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Fave Books by Lisa Jackson

I’ve always loved suspense and mystery novels.  I grew up on Mary Stewart, Agatha Christie, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne Du Maurier and Shirley Jackson. Later I gravitated to Stephen King, John Sanford, Michael Connelly and other suspense/horror/mystery writers.

Lately though I’ve tried some new authors and I’ve been reading a lot of stories revolving around women who are not only victims, but also villains and/or heroines.  Or maybe a little bit of all three?  Often these women are not what they seem.  Anyway, I find my self rooting for these characters who are so multidimensional and totally flawed, all of which makes them intriguing and fun.

I just finished My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry and I loved it! Lily and Carla are perfect foils for each other.  Lily is a married lawyer is struggling with secrets of her past and a crumbling marriage while Carla is trying to make the best life possible for herself, a girl who has always felt “different.”  Carla, who starts out as a child in the book, doesn’t care what or who gets in her way, but she’s met her match with clever, self-determined Lily whose secrets not only propel her, but emotionally hobble her.  I could not put this book down!  I liked it so well, I’ve got another one of her books, Blood Sisters, teed up.

A couple of months ago I read a preview copy of Nancy Bush’s Jealousy.  Wow! Nancy’s my sister, so I could be a little prejudiced, but I loved the story revolving around three women, sisters Lucy and Layla and their sister-in-law, Kate, all very different women with different, rivaling goals.  The book is set in Oregon and brings in a detective from Nancy’s other books.  Remember September Rafferty?   September shows up to help solve several murders.  Jealousy has a unique set of secondary characters and long buried family secrets that lead to murder and suspense.  Jealousy is right up my ally and one of Nancy Bush’s best!

Right now I’m in the middle of A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena and I find it intriguing.  I don’t know how it ends, yet, but it’s caught my interest because it’s a mystery involving Karen, woman who seems to have lost her memory in a automobile accident that nearly took her life and left a murdered man in its wake.  I love a good amnesia story and  I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I’ve also recently read Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, and The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, both of which I highly recommend. Both books have strong female characters who propel stories filled with murder and deception and unique twists which keeps the reader guessing.

Loved them all!

London Danvers disappeared almost twenty years ago. The youngest child of hotel tycoon Witt Danvers—and the only child with his second wife, Kat—London hasn’t been seen since. Over time, many women have claimed to be the long-lost heiress. Adria Nash is the latest. But from the moment Zachary Danvers sees her, he believes Adria is different. For one thing, Adria looks just like Zachary’s former stepmother. For another, Adria knows personal details only London could have known.

Just four years old at the time of the kidnapping, Adria can’t be sure if what she feels in her gut, and what she’s been told, is true. She has no memory of the abduction, and confronting Zach is the only way to get answers. Yet she feels a deep sense of dread. London’s nanny also vanished that terrible night. And Kat Danvers fell to her death under suspicious circumstances soon after. If Adria really is London, she stands to inherit a fortune—but will she also become a target?

Adria is right to be afraid. Because someone does believe her. Someone who has killed before and is watching her every move, waiting for the right moment to see how she runs . . . see how she screams . . . see how she dies . . .

Female-driven Thrillers in the World of ‘Girl’ Books by Sara Driscoll

This may be a controversial opinion, but Gone Girl really didn’t work for me. I read it when it was a number one bestseller and, in the face of overwhelming critical acclaim, I really felt as if I was out of step with thrillers at that particular moment. That’s a rather disquieting fact when you write in that genre. So, I took the time to really look at why I didn’t enjoy it. It was a solid story, but the gritty portrayal of the protagonists’ marriage, and the nastiness and betrayals were just not fun to experience with them. It was dark and disturbing and unsettling. Kudos to Gillian Flynn for bringing her readers along for the ride, but, for me, life is heavy enough without that kind of realism invading my brief and precious entertainment space. Many books have followed with a similar psychological thriller theme: Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window, Pretty Girls, etc. By and large they haven’t worked for me either (Pretty Girls being the exception), often leaving me unsatisfied.

I’ve been a long-time reader of J.D. Robb’s In Death series, which straddles the mystery and thriller genres against a light science fiction backdrop. Set forty years in the future, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is an officer of the New York City Police and Security Department, and handles cases from murder to terrorism. Eve is a little rough around the edges, but one of her most notable characteristics is the moral code that influences every aspect of her life and especially her law enforcement career. She is joined by a large cast of characters who either share that code (her partner or fellow law enforcement officers) or challenge it (her ex-criminal husband who wants to take the law into his own hands on occasion). But I have long recognized that one of the aspects of this series that keeps me coming back is the theme of emotional justice that is integral to every book. Yes, bad things happen, people die, or their lives are altered forever, but there is always a sense that justice will prevail to varying degrees. Restitution cannot be made, but the people responsible for horrible deeds will pay for those actions in some way. At base, I think this was my difficulty with Gone Girl—in a world where real emotional justice often seems elusive, spending so much time with dishonorable people who continually got away with their schemes was exhausting and unsatisfying.

