Friday, November 28, 2014

Editorial: P.D. James You Will Be Missed

I was doing minor things on the web last night and was sad to learn of the passing of P.D. James she passed away on Thursday.  While we were celebrating Thanksgiving she was passing on to her next life.  She is a great writer dubbed the Queen of Crime a fitting title.  So sad.  I hope everyone will take the time to check out her books.

P.D. James Website
Goodreads Page

Biography of her website:

P. D. James is the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. She lives in London and Oxford.

It's always sad when learning of writers that have passed on and I think this one is sad as well.  While their books live on we won't experience anymore books by her.  I think that makes it bittersweet.  Have any of you read her books?  If so which would you recommend?  Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: Antiques Slay by: Barbara Allan

Title: Antiques Slay
Author: Barbara Allan
Publisher: Kensington
Series: A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery #7.5
Pages: 85
Format: e-book
Source: Purchase

Description:

Ho Ho Homicide The Christmas rush is on as Brandy Borne and her quaintly quirky mother, Vivian, sniff out plum collectibles for resale, only to find the owner of a Santa's workshop worth of treasures has received some deadly tidings. It's beginning to look a lot like murder...but who wanted the deceased closed for the holidays-permanently? Maybe a rival antiques dealer, a Grinch who collects Christmas? Or the victim's suspiciously frosty stepchildren? Brandy and Vivian check their list of who's been naughty or nice, but it may take a Christmas miracle-and some help from Sushi, their elfin shih tzu-to tie a bow around the season's most wanted killer!

 My Thoughts: 

This was a cute little novella in the Trash 'n' Treasure series that follows Brandy Borne, her mother Vivian and her dog Sushi.  When the three decide to go visit a man in town who is getting rid of his extensive Christmas decoration collection Vivian decides that they need to scoop out the goods to help their shop.

What they didn't count on was uncovering a mystery.  When the owner is found dead in his sleigh it's up to Vivian and Brandy to figure out who had the most to kill and why.  This leads them to the step-children who seem to be clueless idiots in this book and also leads them to Lyle Humphrey another collector of antiques.  

I enjoyed this cute little Christmas story I especially enjoyed the back and forth between mother and daughter I found myself laughing at times at their banter!  Such a great story definitely puts you in the festive spirit. 

Editorial: Happy Thanksgiving 2015


We at Community Bookstop just wanted to take the time to wish all our American publishers, Authors, Followers, etc a warm and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  We are so glad you take the time to work with us and share your books with us.  We look forward to working with you for many years to come!


Feel free to share all those Thanksgiving traditions you utilize in our house it's pretty traditional we watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then cartoons for the kids and have Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce and veggies.  This year we also add hot Apple Cider to our mix!


Review: A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom by: June McCrary Jacobs


Title: A Holiday In Apple Blossom
Author: June McCrary Jacobs
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
Pages: 144
Format: e-book ARC
Source: Cedar Fort Book Tour

Description:

When her student, six-year-old Mary Noel, survives a car accident over Thanksgiving break, Amber and her new friend, Paul, are determined to cheer her up during the holidays. But Mary Noel’s most painful injury is the loss of her dog. The more withdrawn Mary Noel becomes, the more Amber and Paul need a miracle—a miracle that requires the entire community’s help.

My Thoughts:

When 6 year old Mary Noel has a car accident and watches her precious dog die in front of her eyes she shuts down and shuts the world out Amber and a man she met while visiting Mary Noel take it upon themselves to work a miracle and try to work on a festival for Mary Noel and their family.

Alot of people come together to provide a Christmas miracle for Mary Noel and her parents.  As Paul and Amber's relationship continues to flourish as time passes.  The more time that passes the stronger their connection gets which also surprises both couples who are new to love.

I really enjoyed this story about love and faith and doing something for others that need it.  It was beautifully written and well told story.


Book Trailer: My Open Heart Destiny: New Avalon, Book 1 by: Andrea Buginsky


Purchase Links:


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: A Last Goodbye by: J.A. Jance

Title: A Last Goodbye
Author: J.A. Jance
Publisher: Pocket Star
Series: Ali Reynolds #9.5
Pages: 48
Format: e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley

Description:

New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance brings her trademark breakneck pace to this fun and exciting e-novella, where fan favorite Ali Reynolds takes on double responsibilities as both sleuth and bride.

Ali Reynolds is finally getting married to her longtime love B. Simpson. They wanted a simple Christmas Eve wedding, but nothing is ever simple with Ali. Even as a motley crew of her friends—Leland Brooks, Sister Anselm, and others—descend on Vegas, the bride-to-be finds herself juggling last-minute wedding plans and a mystery in the form of a stray miniature dachshund. Ali’s grandson rescues the little dog, but Ali’s not in the market for a new pet right before her honeymoon, and leaves no stone unturned in hunting for the dog’s owner. But what she finds is more than just a shaggy dog story…Bella’s elderly owner has vanished, and her son seems to be behind it. So it’s Ali and B. to the rescue—and still making it to the church on time! 

My Thoughts: 

This was a cute novella where Ali and B. Simpson are getting ready to get married.  They are in Las Vegas with Ali's family and their friends when B takes his soon to be grandkids shopping they come back with more than presents.

B is carrying a dog a mini-dachshund who was thrown into the street which brought Ali's grandson rescuing the dog.  As B. and Ali try to track down the previous owner they learn something things about the precious dog named Bella who was cared for until recently.   The woman who owned her got sick and the son didn't seem to like Bella and ditched her on the road.  What are B. and Ali to do but find out what they can and see if her owner still wanted her.

As the days pass the relationship between B., Bella, and Ali grows stronger as Bella wiggles her way into their heart.  I enjoyed this little novella which brought a dog into the mix.  I loved how Ali and B. did try to do the right thing by locating the owner and was glad it worked out in the end!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review - Maya's Notebook by: Isabel Allende


Title: Maya's Notebook
Author: Isabel Allende
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

Isabel Allende’s latest novel, set in the present day (a new departure for the author), tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl who finds refuge on a remote island off the coast of Chile after falling into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. There, in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya Vidal writes her story, which includes pursuit by a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. In the process, she unveils a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul.

