An injured NFL kicker heads to the Ozarks to check out a teammate’s brother’s death; he discovers someone has taken justice into their own hands to fight domestic abuse.
The year is 1997, and when the NFL New York Giants kicker, Frankie “Scar” Scarmazino, is injured in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he must take time off to heal and recuperate. In his heart, Scar believes he’s lost his nerve to return to the game, but as he’s still in his early 30s knows he’s got to come up with a backup plan.
He confides to a good friend and teammate that he wants to be a private detective, and the friend tells him of the perfect place to start. The teammate’s brother had been murdered back home in his hometown, and the killer was never caught. So Frankie loads up his old Ford Pinto, Gilda, and heads to Jasper, Arkansas, to see if he can catch a murderer.
When Frankie rolls into Jasper, he inadvertently becomes embroiled in the shady goings-on of the small town. He witnesses a man, baseball bat in hand, chasing after a battered and bleeding woman, and jumps to intervene. The sheriff, a personal friend of the abuser, turns a blind eye to the crime, and Frankie finds himself the target of the abusive husband and his gang of similarly-minded wife-beating buddies.
But Frankie is on a mission and will not be run out of town. In the process of his investigation, he discovers that his teammate’s brother isn’t the only recent and unsolved murder. Someone is taking justice into their own hands when the sheriff fails to act and is murdering the men who are abusing their wives and girlfriends.
However, the sheriff is taking an interest in the murders of his buddies and has a local attorney working to help the victimized women in his sights. One meeting with Mira Strickland has Frankie’s senses reeling and his fervent hopes that the sheriff is wrong.
Kicker One: Going the Distance is a fast-paced, easy-to-read, and exciting story featuring a likable hero, dastardly villains, and some very smart and sexy women. Frankie Scarmazino is an interesting guy, a professional football player with some hidden characteristics. When he takes off for the Ozarks, he does so in his old 1971 Pinto and not some flashy, celebrity-worthy luxury vehicle. Beside him on the passenger seat is his most recent knitting project: a sweater he’s creating for his ex-wife as a gift.
In the story, Frankie’s nemeses include town bully Buddy Haymes, his backwoods buddies, and their close friend, Sheriff Bill Burrows. Happily, there’s not much to like about these guys, so it was easy to cheer for Frankie to beat them every step of the way literally.
The women of Jasper have their own hometown hero in attorney Mira Strickland. After having grown up in Jasper, she left town to pursue her law degree and, until recently, successfully practiced on the East Coast before returning home after having her own husband troubles. Frankie’s immediate attraction to her was fun and created tension and a significant conflict later when her actions and motives begin to look suspicious to him.
I recommend KICKER ONE: GOING THE DISTANCE to mystery readers looking for something light and easy-to-read for a fun and engaging diversion. The football theme was fresh, the setting in the Ozark region of Arkansas different, and despite the underlying crimes, fun to read.
Two engaging sister-sleuths and a “to DIE for” setting!
Finley Blake is an attorney-turned travel writer based out of Manhattan and her younger sister, Whitt, a banker living and working in Manila. Both travel for work and, when possible, try to arrange for their paths cross during their travels to enjoy some sister-time. When Finley gets an assignment in Morocco, the two arrange a meet-up in the gloriously exotic city of Tangier.
Finley arrives first and the hotel the sisters have chosen is a charming haven of luxury yet there’s just something “off” about manager. But Finley settles in and heads up to the rooftop bar for some refreshments where she meets a number of the other hotel guests: a film crew shooting a movie in and around the city. They’re a mixed bunch with their own issues but they welcome Finley into their midst.
Whitt arrives the next day and Finley takes her up to the bar to meet her new acquaintances. While they are mingling, the group hears a scream, and rushing back into the hotel, they discover one of the film’s crew is dead.
Murder in the Medina has two delightful main characters, an exotic and evocative setting, and a surprising and baffling mystery. Although the characters are different as night and day in interests and temperament, the author made me feel the love the sisters had for each other. In addition, both women are looking at new relationships with men in their lives and it was nice to be privy to each one’s inner dialogue as they sort out their thoughts and feelings about their futures with their guys. While Whitt feels the glow of a new relationship perhaps moving to another level, Finley encounters a past love. I enjoyed the easy-going, ready-for-anything, and Whitt’s love interest, David.
