Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lowcountry Boneyard Blog Tour and Review

Lowcountry Boneyard

Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyers
Publication date: April 21, 2015 by Henery Press
Paperback: 292 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: Author/publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.
But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.
Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.
“Has everything you could want in a traditional mystery: a credible and savvy protagonist, a meaty mystery, and setting that will make you want to spend time in South Carolina. I enjoyed every minute of it.” – Charlaine Harris, New York TimesBestselling Author of Day Shift

My Take: 

Lowcountry Boneyard is a southern mystery with a touch of paranormal. The paranormal is Colleen, the ghost of Liz Talbot's best friend. At first, I was a bit concerned about what this aspect of the book would do to the overall story, but I ended up loving it. Colleen pops in when needed and is learning new ghostly skills all the time -- which is extremely helpful for Liz. 

I wouldn't call Lowcountry Boneyard a cozy mystery because it was too tense and some seriously bad stuff happens, but it was definitely a page turner and I was thoroughly involved in the story from the first chapter. I really liked Liz, the point of view character and a real southern woman with serious crime solving skills. She is funny and smart and has a strong sense of style. Even when her personal relationship with her business partner hits a rough patch, she is still the professional and continues to focus on the case at hand.

The missing persons case of finding heiress Kent Heyward takes some crazy and scary turns early on. Liz and Nate have their work cut out for them. Beyond that, I hate to say too much about the plot -- this is one crazy ride and I don't want to ruin the fun for the reader. There is so much going on and so many interesting and, in some cases, creepy people introduced in the course of the novel. I loved every minute of this book! 

I haven't read any of the other Liz Talbot Mysteries, but I will be changing that in the immediate future. I enjoyed Lowcountry Boneyard so much that I am going to make reading the other books my summer goal. The story is fun and exciting and a real nail-biter of a suspenseful mystery. I will definitely recommend it to friends and family. I can't wait to see what adventures Liz and Colleen will get up to next!

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Susan BoyerAbout Susan M. Boyer

Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boilwon the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives.  You’ll find all of the above in her novels.
Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.
Find out more about Susan at her website, and connect with her on Facebook andTwitter.

Susan’s Tour Stops

Friday, April 24th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, April 27th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Wednesday, April 29th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 1st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, May 4th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, May 5th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, May 5th: Mystery Playground
Thursday, May 7th: Ms.Bookish.com
Monday, May 11th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Tuesday, May 12th: Walking With Nora
Wednesday, May 13th: Bell, Book and Candle
Monday, May 18th: Reading Reality
Thursday, May 21st: The many thoughts of a reader
Monday, May 25th: Priscilla and Her Books
Tuesday, June 2nd: Book Loving Hippo
Wednesday, June 3rd: Jane Reads

Monday, May 18, 2015

Genius de Milo Spotlight

ABookGeek is happy to host this spotlight for Genius De Milo by Russ Colchamiro via Pump Up Your Book.

Title: Genius De Milo
Author: Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Pages: 320
Genre: SciFi/Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:
Jason’s smile dropped away, replaced with a silent, open-mouthed slug of resignation, that whatever was happening was authentic, and unfolding in real time.

In a shared-brain moment Jason and Theo slowly panned in Jamie’s direction  until finally she felt their accusatorial eyes lock on her. And though neither of them spoke, the imputation of blame came through with perfect enunciation: What did you do? What’s coming?

But what could she say? Which cluster of words could encapsulate both the scope and nuance of their predicament? Jamie could offer a pretty good guess as to why their immediate surroundings morphed before their very eyes—it had to be Brigsby-related, didn’t it?—but when it came to the what, she was equally mystified.

So all she could do was stand there. She blinked a few times. Then a few times more. The night went bracingly still, as if every fractal of sound had been drained from the Universe. The three of them held in place, petrified, as if the incredible forces converging upon them were seemingly just to be unleashed. Which, of course, they were.

About the Author
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.
For More Information

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blood of a Stone Blog Tour and Review

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Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Publication Date: March 17, 2015 Tuscany Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 371
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

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 Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption. Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar. However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices. Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?

