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Monday, August 3, 2015

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - August 2015

It is the first Monday of the month and time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.  Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review / Legal

Booking Mama reviewed Bum Rap by Paul Levine

Girl Lost in a Book reviewed A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Spellcasting in Silk by Juliet Blackwell

Carstairs Considers reviewed The Longest Yard Sale by Sherry Harris

Dru's Book Musings reviewed Ripped From the Pages by Kate Carlisle

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Hooked on Ewe by Jannah Reed

Carstairs Considers reviewed Peaches & Scream by Susan Furlong

Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and More reviewed Dead Men Don't Eat Cookies by Virginia Lowell

Dru's Book Musings reviewed Smothered, Covered & Dead by Liz Lipperman

Carstairs Considers reviewed Fatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette

Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and More reviewed Caught Read-Handed by Terrie Farley Moran

Dru's Book Musings reviewed Jordan Point by Kathryn R. Wal

Carstairs Considers reviewed Murder on the Bucket List by Elizabeth Perona

Girl Lost In A Book reviewed A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Dru's Book Musings reviewed Perish in the Palm by Kari Lee Townsend

Thriller/Suspense /Intrigue Fiction Book Review

Books n' Cooks reviewed The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn

Booking Mama reviewed The President's Shadow by Brad Meltzer

Mysteries and My Musing reviewed A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber

Carstairs Considers reviewed Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman

Booking Mama reviewed With Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Books that Hook reviewed Sight Unseen by Iris and Roy Johansen

Booking Mama reviewed A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

Author Interview

Mysteries and My Musings interviewed Anna Lee Huber

Mysteries and My Musings had a guest post from Juliet Blackwell

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
to all the wonderful bloggers who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming and let's keep this carnival going. 
Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Does Your Cat Have What It Takes?!

Calling all cat moms and dads! 
Does your cat have star quality?
Do you have an adorable picture of your kitty?
Would you like to see it in a calendar while supporting a special shelter and rescue -- Look What The Cat Brought In? 
Then do we have a deal for you!

Enter your cat's photo to be in our calendar, but only the photos getting the top 13 votes after the competition voting will get their very own MONTH or maybe even the COVER. Your cat can be a pin-up kitty :-)

You pay $5/photo to enter a picture of your cat(s) into the 2016 Look What The Cat Brought In Calendar Contest by the August 30th deadline. Then starting on September 1st, anyone can pay 50 cents to vote for the photos they want to see in the calendar. You (and all of your family and friends) can vote as often and as many times as you want during the month of September — and all the money goes directly to Look What The Cat Brought In! Then, on October 1st we will tally up the votes and announce the winners!

The top 13 photos will appear in the calendar with the winning photo on the cover and the remaining 12 photos featured each month. Calendars will be available for pre-order between October 1st – 18th then a limited number will be available after they’ve been printed.

So, to sum up:

* $5 per photo submission
* $.50 cents per vote
* 1 great 2016 cat calendar!

Is your cat ready for his/her closeup?!
Make your town or state proud by representing them.
There are so many ways to have fun with this.
This also makes a wonderful tribute to your cats who live on in memory too.

Hurry, photo submission ends on August 30th, 2015.
To submit a photo, please go to our website at
Go to the official webpage for the contest (click here).

Some basic photo considerations to keep in mind (full guidelines on the website).

-- Please limit to 3 photo submissions per household.
-- Photos must be large enough so that, once blown up, they won’t look pixelated or blurry. Generally this means the photo should be a minimum of 300 dpi, or 2400 X 3000 pixels (so cell phone photos most likely will not work). If you need help determining whether your photo meets this criteria, please send your photo to LWTCBI.calendar.contest [at] gmail [dot] com and we can help.
-- Photos should be in JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIFF or GIF format, although JPEG/JPG is the preferred form.
-- Photos must either feature pets owned by the entrant, OR the entrant must have permission from the pet’s owner to submit their pet’s image.
-- We reserve the right to crop or edit winning entries so that they fit within the calendar printing area.
-- We must be able to contact you via email with any questions relating to the contest. If we cannot contact you, we reserve the right to remove your photo from the contest.

Please share with other cat moms and dads.

