Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Carole Brown and Undiscovered Treasures mystery review

Undiscovered Treasures

Undiscovered Treasures, an Appleton WV mystery
Carole Brown

About the Book
Caroline Gibson is co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, a shop of antiques, collectibles, and junk in rural West Virginia. Inside the shop is a music box that Caroline particularly relates to, believing that her own life is similar: forever spinning and never going anywhere. She dreams and prays for the right man to turn up. But when family and friends hint that the local artist could be the guy, Caroline forgets about trusting God and takes matters into her own hands. Besides, she could never love a man who paints such depressing pictures. Andrew Carrington, painter of said depressing pictures, insists there’s always one redeeming trait to each of his works. He’s loved Caroline since they were kids and thinks he’s not handsome enough, strong enough, or rich enough to impress this woman. But when God—or is it?—suddenly sends contracts begging for his signature, Andy thinks this just might be the way to win the only woman he can ever love. But there’s a hitch in their plans. Someone is stealing Andy’s pictures, and why would they do that when he’s an unknown—so far? Do they know something Caroline and Andy don’t know? Is it mischief? Or something deeper that neither understand? Andy gets the chance to work with Caroline, and she must put aside her on-going battle to avoid Andy and his art so they can discover the art thief in Appleton before Andy loses the chance of a lifetime to ‘make it big.’

Appleton, WV Cozy mystery series, inspirational
October 2016
Story and Logic Media Group

Ebook $2.99
Print $11.99

Buy on Amazon

My review
Brown’s third addition to her Appleton, West Virginia mysteries, focuses on another young resident business owner, Caro Gibson. Establishing a familiar milieu ala Jan Karon, Brown is building a repertoire of characters that figure in each other’s lives.

In this story, Caro, her brother Toby, and their lifelong friend Andy, wrestle with the direction of their adult lives. Caro and Toby run an odds and ends shop, besides what Caro does in her spare time—writing and selling plays for church groups to perform. She has begun to establish a respectable reputation in the area, and when a handsome director shows up in Appleton to hire Caro to write a play for his large church, Caro is smitten. Meanwhile, Andy has been developing a highly regarded following as an oil painter. He’s been sure Caro is his soul mate all of their lives, only somehow Caro not only missed that point, she blows off Andy and his work. For her, familiarity really does breed contempt. But when Andy needs her to help figure out who’s sabotaging his career, she hops over on one foot while keeping the other tangoing with the handsome stranger. Caro and Andy’s friends add to the fun trying to help their favorite couple realize they’re perfect for each other.

I found Carolyn Gibson needing to grow into herself and often wanted to smack her upside the head. Thank goodness for good friends who refuse to give up on her. Somewhat reminiscent of Nancy Drew, Brown’s circle of friends and mysteries are a fun clean read for those who enjoy jumping into small town life with big dreamers and achievers. Told in multiple viewpoints but mostly from Carolyn, Undiscovered Treasures is a sweet addition to the series. A sneak preview of the next book is included.

About the Author

Carole Brown's debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, is a 2015 Book of the Year in General Fiction from Christian Small Publishers, a RWA Oklahoma International Digital Award 2nd place winner, a Clash of the Titles top three finalist, a Selah Award finalist in debut novels, and a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bunco Baby mystery from Julie Cosgrove

Baby Bunco (Bunco Biddies Mystery #2)

Bunco Biddies, Bunco Biddies mysteries, book 2
Julie Cosgrove

Prism Book Group, a division of Pelican Ventures LLC
Cozy inspirational mystery

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Who would leave a newborn baby in the bathtub of a condo in Sunset Acres, a retirement community, and why?

And was a young woman slain behind the convenience store across the highway it’s mother?

Janie and the Bunco Biddies want to find out, but soon they discover sleuthing can get a bit dicey.

My Review
Sunset Acres might be for golden-agers, but those golden-agers can find a lot of ways to get into trouble when they try hard enough. This time the neighbor ladies dish up an international conspiracy, starting with a baby in the bathtub of the victim of the last Bunco Biddies story.