Besides the engaging characters, the story has a strong feeling of place. The plot takes the reader to several interesting locations in Tangier, Casablanca, and parts in between. The descriptions of the sights and sounds and smells made me feel I was there right beside the sisters as they explored so many fabled places.
There is more than one mystery in the story, and I liked that the sisters really left things up to the police to solve them. However, the reader will have enough clues to zero in on the right suspect yet still be surprised at the end. As far as the sisters, though, there isn’t a lot of bumbling around, getting in the way, or showing up the professionals. Sure, they question the police’s conclusions, but I felt they reacted just like a regular person would if they ran into the same circumstances.
There was a lot of action in the story once things started happening, and that’s pretty early on. There was always something going on! No one gets a breather until the end.
I recommend Murder in the Medina to cozy mystery readers who like a series that moves the characters from one location to another rather than a single setting. Even the fun prequel, Murder in Montauk, lets the reader armchair explore Long Island. Also, readers that enjoy a second-chance-romance storyline might want to take a look here as well.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
Lance Tallbear, a Native American deputy sheriff, investigates a startling 70-year-old cold case that someone still wants to remain buried.
Wow! I’ve been hooked on mysteries featuring Native American investigators since the first time I read one of Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee books. L.D. Lauritzen’s debut Lance Tallbear mystery held the same magic for me. It is one of the most thrilling mystery tales I’ve read this year.
In Regardless of the Consequences, we are introduced to Lance Tallbear, a deputy sheriff in Gila County, Arizona: a rough and tumble sort when needs be but always with the goals of doing the right thing for THE PEOPLE and pursuing justice. He has an inner struggle with his desire to work in the white man’s world (the Sheriff’s Office) and wanting to please his elderly grandfather, Gray Eagle, who wants him to follow in his footsteps as the tribal shaman. After his father’s death, his white mother had taken him to live with her during the school year, returning him to his grandfather and the reservation for the long summer break. During those summers, Gray Eagle had trained him extensively in the ways of the shaman. But when he grew up, he left that behind to go into the military and, later, law enforcement. Unfortunately, Gray Eagle viewed this as Lance turning his back on his heritage, as his father before him had done, and this is a continuing conflict between the two as well as in the young man’s heart.
Tallbear is not the only character in the story struggling in life; a couple of supporting characters are also walking a troubled path. Young Tommy Hawk immediately engaged me with his hopes and dreams for a better future. Also high on my list of favorites is FBI Special Agent Brad Hanley. He’s chasing his own demons, and I rooted for him to overcome them from the start, and I hope to see more of Irene Katz in his future. Officer Sally Yazzie, the captain’s assistant, presented such a “Radar O’Reilly” vibe that I hope she returns, too. The author gives us a plethora of bad guys to ‘boo .’ There were a few unresolved issues regarding them by the story’s end; I hope we can look forward to seeing them in sequels yet to come.
The plot is satisfyingly complex, involving a 70-year-old cold case, and it takes our heroes to some great locations on and off ‘the rez,’ including the Superstition Mountains, the Sonoran Desert, and downtown L.A. The non-stop action never allows the characters to take a breather, and the constant push forward and stress become a factor in the story. The characters battle their physical exhaustion, a harsh environment, and Mother Nature almost as much as the bad guys.
I can recommend Regardless of the Consequences for a variety of mystery readers such as those who enjoy books featuring a Native American sleuth as in Jean Hager’s Mitch Bushyhead or Molly Bearpaw books, the southwestern region of the United States such as in the Leaphorn & Chee series by Tony Hillerman, or set where the natural environment is a factor in the plight of the characters as in the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box or Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak books. Readers that like cold case mysteries or those with a tie to World War II secrets and the Nazis may also find Regardless of the Consequences to be right down their alley.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
Intriguing mystery with laugh-out-loud banter between characters that makes this story shine!
Vivianne Murphy and Venice Martino, partners in Rainbow Realty, are beginning to see real success with their business, and life is starting to settle into a good place for them both.
Venice meets a nice man at the local supermarket and accepts his offer of dinner, and soon the two are seeing each other regularly even though Bryan has plans to permanently relocate in the coming summer to a condo in Phoenix.
Vivianne thinks something is off with Bryan but realizes what really has her worried is that her best friend might choose a future in Phoenix over their friendship and business. But then she also finds herself on a date when wealthy client John Berkman shows his interest.
To top things off, Viv’s sassy mother is getting ready for heart surgery back home in New York City. Viv plans to take time off to go back home to visit and help her stepfather, sister, and niece care for her while she recuperates.