If you were wondering what cats have to do with mysteries...look at how many cozies feature a feline!  They go together.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Review - Hooked on Ewe

I reviewed the debut novel in this new series, Off Kilter (click here) and the author graciously provided a guest post (click here).  It is time for the second installment in this series set in rural Scotland.  FYI, there is a quote from my review of the debut book in the first pages! Yay,

Author: Hannah Reed

Copyright: July 2015 (Berkley) 295 pgs

Series: 2nd in Scottish Highlands Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Scottish Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Eden Elliott, recently divorced and contracted to author romance novel

Setting: Modern day, Glenkillen Scotland

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Early September and Eden is three months into her planned six month working sabbatical.  She has finished writing her first romance and working on plotting her second and she has volunteered to help with a sheep dog trial to benefit the local hospice center.  She finds she is more interested in avoiding the difficult event coordinator, Isla Lindsey.  Then Detective Inspector Kevin Jamieson wants to talk with her about temporarily being a Special Constable, it’s in name only, since "not much happens in Glenkillen."

Her friend Vicki is enjoy the sheep dog trials since many of her yarn club skein-of-the-month members are picking up the first club kit and everybody but spiteful sister Kirstine thinks they are fabulous kits.  Until, that is, Isla is found dead with the yarn wrapped around her neck. Forget wizardry of forensic labs in rural Scotland, the inspector and Eden start tracking down all the yarn kits to determine whose kit was used as a murder weapon.  This proves to be mired by gossip and misdirection, but Eden doggedly follows the clues.

Eden gets a feel for the frustrations of Jamieson's job, but getting to carry pepper spray (banned in Scotland) makes her happy.  Vicki MacBride is the kind-hearted friend that gives this a warm touch.  Leith Cameron, the epitome of a romance novel highlander, isn't in a rush to kindle any heat.  Detective Inspector Kevin Jamieson has moments of breaking out of his serious demeanor and might even like Eden...hmmmm.  Special Constable Sean Stevens is even more bumbling that before.

Glenkillen is an idyllic setting for the sour note of murder. 
The plot stays with a basic mystery whodunit scenario and supplies plenty of suspects and red herrings.  The pace remained steady.  The dramatic killer reveal gave some tense and edge-of-the-seat moments - kudos.  The wrap it gives a new enticement for Eden to extend her allotted time in Scotland.  I won't say anymore.

This second book stays close to its cozy roots and delivers a
delightful adventure with just enough whodunit versus danger.  The sprinkling of potential romance adds a touch of innocent spice.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Guest Post - Juliet Blackwell

I have been fortunate to have interviewed the author twice before: interview #2 (click here), and interview #1 (click here).  Today, we are once again welcoming author Juliet Blackwell to our little slice of the internet.

10 ways to get ideas for your next witchcraft novel

When setting out to write my Witchcraft Mystery series, I was determined not to create a Bewitched-style witch as my protagonist. As much as I loved that show as a girl (Endora was the best, and remember Dr. Bombay? And Aunt Clara?), I knew that witchcraft was a serious subject with an important history. So I set out to portray witches and witchcraft with respect for their diversity, both past and present. Want to know more? Read the Witchcraft Mystery series! Or…check out these suggestions:

1. Visit your friendly local coven. I kid you not; many covens are open to the public (at least on certain days) and would love the opportunity to explain some aspects of their belief system. And if you think there aren’t any covens near you…you may be surprised. They’re everywhere!

2. Wander the aisles of a botanica. This is a kind of traditional latino herbal/spiritual supply store; there are botanicas in most large cities in the U.S. The owners are usually women with a wealth of information about folk medicine, everyday “magic”, and basic human psychology.

3. Talk to your mother-in-law. This might work better if you have my mother-in-law (ex-mother-in-law, actually, but that’s another story). But still, the elders in your life might well offer vast well of knowledge about traditional remedies and “folk” beliefs. Remember, “witches” were usually considered community healers and Wise Women, so there’s a lot of overlap.

4. Go to Pantheacon, a conference dedicated to all things pagan/Wiccan/etc. Seriously. Amazing.

5. Read anti-magic websites and tracts. I learned this trick one October when a very sweet woman approached me at a gas station and handed me a pamphlet on the evils of Halloween. These tracts go into great detail about fascinating demons and unruly desires and all sorts of flights of fancy that are perfect fodder for a novel. I’m not coming down on anyone’s belief system; but I’m just saying…I couldn’t make this up!

6. Read folklore. There are traditions of witchcraft, magical thinking, and “folk” healing in every culture around the world. Again, I couldn’t make all this up – it’s fascinating stuff. And you just might learn a cure for warts, while you’re at it.