Praise for Blood of a Stone

"Blood of a Stone takes the reader on an adventure in a fascinating period of history where the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity converge. An extremely well written historical novel." -Amazon Best Selling Author of The Olivia Series, Yael Politis

"Jeanne Gassman has composed a spiritual journey of one man's heart-rending path to redemption on the fringe of the Jesus movement. Wrapped in polished prose and vivid depictions of life in 1st Century Palestine, Gassman's story transcends genres to offer a rich biblical tale of love, loss, forgiveness, and the restorative power of faith." -Barbara Devlin, Bestselling Author of the Brethren of the Coast series

"BLOOD OF A STONE by Jeanne Gassman is an enthralling, introspective historical tale that studies the human spirit in all its various forms: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. The novel is touching, wonderfully written and has a stunning story line that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommend!" -Eliza Knight, USA Today Bestselling Author, My Lady Viper 

"Details of 1st-Century Palestine come alive as Jeanne Lyet Gassman weaves a compelling story of unspeakable challenge and the search for redemption. Trapped in a life of desperation, Demetrios will do whatever it takes to escape, even kill those who enslave him. But when his life comes in contact with the man, Jesus, everything that seemed so important begins to shift. The story moves from pulse-pounding action to heart-wrenching honesty, as Demetrios pursues the Peace every heart craves." -Amazon Best-seller Author, Christy M. Bellar, The Lady and the Mountain Man

"Grace, one of the most challenging journeys of life and literature, is explored in this fine debut novel by Jeanne Lyet Gassman. Set in first century Palestine during the time of Jesus, BLOOD OF A STONE is a moving, well-researched, beautifully turned novel that had me engaged and in tears. Highly recommended!" -Best-selling author Allegra Jordan, The End of Innocence

"Jeanne Gassman is a remarkable writer who brings a Biblical era stunningly to life in this powerful and fast-moving tale of sin and redemption." -American Fiction Prize Winner, Clint McCown, author of Haints

"In art man finds a conduit to the divine. Blood of a Stone, Jeanne L. Gassman?s artful debut, is a tale of murder, love, betrayal, and redemption in 1st century Judea. Crafted with imagination and superlative style, her story tracks slaves Demetrios? and Elazar?s arduous climb from sin to forgiveness." -Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award, David Beckett, The Cana Mystery

"Jeanne Lyet Gassman's stunning evocation of 1st-century Palestine in all its teeming, multifaceted complexity compelled me, page after page, to follow the fateful pilgrimage to Jerusalem while also walking the rocky path from undeserved suffering and terrible guilt to the possibility--open to all of us--of forgiving and being forgiven." -Diane Lefer, co-author of The Blessing Next to the Wound

"Blood of a Stone is a gripping story of friendship and betrayal, love against all odds, a brutal Roman Empire, and the threat of a revolt that becomes instead the beginnings of freedom. Jeanne Lyet Gassman tells us what it was like to live in the time of emperors and slavery, a world into which Christ was born." -National Book Award Winner, Gloria Whelan, Homeless Bird

"A meditative journey on the ways that life cripple us all -- and the choices we make that lead to bitterness and blame or joy and forgiveness -- Gassman's BLOOD OF A STONE is a biblical journey of self-discovery that will strike a chord in every reader." -Michelle Zink, Author of Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy

"Jeanne Lyet Gassman is an astonishingly good writer. The ancient world of Blood of a Stone feels alive on every page. And if you think there's nothing fresh to say about the fragility of freedom and the difficult road towards redemption, this novel-chock-full of compelling characters and propelled by a polished, downright luminous prose-will provide new and heartfelt insights." -Nance Van Winckel, author of Boneland: Linked Stories