My thoughts:

My first meeting with Chilean author Isabel Allende was with The House of the Spirits. The reason why I found out about her in the first place is because I'm always in the search for authors following Marquez's footsteps in "magical realism." Allende lived up to my expectations and The House of the Spirits was an amazing journey for me. Salvador Allende's granddaughter Isabel Allende really captures you by adding in her observations and imagination to her already interesting life. 

Then, ever since I started reading Maya's Notebook, I've been googling Chiloe Island. I keep looking at tours of the island, going, "I must see this place before I die." Maya paints such a wonderful picture of the island and she grows to love it so much that you can't help but want to go there and breathe in that magical air. I'm really, really dying to see a house be moved on the water tied to the back of a boat. I want to meet the witches of Chiloe, to attend their rituals. I want to get drunk at the saloon and listen to the stories of the locals...

Having said that, would I want to do all this with Maya, though? Nope.

Honestly, I believe Maya is Allende's way of showing the reader how she thinks today's youth lives in a bubble and how they lose themselves if that bubble is popped somehow. Maya's Chilean grandmother's past is as turbulent as the country's. However, Maya had the luxury of growing up with her grandmother and grandfather in Berkeley. After her grandfather passes away, she loses herself in drugs and alcohol, also getting involved with a gang leader and starting to work for him. Her grandmother, in her best attempt at protecting her from the people after her (which include the FBI, by the way) sends her away to Chiloe Island to stay with an old friend.


If you ask me which character I liked the most, I'll have to say nobody except the island locals. However, like I've mentioned before, Chiloe Island is so powerful, so magical that this book is worth reading even if just to experience that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review - Kiss Me First by: Lottie Moggach

Title: Kiss Me First
Author: Lottie Moggach
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 337
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

On the internet, we can be anyone we choose. No one knows who we really are. Sheltered and obsessive, Leila spends more time online than out in the real world. So she seems the ideal person to take over the virtual identity of the vivacious and fragile Tess, who wants to disappear. But even with all the facts at her fingertips, there are things that Leila can’t possibly know about Tess – or herself – until it is too late . .

My thoughts:

I was rather intrigued by this book, probably because it came right after I was done with Talking Back to Facebook, which led me to constantly think about internet and social media's roles in our lives. I am a person who is very much addicted to the internet, to the point where I freak out if I don't have an internet connection. The main character of the book, Leila, on the other hand, has taken this addiction to a whole different, uncomfortable level.

I don't remember whom Kiss Me First was recommended to me by. And, I must admit, I almost wasn't going to bother with it when I saw it being compared to Gone Girl, which I didn't really enjoy. But the fact that it handled internet addiction and was targeted toward young adults grabbed my attention anyway. Leila is a young girl who starts making money on the internet (not in an illegal way or anything before your mind wonders off) after her mother's death. While she's not playing World of Warcraft online, she's hanging out in forums, which is something I too did a lot in my teens. Her forum of choice is one called Red Pill, and he manages to get the founder Adrian's attention with her smart comments and attitude toward life. This is how she comes to accepts a job he has for her: continuing a women called Tess's internet presence after she kills herself.

I must say that I got myself getting quite bored with Leila and everything in her life until a bit more than half of the book. Because Leila is also the narrator, we have to read through what she thinks is important at the time. Even though this might be the case, I couldn't help wondering whether or not I would accept such a job if it ever came up...

Adrian thinks that everyone has the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. People he finds, people like Leila, are hired to "help" those who want to do just that by committing suicide. As a person who's lost loved ones to suicide, I have to believe that there is a good reason for them to choose to do that. What I don't understand is what they might gain from having someone impersonate them on the internet to help them "fade away."

Just think about it: you think your close friend has moved to another country. You e-mail each other everyday, message on Facebook and keep up with each other's lives. However, that friend is already dead and the person you think she is is a stranger who supposedly has enough knowledge to keep up the act. If this isn't disturbing beyond words, then what is it?

There is also Leila's character development, which leads to her actually wanting the life that Tess lost, even almost wanting to be Tess. She gets to wrapped up in this that when an old fling of Tess's gets in touch with her, Leila is sure he is actually falling in love with her, and not Tess. This was very disturbing for me as well, but I guess it is expected from a young girl who knows nothing about real life except for what she reads about it online. 

Kiss Me First has made me realize once again just how dangerous the internet can be and how everyone should really be more educated about it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Frame Change by: T’Gracie and Joe Reese


Title: Frame Change
Author: T'Gracie and Joe Reese
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Series: The Nina Bannister Mysteries Book #5
Pages: 233
Format: ebook
Source: Great Escapes Book Tour

Description:

 Nina Bannister loves to paint, and she thinks her hobby is painless enough. But she is wrong. Her love of doing seascapes leads to a friendship with a young ex docent from The Chicago Art Museum–and to their entry into the murky and dangerous world of international art smuggling.

Can she save her young friend, who has been kidnapped to the mountains of southern Austria? Can she determine the identity and motives of the mysterious Red Claw? Can she see the real painting that is hidden beneath the false one?

 Her success in these matters–indeed her very survival–depend on her ability to perform a last ditch Frame Change!

My Thoughts:

In this book which is the fifth in the series Nina Bannister is trying her hand at painting.  In this book we also meet Carol Walker who is a docent at the Chicago Art Museum but that doesn't last long as Carol made a few little mistakes and her boss uses this to fire the young girl.

Nina and Margot hire her to come to their town and show off her work.  The two also find out what happened in Chicago.  They offer her a job to work with them to keep her working and not drifting with no money.  Not long afterwards Carol realizes she is going to have to Michael up on his job of Art Smuggling but not all goes according to plan and soon Nina has to rescue her young friend after she is kidnapped.

This book is a great cozy mystery filled with all sorts of mystery and adventure.  This book is great for anyone who loves cozy mysteries filled with intrigue and suspense.  Can't wait to see what Nina does in her next book!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Trailer: Valerie's Retreat by: Joseph Rinaldo


Purchase Links: 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Blast: How A Star Falls

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes
How a Star Falls
  How does a star fall? 
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly. Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life. Then Brielle falls into his world. She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home. And his whole world falls apart. A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.   

