Tag Archive | series

BTB Review of Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Review:

michelangelos-ghost

I have not had the pleasure of reading any of GiGi Pandian’s works before so I went into this read completely blind. The cover is what captivated me and from there I went to the description. That’s when I knew I wanted to read it. Being a fan of mystery and exploration, a character such as Jaya Jones was going to help me escape on a much-needed vacation and explore my need for an exotic location. I grew up watching Indian Jones and always thought the females in his movies seemed pretty week. The thought of a female exporter fascinated me. I only hoped Jaya lived up to my expectations.

We have two females who are the main characters and focus of this story. Yes, there is a brother, his girlfriend and Jaya’s two love interests that form an uncomfortable love triangle, but I’m not sure those are the focus really.  So, I am focusing on the two main ladies.  One ends up dying, people thinking her a fool and dreamer while one goes on to explore this dreamer’s theories. There are lots of plots and twists in the book, but these two ladies and how their relationship is with each other is the thing I would like to focus on.

Lilith Vine was once an impressive professor of Jaya’s, but she and others left professor Vine behind in fear of having the stigma of “crazy dreamer” put upon themselves. After all, a real researcher can’t have that shameful of a person them around. Her fifteen minutes of famed discovery was over and she was a has-been, right? Yet, when professor Vine calls up Jaya and tells her about a connection between a world-famous artist and a set of carved statues in Italy, she can’t seem to pull herself away. Even after leaving her behind, Jaya knows deep in her heart that she looks up to Lilith Vine and that the quirkiness of her ideas makes her adventurous heart skip a beat with anticipation of the unknown.

Unfortunately, a prominent death occurs that puts a damper on the research but this drives Jaya even harder to find out if there is truly a historical connection. She is led to Italy to talk to the distant family of the artist in question and finds out of the shame associated with him, the scandal of his work and just how far people will go to manipulate others to get what they want.

I loved the adventure, the characters, the scene setting and development that goes on in Michelangelo’s Ghost. Jaya goes from a researcher who is not sure of herself to one who gains a full head of steam toward her better self. The character of Jaya did not disappoint.

Anyone who likes adventures and strong female characters will fully envelope this book. I was constantly “watching my back”, trying to figure out who was after who and if people where truly who they said they were. There is no sense of security for Jaya in this book and it’s an spree to the very end. I can’t wait until the next installment. I’m now a huge Jaya fan and plan to read the prior ones now.

About the Author:

gigi-pandian-bw-headshot-14-webres-rgb-7x8SA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the the southern tip of India.

She graduated with honors from Pitzer College, studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, and went on to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Bath in England. Before completing her PhD, she realized she was much better suited to writing about the fictional adventures of academics than being one herself. She left academia for art school, and began writing the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series.

Artifact, the first book in the series, was awarded the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant, hit the USA Today bestseller list, and was named a “Best of 2012” Debut Mystery by Suspense Magazine.

The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries continued with Pirate Vishnu (awarded the Left Coast Crime Rose Award), Quicksand, and Michelangelo’s Ghost. 

Gigi also writes the Accidental Alchemist Mystery Series. The first book in the new series, The Accidental Alchemist, won a Lefty Award. The Masquerading Magician was released in 2016, and The Elusive Elixir will be published in January 2017.

In addition to novels, Gigi loves writing locked-room mystery short stories. Her story “The Hindi Houdini” was shortlisted for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Gigi’s publishing journey was kicked into high gear by a cancer diagnosis. A month after her 36th birthday, Gigi was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get through her treatments, she decided to throw herself into her mystery writing. She’s doing well, but life is still uncertain, so she plans to have a lot of fun in life as she travels the world with her husband, camera, and notebook for writing mysteries.

