Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review--Fool Me Once

Fool Me OnceFool Me Once by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Without bragging (too much), I'm generally good at figuring out whodunnit.

Not this time. Fool Me Once is a twisting, turning, roller-coaster ride of a book with characters who can't be trusted, long-hidden family secrets, and an obsessed military veteran who will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth.

I enjoyed it immensely, and I look forward to reading Coben's next novel.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review--Once Upon a Dream

Once Upon A DreamOnce Upon A Dream by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked Eleanor Thompson in Slightly Dangerous, Wulfric's story in the Bedwyn Saga. She seemed sensible, but destined for spinsterhood. However, even confirmed single ladies may find they want someone to put a ring on it, when they meet the right someone. Eleanor meets that someone, a widower with two small children, one of whom schemes to marry her father off to Miss Thompson.

This is one of Balogh's trademark gentle stories of good people finding their HEA. No pirates, no spies, no superheated drama, just people who don't want to be alone for the rest of their lives, especially when they meet the person who disturbs their thoughts and dreams.

I'm glad we had this little addition to the Bedwyn Saga. It was like an after dinner mint, refreshing, and just the right size.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Review--The Cold Between (Central Corps, #1)

The Cold Between (Central Corps, #1)The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Who run the world? Girls!"

That truism is wonderfully apparent in the first Central Corps novel, The Cold Between. It's the women who propel action forward, saving the day, doing the tough jobs in engineering, command and security. Heck, the male protagonist is a pastry chef!

Of course, that's not all Treiko Zajec is, and after what was supposed to be a one-night-stand, Commander Elena Shaw is drawn into his orbit as the two of them work together to uncover a mystery involving the murder of Elena's former lover.

This is not a romance, but a science fiction with strong romantic elements, and it's a delightful throwback to the kind of hard SF we don't see enough of these days. I'm looking forward to more Central Corps novels, and seeing these characters in the spaceways again.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Outlining The Book or Novel You Want to Write, a recap

Our program at the Writers Alliance of Gainesville (WAG) meeting was a great success (in my opinion), with an audience full of excellent questions. We each brought our own expertise to the discussion and I was happy to share some of what I've learned as a "pantser", a writer who goes with the organic flow rather than outline.
Even so, I still call on my journalism training at the beginning of each novel and ask the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why? These lead into Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and I recommended  Debra Dixon's excellent book for writers to the group. 

Next up is the Scribes of the Sunshine State program on Thursday night, and a presentation on women pirates in June. Whew! It's going to be a busy few weeks ahead, but I'm having fun getting out and about.

I'll have some of my Florida set novels at the Scribes program, including paper copies of The Bride and the Buccaneer, scheduled for re-release in June in electronic editions.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review--Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7)

Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7)Only Beloved by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent romance novel for grown-ups from a queen of her craft, and for a change we get middle-aged protagonists. I always recommend Mary Balogh for people asking about the best Regency novels today, and this final entry in the Survivors' Club series is well worth reading.

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Review--The Kill Clause (Tim Rackley, #1)

The Kill Clause (Tim Rackley, #1)The Kill Clause by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young child is brutally murdered, ripping apart the mourning family. But when the murderer walks on a legal technicality, Deputy US Marshal Tim Rackley is offered a chance at vigilante justice, doing what the courts will not--end the life of his daughter's killer.

How far would you go for vengeance? Would you violate the laws you swore to uphold? And what does that make you at the end of the day, a hero or a criminal? This is a thoughtful thriller on the intricacies of justice and the law, with a lot of gunplay and explosions to keep the excitement level high.

