!

Books on the Beach!

I love “collecting” bookshops almost as much as I love adding to my to-be-read pile, so when a friend came back from visiting Sanibel Island, Florida, singing the praises of a great little bookstore she’d visited, I had to check them out online. Calling itself “A Great Place to Be Stranded,” the store has a heavy emphasis on books while still offering tourists extras like a boutique clothing line, jewelry, a kids’ book and gift section, and locally made items.

One thing I noticed about this store just from browsing their website and their Facebook page is that they are avid supporters of their fellow indie bookshops. The store hosts titles from the ABA’s IndieNext list, which is a piece of information I adore: it’s not a list of which major books are climbing the sales charts from major retailers. Instead, it’s curated by members of the independent bookstore network, so the IndieNext list is made up of the books that these people are actually putting into their patrons’ hands each week. These are the books that bookstore owners have fallen in love with, and are recommending to readers everywhere.

It’s heartbreaking that small town bookstores are closing everywhere we look, so I make it a point to check out the locally-owned bookshops whenever I travel. When I make it down to Florida, Sanibel’s will be on my list!