 Praise for How a Star Falls 

"Perfect for when you want a whimsical, heartwarming read, How a Star Falls is more than an inspirational romance...it's a wink and a smile." - Joanne Bischof, award winning author of This Quiet Sky 

 "Amber Stokes has perfectly expressed the challenges of twenty-something life in her sweet contemporary new adult novella, How a Star Falls. Brielle and Derrick's journey reminds us all of the search to find ourselves in the midst of young adulthood. Their story is charming and wistful with emotions we can all relate to experiencing at some point in our lives. It is a tale about letting go in order to find yourself once again while never losing the importance of who you are...and who you can be." - Cerella Sechrist, author of Gentle Persuasion and The Paris Connection 

"Though not typically a reader of contemporary fiction, I found How a Star Falls to be a wonderfully told story of both sweet romance and coming to terms with the fact that even though life doesn't always turn out exactly as we dreamed it would, even our undesirable circumstances can lead to a bright future." - Jaye L. Knight, author of Ilyon Chronicles.

Purchase Your Copy

Amber Stokes  Excerpt:

He led the way to the lighthouse, but instead of stopping at a bench, he headed down the stairs to the beach. When he finally reached the shore, he scuffed through the sand until he found a promising spot that didn’t look like it would get wet anytime soon. At the moment, they had the little piece of beach to themselves.   “This is really nice,” Brielle said as she clutched the paper bag to her stomach and gazed out at the boats bobbing in the choppy water. “A little cold, but nice.”   He glanced up from where he was smoothing out the towel. “Too cold?”   She offered him a cheeky grin. “Everything’s too cold for a star.”   That drew out a laugh from him as he sat on the towel and patted the other side. “I thought outer space was supposed to be freezing. Space suits and all that, right?”   She plopped down next to him and set the bag between them, turning her head at the screech of a seagull above them. As he brought out the food, she responded, “You’re thinking like a human. It’s not cold for the stars. They’re always shining, always warm. That frozen darkness could never touch them.”   Her words stilled his hand as he clutched an apple. Hadn’t he once told his dad the same thing, that stars would be warm to the touch?  

Author Amber Stokes:

  Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. 


book blast button
         

Book Blast Giveaway:

 $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/16/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 


Review: Fatal Brushstrokes by: Sybil Johnson


Title: Fatal Brushstrokes
Author: Sybil Johnson
Publisher: Henery Press
Series: An Aurora Anderson Mystery # 1
Pages: 276
Format: e-book ARC
Source: Great Escapes Book Tour

Description:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…
Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

My Thoughts:

This book follows computer programer Aurora Anderson known in this series as Rory who has stumbled upon a dead body on her property.  She and her friend Liz try to figure out who wanted to kill Hester Bouquet a local tole painting teacher.

Some are quick to blame Rory for the murder.  Rory is quick to try to uncover who killed Hester and to clear her name.  Rory's birth parents played into this story as the police seem more set for Rory to take the blame for the murder.

I enjoyed this story and the characters and can't wait to see what Ms. Johnson comes up with next for Rory and Liz.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review - I Am Malala by: Malala Yousafzai

Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Source: Turkish edition, personal purchase

Description:


I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.


When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.


My thoughts:

To not know who Malala is, you must be living under a rock or somewhere very much abandoned with no contact to anyone or anything to the outside world. She is a girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school when she was 15. Her fault? Wanting to go to school, learn and working to make sure all girls have this right. 

When it comes to Malala, I can go on and on and on because I really admire her in so many ways starting with her courage, but I think this video will give you a much better idea of what kind of person she is:



Review: Iced Chiffon by: Duffy Brown

Title: Iced Chiffon
Author: Duffy Brown
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Series: Consignment Shop Mystery #1
Pages: 304
Format: Nook e-book
Source: Purchase

Description:

There's always something to gossip about in Savannah, Georgia, and Reagan Summerside always seems to be in the middle of it. She's busy enough running her consignment shop, the Prissy Fox, with her vivacious auntie, KiKi, but now the gossip--and the sales--are about to pick up, after a gruesome discovery...

Reagan's messy divorce has left her with nothing but a run-down Victorian and a bunch of designer clothes. Strapped for cash, Reagan makes use of the two things she has left, turning the first floor of her home into a consignment shop and filling it with the remnants of her rich-wife wardrobe.

Thanks to his cunning lawyer, Walker Boone, her ex got everything else, including the Lexus--not to mention a young blonde cupcake. When Reagan finds the blonde dead in the Lexus, she's determined to beat Boone to finding the murderer. As it turns out, the gossip fiends flooding Reagan's shop can give her a lot more than just their unwanted clothes--they have information more precious than a vintage Louis Vuitton...


My Thoughts: 

This book follows Reagan Summerside newly divorced who is selling off her fancy clothes from when she was married so that she can keep her home.  Her house is definitely a fixer upper.  Not long into this Reagan 'borrows' her ex-husband's Lexus to deliver a fountain to a buyer when she finds her ex's new fiancé in the car trunk.  

Of course this lands Reagan's ex-husband in jail for having motive to kill his fiancé when the couple were scene the night before arguing.  Who had the most to gain by Janelle's death?  Was it Hollis Reagan's ex?  Or was it Reverend Franklin who won't talk about Janelle?  Or was it the woman who had been scorned previously when Janelle stole her husband away?  So many suspects for Reagan to sift through to find out who had it out for Janelle the man stealer!

Someone is hot Reagan's tale and has tried to kill her dog Bruce Willis more commonly known as BW. Also they broke into Reagan's house meanwhile people in town are placing bets on who will find the killer and alot of people are betting that Reagan will find the killer.

In this book we watching Kiki and Reagan take all sorts of wrong turns question residents who've been blackmailed to death by Janelle all the while all of them seem to have a motive albeit not a good motive for the murder. So who had the crappiest motive that could be poked like a balloon with a needle? 

This book was great especially the go between with Reagan and Boone the lawyer representing Reagan's ex when he is arrested.  It's an interesting go between going on.  I also enjoyed reading everything Kiki and Reagan did to try to find out the murderer.  The ending was very surprising.  I loved it!



Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview: Elliot Baker Author of The Sun God's Heir

Today I had the pleasure of Interviewing Elliot Baker author of The Sun God's Heir.  If you haven't had a chance to check out you really should!