"In Blood of a Stone, author Jeanne Lyet Gassman leads the reader on a journey of surprise and suspense. Her well-researched work is the story of Demetrios, a slave who sinks to murder to defend his own life. He is a Gentile, in partnership with Elazar, a Jew. They travel Palestine in the midst of the Jesus movement and each in his own way finds his life changed." -Wall Street Journal Top Ten book selection author, Donna Foley Mabrey, Maude

My Take:

Blood of a Stone is an interesting book. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first started reading it. The main character is Demetrios, a young Gentile who was sold into slavery by his father. After a short life filled with abuse and suffering a severe injury at the hands of his own father that has left him with a crippled leg, he is then further betrayed by being sold as a slave. This is a defining point in young Demetrios's life and he is filled with resentment and fear. Elazar, another slave, befriends him and stands by him even after Demetrios commits a terrible crime.

The lives of Elazar and Demetrios are intertwined from this point on. They manage to begin new lives and things seem to be going well until Elazar does the unthinkable and insists on following Jesus. Demetrios is again betrayed and this event sets off a wild and strange and possibly miraculous chain of events. The novel is mostly about Demetrios and how his past has defined his character and how he is basically emotionally crippled by his anger and fear. 

I found myself very intrigued with where the story was going and despite some initial hesitancy, found myself anxiously turning virtual pages as quickly as possible to find out how the book ended. I appreciated that the author didn't focus too much on Jesus or his followers beyond how they interacted with the main characters of Demetrios, Elazar and later, Tabitha. 

I also enjoyed the descriptions of the legal, political and social aspects of life and the practical day to day things that I hadn't given much thought to before. I also liked that the author didn't try to explain too much about some of the more mysterious events, but let them stand on their own.  There is much to praise in this book and I enjoyed it very much. 

Available at

Amazon Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author

03_Jeanne Lyet GassmanJeanne Lyet Gassman lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellowships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In addition to writing, Jeanne teaches creative writing workshops in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. Her work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse, among many others. Blood of a Stone is her debut novel.

Author Links

Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Jeanne's Writing Desk
Facebook Author Page

Blood of a Stone Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Spotlight at Curling Up With A Good Book

Tuesday, May 5
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, May 6
Spotlight at Cheryl's Book Nook

Thursday, May 7
Excerpt & Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book

Friday, May 8
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 12
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, May 13
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 14
Review at A Book Geek

Monday, May 18
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 19
Guest Post & Giveaway at Latte Da
Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, May 20
Review at Genre Queen

Thursday, May 21
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Friday, May 22
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Holy Lance Blog Tour and Review

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The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham
Publication Date: March 24, 2015 Knox Robinson Publishing Formats: eBook, Hardcover 
Pages: 360 
Series: The English Templars (Book One) 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Middle Ages 
Source: Author/Publisher for an honest review


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 The year is 1191. A daring counterattack against the Saracens? last-ditch effort to relieve the besieged city of Acre has not only saved the Christian host from a fatal defeat; it has also brought the leader of that counterattack, English Templar Michael Fitz Alan, to the attention of King Richard the Lionheart. In the days that follow, the king charges Fitz Alan with a life-or-death mission ? to recover the Holy Lance, a long-lost religious relic widely believed to be responsible for the near-miraculous success of the First Crusade. The ensuing quest leads Fitz Alan and a hand-picked band of Templars on a journey deep into enemy territory, where they battle Saracens, Assassins, hostile Christians and even a traitor within their own ranks as they seek to return the Holy Lance to Christian hands and thereby ensure the success of the crusade.

Early Praise for The Holy Lance

"A timely and compelling novel. The Crusades inform and often infect our understanding of the contemporary Middle East, and while this book is fiction it reveals much of the truth about that misunderstood era. Outstanding reading." - Michael Coren, award-winning television host, radio personality, syndicated columnist, and best-selling author of fourteen books, including most recently The Future of Catholicism