Gigi sits on the board of Sisters in Crime, is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and is an avid participant in National Novel Writing Month

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GigiPandian/

Twitter @GigiPandian

Email: gigi@gigipandian.com

Website: http://www.gigipandian.com/

 

Buy “Michelangelo’s Ghost”

Spotlight of We Wish You A Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

BTB Spotlight
We Wish You A Murderous Christmas
Vicki Delany

What a treat we have right before Halloween from Vicki Delany!  She has given a sneak peek of the first chapter of her November release of We Wish You A Murderous Christmas. Happy Holidays!

wewishyou_coverSpecial BTB Sneak Peak:
Chapter 1
Decisions decisions.
Did I want hearty traditional winter fare or something to remind me of summers at the lake?
Prime rib with roasted vegetables, or grilled salmon with rice pilaf?
“You have to make up your mind sometime, Merry.” Vicky handed the waitress her menu. “I’ll have the lamb shanks, please.”
“That sounds good,” I said. “Me too.”
“You always have what I have,” Vicky said.
“That’s because I can’t decide for myself.”
The waitress returned with a bottle of nice red wine and went through the ritual of opening and tasting. We were savoring the first sips when she came back, bearing an overflowing platter, and placed it on the table. Cartoucherie: a selection of cheeses and paper-thin slices of cured meats with an assortment of pickles and nuts served with hunks of freshly baked baguette.
“That looks delicious,” Vicky said, “but you have the wrong table. We didn’t order it.”
“Complements of the chef,” the waitress said with a grin.
“Nice.” I picked a tiny knife off the tray and sliced myself a sliver of creamy blue-veined cheese. “I heard they hired a new chef. My mom says the food’s improved dramatically. Is that why you wanted to try it? Wow, this is marvelous.” I let the deep sharp flavor linger in my mouth. My taste buds did a happy dance. Then I noticed the slight flush on my best friend’s face. “Oh,” I said. “I get it.”
Vicky Casey and I were at the Yuletide Inn for a special treat of a fancy dinner. It was a Tuesday night in mid-December, and both of us were rushed off our feet at work, but Vicky had convinced me (without much difficulty, I will confess) that we needed a break in the midst of the madness of the Christmas rush. I own a shop, Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, in Rudolph, New York, which we call America’s Christmas Town. Vicky’s the owner and chief baker of Victoria’s Bake Shoppe. It was her idea to have a special girls’ night out, to relieve some of the stress of the season. Judging by the high color of her cheeks, clashing dreadfully with the lock of purple hair falling across her forehead, Vicky had an ulterior motive.
“Evening ladies,” said the deep voice of the ulterior motive.
A man stood beside our table, dressed in a chef’s uniform of white jacket and gray striped pants. The logo of the Yuletide Inn was embroidered onto the jacket, with his name written in script beneath. Mark Grosse, Executive Chef.
Every woman in town was gossiping about this man. For once the gossip was understated. He was tall and lean, with dark hair cut short, enormous brown eyes specked with flakes of green, high cheekbones, and blindingly white teeth.
“Hi,” Vicky squeaked. “Thanks for this.”
“I hope you enjoy it.” He smiled at her.
“Very nice of you,” I said. I might as well not have bothered. Neither of them were paying the slightest bit of attention to me. Chef Mark was grinning at Vicky and she was grinning back.
“Oh, uh,” Vicky said, remembering her manners at last. “Mark, this is my friend Merry Wilkinson.”
He turned to me. His smile was dazzling. “So pleased to meet you, Merry. Are you a cook also?”
“I boil a mean pot of water,” I said.
“I’ve got to get back to the kitchen,” Mark said. “Nice meeting you, Merry. I hope you recognize the baguette, Vicky.”
“Sure do,” she said.
“Have a nice meal,” he said. “Don’t forget to save room for dessert. The gingerbread cake is fabulous.” He hurried away, back to the mysterious depths of a top-ranked restaurant kitchen.
I broke off a hunk of baguette and popped it into my mouth. Crunchy on the outside, soft and dense within. Delicious. “Yours?”
“Yup. As is the gingerbread cake.”
“Does he get all his desserts from you?”
“Just the bread mostly. As my gingerbread cake is a Rudolph specialty, he buys that from me too.”
I took a sip of wine. “Nice looking guy.”
“Is he?” she said, gulping down half a glass of her own. “I hadn’t noticed.”
I glanced around the dining room. It was full, and I knew Vicky only got a reservation because they had a cancellation for a table for two. Logs burned in the large open fireplace against one wall. Next to it a tall, fat, real Douglas fir was weighted down with decorations and trimmed with delicate white lights. The tables were covered in starched white linen tablecloths, and crystal and silver glimmered in the gentle light cast by a single votive candle. The glass candleholders were trimmed with a piece of freshly-cut holly. The room was full of light and laughter, warmth and wonderful scents, and that special something which was part of the season: Christmas magic. I settled back with a contented sigh.