The ending was interesting, and I especially enjoyed some of the minor characters, including an assistant public defender trying to get beyond a DDSS (Different Day/Same Sh*t) mentality and follow those rules and precepts taught in law school.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Hurwitz's books, and he's now on my list of thriller authors to watch.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Scribes of the Sunshine State, May 19

But wait, there's more! I'm also speaking on Thursday, May 19 about my Florida inspired historical romances, and I'll have books for sale.
May 19, 6:00‒8:00 p.m. – Matheson History Museum
MathesonScribes of the Sunshine State
The Matheson History Museum and the Writers Alliance of Gainesville (WAG) are teaming up for the second “Scribes of the Sunshine State” program. Four distinguished authors—Mary Wood Bridgman, Jack E. Davis, Kate Dupes Hawk, and Darlene Marshall—will share how Florida inspires their writing.
This program is being held in conjunction with the museum’s April-June, 2016, exhibition: Liquid Gold: The Rise and Fall of Florida Citrus, which is free and open to the public.
Refreshments and a book signing will follow the “Scribes of the Sunshine State” program. The museum is located at 513 E University Avenue Gainesville FL 32601.

For more information on this program and the speakers, visit WAG's website.

Writers Alliance panel this Sunday

I'll be speaking at the Writers Alliance of Gainesville Meeting this Sunday. Since I'm a "pantser" more than an outliner, could be exciting. And we'll have books for sale!
Outlining the Novel or Book You Want to Write
Three local published authors—Darlene Marshall, Wendy Thornton, and Larry Brasington—will discuss their outlining and writing styles.  
                                                                                                                                          Darlene Marshall writes award winning stories of romance and adventure. The Pirate’s Secret Baby won the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers and the Readers’ Choice Award from New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA). Castaway Dreams won the Aspen Gold Reader’s Choice Award, and Florida-set The Bride and The Buccaneer received the First Coast Romance Writers Beacon Award for best historical. Thornton is a freelance writer and editor who has been published in RiverteethEpiphanyMacGuffin and many other literary journals and books. Her memoir, Dear Oprah Or How I Beat Cancer and Learned to Love Daytime TV, was published in July 2013 and is available on Amazon and Kindle. Her mystery, Bear-Trapped: In a Trashy Hollywood Novel, was published in February 2015 and is available on Amazon and Kindle. Brasington likes to write stories with lots of action and strong story lines. He most enjoys his Shane Ireland, Elf Detective series set in a world in which a quarter of the human race has mutated. He first published stories in 1972: “Temple in the Swamp” and “The Valley,” an H. P. Lovecraft-like tale. Many of his short stories have been featured, an online magazine for gamers. His latest book is Saving Sonyaa fantasy novel. 
A book signing will follow the program. For more information, visit the WAG website.
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Review--The Devil You Know (McKenna Brothers, #2)

The Devil You Know (McKenna Brothers, #2)The Devil You Know by Jo Goodman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang if she hasn't done it again. If you're not reading Jo Gooman , you're not reading the best historical western romance being published today. Over the last 10 years the entire subgenre seemed to fall off a cliff like stampeded cattle, except for a handful of authors, and with The Devil You Know a reader can see why Ms. Goodman's at the top of the heap.

Israel McKenna, aka "Mr. Roundbottom", is not a good man. He knows it, his family knows it, a whole bunch of other people know it, and now the Pancake family (srsly) may learn it as well after young Annalea Pancake finds the injured city slicker on the edge of their property. Annalea's big sister Willa Pancake isn't sure bringing the stranger home is going to end well, but she's got plenty of problems already, so what's one more?

What unfolds is a beautifully crafted story that unwinds like a Western story told around a campfire. You can't rush the action, because that would detract from the storytelling, so settle in with the Pancakes and Israel and get ready to be entertained.

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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Review--The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #14)

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #14)The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent whodunnit in a series that has its ups-and-downs, but continues to entertain. The saga began with The Beekeeper's Apprentice and over the years the Holmes/Russell relationship has grown and developed, but now we have a new tale about a character seen in the background, but seldom heard from--Mrs. Hudson.

Clara Hudson's story unfolds in a fashion which makes it seem like a novel within a novel, and the mystery about her past is intriguing and touching, revealing a character far more complex than the servant familiar from the Conan Doyle stories.

It's also a woman's tale, and that's evident in the author's deft touch, bringing details to the reader of a woman's difficult life in a Victorian England that offered few choices to the poor and disenfranchised.

Even if one's not a fan of the Holmes/Russell stories, The Murder of Mary Russell is worth reading and enjoying for Clara's tale, and the mystery (and macguffin) is interesting enough to hold the reader's attention until the last satisfying twist.

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