Synopsis:

When an ancient evil awakens, one young pacifist is all that stands between the world’s freedom and the red tide of slavery.

In 17th century France, a young pacifist kills to protect the woman he loves, unwittingly opening a door for the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian general determined to continue a reign of terror begun three thousand years ago.

Taking up the sword will not be enough. Rene must reclaim his own ancient past to stop the red tide of slavery from engulfing the world.

Joined by a powerful sheikh, his sword wielding daughter, and a family of Maranos escaping the Spanish Inquisition, they fight their way through pirates, typhoons, and dark assassins to reach Morocco, the home of an occult sect that has waited for Rene through the eons.

Purchase Links:

What genre do you write?

The Sun God’s Heir is an historical adventure with strains of fantasy. Although, I’m sure there are many books that fall cleanly and clearly into one genre or another, genre can be restricting. The book is set in the late seventeenth century when the sword was still a primary weapon and women were thick in the fight for identity and power. There were real people making real mistakes. I tend to see everything with a little bit of magic, so it couldn’t be completely absent from any story I tell.


Can you tell us what brought you to writing your genre?

From the time I was introduced to story, I’ve been enthralled by “What happens next?.” Every moment is truly an adventure if we look out at our realities  from that question. The more excitement we can generate, negative or positive, the more meaning we tease from each moment. I’ve always found the stories of our past fascinating. It’s been said that reality is stranger than fiction, and truth be told, as a species, we have managed to get ourselves into some tight spots. I’ve always wanted to fly. By that, I mean personally. For me fantastical elements are always metaphors for the power of flight. I’ve also found that by grounding fantasy (fiction) within a framework of accurate history the real lends power to the imagined.


Who influences your writing?  Do you have favorite authors?


All of them. Everyone I’ve ever encountered has told me at least a snippet of their story. Of writers, I love Ursula LeGuinn, David Weber, Orson Scott Card, John Nelson, James Michener, Richard Bach, Ann McCaffrey… Talk about an endless road. Just thinking of the wonderful stories of these people has brought a smile to my face, and I am grateful for the question.


What type of books do you like to read?

Those that grant me the boon of transport. To be gifted with moments completely outside of my normal reality is fun. To come back to the room, the day, the book after having experienced the excitement, fear, pain, love and endless emotions of the story is one of the most gratifying things to experience. I know that your question was really what genres do I enjoy the most. In a shorter winded answer to that question, I love Historical Fantasy (big surprise there), science fiction, spy stories, especially where they travel the globe, and inspirational works, when they give me concepts that resonate with me.


What do you do when you’re not writing?


I read, listen to music, research, and with my wife, Sally, enjoy living in New England.. We spend time with friends, exploring craft fairs (Sally makes huge mosaics), watch our children making their own stories, and in general do our best to move through this lifetime as gently as possible.


If you were stranded on an island only allowed to bring three things what would they be?


Well, although I love the sun and the ocean, by myself, my efforts would be directed toward either bringing others to my beautiful new island, or getting rescued. I’d cheat and bring a solar charged  sat phone, fishing gear and a lighter. If there was no fuel or water, I’m pretty screwed no matter what else I bring. Now, if I can do this with my wife, Sally, we’re talkin’ Treasure Island, and I’m already in that story.

Interview: Pamela Fagan Hutchins Author of Going For Kona


Our interview today is with Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of the bestselling and award-winning


romantic mystery series, Katie & Annalise, which includes Saving Grace (#1, 4.5-stars and over 770-reviews), Leaving Annalise (#2, 4.7-stars and over 190+-reviews), and Finding Harmony (#3, 4.9-stars and over 130+ reviews). Her new romantic mystery is Going for Kona (4.8-stars, 25 reviews) which came out October 1, 2014. She also writes hilarious nonfiction.

Before we get to the interview, a brief description of Going for Kona:

When her husband is killed in a hit-and-run bicycling accident, it takes all of Michele Lopez Hanson’s strength not to burrow into their bed for the rest of her life. But their kids need her, and she promised herself she’d do the Kona Ironman Triathlon in Adrian’s honor, and someone seems to be stalking her family, so she slogs through the pain to keep herself on track. Her dangerously delirious training sessions become a link between her and Adrian, and she discovers that if she keeps moving fast enough to fly, she can hold onto her husband—even as she loses her grip on herself and faces her biggest threat yet.

Pamela’s romantic mysteries have racked up a number of accolades including a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Romance, Quarter-finalist nod; 2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Mainstream Novel Contest; 2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Romance Contest; and 2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest. The reviews from readers and critics are fantastic. 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH PAMELA FAGAN HUTCHINS

Pamela Fagan Hutchins combines humor, romance, mystery, and magical realism in her new release, Going for Kona, the first book in her Michele series, as well as in her Katie & Annalise series novels. Drawing rave reviews for humor, emotional depth, and twisting, fast-paced plots, readers and critics alike love her romantic mysteries, and Once Upon A Romance Calls Pamela an "up and coming powerhouse writer." Her books are available in audio, ebook, and paperback, and you can get them just about anywhere.

What genre is your book? If you had to describe your book Twitter syle (140 characters or less), what would you say?

Going for Kona is a romantic mystery. 

Here’s my Twitter pitch: Michele wants to burrow into bed when her husband is killed, but she must compete in the Kona Ironman Triathlon in his honor and keep her family from meeting his same fate.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love the larger-than-life characters of Larry McMurtry, the emotion and descriptive excess of Pat Conroy, the psychological intensity of Ruth Rendell, and the hilarity of Janet Evanovich. And then there is just this incredible list of mystery/thriller authors that’s too long for publication, but let me give it a shot: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, John Sanford, Tami Hoag, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, etc.etc. etc. My goodness. I love them all.

Who influences your writing?  Do you have favorite authors?