“How’s business?” Vicky asked.
“Mad. Absolutely mad. As they say in show business, any publicity is good publicity. All the attention the town received when that journalist was killed has helped draw in the crowds. Once they found the killer and Rudolph’s reputation was cleared, anyway. I’m worried about running out of some of my stock before Christmas.”
“That’s a good worry,” Vicky said. “Better than being stuck with stuff you can’t move.”
We wiped the cartoucherie plate clean. When the waitress took away the empty platter she asked if we wanted another bottle. Vicky and I exchanged a question before saying, “Sure!” at the same time. The lamb shanks arrived and they were delicious, served with delicate potatoes, and grilled vegetables. We lingered over our meal for a long time, simply enjoying each other’s company and the welcome chance to relax.
I’ve had more of Vicky’s gingerbread cake than I can possibly remember, but I never get enough of it. I ordered that for dessert, and Vicky had the candy cane cheesecake. The gingerbread was served under a mountain of freshly whipped cream, and the cheesecake dotted with bits of crushed candy.
“My complements to the chef,” Vicky said as we rummaged for our credit cards.
The waitress was about fifty years old, but she giggled and blushed like a teenager talking about the captain of the football team. “Isn’t he wonderful? We’re so lucky to have him.”
Vicky pulled out her phone and called for a cab. Neither of us were in any state to drive.
Then, stuffed to the gills, more than a bit tipsy, my best friend and I staggered out the restaurant door into the hotel lobby.
The lobby of the Yuletide Inn was also beautifully decorated for the season. The huge tree was hung with an array of antique (or antique-looking) ornaments; wooden soldiers stood to attention in the deep stone windowsills; red stockings hung over the fireplace; terracotta pots overflowed with pink-flowered Christmas cactus and red and white poinsettia. Glass bowls of various sizes full of silver and gold balls sat on the large round table dominating the center of the room. A charming Christmas village, complete with snow on the roofs and lighted windows in the shops and houses, was arranged on a side table.
“Hey, look who’s here,” a baritone boomed.
“Hi Dad. Mom.” Even though I’d only seen them yesterday, we exchanged enthusiastic hugs and kisses. My parents greeted Vicky the same way, and we shook hands with the couple with my parents. Jack and Grace Olsen, owners of the Yuletide Inn.
“Are you going through for dinner?” I asked. “It’s late for you, isn’t it, Dad?”
“We’ve just finished,” he said, rubbing his round belly with a satisfied smile.
“I didn’t see you in the dining room.”
“We had a private room,” Mom said. “It pays to know the boss.” The two couples were close friends.
“Dinner was exceptional,” Vicky said, patting her own firm, flat stomach. “The new chef is simply fabulous.”
Grace and Jack beamed. “We’re hearing nothing but good reports,” Jack said. “And let me tell you that’s a relief, after the last guy.” The side of one lip twisted up in disapproval. Jack was, for his age, a good looking man with a strong square jaw and dancing blue eyes.
“We’re booked solid until New Year’s Day,” Grace added. “Some people have made next year’s reservations already.”
“Glad to hear it,” Dad said. “What’s good for the Yuletide is…”
“Good for Rudolph,” we chorused.
Dad said, “Ho, ho ho.” My dad was born on December 25th and named Noel. He has plump red cheeks, a round stomach, a long white beard, a mass of curly white hair, and bushy white eyebrows. Even when he’s not wearing the costume of red suit, black belt and boots, and pom-pom tipped hat Noel Wilkinson looks exactly like a storybook Santa Claus. And Santa he is, in our town at least. Tonight he was dressed in brown corduroy slacks (circa 1980) and a red sweater sporting a design of a reindeer with springs of holly entwined in his antlers and a big red woolen pom-pom for his nose. I noticed people walking through the lobby giving him sideways glances and their faces lighting up in smiles. It was late for small children to be around, but if they were Dad would always give them a wink and a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho.”
Vicky and I laughed and leaned against each other.
Always the more serious of the pair, my mother gave me a stern look. “You are not driving, I hope.”
“We’ve called a cab, Aline,” Vicky said.
“We can give you a lift,” Dad said. “We’re leaving now.”
“Thanks, Dad, but the cab’ll be here in a minute,” I said. “We’ll wait outside. Good night.”
We headed for the front doors as Jack Olsen said, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was in the navy, and Santa Claus visited the ship. We were in the Philippines, and he was the sorriest excuse…”
He broke off with a strangled cry. I heard a loud thump followed by a resounding crash. Grace screamed, my mom gasped, and Dad yelled, “Jack!

