Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winner of J. J. Cook contest

And the winner of a signed copy of THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE and a bookmark from J. J. Cook is...SandyG265!
Congratulations Sandy!

And to all those of you who left a comment, thank you and please check back. There are more interviews and contests to come!

Monday, July 22, 2013

J. J. Cook Interview

Today I'm excited to announce a new interview and give away! Author J. J. Cook AKA the husband and wife writing team Jim and Joyce Lavene have been kind enough to answer a few questions and offer for give away a signed copy of their latest cozy mystery THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE. #1 in the awesome new Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series! (Please see my review in a previous blog.)

All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment about this interview, the authors and/or That Old Flame Of Mine. A winner will be picked by random drawing on Monday, July 29th. (Please don't forget your contact information so I can email the winner!) Good Luck!

NOTE: To clear things up, you email is the only contact info I need for you to leave here. I just need to be able to contact you.

On to the fun!

Jim & Joyce Lavene
LKBR:  How did you come up with the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series?
J&J:  We wanted to write something a little more serious with a compelling, determined heroine - and a ghost! Because of our shared family backgrounds with relatives in the fire department, we choose that as a beginning. We were in Tennessee on vacation when we saw a small volunteer fire station and it hit us what we needed. Enter Fire chief Stella Griffin and former chief, the ghost of Eric Gamlyn. Berkley loved the idea and we sold it right away.
LKBR:  You have a ghost in your story. Do you believe in ghosts or had any experiences?
J&J:  We have both had experiences with ghosts and know several people who are amateur ghost hunters. We also love any books or movies with ghosts. Eric Gamlyn is a fun ghost - he cooks and helps Stella as well as spending time with Hero, the fire brigade's adopted Dalmatian.

LKBR:  Do you follow the same writing process for all of your books or does each book come into being in different ways?

J&J:  The actual writing process - when we sit down at the computers - is always the same. We tell the story to each other, out loud, writing down the words as we go. The lead up, inspiration for each story, is different. The characters usually appear first, even if they aren't completely formed. It usually takes us about a year to get everything ready, but only a couple of months to get the words down.
LKBR:  Where do you find inspiration for the settings of your stories?
J&J:  Setting is so important, isn't it? The characters and plot need exactly the right place. In the fire brigade's case, we knew it had to be in the Smoky Mountains where we came up with the idea. We actually use the cabin we stayed at as Stella's in the books. We like to take pictures we can use as we work.
LKBR:  Who are some of your favorite authors?
J&J:  Barbara Hambly. Anne McGaffrey. Tanith Lee. Sabrina Luna. Lynn Willis. Jim Butcher. Charlaine Harris. We read cross genre, but truly prefer paranormal.


LKBR:  What are 3 things you would like your fans to know about you?

J&J:  Hmm. We prefer e-books to print now. After downsizing, we don't have room for all the books we read and it's sad to give them up. With e-books, we don't have to. We both play musical instruments. Our best ideas come from driving around on old back roads.

#2 in Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series (can't wait!)

LKBR:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

J&J:  We write under more than one name. We know it's confusing, but it's necessary if you write a lot. We write Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, Missing Pieces Mysteries, Renaissance Faire Mysteries and Sheriff Sharyn Howard Mysteries under Joyce and Jim Lavene. We are writing Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries and Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries under J.J. Cook. Under  Ellie Grant, we are writing Pie in the Sky Mysteries. 

New books from September to December this year include Plum Deadly (pie shop, September), A Finder's Fee (Missing Pieces, October), Murderous Matrimony (Ren Faire, November) and an e-book novella, Hero's Journey (Sweet Pepper, December)


Want to keep up with Joyce & Jim? Check out these great links!

Twitter: @authorjlavene

I want to thank Joyce & Jim Lavene for an awesome interview and for the chance to win a copy of THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE.
Don't forget to leave a comment and your contact information for your chance to win!
Note from Lisa: Anyone else excited about Joyce & Jims's new Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries? The first in the series, MURDER ON EAT STREET, is due out April, 2014. How are we suppose to wait that long!?!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Thin Place

Til now I have only reviewed cozy mysteries and that is the genre I plan to stick to for the forseeable future. But after reading the following book, I just had to share my opinion with you. I hope you'll love it as much as I did.