Wow, this is a hard one. Within the mystery genre, I have a lot of influences. I think the author I admire most is Ruth Rendell, and while my writing doesn’t resemble hers, her imagination and versatility admires me most. But the list of my inspirations is very, very long. Lisa Scottoline, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Stieg Larrson, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark (the adult mystery writer I read earliest), Marcia Muller, Sandra Brown, the writers I read as a girl—Julie Campbell, the (many) authors of the Hardy Boys, and Carolyn Keene—and, yes, even my “nemesis” Janet Evanovich. I forgot about 35, authors, probably most notably Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reich, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. But then there’s Robert Tannenbaum, too, and Jan Karon. Crap. This is hard. OK, I give up 
The biggest influence that Ms. Rendell had on me was that she wasn’t afraid to go weird, she dared to  dabble with magical realism, and that she didn’t stick to hard-boiled detectives as protagonists. I loved her ability to transport me, and I especially loved that her mysteries carried themes. Many popular mystery writers give up theme for plot. However, I would add that Lisa Scottoline did the same for me, and added depth of characterization and humor.

Can you tell us what brought you to writing this type of book? (I warn you, this isn’t a short answer, but it’s the real story)


I didn’t plan to become a novelist, or a triathlete for that matter. I like my Kona in a coffee cup, with vanilla stevia drops and no-sugar-added coconut almond milk, to be exact. I barely even knew Kona as the name of the triathlon world championships until ten years ago, when I said “I do” to my husband Eric. 
On our wedding day, he bored into my soul with his eyes intense and green (which they only are when we are nose-to-nose—the rest of the time they are hazel) and asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
 Well, hmmm, I was already a mother and a lawyer at the time and I kind of thought I was all grown up, too. “What exactly do you mean?”
“Like what kind of dreams have you not fulfilled? I want to help you make them come true.”
I’d fulfilled my most important one by marrying him—spending my life with a wonderful, gorgeous guy who spoils me and makes my toes curl. But once upon a time I’d had other dreams, too. Dreams that I had forgotten about. “To write a novel. And to run a marathon.”
That brought a smile to Eric’s olive face. “Well all right then. Which one’s first?”
And that is how it came to pass that one year later, while in training for our first marathon, I did a Half Ironman triathlon. It turned out, by the way, that a Half Ironman is way harder than a marathon, but I didn’t know that at the time. (They say ignorance is bliss!) It was then that the Kona triathlon, which is on the Hawaiian island of Kona—became important to me. It’s a full Ironman: a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride, capped with a full 26.2-mile marathon run. Yegads! I’ll bet you can guess that a Half Ironman is exactly half of that, too. My husband wants us to a full Ironman together someday, which I wrote about in a mostly funny but sort of inspirational book called Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans.
First I had to write a novel, though. So, six months after my intro to Half Ironmans, I wrote a silly novella about a woman named Katie and a jumbie house named Annalise for Eric while he was on a work trip to India. (Yes, it was the start of the Katie & Annalise series, for those of you in the know about my books.) I thought that would “count” and that we could put the scary novel thing to bed. It didn’t. Not for him or for me. 
In November of that year I signed up for NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—which is a “contest" to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days held each November.  I highly recommend. So that November 1 rolled around and I had no idea what to write about. Then inspiration struck. Eric and I had just finished a long run (we were training for an ultra-marathon) sandwiched in between events at our two daughters’ swim meet. Some insignificant thing he said or did set me off, and I drove home early and alone, spitting mad. Note to self: adrenaline is not always your friend. 
Somewhere between the Fort Bend Natatorium and our home in Meyerland, I realized I was being a pill. I loved this man who treated me like a queen, and God forbid something would happen to one of us and the other’s last memory would be that I was shrew. What if a stalkery old girlfriend had been hunting him down for years, and found him today, derringer in hand? What if he got lost, as he is prone to do, and ended up in the crossfire of drug deal gone bad? Or what if he was kidnapped and forced to work for terrorists in Siberia who needed the specialized knowledge he had about refineries in Libya? 
A devastating despair came over me, and I knew what I had to write. As soon as I got home, I started typing Going for Kona, the story of a couple training for the Kona Ironman. When tragedy strikes, it’s not a random act but murder, and the protagonist, Michele, must overcome grief and every other damn thing life throws at her to protect what she has left: her son Sam and stepdaughter Annabelle. Yet Michele doesn’t get mired in gloom; she literally draws strength from the spirit of her dead husband and her alter ego, a warrior butterfly, and she digs deep to rise above. It’s a romantic mystery inspired by the years I’ve spent training with my own husband for triathlon and my feelings for him. The plot is pure frenzied, make-believe fun, and readers have told me they laughed as much as they cried and never saw the ending coming.
Now, I like my Kona in a fast-paced mystery, and I think you will, too. But it’s even better read with a cuppa.

If you were stranded on an island only allowed to bring three things what would they be?

Eric, my one-eyed Boston terrier Petey, and an iPhone with satellite coverage and a forever battery.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I love to travel with my husband. In the summer of 2014, we took our RV—dubbed the Bookmobile—on a book tour in 17 states. We took a month to do it, and we picked the prettiest places we could drive to in that time frame, staying as close to state and national parks as we could, so that we had easy access to hiking and mountain biking. Our route covered the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Crater Lake, Astoria, Mount Ranier, Mount Hood, Bellingham, Couer d’Alene, Buffalo Wyoming, Grand Rapids, and Otter Tail Lake, MN. Wow. And for a complete change of pace we are going to Bora Bora and staying in a little thatched hut over the water for our anniversary!
***

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a note via any of my social media links, and I’ve been known to Skype or meet face to face with book clubs, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you, Sarah, for hosting my interview on Workaday Reads. I really appreciated this opportunity to connect with your readers.

Social media and buy links:

Connect with Pamela Fagan Hutchins: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

~*~*~

Thank you Pamela for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit our site today and good luck with your many novels we wish you nothing but success!




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review - This Is How You Lose Her by: Junot Díaz

Title: This Is How You Lose Her
Author: Junot Díaz
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 213
Format: Hardcover
Source: Turkish edition, personal purchase

Description:

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. 

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

My thoughts:

My first thought right after finishing the book: Junot Díaz is a very funny guy who forms very good sentences! I'm always on the lookout for new authors to discover and have a good time with. I bought this book at the book fair in Istanbul last year just because it was on sale: I had no idea who the author was or what the book was about. It took me a while to get to reading it, but it did come at a time when I really needed something funny and clever to merge into.