Berkley Prime Crime/Penguin Random House
Release date: November 1, 2016

About The Author:
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. She is the author of twenty-three published crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries. Under the pen name of Eva Gates she is the national bestselling author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series.
Vicki lives and writes in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.

Vicki’s Links:
Website: www.vickidelany.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicki.delany.1 and https://www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor/
Twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor

What’s next for Vicki:
elementary-she-read

 

Look for Elementary, She Read, the first in Vicki’s new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, coming March 14 from Crooked Lane.

Giveaway:
A copy of We Wish You A Murderous Christmas, US only.
Click To Enter Giveaway

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Putting On The Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Putting On The Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Personal Note:

This particular tour is bittersweet. Is that term overused? Maybe. Defined, it means “producing or expressing a mixture of pleasure and pain.” I was so excited to be able to read this amazing book and review it but I knew I would not be able to rattle on about it to either author for they had both passed on. And there we have that bitter and painful part.

When I first got into reading cozies, Joyce was the third author I came in contact with thanks again to my Canadian sister-friend, Karen. I got onto the Joyce and Jim page and quickly started conversing with Joyce on a daily basis. I honestly didn’t know a person could have so much passion for purple!  Her morning greetings were warm and welcoming, nothing like I was seeing on the rest of the Internet. What a breathe of fresh air. Then, I got to slowing know of her husband as well. They were both so unlike others I was used to chatting with.

The news of their separate passings-on was devastating, but I am just glad to have gotten the pleasure and privilege of knowing them; even if it was only virtually. What a legacy they leave behind not only in their writings, but also in their beautiful personalities. I will never forget them.

jo-potw3Review:

So, you’re a witch who’s been hidden in the mortal world who recently found out you were a witch and your dad was one of the most powerful and dark witches ever. He’s now standing in front of you and your mom, who happens to now be a ghost, is not happy. What an opening! Putting On The Witch grabbed me from the beginning with some crazy stuff thrown right in my face and I loved it.

Having read some of the other books of Joyce and Jim’s I was going out of my mind with the “easter eggs” they kept throwing in throughout the book. If you are a reader of theirs, it’s a fun little gift. I know I was all giddy when things were mentioned and certain people showed up from other books of theirs. I won’t ruin it though.

My thought about witches is that they can’t be killed like mortals, but apparently if the right person gets ahold of them, they can. All of this and more takes place when Molly, Elsie, Dorothy and a few surprise guests attend their newest coven member, Brian’s’ birthday bash at the Witches Ball.