But when Annie, Rainbow Realty’s receptionist, arrives to find a young woman in a wedding dress dead in their office’s backroom (which used to be a bridal shop), the two friends find themselves in the middle of a mystery. Detective Traynor from the local police department soon arrives and takes charge of the investigation, warning Viv to keep her nose out of things.
A year after the events of Real Estate, Murder, and Mayhem, the first book in the engaging Vivianne Murphy Mystery series, the lead characters – Vivianne Murphy and Venice Martino – transplants from New York City have settled down and made their real estate brokerage a success. The narrative of Real Estate, Dating, and Death is mostly from Viv’s point of view, but Venice picks up the story when necessary, and that worked well for me. Both are fun voices, but Viv is comedy gold. The banter between the two partners sparkles, and Viv’s conversations with her mother, sister, and niece also had me in stitches at times.
I liked that the story included these two 40-something women stepping out of their recent comfort zones and dipping their toes in the dating scene. They’re still young, no matter what Viv’s mother may say.
I enjoyed the setting in the Pacific Northwest with its vagaries of weather, and the houses in the woods across from each other sounded so fun. In this story, there are also scenes in Arizona that create an interesting contrast. I liked the fun mentions of actual locations in each of the states.
A significant thread in the story is the animals. Both Viv and Ven have dogs that they call and treat like their children. There is wildlife that makes appearances throughout the novel: raccoons, lizards, and bears, oh my!
But we read for the mystery, right? At first, I felt the mystery was going to be very secondary to the evolving relationships in the series, but suddenly – WHAM! – it was front and center, and I was shocked and surprised by what unfolded. There were quite a few twists and turns and hidden connections! However, the clues to the mystery are sprinkled throughout the book for the reader to see how everything fits together. And bravo to the author for the “didn’t-see-that-coming” moment at the close of the book. Hopefully, book three is coming soon.
I recommend REAL ESTATE, DATING, AND DEATH to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a character-driven story, a Pacific Northwest or Southwest U.S. setting, or even have an interest in a sleuth involved in real estate.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
In this dramatic, fictional retelling of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield‘s final years, and of the events which led up to her meeting with P.D. Ouspensky and G. I Gurdjieff, novelist Linda Lappin transports the reader like a time traveler into Mansfield’s intimate world.
Scrupulously researched and richly evocative, the novel has been praised by Mansfield scholars as “creative scholarship.”
With vivid detail and beautiful language and style, Lappin has built on journals, letters, and diaries to fashion a true-to-life mosaic, using themes, motifs, and methods of Mansfield’s own writing.
Katherine’s Wish celebrates Mansfield’s deep love of life and its final message is a life-affirming one of joy and of wholeness achieved.
Finalist, ForeWord Book of the Year Award in fiction, IPPY Gold medal in historical fiction, honorable mention Hoffer Awards, honorable mention Paris Book Festival, finalist Next Generation Indie Awards.
A radio play adaptation of Katherine’s Wish is forthcoming.
France Book Tours is honored to start featuring this book on October 14, which happens to be Katherine Mansfield’s birthday!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Lappin has published four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004); Katherine’s Wish, dealing with the life of Katherine Mansfield (Wordcraft, 2008), shortlisted for Foreward Book of the Year and IPPY gold medal winner in historical fiction; Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery, winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award from RWA for the best mystery novel of 2013; and Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne. She is also the author of The Soul of Place: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci, winner in 2015 of the gold medal in creativity in the Nautilus Book Awards. She lives in Rome.
A vividly immersive novel of Katherine Mansfield’s final years
Katherine’s Wish by Linda Lappin is the mesmerizing novel of Katherine Mansfield’s final years. Lappin researched the story for more than 20 years and developed the story from Mansfield’s own writings and those of people who knew her personally. Written from Katherine’s and her long-time companion, Ida Baker’s points of view, the story gives insight into Mansfield’s relationships, feelings, and thoughts of the world around her, especially her deteriorating health. Her efforts to seek a cure for her consumption during this timeframe, after the First World War, were eye-opening regarding the state of medical knowledge then. (A lot has changed in the last 100 years, however even today, there are still “cures” lurking out there for the desperately ill.)
Lappin’s writing is lovely, so smooth and evocative. I could feel the characters’ emotions as if I were there to share them. My heart ached for both Ida and Katherine. Having finished the novel, I am inspired to read more about Katherine, her work, and many notable friends and acquaintances.