This Is How You Loser Her is about this guy called Yuann who's kind of a player, the women he ends up losing and how he loses them. I laughed a lot at Yuann, I must admit, not so much with him. Then I got sad when I saw him get sad due the consequences of his stupidity. There were numerous times I got mad at him due to his attitude towards women and how he treated them, too.
As someone who described and believes in love in Gabriel Garcia Marquez terms, it feels weird to me that most women prefer to read love stories written by other women. Of course, they're fun, and it's probably true that women understand women better than man, but then I haven't really seen anyone who's in search for men who write about love and relationships. I think it's rather refreshing to get a man's take on it, and this book is worth reading even if to help protect yourself from men like Yuann.

Editorial: So Excited




I was so excited the other day when my page views hit 100,000 I can't even begin to describe how excited I was.  So I wanted to take this time to thank everyone who has ever stopped by my blog.  If I hit 500 followers I will run a contest of some kind with goodies to win.  I have been sitting here thinking back to all the great authors I have met over time the list would be huge if I listed them all.  I have worked with some fabulous people who are so nice when it comes to interacting with them.  To think this all started because I read.  I didn't think it would turn into what it has turned into.  Not long ago was this blogs anniversary I was so busy I totally missed it.  This blog turned 5 at the end of October.  I can't believe I have been blogging for 5 years.  Back then I mainly worked with Pump Up Your Book Promotions & FSB Media.
Now I work with Great Escapes Book Tours and Cedar Fort.  I also work with tons of authors I never dreamed I would work with.  Like Duffy Brown, the author of Iced Chiffon and her newest book coming out Geared for The Grave.  Also I work with lots of great Independent Authors trying to get their books out there like Emerald Barnes and her book Entertaining Angels, Read Me Dead, I get in awe when I think of how great these authors have been.  Really down to earth people like me.  I always assumed that authors are too busy or there was no way you can just talk to them.  Boy has that changed.  I think most of that was fear of not knowing.

So thank you to everyone who has made this site flourish and thank you to my partner in crime Simay who has offered us great reviews.  It's been fabulous 5 years with many more to come.  Also thank you to those who follow you can't wait to see what the future holds for us!!

Book Trailer: To the Wind (Anton and Lenora #2) by: Ute Carbone


Purchase Links:


Chapter Reveal: Geared For The Grave by: Duffy Brown

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GEARED FOR THE GRAVE
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2014 by Duffy Brown.
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PUBLISHING HISTORY
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / December 2014
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Cover design by Diana Kolsky.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