The latest adventure of the weekly bunco bunch poses the question of how useful can a person feel when one phase of life is over? Janie may be a golden-ager, but she’s still got a lot of vigor. Through her desire to keep hold of the best parts of pre-Sunset Acre years, she manages to grow closer to her son-in-law the detective, who not only needs her sleuthing help, but this time is willing to admit it. Through the experienced deductive reasoning of the biddies and some questionable detective techniques, law enforcement in Alamoville Texas gets a new spin on always getting their man.

I realized with a bit of surprise that I’ve aged into Sunset Acres. I could easily see myself joining Janie, Ethel, Mildred, Betsy Ann, and the crew. That thought put a new light on Cosgrove’s series and made them a little more fun for me. Told in multiple viewpoints, including the villains, Bunco Baby will leave you guessing about the latest crime wave and how widespread a terrifying gruesome practice has become.

Recipes included. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to bake some lemon bars pronto.

Julie B. Cosgrove 
About the Author
Winner of Best Religious Fiction 2016 by the Tx Assoc of Authors and Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading by the Author Show, Julie is a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, North Texas Christian Writers, DFW Ready Writers, DiAnn Mill’s Ripplers Group, The Christians Writers Group, and Christian Writers Fellowship International. 

A freelance writer and professional speaker, Julie has published hundreds of web content and articles with secular and Christian themes, led retreats, workshops, and Bible studies, and writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications. Contact her at www.juliebcosgrove.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Meet VP Hamilton from Danele Rotharmel's Time Search

Today, I’m talking with Vice President Andrew Hamilton from Danele Rotharmel’s new book, Time Search. Time Search is the third book in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Mr. Vice President, it’s nice to meet you.

Thank you, Lisa. It’s a pleasure to be here. Please, call me Andrew.

Andrew, I know you’re an avid supporter of TEMCO. Can you explain why you think the TEMCO program is so vital to our nation?

The statistics speak for themselves, Lisa. Last year, the TEMCO program directly led to 122 murderers vanishing from death row—and that’s not even counting the number of petty crimes and suicides that TEMCO time surfers have prevented. When a TEMCO counselor travels back through time and stops a young person from taking their first steps toward a life of crime, we all benefit. Supporting TEMCO just makes sense.

It’s rumored that you were time counseled by Zeke Masters when you were a teenager. Is that true?

At this time, I’m afraid that I cannot confirm or deny those rumors.

I understand. I know that TEMCO is currently facing a crisis. Drake Procerus, one of TEMCO’s senior cadets has gone rogue. People across the nation are understandably concerned. I’ve heard that you’re helping the TEMCO team and that you’ve assigned agents to track Drake down. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Because of the ongoing nature of this investigation, I’m unable to comment about Mr. Procerus. At this point, saying anything could be potentially detrimental. I’m sure you understand.

Of course. Let’s talk about something else, shall we? Nation Today has just named you “America’s Most Eligible Bachelor.” Congratulations!

Thank you, Lisa. But although the title is quite an honor, I’m afraid that it may make my life more complicated.

How so?

Many women are already intimidated by my political job and security concerns. Throwing a title like “America’s Most Eligible Bachelor” in the mix may ensure that the only ladies who will look my way are publicity seekers. Being grouped with playboys, rock stars, male models, and movie stars has its drawbacks.

I suppose that could be true. By your comment, it sounds as if you’re looking for love. Would you like to be married some day?

Of course. Marriage is a wonderful gift from the Lord. I would love to start a family.

Has any particular lady caught your eye?

Perhaps. But she’s not available.

Why? Is she already married?

Of course not! I would never proposition a married woman! The lady in question is simply residing in another country.

You’re blushing, Andrew. Who is this mystery woman?

Lisa…this will sound strange, but I don’t really know.

If you’ve never met, how do you know that you like her?

She’s a violinist traveling through Europe, and at night, I’ve been watching her televised concerts. I haven’t learned her name yet, but she is lovely… I suppose I sound like a fool.