I recommend Katherine’s Wish to readers of literary fiction, historical fiction, and biographies, especially those with an interest in Katherine Mansfield and her contemporaries or those curious about the state of Europe after WWI.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.
Continuing from Episode 19, Betty, Jacob, and Adina finally put the pieces together on how to find the Tin Man and the Boudoir Butcher, and plan to apprehend the vicious criminals and end their reign of terror among the gangs of New York. But when the showdown comes, who are the ones that end up in the trap?!
Wow! Author Hayley Camille has put Betty through the ringer before but her dynamite Avon Lady has never faced the odds she confronts in this, the final episode of the second Lady Vigilante season, Red, White, and Blue. Betty maintains a realistic view of her chances throughout, but resignedly and bravely faces them.
I was glad to see and satisfied with how this storyline was ultimately resolved. With some plotlines still in play, I look forward to Betty’s return and the continuation of this unique historical mystery series in season three.
I highly recommend this episode to readers following the exploits of this kick-ass Lady Vigilante and Avon Lady and the entire series to those that enjoy historical mystery/thrillers featuring a strong female protagonist. As indicated above, the books are episodic, and I recommend they be read from the beginning in chronological order.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.
When the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella turns into a dragon.
Her dream twisted into a nightmare, she flees from the ball into the wilderness. Cinderella’s only hope? Sikandar, a sorcerer banished from a faraway land, who promises to break the dragon curse. Even at her most beastly, he finds beauty within her. But he’s hiding his own dark past, and saving Cinderella might be his last chance of redemption. Together, Cinderella and Sikandar must untangle dangerous secrets and deadly magic before happily ever after is forever out of reach.
Dragon by Midnight features sweet romance, twists on fairytales, an obsession with breakfast, and a cinnamon roll hero who’s too good to be bad.
Karen Kincy writes books when she isn’t writing code. She has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College, and an MS in Computational Linguistics from the University of Washington.
A fantastic and imaginative retelling of the Cinderella fairytale!
5 out of 5 stars!
From its stellar opening line, “Before she became a dragon, the night had been a dream,” Dragon by Midnight proves to be a wonderful retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a dark underlying storyline featuring magic, a jinni, an evil curse, and, naturally, a dragon.
Kincy’s story unfurls simultaneously in the two kingdoms of Viridia and Azurum, the home countries of her two protagonists: Ginerva “Cinderella” Darlington and the sorcerer, Sikandar Zerian. Although great distances apart, both kingdoms are ruled by royal families with hidden agendas and dark secrets who are cruel and selfish. This is quite a difference from the traditional portrayal of the king and queen who parent Prince Charming in the familiar fairytale and scarily similar to our expectations for the demeanor of stepmother and stepsisters.
The story is told from alternating points of view, in the voices of the two main characters, Cinderella and Sikandar. They feel both genuine and representative of young adults 17 or 18 years of age, even under the extraordinarily fantastic circumstances of the plot. The two display the feelings and emotions one would expect: they get mad, feel an attraction to each other, and have aspirations and hopes that work well within their situations. Both must overcome the impact of being the black sheep, the disappointment, or the unwanted member of their families.
The excitement and non-stop action of Dragon by Midnight start on the first page and never lets up, and the ending, which left things open for a sequel, was still satisfying. I highly recommend DRAGON BY MIDNIGHT for readers who enjoy Young Adult fantasy, fairytale retellings, and dragon tales.
If you think French food is complicated, decadent, and heavy, think again!
If you think learning and exploring another language is difficult or boring, think again!
And if you think cooking French food and learning French at the same time is impossible, teacher and home cook Elisabeth de Châtillon is here to prove you wrong. It might sound too good to be true, but THE HANDS ON FRENCH COOKBOOK is full of healthy, simple French recipes that you can make for friends and family while you learn not only the French language but also a little bit about French culture in a relaxed, fun, tasty way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elisabeth de Châtillon
was born in France, has an MA in Education and Marketing,
and has taught extensively in both the USA and Europe.
She is also an accomplished home cook
who enjoys sharing her love for French cooking
by feeding her family and friends simple, good food.
Her book, THE HANDS ON FRENCH COOKBOOK,
was born from her combined love of teaching and cooking
—and a desire to share that love and knowledge.
When Elisabeth isn’t working or cooking,
she likes stepping on her yoga mat,
meditating, swimming in the ocean and lakes, walking in the beautiful outdoors, and traveling.