Geared for the Grave
First book in Cycle Path Mysteries
Dec 2, 2014
Berkley Prime Crime
Geared for the Grave
Chapter One
While cowering in the back of a ferryboat, head over railing and losing my lunch in Lake Huron, it occurred to me that no matter how old I am I want to impress my parents. Deep inside I’m just a kid yelling, Mom, look at me! No hands! Granted, this wasn’t exactly a look at me moment but it’s what got me into this mess.
“Hey, lady. Where should I put these paint cans?” a man in a neon yellow vest asked as I staggered off the last ferry of the day. After a ten-hour drive plastered with orange construction barrels followed by the boat trip from hell, I so wanted to tell this guy where to put those cans. Instead I handed him a twenty and said, “Get a taxi and put them in the trunk.”
“First-time fudgie?”
I was thirty-four, had been around the Chicago block a few times and ten months ago got left standing at the altar thanks to a sports-aholic fiancé and the seduction of last-minute game three World Series tickets. I wasn’t a first-time anything. “Fudgie?”
“Yeah, good luck with that trunk.”
And for that smart-ass crack I’d forked over twenty bucks. I zipped my fleece against the lake chill, grabbed a paint can and my duffel and trudged up the dock with the rest of the tourists to Main Street, lined with twinkle-lights and cute shops shutting down for the night, the whole place smelling kind of . . . earthy?
“Can you get me a taxi to Rudy’s Rides?” I asked a college kid as he tossed luggage onto a horse cart. He nodded to a two-horse-power red and yellow wagon with people merrily climbing on board.
I dangled the can. “A car taxi, like as in fast transportation weaving in and out of traffic scaring  everyone. It’s been a long day.”
“Lady, this is as fast as we get around here.” College guy added another bag and people, and the luggage cart clip-clopped off past meandering pedestrians and bikes, with no traffic lights or roar of internal combustion engines anywhere. A poster in the window of Fred’s Deli announced a Dirty Pony Wash. Not a car wash? Where the heck was I?
I yanked out Sheldon, my BFF iPhone. OhthankGod he had bars. I hadn’t slipped into some time-warp thing, and there on the screen right below the Mackinac Island ferry schedule was the no-car statement. You got to be kidding. This was Michigan; Motown; the birthplace of hydrocarbons and gas-guzzling engines and ozone central.
I followed Sheldon’s directions past the Lilac Hotel, Doud’s Market and one, two, make that seven fudge shops just within the two blocks I could see. My guess was that fudgies were tourists, and dentists and Weight Watchers owned the biggest houses on the island. Rudy’s Rides sat next to Irma’s Fudge Emporium. Why couldn’t it be the broccoli emporium? I could resist broccoli ten feet from where I’d spend the next two weeks.
Propped-open, weathered double doors marked the entrance to Rudy’s, where a shiny new yellow three-wheeler sat at the curb next to a horse and buggy. I stepped inside the shop only to find rental bikes from the Ronald Reagan years. Dusty handlebars and pedals lined the wall next to a spotless trophy shelf, and tools littered the workbench. A pool table sat in back with a stained glass light suspended overhead. Mark Twain said, Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated, and here he was in a white crumpled suit, wild gray hair, cigar balanced across a whiskey glass and his left leg in a cast.
The Twain look-alike, who I took to be Rudy, aimed at the nine ball as a girl about my age in a purple sequined paperboy hat with a pencil stuck in the band hustled inside scribbling in a notebook. A knobby-kneed granny in electric pink biker shorts brought up the rear.
“I took a good look around this place,” Knees huffed at Rudy. “It’s a dump, just like I thought. Town council meets tomorrow night, and I’m getting on the agenda and recommending they shut you down.”
Knees turned to the sequined-hat girl. “But whatever you do, Fiona, don’t put that in the Town Crier. You’re just getting the hang of being the editor now that your mom and dad headed off for Arizona and the sun and left us in the lurch. This isn’t that Inside Scoop rag where we tell all. You need to say something like Rudy’s Rides is closing for remodeling. Fudgies pay for Norman Rockwell around here, so we give them Norman Rockwell.” She swiped her finger across a dusty bike fender. “This is Beverly Hillbillies.”
Fiona scribbled more notes. “It’s late and I’m tired and cranky and getting a lot crankier the longer this takes. I’m doing an article on bicycle shops like you want, Bunny, and right now Rudy’s Rides is open for business, period, end of discussion.”
Rudy sent the nine ball across the green felt, missing the left pocket by a mile. “Geeze Louise.” He jabbed his cigar at Bunny. “I know what you’re trying to pull, and it’s not going to work. That snotty historical committee of yours up there on the bluffs has three votes on the council—just three. The business owners down here in town trying to make a buck got the other three, and I’m one of ’em. Our shops would go belly-up with rules about original windows, pine floors and the other half-baked ideas that pop into your little pea-brain ’cause you got nothing else to do. You wanna shut me down to get me out of your hair.”
Bunny stuck her prune face inches from Rudy’s. “The only thing up to snuff in this joint are your euchre trophies and that pool table. Start packing, Rudy boy, you’re toast.”
Bunny tromped though the bike maze and climbed on her three-wheeler as Rudy raised his whiskey glass. “Here’s to the old bat going, and that’s a heck of a lot better than the old bat coming.”
Fiona closed her notebook. “Bunny thinks she’s hot stuff around here because her family’s been on the island longer than dirt and she lives in a big house. Rudy’s Rides is staying in my article.” Fiona gave Rudy a kiss on the cheek, then hurried out, her departure followed by the sound of horse hooves on pavement fading down the street.
“Take any bike that suits you,” Rudy said to me as he lined up his next shot. “I keep them all running good even if they are a little rough around the edges. Put the money in the coffee can on the workbench—no charge for local drama. It’s free, and there’s a lot of it these days.”
“I’m Evie Bloomfield from Chicago. I’m here to help you.”
“The only help I need is with sinking the dang nine ball. Haven’t made a decent shot all day.”
I dropped my duffel and purse, snagged a cue, aimed for the far pocket and sent the yellow-striped ball sailing across the felt, till Rudy plucked it right off the table. “Hey, why’d you do that? I nailed it.”
Rudy scooped his hand into the pocket, dragging out a sleepy black-and-white kitten. “Bambino hangs out there; left pocket’s off-limits.” Rudy balanced on one crutch—he was a one-crutch kind of guy. “So, Chicago, what brings a pool shark to my doorstep this time of night? From the way things are going, it can’t be anything good.”
I did the innocent look and got the don’t mess with me look in reply. “Pool’s the only thing I could do better than my brother, and the doorstep part is that I work for your daughter.” Though one look at Rudy’s Rides and it was hard to see any connection to a daughter with dollar signs on her license plate. “Abigail’s tied up with a business deal at the ad agency so I’m here in her place to lend you a hand.”
“Or a leg.” Rudy took a piece of kibble from his pocket for Bambino. “What juicy carrot did my daughter dangle to get you out of Chicagoland to an eight-mile island without a shopping mall or car in sight?”
“Just trying to be useful.” I plastered my best perky please the nice client smile on my face.
“Twain says, Don’t tell fish stories where they know the fish. I know my daughter. There’s a carrot.”
My perky died. It was late; I was tired. Rudy had me, and he knew it. I plopped down on my gallon can of beach-baby blue paint. “Bloomfields are lawyers—really successful lawyers except for me—and my apartment’s the size of your pool table, except the table’s nicer. I’m thirty-four, Thanksgiving’s the next great family gathering and I need a promotion—some bragging rights for a change.” I tapped the can I was sitting on. “Hauled nine of these all the way out here so I could spruce up the place. So, what do you think?”
“I think you’re kissing up to the boss.”
“Being of assistance sounds better. Abigail sort of takes me for granted.”
“Abigail takes everyone for granted unless they’re a client.” Rudy sipped the whiskey. “I’ll get caught up around here once the cast comes off.” He rapped his knuckles against the white plaster. “Planned on making repairs this spring till I got busy with this town council feud and maybe a euchre tournament or two. How’d Abigail find out that I broke my dang leg in the first place? I sure didn’t tell her.”