The party is elaborate, the preparation is elaborate and the location is unsearchable. Someone had to work pretty hard to get into this party in order to take out one of the powerful members of the Grand Council of Witches.

I love the contrast in the rich and powerful witches and what I call the “normal” witches, or those who are making an honest living just like the non-magical people. You can see the power struggles amongst these two groups which have been going on for ages.

Brian is the center of the party since it is his birthday. Although he was raised wealthy, he doesn’t have the same need to please, have money or be noticed like his grandfather. He is drawn to Dorothy who never new about her magic until recently. They both have a lot in common and I think that is why they are drawn together. In a way, they are both just starting.

Many things were denied to Brian because it wasn’t “proper” and Dorothy had nothing since she was raised without magic due to being hidden from her father. I enjoy the interaction between these two and how although they came from two complete upbringings, they are so much alike and therefore help each other out.

The friendship between Molly, Elsie and Olivia is heartwarming. These “retired witches” as they had hoped to be are only becoming stronger. Their friendship and encouragement of each others differences are what keeps their friendships so amazing. Molly is embracing her true heritage, Elsie is becoming appreciative that it’s okay to love no matter what society says and Olivia is learning to work with what life has dealt her…death. Through the changes in life and death, these friends and life-long coven members are growing themselves into better witches every day.

Putting On The Witch is about acceptance, breaking down the barriers of stereotypes and learning to accept yourself for who you are and just going with it. How in the world can a fiction book do that? I find that the Lavenes always have a message hidden in their books and this one is no exception. We all go through life, unsure of what the future holds. Some of us are unsure of our past and most of us are unsure of our future. One thing is for sure though. If we can find a small group of faithful friends who help to encourage our best selves, we are unstoppable.

 About The Authors:

joyce-and-jimJoyce and Jim Lavene wrote award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They had written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. Joyce passed away October 20, 2015 and Jim passed on May 5, 2016. They are missed by family, friends and their many fans.

Giveaway:

 Putting On The Witch Great Escapes Tour Giveaway

 

Author Links:

 www.joyceandjimlavene.com

www.facebook.com/joyceandjimlavene

Please join these other bloggers as they celebrate Joyce and Jim the rest of October!

October 13 – Booth Talks Books

October 13 – The Cozy Mystery Journal

October 14 – Brooke Blogs

October 15 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

October 16 – Bibliophile Reviews 

October 16 – Island Confidential

October 17 – LibriAmoriMiei

October 17 – MysteriesEtc

October 18 – Kathy Loves 2 Read

October 19 – ChristyMystery

October 20 – My Interdimensional Chaos

October 21 – Murder, Mystery & More…

October 22 – centraleast2

October 23 – Lori’s Reading Corner

October 24 – The Girl with Book Lungs

October 24 – Polished Nails and Puppy Dog Tales

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“Death of a Toy Soldier” Review, Interview and Giveaway!

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Review:
death4Excuse me while I run around like a kid in a toyshop writing this review for “Death of a Toy Soldier”. Oh wait; it takes place in an actual toyshop. Goodie, goodie for me. Finally, someone writes a book that I can relate to when it comes to my obsession with old toys, seeking them out and buying them. In this case, Liz McCall and her dad, Hank sell the toys at their amazing New York shop, Well Played. Fabulous name Barbara, fabulous!

Hank McCall is a retired police chief who has taken his hobby to the next level and opened a vintage toy shop and runs it with the help of his daughter Liz. All is well and good until a man who had visited the shop previously to check on the price of some super rare tin toys turns up dead in a pool of blood amongst the playful relics on the toy shop floor.

Hank is suffering amnesia from the night of the incident for an unknown reason and the McCalls are forced to try and put the pieces together to a puzzle that just gets weirder and weirder.   Hoping to get her father off the hook and back into the store he has put his heart and soul in to, Liz turns to friends and family in order to try and figure out who the mystery man was who ended up dead in their store. 