I recognize those same themes of emotional justice in my own writing. Yes, perhaps it is unrealistic—not every crime comes to a satisfying conclusion, cold cases go unanswered, some murders are never solved—but getting away from the sometimes brutal reality of the real world means we can find answers in the fictional world we’d never dream of in our own lives. That’s a satisfaction I can live with.

 

The heart-pounding thriller of a series continues as FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue K-9 companion confront the fury of nature—and the more dangerous nature of man . . .

In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. They have their work cut out for them. Amid graveyards of debris, and the buried cries for help, the search and rescue operation begins. The most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp. Shaken by the storm, she has reason to be scared. But this young survivor is terrified of so much more.

Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. With so much evidence, and so many witnesses, seemingly washed away, Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave to ensure no further harm comes to their vulnerable charge. They soon discover that this is no small-time localized syndicate. Its branches are rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.

Praise For Lone Wolf The First FBI K-9 Novel By Sara Driscoll

“A wonderfully readable series launch.” —Publishers Weekly

“Tense and exciting, Sara Driscoll has created a new power couple, Meg and her FBI K-9, Hawk.” —Leo J. Maloney, author of Arch Enemy

 

Cover Reveal!

Can a broken engagement ignite the spark of true love?

Sylvia Dowder had almost made it to the altar when her fiancé unexpectedly became a viscount, and dropped her like a stale crumpet to make a more “suitable” match. Though Sylvia’s heart has been crushed, her spirit has not. She puts her wits and social savvy to use as a secret gossip columnist—and as the Everton Domestic Society’s party planner to the ton. Luckily, she’s not in danger of ever falling for an aristocrat again…

Especially not one like Anthony Braighton, Earl of Grafton. Raised in America, Anthony sees no reason to marry when he can enjoy all the perks of being an eligible earl. Determined to convince his family he doesn’t need a wife, he hires Sylvia to act as hostess and decorator for upcoming parties. Yet Sylvia is as adept at captivating his interest as she is at beautifying his home. And despite this Everton lady’s aversion to titled men, some attractions can’t be denied—and love rarely does go where it’s told . . .

 

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Tricks and tips for making it through the holidays by Stacy Finz

We all know the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of pressure to eat, drink and be merry. Like many writers, I’m an introvert so I find the merry part particularly taxing. And being a diabetic I have to watch the eating and drinking.

Over the years, I’ve come up with a few coping strategies to get me through and thought I’d share them with you.

  • Be kind to yourself. Okay, when people say things like that I want to punch them in the mouth so let me expand on exactly what I mean. Buy yourself something expensive. A cashmere sweater, a full-body massage or if you’re broke settle for a foot massage. But treat yourself to something you ordinarily wouldn’t do and make it all about you. Because if you’re anything like me you’re going to spend most of the holidays trying to make everyone else happy.
  • Stockpile books you really want to read and read them. Despite all the revelry, the holidays can be a lonely time for many. But you’re never alone with a good book.
  • Embrace the mocktail. They’re delicious and a great prop at parties when you want to fit in but don’t want to over drink or drink, period. Simply tell the bartender or host I’ll have a Margarita, hold the Tequila.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of the good stuff but think sampler plate. A little bit of everything but just enough for a taste. After years of working as a food writer I’ve learned that things actually taste better that way.
  • Make time to do something special with your closest friends. Whether it’s a fancy tea or pizza at someone’s house these are your besties who have your back and the people who let you grouse about your in-laws. Lean on them and let them lean on you.
  • Start your shopping early and look for deals. Every time I’ve waited until the last minute, desperation sinks in and I wind up spending way more money than I intended.
  • Budget and stick to it! Or else you’ll wind up like me and still be paying for Christmas 2005.
  • Put your computer and the internet to work. Traffic, scarce parking and crowded malls make me extremely Grinchy and suck the joy right out of the holidays. So grab yourself a hot drink, put on your flannel PJs and let your fingers doing the shopping. This might be a good time to plop down a little cash on Amazon Prime, just saying.
  • Someone, somewhere, can use a friend right now and who knows maybe you’ll make one in return.
  • Book a solo trip to Puerto Vallarta and say, feliz navidad, but I’m out of here until the new year. If you try that tell me how it works out. I’d be interested to know . . . uh, for a friend.

Continue reading “Tricks and tips for making it through the holidays by Stacy Finz”

Christmas Cheesecake from Lindsay McKenna

This is a dessert I make every Christmas Eve for my family. It’s simple and easy to whip up. This is a dessert we eat after dinner. Unlike other folks, we’ve always opened Christmas gifts on the night of the 24th.

We have a marvelous meal of stuffed turkey and of course, we’re busting at the seams because we ate too much! We then clear the dishes from the table, put them in our dishwasher. My husband David then goes to our Christmas tree and begins to parcel out the gifts to everyone. We spend lots of time opening them up.