"A fascinating and thrilling story played out under the boiling heat of Palestine at a time when two cultures clashed violently over the ultimate prize of Jerusalem. Andrew Latham has created a believable and sympathetic lead character in the Templar Fitz Alan as well as providing us with a thrilling insight into the mysteries of the Templar order. A most enjoyable tale, like that of an experienced jongleur, set against the personal conflict between Richard of England and Saladin. It vividly resurrects the life and death struggle between Saracen and Crusader." - Dr. Paul Doherty, OBE, historian and critically acclaimed author of dozens of works of historical fiction, including The Templar, The Templar Magician and most recently The Last of Days

"Grizzled warriors, an epic conflict, a fabled quest: Latham's engrossing tale of violence and faith careens savagely through the Third Crusade and its legendary clash of wills - 'Coeur de Lion' versus 'Saladin', 'Frank' versus 'Saracen'. The splendid English Templar, Michael Fitz Alan - flawed, fearless, lethal - here joins the front rank of historical fiction's greatest warriors."- Dr. Dean F. Oliver, award-winning author, director of research at the Canadian Museum of History, and Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau

"Violent and visceral. . . meticulously researched. . .  superbly plotted. . . The Holy Lance is historical fiction at its best!" - Steven A. McKay, bestselling author of Wolf?s Head and The Wolf and the Raven

"If you're looking for an historical adventure soaked in blood. . . The Holy Lance delivers. . . Latham shows a welcome attention to the complexities of the Crusader world and to the details of Templar life. A satisfying amount of blood is shed as Michael Fitz Alan and his Templar troops battle their way towards their goal. And the book offers a rousing conclusion, with the promise of more to come. Bring it on!" - Jack Hight, author of The Saladin Trilogy

My Take:

The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham is a short, but exciting tale that introduces the reader to a worthy Templar knight by the name of Michael Fitz Alan. Fitz Alan is flawed and troubled by his past, but loyal and determined to fulfill his duty. Once I got all the players figured out, I was completely pulled into the story.

I liked that although Fitz Alan has a violent past as a knight, he seems to truly want to change - now he only fights for his faith. He is obviously trying to outrun something in his past, and while what that might be is only hinted at, I am hopeful that there will be more information in the following books. Fitz Alan is an intriguing character with nuance and complexity - he is a knight with all that entails, but not one from a fairy tale.

There is much violence and bloodshed and both sides - Saracen and Christian - feel they are on the right side. I appreciated that neither side is portrayed as wholly good or wholly evil. There are loyal companions and disloyal traitors in both camps. There are so many factions and groups within groups that it is wonderfully complex and hard to decide who exactly is a good guy - if there is such a thing.

From approximately the half way point on, I was hard pressed to make myself put the book down --- I was thoroughly caught up in the tale. I loved the detailed descriptions of the battles and daily life on crusade. I am excited at the prospect of reading more about Fitz Alan's adventures and I hope that the next book will include more about the Hospitallers and the Assassins as well as the Templars. The Holy Lance should appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that takes place during the Crusades, Richard of England, the Templars, military fiction and just historical fiction in general. I am looking forward to the next installment of The English Templars Series.

Pre-Order the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

03_Andrew Latham_AuthorKnox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war. Trained as a Political Scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages. He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. His most recent book is a work of non-fiction entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades. Latham was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States. He graduated from York University in Toronto with a BA (Honours) in Political Science, later earned an MA from Queen?s University in Kingston and, later yet, a PhD from his alma mater, York. Latham is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers? Association and De Re Militari: The Society For Medieval Military History. Since 1997 Latham has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he where he lives with his wife Wendy, daughter Bernadette and son Michael. For more information and updates, please visit Andrew Latham's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Holy Lance Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, May 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Sunday, May 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, May 11
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 12
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, May 14
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, May 15
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Last Book Ever Written Blog Tour and Review

The Last Book Ever Written
by Jonah Kruvant
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher:PanAm Books; first edition (April 28, 2015)
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours for an honest review

In a futuristic American society where all citizens have computerized chips in their brains and insert needles into their veins to enter a virtual reality, Victor Vale leads a fairly typical life.  He is an officer of the law with greater ambitions, a family man, and a dutiful citizen of the Nation.  Yet when The Chief assigns him a case to go undercover and expose a community of illegal “creators,†Victor finds himself strangely compelled to write.  For the first time, he starts to question the world around him, and becomes involved in a web of lies, uncertain of whom to trust, and unable to distinguish between virtualism and reality.  As he searches for answers, Victor slowly begins to unravel hidden truths about the world, and even uncovers an astonishing secret from his own past.

