Sunday, March 29, 2009

No. 2 in a Booktown Mystery Series

Over the years more than one friend or acquaintance had asked Tricia why she was so enamored of the mystery genre. How could she actually enjoy stories that celebrated violent death? They had it all wrong. The books didn't celebrate death, but triumph for justice. Too often true-life villains got away with murder, but in fiction, justice was usually assured.

The above phrase came from Lorna Barrett's second book in the Booktown Mystery Series. The name of the book is Bookmarked For Death. I though the phrase was interesting for a few different reasons.

I guess the first reason is because it reminds me of a picture of an artist drawing an artist who is drawing an artist and so on. Here I find myself reading about myself. I think about mysteries in some of the same ways.

Another reason it is interesting is because Tricia (the main character and sleuth in this fiction account) makes herself into a "real" person like me. And in this fictional account, she encounters a "real life" death - in her world.

In her world, a visiting author is murdered in Tricia's book store during a book signing session break. As in the previous book, the local law enforcement treats her as a suspect. Her store gets shut down during the investigation and she has to move out of her home as well ... since she lives above her store. In addition to this, her employees need to continue working. So what is her solution? Luckily she can stay with her sister and her sister needs help in her store. But if she is going to get her store back open she is going to have to "help" the investigation along. And there are plenty of possible suspects.

I will not go any further into the story because it is one of those you just have to read and ... it's all about reading. But I will mention one little bonus the author includes in the book (as well as in the first book of the series) ... recipes. These are recipes for the foods included in the story. Boy ... do they look interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A New Texas Series

I found a new Texas author. Well … not really a new Texas author but another Texas author. Actually, I was introduced to this author by my favorite Library Director at Sachse Library – Dolores. She knew I liked to read mysteries and she knew I like to read Texas mysteries by Texas authors. The name of the book is The Christmas Cookie Killer and it was written by L.J. Washburn. This is the third book in the Fresh-Baked Mystery series. I usually do not like to start in the middle of a series but I went ahead and did so in this case. Looks like I will be going back to read the other two books in this series as well.

I mentioned this was a Texas mystery. It takes place in Weatherford, Texas and the sleuth is a retired teacher called Phyllis Newsom. It is right before Christmas and Phyllis is having one of her annual get-together - the annual Christmas cookie exchange. Every thing is going fine. One of the neighbors could not come because of some physical problems so Phyllis decides to bring a plate of cookies over. After visiting a little she returns home to get some cookie cutters for her neighbor but gets delayed a little with her party and finding the cookie cutters. When she returns to her neighbor's house, she quickly discovers something is wrong. Her neighbor is lying on the floor with a belt around her neck. She starts looking for something to cut the belt off her neck and gets clobbered over the head by somebody unknown. Talk about a way to start the holidays!!! And this happens in just the first chapter!!!
Phyllis is warned to let the police handle the investigation but she can not help but get involved herself. The police quickly come up with a possible suspect but things do not add up for Phyllis. There seems to be so many other possible suspects to look at.
If there is one thing I have discovered it is this - a good book is not only good because of the author who wrote it. It is also good for the reader who brings their own understanding into the story. That is why I am not giving away any more of this story. There are things that have to be seen by the reader which may experiences differently than I did. YOU MUST READ IT FOR YOURSELF - you will love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Virtual Book Tour - Guest - Author Kristin Callender

The Truth Lies In the Dark
Hi Mystery Reader Discussion fans. I am Kristin Callender, author of the newly released mystery The Truth Lies in the Dark. Before I share my book and extra special reason I am proud of it, let me take a second to thank you for taking the time out of your own busy lives to be here (virtually). I would also like to thank the host mistereereeder for having me as a guest on this blog.

The Truth Lies in the Dark is about a woman who lost all memory of her life and her parents in plane crash when she was a child. She only knows what her protective grandparents have told her about her past and her family, but reoccurring nightmares of a strange young girl tell her something else. Then an unfinished letter written by her grandfather confirms her fears and doubts. In it he hints that she is not who she thinks. On Amanda's journey to find her true identity she uncovers a dark secret that everyone in her life knew, even her loving husband. She is pushed to her emotional and physical limits as she tries to answer the most important question. Who is there to help her and who is there to make sure the truth the dark?

Writing has always been something I have enjoyed, but never thought I would ever find the time or the guts to write a book, never mind get published. I started this book with a pen and a pad, sitting at the park watching my kids play. I had the first chapter hand written and pages of notes on the characters and their back stories. Once I made them more real to me the story came to life in my head. Getting it down on paper was the problem. Between my family, school (I returned to college) and self doubt I had a hard time allowing myself the time to write. After all it was just a dream and I had real life commitments that needed my time and efforts. I am so glad now that I stopped feeling that way. Now it is a dream come true. Once I made up my mind to finish the book it took only two months. Then came the hard part, finding a publisher. After a lot of researching and reading I found BlueWater Press and 18 months later I was published. It was not at all easy, but that process is another post for another time :) .

As I hinted in my introduction, I have another reason to be proud of The Truth Lies in the Dark. The cover was taken from a painting done by my teenage son, Michael. Some friends of mine kept telling me that his portrait of the New York City skyline at night would make a great cover. So I took some pictures and submitted them to my editor, who loved it. Michael is a very talented artist and I am so proud to be able to share this accomplishment with him. The original painting is posted on my website on the Art Showcase page, along with a few others he has done.

