Saturday, August 1, 2009

Winner Announced: The Black Garden

The winner has been selected for the autographed copy of The Black Garden by Joe Bright. Using's random number generator, the number 202 was chosen, which was assigned to Kathy.

Congratulations to Kathy. I will be contacting her by email. If she does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway. Check back soon for more fun giveaways and reviews.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Chance to win The Black Garden

I just wanted to remind everyone that today is the last day to enter to win your own autographed copy of The Black Garden (click the book title or link on the sidebar to enter) by Joe Bright. Contest ends at midnight mountain time. Winners will be announced tomorrow, so check back.

Also make sure you check out the author's website and read a tantalizing excerpt from this incredible novel:

If you aren't the luck winner, or just can't wait to read the book, find it from your favorite retailer:

Powell's Books (recommended if you want to support an independent bookstore).

Barnes and Noble


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review: The Black Garden

Author: Joe Bright
Publisher: BeWrite Books
Rating: 5/5
Grade: 14 and up (mild language, themes involving murder and rape)

First of all, let me just say that mystery is not my favorite genre, especially murder mysteries: I tend to find them dark, depressing, or gory. The Black Garden, however, is none of these things. Author, Joe Bright, has done an expert job of weaving a realistic story with heavy themes and rife with tragedy, yet which still leaves you with a light feeling, and the hope that there is true goodness in mankind.

In The Black Garden university student and aspiring writer, Mitchell Sanders, accepts a job in a small Vermont town. His plan is to spend his days doing the work he was hired for—cleaning years of junk from an old Victorian house—and use his free time to finish his masterpiece of a novel. Leaving behind an ex-fiancé, and the drama he left to escape, he looks forward to the peace and uncomplicated friendliness of small town life.

However, this dream doesn’t last long. As he gets to know his employer, the ornery George O’Brien, and George’s granddaughter, the beautiful but reclusive, Candice; he finds himself pulled into the mystery which surrounds their lives. Why does the whole town seem to despise them? Why do they never leave the house or have any interaction with other people?

Mitch’s lifelong resolve to stay uninvolved and avoid conflict is compromised as he learns more about the O’Brien’s, and is able to see beyond George’s crusty exterior, and Candice’s aloof façade. As he begins to let them into his heart, he finds himself desiring to change their lives for the better. Yet this is harder than he had anticipated, since George has done such a good job of alienating everyone, so:

“I did what any unethical, good-intentioned man would have done: I lied.”
His efforts begin to pay off, but as his work on the house continues, events from the past are stirred up, and Mitchell finds the indirect effects of his actions threatening the happiness of the very people he is trying to help.

Joe Bright has managed to perfectly blend a large variety of elements to produce a very satisfying read: The dialog is witty and crisp, flowing effortlessly. The prose is beautiful and descriptive, and yet non-effusive; each word obviously carefully chosen. The characters are well developed, and lovable, even with their glaring faults. Humor is a major player in the novel: from joking between characters, to laugh-out-loud hilarious events.
“He didn’t do anything but laugh, but George adored him. I think if George could have traded me for Quinn, he’d have done it without a second thought. They say imitation is the truest compliment. Well, I think laughing at someone’s odd sense of humor ranks right up there with it. I’d never seen George smirk so much or look so pleased with himself.”
Another strong element is the author’s insight into human nature and the psychological motivations behind actions. Along with ethical dilemmas which challenge the characters' views of right and wrong, good and bad, and true justice.

The setting is very strong. I felt myself transported to the late 50’s as I read - among the poodle skirts, corner diners, and red thunderbirds. It is obvious that research has gone into producing this accuracy, but beyond this the author has managed to capture the feel of the time period.

And, of course, we can’t forget the tender blossoming of young love:

“We: the word hung in the air like a note composed by Mozart, a note so perfect that it brought the whole world into harmony.”

I would recommend this book to mystery lovers and skeptics alike. It truly has something for everyone, universal appeal. I will definitely be watching for more of Joe Bright.

Read an excerpt of the book at the author's website: ,but be careful, it will leave you wanting more.

If you haven't already, make sure that you enter to win your own copy of The Black Garden .


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Black Garden

Thanks to the generosity of the author, Joe Bright, I have an autogrpahed copy of his new novel The Black Garden (read my review) to give to one of my lucky readers. I recently read this delightful mystery, and will be posting a review and author interview within the next couple of days. For now just let me assure you that you do not want to miss out on your chance to win this book.

Book Description:
A young university student from Boston takes on the summer job, in a small rural town, of clearing the accumulated rubbish from the house and garden of an elderly man, George O'Brien, and his granddaughter, Candice. The task is not as straightforward as he at first thought and Mitchell finds himself drawn into the mystery surrounding the Black Garden and the lives of his employers. Can he solve the secret behind the animosity of the townspeople? Can he do so without endangering George's freedom and leaving Candice even more isolated?