The Last Book Ever Written satirizes our competitive, success-driven society, foresees the effects of the economic recession, and warns what could happen if we let technology go too far.

My Take:

The Last Book Ever Written by Jonah Kruvant is a pretty ambitious undertaking. The story is told from the point of view of Victor Vale, a police officer who has recently been promoted to detective - or almost promoted. His promotion hinges on how well and quickly he can solve a new case. This particular case will cause Victor to question everything he believes and everything he thinks he knows about his world. 

The world that Victor inhabits is a futuristic distopian version of the United States where art, writing  and creativity in general are illegal. Kruvant paints an interesting if disturbing picture of a possible future for our society. The wealth gap has continued to widen and the poor are called and thought of as "the beggars" because since the advent of the automatrons that took over the service industry and manual labor, the working poor can no longer work to support themselves.

I liked the premise of the novel very much. This type of book is generally something I am quite interested in. I give Kruvant credit for his ambition and interesting vision of this distopian world. However, I believe that the book could benefit from additional editing to help with flow and dialog and address a few grammatical errors. 

I did appreciate the hints within the story which point at moments when our society has lost some perspective and points out that we should think for ourselves more - not just believe the media and go on about our lives in a superficial manner.

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About Jonah Kruvant

Jonah KruvantA writer, teacher, and student of the world, Jonah Kruvant received his Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, his Master’s degree in Teaching from Fordham University and his MFA degree from Goddard College. After living abroad in four different countries, Jonah lives in New York. Visit his website at www.jonahkruvant.com.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ivory Ghosts Blog Tour and Review

Ivory Ghosts: A Catherine Sohon Elephant Mystery by Caitlin O'Connell
Publication Date: April 7, 2015 by  Alibi
Pages: 240

In a blockbuster debut thriller brimming with majestic wildlife, village politics, and international intrigue, a chilling quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.

Still grieving over the tragic death of her fiancé, American wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon leaves South Africa and drives to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia, where she plans to face off against the shadowy forces of corruption and relentless human greed in the fight against elephant poaching. Undercover as a census pilot tracking the local elephant population, she’ll really be collecting evidence on the ruthless ivory traffickers.
But before she even reaches her destination, Catherine stumbles onto a scene of horrifying carnage: three people shot dead in their car, and a fourth nearby—with his brain removed. The slaughter appears to be the handiwork of a Zambian smuggler known as “the witchdoctor,” a figure reviled by activists and poachers alike. Forced to play nice with local officials, Catherine finds herself drawn to the prickly but charismatic Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation, whose blustery exterior belies his deep investment in the poaching wars.
Torn between her developing feelings and her unofficial investigation, she takes to the air, only to be grounded by a vicious turf war between competing factions of a black-market operation that reaches far beyond the borders of Africa. With the mortality rate—both human and animal—skyrocketing, Catherine races to intercept a valuable shipment. Now she’s flying blind, and a cunning killer is on the move.
“The scientist that Caitlin O’Connell is shines through her first work of fiction, a thriller set against the illegal ivory poaching trade in Africa. With descriptions and dialect so real you feel as if you might be turning pages while sitting deep in the bush, and a skillful narrative that teaches while it thrills, this novel is a win for any animal lover or reader with a conservationist’s heart.”—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time

From the very first page of this exciting novel I was completely caught up and interested in Catherine and her mission and in the local situation. Ivory Ghosts begins as Catherine is making her way to her new home for the next few months and she blows out a tire. Her day quickly goes downhill from there as she comes upon another car that appears to have hit a large animal and there are signs that the car had been filled with poachers. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Catherine and the reader are never quite sure who can be trusted and who is hiding something. The mystery is troubling and the novel brings out the complexity of the issues at hand. There is the safety of the elephants, which is of course a priority for Catherine, but there is also the reality of life in close proximity to elephants and the dangers that go with it. Corruption is widespread and it isn't clear exactly who is involved and at what level. Then the additional problem of increasing tribalism in the area adds another troubling issue to the mix.