As if a game of Clue is in play, another man ends up dead who might be associated with the dead mystery man. The more they investigate, the more secrets are revealed about neighbors, friends and people they thought they knew. So, who did kill the man in the toy store with the dart. Yes, for sure a game of Clue is afoot.

The story did not stop the entire time. I was expecting a lull where I would lose interest and then have to force myself back into it because honestly, kids interrupt me while I am reading.   There was never a problem picking up where I left off because the characters weren’t flat. I felt like I knew Liz, Hank, Cathy, Jack, Peggy and those adorable sisters, Irene and Lenora.

I was able to jump right back in and the story just kept developing in new dimensions. Right when I thought I was going one way, Barbara took me somewhere else. I loved it! The killer threw me for a loop however. I had two people that I just knew did it. I kept thinking, “Oh Barbara, you made this too easy. You tried to throw me off, but I caught you.” Nope, I was so wrong. I didn’t see that one coming at all.

If there was one complaint I had, it was that I didn’t get to see inside the doll room. She kept describing Cathy, the other worker, peaking out and such but the reader doesn’t get to go in. Do you know what that does to a doll person Barbara? I wanna go in!

This series is exciting for me and I hope the second book comes out quickly after the release of this one. What a great set of characters, setting and descriptive writing. I was hooked. If you love toys, collecting old vintage memorabilia and love a good mystery go ahead and order this book. You need it in your life like I need another doll. And I DO need another doll by the way….

btb-seperation-bar

Interview:

BTB-Do you or have you ever collected vintage toys?

BE-At one time, I had quite a collection: a huge assortment of Fisher Price with all the original wooden Little People, an early Mr. Potato Head, a virtual fortune in real wood Lincoln Logs, and a pretty good selection of Pez dispensers. Colorforms. Slinkies. View Master with a bunch of disks. You may have already figured out where I’m going with this. This was forty some years ago. Most of them were passed down to younger cousins or siblings or sold by my mother at garage sales.

But no, I wasn’t a collector before I started writing the series. And except for a few fun pieces and some small things I’m using to decorate my Christmas tree, I’m trying to keep my collection on Pinterest. But, like Liz McCall, I am an avid board gamer, and I do own some vintage board games. Some I’ve bought used and others I’ve just had for long enough that they’re actually worth something–which is kind of sad, because it makes me hesitant to play them. And that’s their value for me.

trainBut the fun part of the series is that you don’t have to be a collector or even an enthusiast to enjoy reading about the toys. They spark a lot of nostalgia. When we see pictures of, say, a Mrs. Beasley doll on Facebook, or a vintage Scooby Doo lunchbox we may have taken to school, those images inspire all kinds of feelings and memories. We all relate to toys. They were part of our childhood and are key parts of our formative memories.

BTB-How did you do research for “Death of a Toy Soldier”

BE-The idea for the series came from the town first. I’ve visited East Aurora (Yes, it’s a real place!) any number of times–it’s only a little over half an hour from my house. It’s such a quaint town, the kind you read about in cozy mysteries. It has brick-paved Main Street with every kind of store you might imagine in a cozy mystery: a quirky five-and-dime, a cupcake shop, a yarn shop, a vintage theater selling gourmet popcorn, a chocolate shop, and a variety of eateries, many with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. There’s even an Amish furniture store. And yes, a toyshop. It carries a lot of classic toys, but it’s not a vintage toyshop.

But the whole town is truly darling. I supposed the normal reaction is to want to shop and sightsee. My first reaction was, what a great place for a murder!

So I really wanted to set a mystery there. When I searched the town’s history, I learned death5-copythat it has long been called Toy Town, because of the manufacture of toys in the area. Fisher Price (now part of Mattel) still remains, but there were once a number of different toy manufacturers clustered around the town. Sad are the things I just missed: there used to be a toy parade and a toy museum. Neither of those exist any longer. But since I write fiction, I reserve the right to resurrect them.

