Tag Archives: mystery fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Mystery/Suspense Novels of 2017

12 Dec

I was snowed-in over the weekend! Really? In Georgia!? Yes! What started as a weekend getaway to our mountain cabin turned into a struggle for survival. The light-dusting forecast became a 10-inch snow dump accompanied by a power outage. If not for the intrepid Domino’s driver who delivered to the end of our road and our uber-prepared neighbors who generously supplied our flushing needs, I don’t know what we would have done! Seriously, my husband is a prepper wannabe so we were sitting pretty (except for the above mentioned toilet issue). My contribution to preparation? A big pot of homemade soup and a fully-loaded and charged Kindle. Priorities, you know. I read two really great mystery/suspense novels, my genre of choice. Focusing on the life threatening adventures of the characters keeps the mind off the dwindling supply of oreos. 😉

The theme of this week’s Top 10 is Best of 2017. So here are the mystery/suspense books that I read this year that should always be in stock during a weather emergency. All are part of a series, so that takes care of the many hours of waiting for the power trucks to appear.

To find our what other books bloggers found exceptional this year, head over to The Broke And The Bookish.

Top Mystery/Suspense of 2017

Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Death in The Shadows by Paul McCusker

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris


What book makes your must-have list?



First Line Friday — Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

8 Dec

Welcome to First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books. To get in on the fun, just grab the nearest book, turn to the first page, and share the first line in the comments. Then head over to Hoarding Books to discover the first lines that are entertaining other bloggers.

My first line comes from the third book in the Murder in The Mountains series by Heather Day Gilbert, Guilt by Association. I love love, love this series and am eager to join Tess on her mysterious and murderous ramblings. The first line of the Prologue sounds positive, BUT . . . .



Tess Spencer hadn’t planned on returning to her hometown, but when her ex-prisoner mom puts in a special request, Tess overcomes her hesitance to help her turn over a new leaf. Pearletta Vee’s drug-dealing past is resurrected when the body of an overdosed teen shows up — right next to her trailer. Tess decides to stick around and investigate, yet the evidence is stacked against Pearletta. Tess suspects a setup — but why? Never one to back down from a challenge, Tess takes on a wayward teen, an abusive grandma, and more than one drug dealer in her quest for the truth. But it’s going to take a miracle to keep her from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. Plunging into the shadowy reality of the drug epidemic in West Virginia, Guilt by Association is the third book in the award-winning Murder in the Mountains mystery series.


Heather Day Gilbert, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and contemporary mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership”.

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.


What’s your first line?

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

28 Nov

Although winter is officially a few weeks away, it is never too early to make a list for those long evenings when only a cup of something warm, a cozy chair and afghan, and a good book will do. Here’s my Top 10 Winter TBR — including review books and book club selections. Looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead! For more reading lists for the long winter months, check out The Broke And The Bookish.


Top 10 Winter TBR

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Life on The Porcelain Edge by C. E. Hilbert

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris


What’s on your winter TBR list?



Book Review: Murder in Disguise

16 Nov

Official verdict: Suicide.

But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.

While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.

But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger . . . ?

With a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel “Lightning on a Quiet Night” was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Find out more about Donn at http://www.donntaylor.com.

My Impressions:

Professor Preston Barclay is back in Donn Taylor’s third novel featuring murder in academia, Murder in Disguise. In this new mystery, Press is a visiting professor at a state university. His summer plans of low-key teaching and reading are interrupted by the apparent suicide of the head of the History department. Although he adamantly proclaims that he is not investigating what the widow suspects is foul play, everyone from the janitor to the associate professors to the local police are on notice that Press is on the case.

Mysterious doings are the center of Murder in Disguise. Press is confronted with the seedier side of society as he uncovers prostitution and drug-trafficking in his quest to clear his colleague’s reputation. In addition, the novel explores the failure of academia to ensure freedom of ideas is upheld. A good bit of time is spent in discussion of the failure to preserve the right of expression. Press and his love interest, Mara, are the main characters in this novel. There is a lot of backstory for the two that unfolded in the first two books, but the reader doesn’t really need it to read this book. Supporting characters are not as developed as I would have liked, and to be honest I never really engaged with the story or the people involved. For the literary and music minded, there are lots of references to classic works.

A quick read, Murder in Disguise was just an okay read for me. But others would disagree. Be sure to check out their reviews.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Unique Book Titles

24 Oct

Besides the cover art, the title of a book is one of the most important means for getting a reader to pick it up. Sometimes the title is inspired by a quote within the book, other times it is a play on words featuring the subject. Whatever, the source, I admire the authors/editors/publishers’ creativity in coming up with the title. This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are challenging bloggers to share Unique Book Titles. Where do I start! This truly is a tough topic. I decided to go with book titles inspired by Art/Music/Literature. Some I have read; others are languishing on my shelves. All are worthy of a look!


Top Unique Book Titles from Art, Music, and Literature



A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard


Cold As Ice by M. K. Gilroy

Cuts Like A Knife by M. K. Gilroy

Every Breath You Take by M. K. Gilroy

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells

It Had To Be You by Susan May Warren

Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor

Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor

You’re The One That I Want by Susan May Warren



Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Patillo

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

Lizzie And Jane by Katherine Reay

The Raven by Mike Nappa


What Are Some Unique Book Titles You Love?

Audiobook Mini-Review: Camino Island

20 Oct

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

(For Wikipedia) John Grisham is an American bestselling writer, attorney, politician, and activist best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990.

His first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in June 1989, four years after he began writing it. As of 2012, his books have sold over 275 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell 2 million copies on a first printing.

Grisham’s first bestseller, The Firm, sold more than seven million copies. The book was adapted into a 1993 feature film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, and a 2012 TV series which “continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel”. Eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill.

My Impressions:

Camino Island is classic Grisham. An intriguing crime with bad guys who are very bad and good guys who are a bit bad as well. The book begins with a daring heist of extremely valuable and rare manuscripts. Just what has happened to them is the focus of the novel, but the real treat for the reader are the wonderfully colorful characters, including main characters bookseller Bruce Cable and young novelist Mercer Mann. For those who love books, Camino Island will definitely appeal. There is a lot of talk of bookselling, publishing, and writing, with references to numerous authors, both real and fictional. The fictional setting is a laid back northeast Florida island with long expanses of beach and intense sun. The book is a fun trip into the literary world, but those looking for a clean read need to look elsewhere. There is a lot of adult activity, including heavy drinking, sex, and language. I found the book perfect for my morning walks. Not too intense, a good narrator, and a story that kept me engaged.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2017 Carol Award Winners

24 Sep

Congratulations to the 2017 Carol Award winners. Presented by The American Christian Fiction Writers, the Carol Awards are given in recognition of outstanding fiction in 10 genres.



The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editor Amanda Bostic



Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart, Kregel Publications, editors Dawn Jackson and Janyre Tromp


Historical Romance

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published), editors Denise Harmer and Kara Swanson



When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editors Amanda Bostic and Natalie Hanneman



The Doctor’s Woman (The Courageous Brides Collection) by Michelle Griep, Barbour Publishing, editor Becky Germany



A Season to Love by Nicole Deese, Waterfall Press, editors Amy Hosford and Kristin Mehus-Roe


Romantic Suspense

Always Watching (Elite Guardians) by Lynette Eason, Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing, editor Andrea Doering


Short Novel

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti, Worthy Inspired, editors Pamela Clements and Jamie Chavez



The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan), editors Amanda Bostic and Erin Healy



You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, editor Kathryn Davis