“That would be my doing,” a man said, making his way through the shop. He was about the same age as Rudy and balding, and had the words Euchre Dude embroidered across his shirt pocket.
“You’d think your only offspring would show up,” the guy said, giving me the head-to-toe disapproving glare. “I came to check on the bikes I ordered last week and I heard you had a visitor from Chicago. Never thought Abigail would send in a pinch hitter who—”
“Look,” I interrupted, acing out another go away speech. “There aren’t any ferries till morning, so unless you want me to doggie paddle it back to Mackinaw City with paint cans strapped to my ankles . . .”
Rudy took a sip of whiskey. “Well, you’re here now. Guess there’s no harm in you waiting around for my last rentals while Ed and I play a few hands of euchre down at the Stang.” Rudy brightened. “Sounds pretty good, actually. The tournament’s on and I got room for a new trophy up there on the shelf.”
“I can do whatever,” I said in a rush. I had no idea how to play euchre or what the Stang was, but I could park a bike and I’d have time to figure out how to make Operation Brownnose a potential success instead of a looming failure.
Ed snuffed the cigar in a crackled flowerpot. “Don’t know why anyone smokes these things. I’ll get our lucky deck from my place. Can’t believe Abigail isn’t here. Kids—they grow up and only come around when they’re the ones needing something.”
Ed sauntered off, and Rudy tucked Bambino back in the left pocket on the pool table. He pointed his crutch at the front door. “All you gotta do is pull it shut. It sticks, so you gotta give it a tug. Then turn off the lights. There’s one little lock that don’t ’mount to much, but it keeps the drunks at the Pink Pony from taking my bikes and peddling themselves straight off a dang cliff and into the lake. This isn’t the big city; nothing happens around here. Kitchen’s in the back, cold pizza in the fridge, extra bedrooms upstairs, make yourself at home for the night. Just one night.”
Rudy thump-stepped his way down Main Street, and I saw my promotion thump-stepping into oblivion. Bunny was dead-on about the place being a dump, and if I didn’t think of something fast I’d be on the first ferry back to the real world by morning and eating turkey at the little kids’ table by Thanksgiving.
I parked the late rentals inside as the phone on the workbench rang—a customer needing two bikes delivered to a house called RestMore by morning to get an early start and catch the sunrise at six. Must be one heck of a sunrise.
The phone went dead before I got an address, and I had no idea where or how to deliver bikes around here. I found a pencil on the workbench and scribbled RestMore on a can of red primer as the words “Yoo-hoo, Rudy, me darling man, how ye be doing this fine night?” singsonged through front door.
“But you not be Rudy, now are ye, dearie,” the woman said, an Irish lilt in her voice. “I suspect ye be that Chicago fudgie girl with a bunch of paint cans we’ve been hearing about all night long. You kind of stand out, ye do.”
Before I could answer, two handlebars fell off the wall, crashing to the ground, an owl hooted three times, the lights blinked on and off, and a rooster crowed somewhere in the distance. The woman clutched the gold shamrock around her neck, her eyes big as goose eggs. “Great day in the morning and blessed be Saint Patrick!” She kissed the shamrock. “How can it be you’re still alive?”
“Hey, Chicago isn’t that bad.”
“’Tis not the geography that’s the worry, me dear, but a big black cloud that’s hanging right over ye.” She gazed around me. “Bad signs these are,” she said in a low voice. “Bad indeed, and all happening at once! Saints preserve us. I be Irish Donna and I know these things. I got the gift, I do.” She lowered her voice even more. “Ye should be making up a will; the sooner the better if you be asking me.”
Irish Donna was on the upward side of sixty, with curly red hair and a gold shamrock around her neck, and she scared the heck out of me, but the dark cloud theory explained a lot about my life lately. I said to Donna, “Rudy and Ed are at the Stang, and a customer needs bikes delivered. Got any ideas where RestMore is, and just how big is this cloud anyway?”
Ten minutes later Irish Donna and I did the slow . . . really, really slow . . . clip-clop up a steep hill in her one-horse carriage. We’d wedged two bikes in the back, and after Donna patted the Saint Christopher medal where a cup-holder should be, we took off.
A nearly full moon lit the street, which had huge Victorians standing guard on one side and the town stretching out below the cliff on the other, and me contemplating the fact that they should make Pampers for horses. Amazing what you think about when dead tired, the minutes ticking away like hours and the business end of a large animal swaying in front of you. I was suffering from car withdrawal. “What do you do on the island?” I asked Donna, to keep awake and get my mind off giant-size Pampers.
“Shamus and I run the Blarney Scone over there on Market Street, and I be helping answering the phones with Fiona at the Town Crier on occasion. It gives me dear husband and myself a break from each other and we don’t end up in screaming matches over how much butter to put in the pastries and what to charge for Earl Grey. I’m working my way up to reporter. Lucky for you, Paddy here and me were out delivering the newspapers and could lend a hand with the bikes.
“You know,” Irish Donna went on. “While we’re riding along like we are, ye can be telling me all about your lovely self so I can be working on your obituary for when things take a turn for the bad as I figure they might anytime now. A touch of autumn in the air, did ye notice, just a touch.”
I was with her till obituary. Donna nodded up ahead. “Well fancy that, will ye, it be Bunny’s yellow bike all by itself. On her way to the euchre tournament be my guess.” Donna pulled the reins and our four-legged engine shifted into neutral beside the yellow three-wheeler. “And will ye look at this.” Donna clutched her shamrock. “The front’s all mashed in, the lights busted out and the handlebar’s twisted up like a giant pretzel, it is. Yoo-hoo,” Donna called out. “Bunny me dear. Are ye in need of a wee bit of assistance this fine evening?”
“There,” I said, seeing the moonlight hitting Bunny’s electric pink shorts. “She’s sitting by those two trees.”
“More a’leaning if you ask me,” Donna said on a quick intake of breath. She gave a nudge. “Go have a look-see?”
“Me?”
“I need to be minding Paddy here.”
Right. Paddy was a thousand years old and asleep where he stood, and after the hill he had just climbed I couldn’t blame him. I stepped down from the carriage, the sound of crickets and night stuff I didn’t know everywhere. I crawled between the wood fence slats, hoping that something with wiggling antennae didn’t land on me. “Bunny?”
Heart rattling around in my chest, I crept though the bushes. Leaves crunched underfoot, moonlight weaved between the overhead branches and I tried to remember to breathe. Maybe Bunny had fallen asleep on her perch and didn’t hear Donna calling, or maybe she was just enjoying the view.
 Bunny’s eyes were wide open all right, but they weren’t taking in the view. They weren’t taking in anything. They were cold; vacant; dead.
My legs went to jelly and I crumpled to the ground. I’d lived all my life in Chicago and had never come across a dead person. A few bar fights when the Bulls lost or shoving matches at a Bloomingdale’s sale, but that was it. Yet here I was in the middle of freaking nowhere sitting next to a corpse named Bunny. Next time I wanted to impress my parents I’d buy them theater tickets.

AU: Please provide any dedication or acknowledgments to be placed.
Per MW.
ED/AU: For immediate clarity, maybe something like
“College guy added another bag as more people climbed aboard, and the...” ?
Or stet?
ED/AU: It isn’t clear here that Sheldon is the name of Evie’s phone; it seems like it might be another location name, since readers aren’t acquainted with the island yet. Possible to clarify here, so all future references to Sheldon will also be clear?
Adj. hyphenated per MW.
Per MW.
As in MW’s “eight ball.”
ED/AU: OK, or “woman”? Possible to clairfy Evie's age at some point? There are a few instances throughout where it would be useful to know.
Yes, thanks!

Note: We don’t know the heroine’s name yet. OK?
Lowercase, per MW. Changed throughout.
Per MW and CMS; but other color combos don’t need hyphens.
ED/AU: OK, as t/o?
ED/AU: OK, as meant? Or “cracked”?
ED/AU: Clarify what this is, or stet?
ED/AU: Anglicized spelling OK, intentional, or change to “Seamus” throughout?
ED/AU: OK, as meant?
ED/AU: New paragraph here, or stet?