To Enter:
For one entry: leave a comment telling me that you would like to win this book.(Please make sure that I have a way to contact you if you are the winner.)
For five extra entries:
Visit the author's website:, read the excerpt from The Black Garden, then come back and answer the five questions Joe has devised:

1. How long did it take Carolyn to walk to Grant Baxter's home?

2. What make of revolver did George O'Brien buy to protect his family?

3. In which newspaper did Mitchell Sanders read about the job in Winter Haven?

4. What was the granddaughter's name?

5. What was Mitchell studying at Boston University?

Winners will be randomly chosen from all comments and correctly answered questions. (Email entries will also be accepted. Send them to:

For an extra entry: become a follower of my blog; blog about this giveaway on your own blog; subscribe to my blog; or follow me on twitter. (If you already do any of these let me know.)

Contest ends July 31, 2009. Make sure your entry is in by midnight mountain time.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Virtual Book Tour--Mary Stanton--Guest Post

I am happy to be a part of the virtual book tour for Mary Stanton's new mystery novel Angel's Advocate , which was released for publication yesterday, June 2, 2009. This book is the second in the Beaufort and Company Mystery series, the first book being Defending Angels . To see other stops on the tour, and to enter to win a free copy of Angel's Advocate, visit (The pin # to enter the giveaway is: 2685)

Book Description from the publisher:

In Angel's Advocate (Berkley Prime Crime, ISBN: 978-0425228753, $7.99) Bree is back to business unusual at Beaufort & Company. With her most peculiar (a.k.a. 'dead') clientele and her anything-but-angelic staff, Bree finds that money's a bit tight at Beaufort & Company. After all, while the dead certainly need Bree's help in appealing to a higher court, they're not exactly paying clients.

Bree finally lands a case to help pay the bills when she is hired to represent Lindsey Chandler, a spoiled teenager accused of stealing a Girl Scout's cookie money. But this isn't exactly a case of petty theft, since Lindsey allegedly tried to run over said Girl Scout with her Hummer. And if that weren't bad enough, Lindsey is anything but remorseful, making this case -and Bree, by association - the talk of Savannah.

To her dismay, Bree soon finds that Lindsay's deceased father, millionaire Probert Chandler, also needs her help to prove that his death was no accident.

Caught between defending the living and the dead, Bree finds herself in extraordinary circumstances. But this time, Bree finds some extraordinary danger along the way.

Will Bree finally learn how to make a living off the living? Or will the cases of this unsavory father/daughter duo lead Bree - and Beaufort & Company - to a dead end?

Set in Savannah, Georgia, the world's most haunted city, Angel's Advocate is a charming, inventive and wildly entertaining tale.

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls Defending Angels, book one of the Beaufort & Company mystery series, 'Engaging and charismatic. A breath of fresh air for fans of paranormal cozy mysteries.'

Guest Post by the Author, Mary Stanton:


"Every writer I know is asked this question. (And every writer I know has a totally inadequate answer—including me!) I wish I had a short, pithy response that told the truth. First, because people who don’t write really want to know. And second, if I did know where I go to get my ideas, I’d go there more often.

In a general way, the ideas for novels and short stories come in the continuous barrage of daily living. You overhear a really weird conversation in a restaurant. Or you’re witness to outrageous behavior in a store or on the highway. Or somebody has a striking turn of phrase or accent during day to day conversation, or you see a passer-by who has a unique look. Writers store all this stuff up. Writers are observers first, and analyzers second, I think. My very first novel came about because I sat and watched my seven horses in their pasture day after day. They had very interesting behaviors and I stored all that up and used it as background for my first novel, THE HEAVENLY HORSE FROM THE OUTERMOST WEST.

In a more specific way, ideas come when an emotion strikes hard and stays with you. The beginning of ANGEL’S ADVOCATE came from a newspaper story about somebody who robbed a Girl Scout of her cookie money. My first reaction to that story was a shriek of dismay: “Who’d rob a Girl Scout!” Then I found myself making up a whole bunch of answers to that question—and the character of Lindsey Chandler was born. The deeper the emotion, the more urgent it is to tell the story. I had to write my first novel because my much-loved mare had died in a terrible way, and I had to write a story to expunge the grief. Strong emotions are perhaps the best source of ideas a writer has.

So, for me, at least, my ideas for stories are born of observation plus emotion. But that’s just the start of the idea: the next, most terrifying step is to turn the beginning of the idea into an idea for a novel. And that’s a whole different set of problems. An idea for a novel or a short story is built on a set of basic principles: stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end. Something has to happen, a conflict has to occur, and a resolution is necessary. And if you write genre fiction, as I and most of my friends do, the idea has to incorporate the conventions of the genre. In the case of mysteries, you need a crime, a victim, and a perpetrator. On top of that, you have to bring a theme and a dramatic premise to the story.

On my darker days wish I were a journalist—so I could just report facts and not have to add all the bells and whistles. (Once in a while, when I’m stuck on a plot point, I’ll add up how many corpses I’ve created in my career—with twenty mystery novels and an average of 2.5 bodies per book, that’s fifty murders, and I try like heck not to repeat the M.O.) On my sunnier days, like this one, where I’m anticipating the publication of my newest Beaufort & Company novels, I am very very thankful to be able to turn my ideas into novels for a living. On days like this, it’s all worthwhile."


Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: The Nonesuch

Rating: 4/5
Grade: C - 14 and up
Author: Georgette Heyer

Proving the theory of the rich getting richer, Sir Waldo Hawkridge is left the rather run-down estate of a childless relative. This because he was the only relative 'who paid as little notice of me as I did of him'. This causes some discussion and upset among the other relatives. Why should Sir Waldo, who already has so much and certainly has no need of another estate, be the one to inherit? Of course, Sir Waldo has no desire of the crumbling estate in Yorkshire, and soon makes plans to turn it into an orphanage. He only hopes that once he has pored some of his own money into it, eventually it will be able to pay for itself.

Intending to set the estate in order, Sir Waldo journeys into the country with his young cousin, Lord Lindeth, and the two set the countryside into commotion. Sir Waldo's reputation is well known, and the young men of the area are thrilled to have 'the nonesuch' to entertain and socialize with. Though some serious accidents are barely avoided as they try to impress and emulate him. An equal amount of stir is roused among the young ladies, who are dazzled by Lord Lindeth's handsome manners and boyish good looks.

Two of the women involved in the story are the stunningly beautiful, impetuous and willful Tiffany Wield, and her well-bred intelligent governess/companion opposite, Ancilla Trent. Selfish disasters are averted left and right by Miss Trent, who knows how to handle her charge as no one else in her life is able. Soon Miss Trent finds an unlikely ally in her scheme to keep Tiffani from ruining her own or anybody elses' life, in the figure of the nonesuch, who ends up being surprisingly kind, level-headed, and down to earth.

This was an enjoyable and entertaining read. Much in the style of Jane Austen. Georgette Heyer's historical accuracy is superb, and her writing style very subtle. This book was full of witty humor, and slow and deliberate romance. Though the characters tend to seem a bit one sided, it left me with a satisfying and hopeful glow.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Daphne du Maurier Birthday Celebration Giveaway

Today, in honor of Daphne du Maurier's birthday--May 13, 1907-- I am hosting a giveaway of a couple of her books. Sourcebooks has offered one copy each of My Cousin Rachel, and Frenchman's Creek (read my review)to one of my lucky readers. These are lovely editions reprinted by Sourcebooks earlier this year.

I adored both of these books, and have given them both 5 star ratings. Daphne du Maurier was a genius of suspense. She knew how to write a very satisfying story. To learn more about her writings and life visit:

The first person to leave a comment with the correct name of the mansion in Cornwall where Daphne du Maurier spent her married life, will be the winner of these two books.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: The Ten Year Nap

Rating: 3.5/5
Grade: C - 14 and up (mild language and sexual reference)

Meg Wolitzer takes a realistic look at the lives and thoughts of stay at home mothers in The Ten Year Nap . The title to this book I found slightly offensive at first. I have been home with my children for ten years, and I would think 'Ten years without a nap' would be a more accurate title for the story of my life. Because of this, I was unsure that I would agree with the conclusions drawn in the book. But as there are no conclusions drawn, this was not so much of an issue.

The story follows the lives of four women who have opted to stay home and be full time mother's to their children. At this point in their lives, their children are in school for most of the day, and have become much more independent. This leaves the mothers feeling rather out of sorts and out of place. Guiltly. Trying to find a purpose and figure out how and when and why to get back into the work force or find something meaningful to do. The book was also interspersed with clips into the lives of the mothers of these women, and their fight for feminism.

I don't know if it was the intent of the author, but what I took away from it was the mixed blessing the feminist movement was. Yes, women have more freedom and more respect in the man's world, but now they are expected to do it all, and invariably a ball will be dropped. Someone or something will suffer: the children; the marriage; the job. But if you decide not to try and have it all, and to stay home with your children full time, then you are looked down upon, taught to think less of what you are doing.

To me Wolitzer's answer seems to be the next generation, the up and coming mothers. She seems to think that the feminist mindset has finally reached the men. She points out men who take equal responsibility in the raising of the children and the household tasks, or even decide to stay at home, and let the mothers work. Well, maybe in New York this is true, but I don't think it has reached Wyoming yet.

There was not much of a plot to this book, it felt more like just watching these woman's lives. The writing was very detailed and academic. Overall a book to make you think, but not one which draws conclusions, or really raises a definite point.


Winners Announced: Beauty Books

Three winners have been chosen to receive one of each of these books: How Not To Look Old and Living Beauty. Thanks to all who participated.

Congratulations to: Roblynn and Rebekah, Lady Roxi, and Jake! I hope you enjoy the books!

(Winners will be contacted by email, and if they do not respond within 48 hours, new winners will be chosen)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page . Head on over to see what everyone recieved.

Books which came to my mailbox this past week:

The Lake that Stole Children by Douglas Glenn Clark

The Midwife: A memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

Reclaiming Our Children by Robby G. Dixon

The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi

Follow Me by Joanna Scott

Spiced by Dalia Jurgenson


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