Not a fool—a romantic.

Thank you, Lisa. That’s generous of you to say. I’ve been told that dream girls don’t exist—but I’ve found mine. I just wish I knew her name.

I may’ve seen one of your violinist’s televised concerts last night. Is she currently preforming in Ireland?

Yes! Lisa, this is wonderful! Did you happen to catch her name?

Yes… But I’m not sure that Danele would approve of me telling you. I think you should learn your dream-girl’s name on your own.


On another subject, I’ve heard that you’ve been asked to keep an eye on Angelina Ableman, Dan’s younger sister. Have you met her?

No… Lisa, can’t you give me a hint about my violinist’s name?

As much as I’d enjoy being known as the matchmaker for “America’s Most Eligible Bachelor,” I’m afraid that I shouldn’t say anything else. I wouldn’t want to spoil your surprise.

I’m disappointed, of course—but I understand. Would you like to ask me another question?

I’ve heard that your sister, Jessica, was in a serious car accident. How is she doing?

Not well, I’m afraid. As you know, Jessica was a rising star in the dancing world. Her injuries were severe, and they’ve put an end to her career. She’s living with me now, and I’m doing all that I can to help her recover.

I’m so sorry. Would it be possible for me to speak with her?

At this time, Jessica isn’t well enough for visitors. But I’ll send her your regards.

Thank you. On another topic, you and President Freemar are running for reelection. The last time you ran, you won in a landslide victory. You’re currently holding steady at an 84 percent approval rating. Do you feel that winning the upcoming election will be easy?

Lisa, nothing is ever easy when it comes to politics. But I’ve done my best to serve this country, and if the people of the United States would like me to serve another term, I will be honored.

I wish you well in the upcoming election, Andrew. Thank you so much for being here and talking to my readers.

Thank you for having me, Lisa. It’s been a pleasure.

About the Book - Time Search
The Time Counselor Chronicles #3

A nameless evil lurks in the shadows…

In the wake of a recent wave of violence, TEMCO employees are left reeling. While some of the staff are put into hiding, others are left behind to discover the true identity of the mysterious nemesis who is determined to destroy them all. While Crystal, Marc, and Zeke search for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for TEMCO’s missing leaders. It’s a race against the clock! And as the hours and seconds tick away, it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first. It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!

Read my review here.
Prism Book Group, an imprint of Pelican Books
Print - $16.99
Ebook - $4.99

Buy on Amazon, Print
Buy on Barnes and Noble
Buy on Smashwords - coming

About Danele Rotharmel

Danele RotharmelDanele Rotharmel grew up with a love of the literary word, and by age five, she knew she wanted to be a writer. However, her life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a low-level carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace in her home was slowly poisoning her. This poisoning triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and partial amnesia.

During this time, the hardest thing she faced was a crisis of faith. She had to quit her job and stop going to church. She couldn’t write, couldn’t drive, and could barely remember who she was. To say she was upset with the Lord was an understatement. She began reexamining her faith in light of her illness, and eventually, she came to the firm conclusion that God is real, God is good, God is interested and involved, and God is trustworthy regardless of tragedy.

When her illness became even more severe, she was put into quarantine and could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window. This quarantine lasted for seven years. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.

Danele currently lives in Colorado where she continues to write. Although her journey back to health was long and difficult, it provided her with the opportunity to grow closer to God and to write her books. For that, she is forever thankful.

You can learn more about Danele by visiting her blog at https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tam May Women's Fiction

Welcome Tam May

Gnarled Bones and Other Stories

Gnarled Bones and Other Stories explores five tales of loss, fear, and guilt where strange and spooky events impact people’s lives in ways that are profound and unchangeable.