Thank you for your time and interest in me and my book. If you would like to follow my Book Blog Tour you can go to my website:

The Truth Lies in the Dark is available on and is the 'Featured Book of the Month' on .

Thanks Again and keep on reading,

Kristin Callender

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Virtual Book Tour - Don Bruns' Bahama Burnout

author Don Bruns
author Don Bruns
Welcome to this stop on the virtual book tour for Don Bruns and his latest book in the Mick Sever series. As you can tell from the picture, it is called Bahama Burnout. If you want to check out any of the other stops on this tour, the tour schedule can be found at Don Bruns: Author Book Tour. Check at the end for information regarding a book giveaway.

MR – Congratulations on the release of Bahama Burnout – the fifth book in your series. How did you get started writing this series?

DB - There are now five books in the South Florida/Caribbean series. Eleven years ago I took a trip to Jamaica and when I got home I called my accountant and asked him if I could write some of the trip off for business expense. He said..."Sure. All you have to do is write a book about Jamaica and sell it." So, I did.

MR - How did your idea for this book / story evolve?

DB - A guy came up to me at a signing and said he used to be a sound engineer in L.A. He knew I wrote about the music industry and he wanted to know if I was aware of a studio in Teluride, Colorado that used to be big in the 70's. The studio hosted The Eagles, America, Crosby,Stills, Nash and other well known acts. He told me it mysteriously burned to the ground, and when they rebuilt it, strange things began to happen. Recording sessions were erased, instruments were broken, machinery came up music acts quit booking the studio. I asked this guy what had happened. "I don't know. They never found out." He shrugged his shoulders. "You're a writer, you tell me what happened." So, I moved the studio to Nassau in the Bahamas, put my protagonist, Mick Sever, on the case, and I solved the mystery in Bahama Burnout. Writers can do that.

MR - What has been your biggest challenge in writing?

DB - I'm not so sure that I find a challenge in writing, Dennis. There's more of a challenge in keeping up with marketing. Obviously the publishing industry, even in good times, is struggling and a writer is more and more involved in marketing their work. Electronic marketing with Face Book, Twitter, My Space and all the other internet media is almost a full time job.

MR - I can imagine what you are saying. Do you want to tell us about your most rewarding moment as a writer?

DB - I've received numerous awards and some really great reviews but the biggest reward is always when someone wants to engage in a discussion of one of the books. I mean, that validates any writer. You want to know that someone actually took something away from their read.

MR - Have you written anything else? (Feel free to tell us about it.)I

DB - I've written two series. The Caribbean series with Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, South Beach Shakedown, St. Barts Breakdown and Bahama Burnout, and a series about two clueless 24 year old guys in Miami. This is a murder mystery series with a humorous bend. Stuff To Die For, the first book in the series, won USA Books best mystery 2007 and Foreward Magazine's Best Thriller award. The second in the series came out last year, Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, and Stuff To Spy For will release this October.

MR - Do you have a favorite kind of book you like to read?

DB - Mysteries and biographies. I love interesting characters and obviously both types of books give me interesting characters.

MR - Would you like to tell us anything else?

DB - Just that research is a real chore. You have to go to some exotic island, learn all about the beach life, the night life, eat and drink the local food and drink. But hey, somebody has to do it. I do all the hard work, then write about it so the reader doesn't have to. When you buy one of my mysteries it's like taking a $4000 vacation for $24.95.

MR – Again thanks for letting me ask these questions for the virtual book tour.

“ Don Bruns is giving away a signed copy of his book, Bahama Burnout, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Don’s book tour page,, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 5912, for your chance to win. Entries from this blog site (Mystery Reader Discussion) will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow - March 15th. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Don’s book tour page next week.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

"What's In A Name?"

"What's In A Name?" Today's post is actually about another post in another blog. As you may know, J.A. Jance is one of my favorite non-Texas authors. I check her blog every once in a while and ran across a post by her - A $400 Vowel. This tells a story about her name. I knew "Why" she uses J.A. Jance on her books but I learned more interesting information about her name. Check it out!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Discussion Group Selection For March

There is one thing about belonging to a mystery book discussion group - you find yourself reading books you might otherwise have not read. This month we find ourselves in Alaska - the location / setting for Dana Stabenow's book. The book is called A Cold Day For Murder and is the introductory book in the Kate Shugak mystery series.

Who is Kate Shugak? She is a native Aleut. She used to be an investigator for the Anchorage D.A.'s office. She left that job and returned home after an assignment went bad. Her companion is Mutt - a half wolf / half husky.

In this book, her ex-boss has come to ask her help. Two people have ended up disappearing - a park ranger with connections to a congressman and another investigator sent to look for him. The missing investigator was a friend of Kate's - and trained by Kate. Kate sets out to look for them and unexpectedly finds she is a target.

I do not want to give away any more of the story but have a few things to say about the writing. As I discovered, this book is a Winner of the Edgar Award. I certainly understand why. The author has some fantastic descriptions of the terrain and people in Alaska. She also uses some good analogies. As is tradition with our discussion group, I give this book a thumbs up. I will be missing our discussion group for this book but will get an update later to let you know how the entire group felt about the book.