There is a budding romance within the novel, and unlike many mystery/thrillers, it actually adds to the plot and makes sense within the story. I thought their developing relationship worked really well and added to the overall tension.
Caitlin O'Connell's love for elephants and Africa is clear on every page of the book. The descriptions of the plant life and the animals is just amazing. I have never had an interest in going to Africa, but some of the descriptions of the terrain, the sounds of the wildlife in the book make the place sound amazing. . I will enthusiastically recommend Ivory Ghosts to friends and family. Also, I loved the title of the book, with the images it brought to my mind and the deeper truth to it. Ivory Ghosts has stuck with me since I finished reading it and the ghosts of the elephant families haunt my thoughts. I am excited at the prospect of reading more Catherine Sohon books soon.

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About the author
A world-renowned expert on elephants, Caitlin O’Connell holds a Ph.D. in ecology and is a faculty member at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as director of life sciences for HNu Photonics. She is the author five nonfiction books about elephants, including the internationally acclaimed The Elephant’s Secret Sense, An Elephant’s Life, A Baby Elephant in the Wild, and Elephant Don, and co-author of the award-winning The Elephant Scientist. She is the co-founder and CEO of Utopia Scientific, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and science education, and the co-founder of Triple Helix Productions, a global media forum with a mandate to develop more accurate and entertaining science content for the media. When not in the field with elephants, O’Connell divides her time between San Diego, California, and Maui, Hawaii, with her husband, Tim Rodwell, and their dog, Frodo.

Caitlin O’Connell’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, April 6th: 100 Pages a Day
Wednesday, April 8th: Buried Under Books
Thursday, April 9th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, April 13th: Book Nerd
Monday, April 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, April 15th: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, April 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 17th: Reading Reality
Monday, April 20th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, April 22nd: It’s a Mad Mad World
Thursday, April 23rd: Back Porchervations – Q&A
Friday, April 24th: Back Porchervations
Monday, April 27th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 28th: Read Love Blog
Wednesday, April 29th: Life Between Reads
Thursday, April 30th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, May 4th: The Novel Life

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour and Review

02_Inspector of the Dead Cover
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p 
ISBN: 9780316323932  
Genre: Historical Mystery

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 David Morrell?s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London's harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria. The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

My Take:

I haven't read Murder as a Fine Art, the first of the Thomas De Quincey novels, but I had no problems with previous events which were handled extremely well.  I was so thoroughly caught up in the story that it was hard to pull myself into the present when I was forced to stop reading for meals, and such.

De Quincey is a fascinating character in the book and by all accounts was just as fascinating in real life. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into how his agile mind worked despite - or because of ? -  his extreme opium addiction. His daughter, Emily, was also an engaging character and I enjoyed reading the selections from her diary that told her own experiences within the story. Their family story is quite sad, but Emily is a devoted daughter and sticks by her father despite the hardships caused by his addiction.

The mystery of who is killing the top level British aristocrats and why is a complicated and exciting tale that seamlessly includes so much history and Victorian atmosphere that at times it is difficult to tell where the history ends and the fiction begins. I don't think that a fan of Victorian historical fiction could ask for anything more - from the poor Irish immigrants, the squalid Seven Dials rookery, Bedlam and the debtors prisons to the upper echelons of British society and Queen Victoria and Scotland Yard - this book contains everything needed to make a engrossing and satisfying tale.

Within the mystery, there is discussion of the science and methods of crime investigation, medical knowledge of the time, the study and theories of dreams and psychology and the effects of extreme poverty and violence on people. I enjoyed all the various topics discussed and illustrated throughout the novel.