By the time we’re done, we’re ready for dessert, coffee or tea. And the cheesecake is light and you can have a small sliver or a thick wedge, depending upon how much room you have in your tummy! This cheesecake has been a family tradition for 41 years in our family.

HOMEMADE CHEESE CAKE by Lindsay McKenna
www.lindsaymckenna.com

Ingredients:
3–8 oz of “Light” Philadelphia Cream Cheese
4 eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup and it’s fine…up to you but I like less sugar) Continue reading “Christmas Cheesecake from Lindsay McKenna”

Ginny’s Spice Bars by Linda Reilly

One of the things I love most about the holidays are all the delectable recipes people share with me. While I’m not the best cook, or baker, I occasionally land on a favorite that entices me to pull out the old apron every season (metaphorically, since I don’t own an apron) and whip up some goodies.

Years ago, I worked with a wonderful woman named Ginny. She had so many talents I lacked that I was always in awe of her. When I was trying to shave off a few pounds (okay, more than a few), she kept me on the straight and narrow by rationing my daily cheese treats. One cheese stick per day at mid-morning–that was it! One day when she’d been out of the office for the morning, my willpower wobbled. I ate a second cheese stick. The minute Ginny walked in, she knew from my expression what I’d done. “You ate a second one, didn’t you?” she said. Like a defendant in a Perry Mason episode, I broke down and confessed. If this sounds like a lot of drama, it was all in great fun and gave us plenty of giggles. Ginny has since moved away to warmer climes and I still miss her, but I’d like to share her recipe with you.

Every holiday season, Ginny presented each of her co-workers with a batch of her delicious spice bars. Tucked into a cozy holiday tin, they were tender pillows of spicy ginger and molasses, so loaded with butter that the first time I ever tasted one, I nearly melted to the floor. They were like potato chips–I couldn’t eat just one. In fact, I couldn’t eat just five!

 

 

Ginny’s Spice Bars

¾ cup butter or margarine, melted Continue reading “Ginny’s Spice Bars by Linda Reilly”

A Season to Celebrate by Donna Kauffman

I love holiday movies. Even though my sons are grown and on their own now, when the holiday season rolls around, my entire family manages to watch White Christmas at least once. We know every single line by heart, and many of those lines have long since become part of our regular family lexicon. (“Mutual, I’m sure!”)

I have one other Christmas favorite, however, that is an unknown classic to most, but dear to me in more ways than just bringing a smile to my face each holiday season. My youngest sister and I were both single parents when our kids were little. We lived half a continent apart, which also meant we didn’t get to spend much time together in those days. Without other family nearby for either of us, holidays were always a bit challenging.  So, we came up with our own holiday tradition.

We’d organize friends to watch our little ones for the same weekend leading up to the Big Day, giving us a chance to get out and do all the secret Santa stuff that needed doing.  Then that Saturday evening, the one kid-free evening we had, sometimes in months, we’d spend together via little camera hook-ups and wobbly microphones we’d each attach to our computers (this was before Skype, or FaceTime.) Card tables set up in front of our tv sets on each end, with stacks of wrapping paper, rolls of tape, and the pile of Santa gifts to be wrapped, we’d watch our favorite movie together while we wrapped presents and caught up with each other without any “Mom! Mom!” interruptions. And yes, there might have been holiday chocolate and adult beverages involved as well. Bliss! Continue reading “A Season to Celebrate by Donna Kauffman”

THE WHISPERED WORD BY ELLERY ADAMS ( A Secret,Book,and Scone Society Novel #2)

Books, Books and More Books!

In New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams’ intriguing new Secret, Book, and Scone Society novel, Nora Pennington and her fiction loving friends in small-town Miracle Springs, North Carolina, encounter a young woman desperately in need of a new beginning . . .
This is the second in this new series. Nora is the owner of Miracle Books and believes with all of her warm heart that there is a book for everything and the right ones can bring healing of the heart and mind.
The core group has all had their share of horrific challenges and rather than sit home and feel sorry for themselves, they have joined Nora in the Secret,Book,and Scone Society to do for others. They each have a story and we haven’t heard about all of them yet, but I already love these women.
When Nora finds a slip of a girl in a hospital…

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Sales & Release News!

Musings from the Middle Ages & More

I’ve been anxiously waiting for 11/20/18 and it’s finally here! The last book in my Sweet Life Novels releases today and I’m so excited to share this book with you. Where THE SWEET LIFE is set in Tuscany, and WILLOW’S WAY in the English countryside, SAVING ANNA travels to Germany’s breathtaking Rhineland region.

Before I introduce SAVING ANNA, a mention that today is the final day of a 99 cent ebook sale on WILLOW’S WAY. (I’ll share a little bit more about this title below). Now, without further adieu….

Saving Anna

Germany’s sparkling Rhineland is the perfect place for a fresh start . . .

Warming people’s hearts with true accounts of kindness is what columnist Anna Kelly does best. But no one knows the private misery she endures in her abusive marriage. Still, leaving is difficult—until a deeply personal bequest from a beloved elderly neighbor compels Anna to travel to Germany…

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