7. Spend a night in the woods (far from city lights) during a full moon. Gaze at the sky, peruse the shadowy woods, and imagine there is energy and life in the rocks and trees and stars that surround you. This is what witches have done throughout the millennia…you might just feel a connection! If not, it’s still a nice night out in the woods ;-)

8. Wander the aisles of the Halloween supply store. I know, I know, these are stereotypical renditions of witches and the like, but sometimes they get things right. And most witches I know have a great sense of humor and a true appreciation for Halloween, even the kitschy bits.

9. Invite a few good friends to hold a ceremony in a beautiful place outside, at night. Look up a simple ceremony for promoting harmony, lay out a few items that are meaningful to you, and speak a few words of friendship and communion. You might feel silly. On the other hand, you might feel stronger for having focused your intent in a circle of friends. It’s powerful stuff, witch or no.

10. Adopt a black cat. Because…shouldn’t everyone have a black cat?

Juliet Blackwell was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the youngest child of a jet pilot from New York and an editor from Texas. She graduated with a degree in Latin American Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz, and went on to earn Masters degrees in Anthropology and Social Work from the State University of New York, Albany. Upon her return to California she owned and operated her own decorative painting, historical renovation, and domestic design studio for more than a decade. Juliet pens the New York Times Bestselling Witchcraft Mysteries and the Haunted Home Renovation series, and will release her first mainstream novel, The Paris Key, in September. As Hailey Lind she wrote the Agatha-Award nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. She is past president of Northern California Sisters in Crime and former board member of Mystery Writers of America. Juliet lives in a hundred-year-old house with extensive botanical gardens in Northern California, but spends as much time as possible in Europe and Latin America. Juliet believes in the magic of language, travel, and cultural exchange to open hearts, minds, and souls.

Please join her on line:  WebsiteFacebook, Twitter

  THANK YOU for that great guest post.  It's always a pleasure!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Review - Spellcasting in Silk

This is another series I have been a fan of since its debut.  Read my reviews of the prior books:  #1 Secondhand Spirits (click here), #2 Cast Off Coven (click here),  #3 Hexes and Hemlines (click here), #4 In a Witch's Wardrobe (click here), #5 Tarnished and Torn (click here), and #6 A Vision in Velvet (click here).  I also interviewed the author twice: interview #2 (click here), and interview #1 (click here).  This blog is even quoted in the front pages from a previous review of the series!  

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: July 2015 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 7th in Witchcraft Mystery series

Sensuality: Kissing

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Characters: Lily Ivory, powerful natural witch and owner of vintage clothing store

Setting: Current day San Francisco

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Lily is busy with her shop, friends, and relationship with Sailor.  So she isn't thrilled when Inspector Carlos Romero comes into Cora's Closet requesting her assistance.  There is a metaphysical shop, called a botanica, that is implicated in a customer's suicide via jumping from Golden Gate Bridge. The mayor has begun a campaign against psychics and the seeming suicide only added fuel. Inspector Romero has the shop owner in custody but her shop has a problem...all the merchandise is active.  Lily doesn't sense a
ghost, but she senses something very wrong with the whole situation.  

Lily connects the incident at the botanica to an elderly ladie's death as she is shopping the estate sale for vintage clothes.  Plus, The botanica's owner's granddaughter, a gifted young witch, is missing and maybe the key to everything. Aidan and Lily finally talk after the tense events in the previous book and Lily isn't sure about his intentions (nothing new there!)  Aidan suggests they may be dealing with a magical person who has serious emotional problems.  Could there be an insane witch stirring up trouble?

Lily is growing and setting down roots, but she now has to face insecurity in a relationship and warnings about such a powerful witch like herself committed to a person as a bad thing.  Why can't she have both?  Sailor is enigmatic, although he seems happy with Lily - just not an open book which doesn't help Lily's insecurity.  Aiden offers his help and seems to want to have a working relationship with Lily, but as usual - what's his angle? Detective Carlos
Romero shows a little more of his personal side with Lily and continues to grow on me. Patience, Sailor's beautiful gypsy cousin and mentor aiding him in controlling his powers, likes
pushing Lily's buttons.  She is the breakout star in this book and I hope she is a new regular to the series.

The Sutro Baths near the Cliff House was a great location for Lily to be threatened by the killer.  San Francisco is always featured to great effect by Ms. Blackwell and this is a great example.  

The plot seems overly simple, but don't let that fool you.  There is plenty of evil lurking under the surface and Lily knows it's there and won't let up.  The pacing was on target and kept me turning the pages. The killer confrontation
delivered an exciting showdown.  The ending leaves Lily with a lot to consider in her future.

Another great adventure with Lily as she uses her magic to bring criminals to justice. Lily continues to be a strong character and the stories weave their own spells on readers.

Ratings:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

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