In “Mother of Mischief” a newly divorced woman goes back to school to begin a new chapter of her life only to find herself circling back to where she started. In “Bracelets”, childhood nostalgia mingles with brutal fear during a circus outing for a mailroom secretary and her friends. In “A First Saturday Outing”* a lonely woman ventures out of her isolated apartment one quiet Saturday afternoon to an art exhibit that leaves an eerie impression on her psyche*. In “Broken Bows” a middle-aged violinist reveals the mystery behind his declining artistic powers to a lonely woman on a train. And the title story, “Gnarled Bones,” paints a portrait of the complex bond between an orphaned sister and brother through journal entries and first-person narrative. For these characters, the past leaves its shadow on the present and future.

This story was featured on Whimsy Gardener’s Storytime With Whimsey and can be found here.

Gnarled Bones and Other Stories is available in paperback and ebook now on Amazon

Tam, what do you love about this book?
I love to explore characters from the inside out and in Gnarled Bones and Other Stories, I really tried to go as deep as possible into each character to discover what happened to them in the past that affected them and those around them. I see a character as a tapestry with many threads that need to be woven together to create the picture of who he or she is, always an incomplete picture, of course. I have a very long way to go with my writing, but I feel like this book helped me take those first baby steps.

~Lisa: Sounds like excellent practice!

Introduce us to your most troublesome character.
Wow, that’s a tough one because I think all of the characters in the book are troublesome to some degree J. I guess if I had to choose, it would be Blaze from “Broken Bows.” He’s a middle-aged man with the face of a boy, a man-child, a former child protégée violinist who learned the value of performance art at an early age but whose more morose and understated style was oppressed by his father’s theater-dad approach to his son’s career. He was tough for me to write about because he kept so much hidden within himself. Like most artists, much of his pain and fear and joy went into his music rather than in his behavior. I had to unearth that, alibi in an incomplete way. But maybe it paid off, as I’ve had two readers tell me that “Broken Bows” is their favorite story and they would love to see the story expanded into something longer.

Share two things you learned about yourself, your setting, or the publishing world while writing this book.
One thing I learned about myself is that I tend to have a strange way of associating words, images, and emotions. Once the stories were finished and I gave them to my critique group and a professional editor, I got a lot of feedback along the lines of “I’m not seeing this” or “I’m not sure I get this” or “this is confusing”. Then I read Sally Cline’s biography on Zelda Fitzgerald and realized my strange associations are part of my personal style and voice. At the same time, I am writing for an audience. Some things I changed, some I deleted, and some I kept, based on what was right for the story and the mood.

The second thing I learned was about my setting. I set most of my stories in the San Francisco Bay Area because it’s where I really found myself as a person and as a writer. I learned that I had absorbed much more of the area than I thought. I lived mostly in San Francisco itself, a little in the East Bay, but I made a lot of weekend trips in the area. I wasn’t looking at anything specific, but I absorbed much more than I thought, since you tend to take a place you live in for granted. I learned that the redwood trees that are so typical of the area have a lot of spiritual meaning for me.

~Lisa: I love it when I can squeeze out those little details that add zest to the story and pour something into my soul. I don't think I'll ever forget my visit to the forest out there a few years ago.

What are you reading now?
I tend to read several books at once and I love reading classic literature. Currently, I’m just finishing up the collected works of Jane Bowles called My Sister’s Hand In Mine. I’m actually rereading it because I discovered Bowles several years ago and read her work and was fascinated by it. I’m also reading one of Virginia Woolf’s earlier novels, Night and Day. And I’m reading a biography of Truman Capote.

~Lisa: I never realized how versatile Capote was until we read his Christmas story in a book club. I listened to him read it on public radio, which was fascinating.

What's next for you?
Next for me are several works. I’m just about finished with the first rounds of revisions for the first book of my Waxwood series, The Order of Actaeon, and I’m giving chapters to my wonderful critique group for feedback to help me with the next round of revisions. I’m just about to start the first draft for the second book of the series, The Claustrophobic Heart. I’m also working on another book called House of Masks, which I started during National Novel Writing Month last year.

~Lisa: best wishes--sounds fascinating and I'll be watching.