She currently lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband, Ron, and Minou, her bilingual cat.
To find our more, please visit her website.
Follow her on Facebook, on Instagram, or on LinkedIn
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CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS AND AN INTERVIEW
Q&A with Elisabeth de Châtillon for France Book Tour
You’ve written a unique cookbook that combines cooking healthy French recipes with learning French. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Actually, the idea of this book really came up while I was prepping/teaching French cooking classes for children. Since my students love French food and I love to cook simple, healthy food, I wanted to bring both my love and experience of teaching and healthy cooking together.
When I arrived in the US about 20 years ago, my cooking skills had already (déjà) developed with my married life and the real pleasure of sharing simple, good food with my husband and my friends. Along with being a French home cook, I was able to pursue my love of teaching, which started when I was about 10. I was very driven to teach the piano to my sister, although I was not a virtuoso (une virtuose) at it! After an extended teaching experience in France and Italy, I landed on the other side of the big pond for Love (Amour) and some adventures in Nashville public inner city schools. Afterwards, it was time for me to go out on my own. And I have been a happy freelance teacher for about 17 years now.
When I took an entertaining week‐long workshop, I encountered a fun approach to teaching language acquisition through comments and body movements. I later came up with the idea of using this fun way of learning a language with my love for cooking and eating healthy food. Voilà !
What can people expect to learn as they read your book?
It is a bilingual cookbook that will not only teach you how to cook simple and healthy French dishes, but also will teach you to speak some French and learn about daily life and culture.
But a cookbook with only 10 recipes?! Yes! (Oui !) I did choose these recipes especially for your cooking as well as language lessons, because they are a good example of simple and healthy French cooking. The recipes also can be customized for different tastes, dietary restrictions and for use with seasonal fruits and vegetables. And if you like to learn some French, you won’t be overwhelmed by a great number of recipes like in traditional cookbooks.
Cooking the recipes will help you actively learn the language: “What the hand does, the mind remembers…” My favorite quote from Maria Montessori. That is why this book has been inspired by TPR (Total Physical Response), a fun, hands‐on teaching tool that allows you to learn a language by incorporating specific physical tasks with commands. It’s the same way you learned your native language through looking, listening, responding and doing. It is beaucoup de fun!
Last but not the least, you can make this cookbook your own. Learn actively some French at your own pace while cooking simple and easy recipes to follow. By the way, since it is a bilingual book in French and English, French readers will also learn English words and phrases.
Which is your favorite recipe in the cookbook and why did you include it?
My favorite recipe is the star on the cover of my book : The crustless quiche with yellow squash, ricotta, and parmesan (La quiche sans pâte aux courges jaunes, ricotta, et parmesan).
Really, I like to make this recipe often all seasons, with a great variety of seasonal vegetables. My friends love it!
And you can try this quiche in several ways by following additional recipes at the back of the book. Look for the variations called “Other Crustless Quiche with Seasonal Vegetables.” You can make quiches with tomatoes, ricotta and parmesan, or with spinach, leeks, mushrooms or broccoli. All these quiches are delicious!
Why am I including this quiche recipe?
I like the idea that this crustless recipe is a lighter and healthier version of the traditional quiche, and it also gets an extra flavor boost from the fresh vegetables.
And it is easy to make. It is a delicious one‐dish meal you can serve with a nice green salad.
Last but not least, this quiche also reminds me of a fond memory of my dear Mauritian friend, Nicole, who shared and cooked this recipe with me.
If you were cooking a dinner for friends, what recipes from the book would you combine to make a delicious meal?
In the summer I would have a Niçoise salad with quinoa (Salade niçoise au quinoa). It’s light and refreshing for a main dish. And for dessert, a silky chocolate mousse (Mousse soyeuse au chocolat). This is a nice, balanced meal, and chocolate fans will love it!
In the winter, for Mardi Gras, I would prepare a dinner exclusively with crepes (crêpes). For the main dish, buckwheat crepes with salmon (Crêpes de sarrasin au saumon), or other fillings, according to your taste or dietary restrictions (cheese, seasonal vegetables lightly sautéed or steamed, tofu etc.) Be adventurous!
For dessert, sweet spelt crepes (Crêpes d’épeautre sucrées) with all kinds of fillings, like sugar and lemon juice, honey, jam, steamed fruit, melted chocolate or sandwich spread (almond or peanut butter). Choose what you like!