I will be recommending wholeheartedly  Inspector of the Dead to my friends and family. I very much appreciated the Afterword in which the author givew much information about the history of the people, buildings, assassination plots and generally puts the novel in historical perspective for the reader. There is also a list of additional reading that I am anxious to add to my reading list. I plan to go back and read Murder as a Fine Art and will be anxiously awaiting a new installment in this wonderful series.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead

"Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn't just delve into the world of Victorian England-he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man's opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks." -Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:
"Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey's life and work. The solution is a complete surprise." -Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

 "The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing-all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book." -Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

 "I absolutely raced through it and couldn't bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure." -Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

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About the Author

David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called "one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013."

For more information visit David Morrell's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 24
Review at Unabridged Chick
Excerpt at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, March 26
Review at JulzReads

Friday, March 27
Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview at JulzReads

Monday, March 30
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Tales of a Book Addict

Tuesday, March 31
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 1
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Thursday, April 2
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Friday, April 3
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Monday, April 6
Review & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read
Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 7
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 8
Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews

Friday, April 10
Review at Layered Pages
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Drey's Library

Monday, April 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 14
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 15
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, April 16
Review at Editing Pen
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at The Maiden's Court

Friday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Editing Pen

Monday, April 20
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 21
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Books and Benches

Wednesday, April 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, April 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Medium Dead Blog Tour and Review

Medium Dead by Paula Paul
Publication date: April 14, 2015 by Alibi
Source: digital ARC from Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear and Ellis Peters, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.

Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side.  

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.

Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.

My Take:

Medium Dead is the fourth in the Alexandra Gladstone series, but it works well as a standalone book as well. I haven't read the other books and I had no problems because the author does a nice job handling any needed information from previous books.

I found Medium Dead to be a light, easy-to-read mystery that was fun and held my interest throughout the fairly short story.  There are lots of interesting characters including the medium mentioned in the title, various villagers and Alexandra's friends and a variety of shifty characters who may not be quite what they seem. I thought the setting was appropriate for a Victorian ghostly mystery with enough storms, fog and graveyards to keep any reader happy.

While the story is light and pretty fast-paced, it isn't particularly alarming or a thriller -- I'd definitely categorize this one as a cozy mystery. I did enjoy reading about daily life of the villagers and  Alexandra herself. She isn't a typical female for the time - being a doctor during the Victorian era was quite unusual for a woman.  Even though she can't call herself a physician, she still is able to practice medicine - and turns out to be a better doctor than some of the top male doctors of the time. 

Fortunately, the ghostly activity is pretty clearly man-made, but it was still fun trying to figure out who was behind the activity, how they did it and why. Medium Dead is one of those books that can easily be recommended to a wide variety of readers because it is so fun and enjoyable and easily read in a day or so.  I would also happily read more in the series. 

About the author

Award-winning novelist Paula Paul was born on her grandparents’ cotton farm near Shallowater, Texas, and graduated from a country high school near Maple, Texas. She earned a BA in journalism and has worked as a reporter for newspapers in both Texas and New Mexico. She’s been the recipient of state and national awards for her work as a journalist as well as a novelist. Her previous novels featuring Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, including Symptoms of Death, have appeared on bookstore and online bestseller lists. She is also the author of the Mystery by Design series, which she wrote as Paula Carter. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

To learn more about Paula, visit her WEBSITE.

 Paula Paul’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 13th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, April 13th: Melina’s Book Blog
Tuesday, April 14th: 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, April 14th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, April 15th: Fictionophile
Thursday, April 16th: Psychotic State Reviews
Friday, April 17th: It’s a Mad Mad World
Monday, April 20th: Buried Under Books
Monday, April 20th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 21st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, April 22nd: Reading Reality
Thursday, April 23rd: The Reader’s Hollow
Friday, April 24th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Monday, April 27th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, April 27th: Under a Gray Sky
Tuesday, April 28th: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, April 29th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, April 30th: 2 Kids and Tired

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