Tam May
About Tam May
Tam May was born in Israel but grew up in America. She has a BA and MA in English and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She started writing when she was 14 and writing became her voice. She writes dark psychological fiction about characters from the inside out. She currently lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.

For more about Tam May, you can visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

Join Tam on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

My review:
As mentioned above, this collection of five short stories is based around the cyclic theme of the past affecting the present and future. Told with abruptness, the stories rely on faceted reflections of characters, a little piece of the soul that reaches out to influence the atmosphere around them.

May’s language is rich and nuanced. Some of the pet phrases I particularly liked include “learned to watch for the beginning of the pose” in Mother of Mischief, as the title character cared for her hoodlum little brothers; “Mickey found a list of one hundred greatest books when he was fourteen and was reading through it ever since.” That tells a fine tale of the character. Places in California like the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park came to mind when mentioned, although the lack of details would render the reference meaningless to someone who hadn’t been there. Likewise, Muir Park, the frame for Gnarled Bones. The longest and most developed story is Broken Bow, the violinist trying not to descend into dementia with his aged father. The narrator got on the train, and breathed the “steam of progress, blood, and freedom,” which helped set the scene and pace. The title piece was a bit of oddity, a sort of Poe-esque quality of people you think are probably out there, but whom you hope never to meet, about siblings so close they “stared at each other” through their separating bedroom wall after their parents died. A sister’s kiss is sure to be the cure for the brother’s illness; a kiss on his cheek would bring him back to her.

The short collection is for those who like a tiny trip through a back alley. It reminded me of watching the evening street people from the fourth floor of a downtown San Francisco Hotel, a microcosm of the lost and lonely seeking purpose and fulfillment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Robin E Mason Debut series Unsavory Heritage

Tessa (unsavory heritage, #1)

Tessa, book one of Unsavory Heritage
Robin E Mason

E-book $6.99
Print $19.95
510 pp
Buy on Amazon 

About the book
One mother. Two daughters. One favorite. One not. 

When Cassie Barclay is presented with an opportunity – or is it a curse – she jumps at the chance. She takes on a new life, her sister’s life, and although at first, it holds appeal and promise, she soon realizes sometimes the fairy tale is tainted.

Assuming the name of Tessa, Cassie moves into the life that was her sister’s, and faces first one realization then another, one disappointment after another. Stepping into Connie’s life does not automatically grant her all that Connie had or was.

But it does deny all that she had and was as Cassie. As herself.

My review
Mason has woven a tale of generational disjointed love and hate, judgement calls gone wrong, passion and forgiveness.

Christmas birthdays aren’t the only thing the Barclay women have in common. A penchant for finding trouble is another. Mason eventually focuses on the 1950s and the title daughter in this story of lovely, talented women who are disappointed by circumstances and relationships. The book is a virtual visit to this era, one of glamour and glitz, of unreality and reinvention. It takes some time to get here, though, as the story is told in cyclic form, starting with the revelation of a secret, then regressing to an earlier era.

Told in fits and starts, jumping around in time and from an outside wide perspective, this long story is a virtual romp through family secrets, shame, and triumph—thus the “Unsavory” heritage. The desire to be loved and accepted propels the cycle of poor judgement calls and missed opportunities. When an accident opens a strange crack in the family, the unloved daughter attempts to bridge the gap. A huge cast wanders in and out of the generations. Everyone is tied to together and the ripple of choices washes over all of the others. It took me a while to get familiar with the names and relationships, but once we jumped into Cassie/Tessa’s life, the twists just kept coming. Those who love family drama and multi-generational twentieth century stories told in wide angle format will enjoy this series.

About the Author
Robin E. Mason
I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa, in 2013. Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design. I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years. My characters face many of these same demons. 

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

I have three novels published, the Unsavory Heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) 9 by Mary Blowers as well as a short story, “Sarafina’s Light,” also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2017.

You can connect with Robin at:

The other books in the series are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I will review them in the future. ~Lisa
Book 2 Clara Bess 

Book 3 Cissy