I love this kind of festive dinner that you can prepare all year round like French people. It’s fun and you will have good laugh if you are brave enough to flip the crepes over in the air! Be careful it does not land on your dad’s face, like in the darling illustration by Clémentine, my French illustrator full of humor and talent.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Oui, I wanted readers of my book to hear how to pronounce the French words and phrases, so I recorded myself reading the main recipes in French. To listen to the recordings that go with this book, please visit http://www.handsonfrench.com and look on the top menu for “MY RECIPES AUDIO.” This will help you practice the French pronunciation as you read this book at your own pace.
I would like to be clear about the essence of my book: it is not a traditional cookbook. Indeed, each recipe is a learning journey of the French language inspired by TPR, that explains the unique format of this book and the number of recipes. Of course, as I said before, you can make this book your own and enjoy it according to what you are interested in.
From award-winning and bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age survival tale exploring issues of race, class, and climate change
Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Now, years later, Addy’s grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids—each with their own troubles—to spend a summer out west.
Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival.
But then comes a devastating forest fire…
Addy is face-to-face with her destiny and haunting past. Developing her courage and resiliency against the raging fire, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Not all are saved. But remembering her origins and grandmother’s teachings, she’s able to use street smarts, wilderness skills, and her spiritual intuition to survive.
Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children remained her dream.
Now she is the author of seven books for children including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black Brother. Her other books include Towers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. Her forthcoming novel, Paradise on Fire, will publish in September 2021.
Jewell has received numerous honors including the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Coretta Scott King Honor.
When she’s not writing, she’s visiting schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them, or teaching writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Yes, I loved this book! With interesting young leading characters, all with their own issues and fears, the story evolves, and the tension steadily increases until you find yourself smack in the middle of some honest-to-goodness pulse-pounding action. I almost thought I was breathing the fresh air and, later, choking on ash and embers. The characters were so very engaging that I was much affected as things unfolded. The story easily and totally absorbed me from start to finish.
In addition to the exciting story, the very serious themes of climate change, ecological degradation, and the need for environmental protection come through the action. These concepts with consequences are presented simply and straightforwardly so the youngest readers will understand, and older ones will not feel it’s too preachy.
Paradise on Fire is an unforgettable adventure story that is perfect for middle grades, high school, and readers who enjoyed Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from NetGalley.
A fantastic paranormal-cozy mystery you’ll be tempted to read from start to finish in one sitting!
Ghost Agents, the first book in the Ghost Agents Trilogy, was a fantastic story from start to finish. I loved everything about this book: the premise, the plot, the characters, and the (close-to-home-for-me) setting of Galveston, Texas.
The main character, Claire Abelard, is a determined young woman, dedicated to her job with The Bureau for Historical Preservation, to preserve and promote historically significant locations to keep their stories and local history alive, AND to monitor and assist the ghosts (known as “projections”) stay safe and on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, such commitment doesn’t come without sacrifices; as a bureau agent, Claire is posted to cities wherever her Level 5 skills are needed most, which keeps her separated from her family in Boston most of the time. Her job doesn’t leave Claire with much time or energy for a social life, either. Not only does she maintain a day job in a candy store as a cover for her bureau activities, but she also has a night job leading ghost tours of some of Galveston’s leading haunted places. Then, after the evening tours are over, she may have to conduct additional bureau business. But she is consistent in her goal to preserve, promote, and protect the ghostly projections in her jurisdiction and those outside it that have gone “rogue.” She’s smart, independent, witty, and an all-around fun character.
Other fun characters include the projections, including Claire’s three “roommates:” Sarah Meriwether, the motherly former owner of their shared home, April Parish, the tragic victim of spousal abuse, and Thelma Gates, a party girl from the 1920s. The author incorporates actual historical figures whose spirits are thought to haunt real venues located in Galveston (one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.) among Claire’s contacts. Some of Galveston’s long history is woven into the storyline as well.
Along with the city’s exciting history, the author does a fabulous job creating the secret world of “The Bureau” and the story and nature of the projections. The background exposition is cleverly delivered in both dialogue and excerpts from the Bureau’s history textbook that its agents-in-training are issued and expected to know.
With its fresh plot, burgeoning romance and sibling estrangement subplots, superb setting, and wonderful characters, Ghost Agents is a great cozy mystery that is sure to grab a reader’s attention and take it on an action-filled adventure. I highly recommend this book to any cozy mystery reader who enjoys a paranormal storyline.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy fromReedsy Discovery.