When I started digging around a little more, I discovered that, while vintage toyshops are a little rare, dealers and collectors do a bit of trade at vintage toy shows, and I found a few in my area. They’re starting to recognize me, even though I do more talking and picture taking (with their permission) than actual buying. But going to the shows always feels more like play than research.

BTB-What inspired the name of the book?

BE-I never get to keep my titles. I thought I was going to be able to this time. The working title was MURDER WELL PLAYED. In my mind, it was perfect. Vintage toys. Well Played. And every title could have “play” in it, in some form. And that’s the title it was subbed as. But the publisher who bought it wanted to change it. They wanted something more visual–which I understood, at least as soon as I got over my initial disappointment. It was my agent who actually came up with the title, which resonated with the publisher right away–and led to some changes in the story to accommodate it. I wasn’t initially sold–but I’ve learned to trust the instincts of those with experience in the industry. They were so right! And then they came up with that cover, which is absolutely fantastic. I love those eyes! So each book will likely feature an iconic type of toy.

1958-why-board-game

BTB-In the book, there is a lot about vintage games as they gather for a regular vintage game night in the toyshop.  What is your favorite board game?  Do you have a favorite piece you play, color, etc.?

BE-I have a lot of favorite board games, depending on my mood. Right now it’s a strategy game called Power Grid. I’m also fond of Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan. Those three have apps that allow me to play against the computer, which is nice because I like to play far more often than I can find people to play with. I also picked up another fun one called Liebrary, where you’re given the title and brief synopsis of a real book, and then all the players have to come up with a first line. Those lines get shuffled together with the real first line, and then everybody has to guess which one is genuine. As a writer, it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, it starts feeling like work.

As far as playing pieces, I tend to pick green, for some reason. And in Monopoly, yeah, I like the racecar. Boring, I know.

BTB- There is a lot about family and trust in this book.  Can you speak as to why this was such a heavy theme?  It’s unusual to have a father and daughter sleuth team.

BE-When we start thinking about the toys of our childhood, we tend to think of the circumstances of our childhood. And I wanted Liz’s childhood to be interesting. (The opposite is boring, and nobody wants that.) Giving her an alcoholic parent was an easy choice for me. I can write that with authenticity, sadly. The strong bond between Liz and her father was born from this shared adversity. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, but they’re very much there for each other now. They have each other’s backs and are more alike than either would probably care to admit.

Perhaps it’s because I never had a close relationship to a father, I tend to explore this idea in fiction. The close relationship between Hank and Liz is more similar to the one my husband and our daughter share. It’s very sweet and fun to watch.

BTB-I have to ask about the monkey in the book because every time I read about it, it vintage-monkeyseemed to represent something inside of Liz that she was dealing with psychologically.  Was the monkey used as a metaphor or am I over analyzing?  Was the monkey just a monkey?

BE-Sometime a monkey is just a monkey. I’ve always found them a little freaky. But like Liz, sometimes I can get a little nervous around toys with eyes. It comes from that one Twilight episode with a talking doll, and then a made-for-TV horror movie about a killer doll–that I was too young to watch at the time. I still have a low tolerance for horror, unless it’s something campy, like Sharknado.

But those early experiences gave me a bit of a doll phobia myself–nothing too severe–which I’ve given to Liz, because it’s a fun problem to have if you work with them every day.

BTB-So, I know we are just now getting a taste for this book, but anything you want to reveal about the next one?  Can we expect to go into the doll room….yes?  no?  Hahaha! I really wanna go in.

BE-Crooked Lane contracted three books, so I’m writing the second one now, which takes place at a model train and toy show. And model trains are such iconic toys. (Although there’s a lot of adults who would cringe at me calling them toys.) The working title which, given my track record (pun unintended) will probably change, is Strangers on a Toy Train. We’ll see. I’m thinking dolls for book three, although they’ve always been in the series. It’s not blatantly obvious, at risk of being too cutesy, but Liz McCall shares the same full name as an iconic paper doll, Betsy McCall. Her sister-in-law, Cathy, can be a bit chatty. There’s a potential love interest named Ken. And the author–just don’t call me Barbie. I HATE being called Barbie.

BTB- Thanks Barb for stopping by, chatting and letting us into your brain. You are quite fascinating and so is this little toyshop of yours.

About The Author:
barbara-early

Barbara Early authored the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen) and now writes the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries. She lives in Western New York.

Facebook Author Page : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraEarly/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BarbEarly
Alter Ego Beverly Allen:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverlyAllen
Blog:  http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/

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Giveaway:

We didn’t get a chance to go into the doll room, but you have a chance to win somethingwaldapubdom from the doll room. May I introduce, Jillian! She is what us doll collectors call a Walda doll. She was sold back in the 70s and 80s as an antiqued (not antique) doll to look like the older porcelain dolls of yesteryear. They have glued on wig caps, painted facial features of rosebud lips and different colored eyes, painted black boots and usually come dressed in a prairie looking dresses with a hat and bloomers.

Her head, arms and legs are made of porcelain and her body is stuffed with cotton rags. No Walda looks like another so collectors look for these for their distinct personalities. We have one (of course) in our collection. She was given the name Courtney and she joined our family in the early spring while my daughter and I were out antiquing. My daughter fell in love with her so we brought her home immediately, no questions asked. For information on Walda dolls, click HERE.

I was so excited when Barbara sent a photo to me of her find. I then flooded her with my doll knowledge. Lucky you! Just click below to be entered to win you very own “Walda” doll named by Barbara. Jillian is excited to come live with you.  She is complete and in collector condition which is hard to find.  Most are missing their hats.  Good luck!

Win “Jillian” The Vintage Walda Doll!

(named after the assistant museum curator, Jillian Hatley, in “Death of a Toy Soldier”)

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Buy “Death Of A Toy Soldier”

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Spies and Spells by Tonya Kappes-Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00046]I want to be a witch like Maggie Park and I want a car like Vinnie. A talking car would be handy, don’t you think? Seriously, I was drawn into the story of this Louisville Kentucky witch’s family from the first page and was taken on a wild ride throughout the entire book.  When is my Witchy Hour?

Maggie is living with her mother, aunt, sister and family familiars (witch assistants)  trying to figure out what her life calling is, working at the family diner while trying to fit in as a mortal and be a learned witch at the same time. Talk about living undercover in plain site!

The Park family lives in the south, interacting with people I can relate to oh so well! Being from the south myself, I can just hear all of the sayings coming from the neighbor, Mrs. Hubbard and Auntie Meme. A multitude of “bless your heart”, “fair to middlin” and others sprinkle the entire book and make me feel right at home. I even know neighbors with those plastic flowers. Bless their hearts….

Maggie is a go-getting, ready to escape the clutches of her family young woman in her late 20s who is ready to get on with her life. So, naturally she gets involved, by accident, in a drug bust where she meets a handsome guy, Mick, who ends up being an undercover agent for a secret organization. But, not before she zaps some poor guy into a cat. Sweet! After three bodies, finding out her car tends to talk and drive on it’s own, it’s Mick who starts to find Maggie irritatingly intriguing when the SKUL organization hires her as a secret citizen agent to work a case involving Mystic Couture makeup. She already lives undercover anyway, right?

This book is fast paced, full of humor and fun suspense. You also get a good taste of the south with this amazing witch family. I loved how Maggie develops throughout the story. You can see her grow up and start to come into her own, taking responsibility for her powers and who she is to the family and the mortal world.

Spies and Spells is the first book in the new Spies and Spells series by author,Tonya Kappes.

 

Buy Spies and Spells Here!

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