And now the review...
THE THIN PLACE by Lori Herter
California native Glenna Molloy, a travel writer, flies to Ireland to explore sacred places cherished by Finn Maguire, her great lost love, in hopes of finding new meaning in her life.  But Coyle Foxworth, her intrusive and cagey co-author, can’t work without her.  He follows her to County Fermanagh, disturbing her spiritual journey.  They visit tiny Caldragh Graveyard with its ancient pagan stone and fairy tree.  The graveyard is reputed to be a “Thin Place,” where the veil between our world and the Celtic Otherworld is so fragile it can disappear.  There they meet a mysterious femme fatale, Maeve, who says she is half-fey.  Magical things begin to happen, and suddenly Finn reappears in Glenna’s life…   - This blurb is used with permission from the author's description.
I love this book. I was hooked from page one. It's very clear that Ms. Herter did her research for this story. Her knowledge and insight of Ireland are apparent in every chapter. I feel as though I walked with Glenna. Saw and felt all that she did. Every description and emotion came to life with crystal clarity.
The characters in THE THIN PLACE are as rich as Ireland itself.
Glenna Molloy is a very real, believable protagonist . She has flaws and weaknesses, yet her strength shines through. Her love for Finn and the places so dear to him propel her into a journey that many of us may not have the courage to take.
Finn Maguire had my heart in his first scene in this story. A man of convictions, he gave up his one true love to honor a commitment that many men would have walked away from. Our world could benefit from a few more Finns.
Glenna's co-author, Coyle Foxworth is the night to Finn's day. I personally found him obnoxious and clueless. But I will say one thing about Coyle--he is a man who knows what he wants. His character further deepens the telling of this story.
Maeve, is she really half-fey? Each reader has to make up their own mind to that. As for me? I believe! Maeve is an independent woman with an amazing insight into people. She has a wisdom that, dare I say is other worldly.
You also get to meet Eily O'Grady, the owner of the B&B that Glenna calls home while in Ireland. Eily is a good sounding board for Glenna as so many things happen. She's a sweet woman who won me over right away.
There are a couple other characters that round the story out, but they are for the reader to meet.
THE THIN PLACE is a story I'll remember for a long time to come and one I am sure to revisit. It was fresh and different from anything I've read in years. Afterward, I found it hard to keep it from my thoughts. The journey of reading this book was one I enjoyed very much. I do however have one request to make of the author, Ms. Herter. Please write a prequel!

Monday, July 15, 2013

And the winners are......

Thank you everyone who read my interview with Laura Bradford and for all of your great comments! Two names have been choosen at random to win one of Laura's Amish Mystery books.

Congratulations to...

Eileen-A-W and Peggy Rancilio

One lucky lady has won a copy of HEARSE AND BUGGY and the other lucky lady has won a copy of ASSAULTED PRETZEL!

Please email your home addresses to so we can get your books shipped!

Thank you again to Laura Bradford for a wonderful first interview and contest! And congratulations again to the lucky winners!

Don't forget to check back. A new interview and contest are on the way!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Laura Bradford Interview

Today I'm pleased to post my first interview and contest!

Author Laura Bradford was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. She is also offering 2 books from her Amish Mystery series. One lucky winner will win a copy of HEARSE AND BUGGY and another will win a copy of ASSAULTED PRETZEL!

All you need to do to for a chance to win is post a comment about this interview. Two lucky winners will be picked at random on Monday, July 15. So, post those comments and good luck!

Now, onto the interview!

Author Laura Bradford
LKBR: How did you come up with the idea for the Amish Mysteries?
LB: I grew up reading and watching the Little House on the Prairie books/television program. As a result, I had a bit of a fascination with the simplicity of 1800's life. The Amish, in my opinion, are the closest modern day version of that time period--in dress, life, etc. Writing this series allows me to live in that simplistic world every time I sit down to write the next installment in the series.
LKBR: When writing, do you create an outline first, or are you a "pantser", writing from the seat of your pants?
LB: I know how the story will begin and end. I know who the victim is and who the murderer is, as well. But it's the "flavor" part of the story--what the characters say/do--that I create as I write...because I'm visiting with them, interacting with them in my head.
LKBR: Do you need a quite place to write or can you write wherever you are?
LB: It depends, I think. Sometimes, I like to hole up in my room or at the dining room table and write. Sometime, I actually need to write elsewhere (usually in the café at my local Barnes & Noble) as a jumpstart. I've found being around books helps stoke the motivation.

LKBR: Would you like to mention other series you have written?
LB: Sure. In addition to the Amish Mysteries, I also write the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries under my own name, Laura Bradford. Originally released with a small independent publisher and then Harlequin's World Wide Mystery, I've recently brought the Jenkins & Burns books out in e-format. Although the books, themselves don't reflect my writing ability today, they've certainly built themselves a nice following which is why I'm currently working on a 4th in that series. Fans of this series can expect to see the new book in August.
Then, under my pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, I write the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries. The eighth book in that series--REMNANTS OF MURDER--will release August 6th.
Information about all of my books--including romances I have written--can be found on my website: .

LKBR: Any plans or ideas for a new series?
LB: I always have ideas for new books--including a thriller and a women's fiction that's woken me from a deep sleep many nights.
As for a new series...I don't know, I think I have to give that some thought. :-)

What to learn more about Laura Bradford and her books? Check out these great links!

Laura's Amazon page. Please stop by and LIKE Laura. Also, sign up for e-mails for new release
I'd like to thank Laura for giving me my first interview.
Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win one of her great Amish Mystery titles!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

That Old Flame Of Mine by J. J. Cook #1 in A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery 

When Chicago fire fighter Stella Griffin catches her boyfriend cheating on her, she decks him. Between that and recovering from a shoulder injury, Stella needed a change of scenery. Jumping on her Harley she heads to help the town of Sweet Pepper, Tennessee get it's fire brigade back up and running as their temporary fire chief. The brigades first official call is to the home of Stella's friend Tory Lambert, who tragically is found dead in her burning house. Things don't look right to Stella. Did Tory die of foul play in an arson fire?

Sweet Pepper's old fire chief is helping Stella with her investigation, but there's one catch - Chief Eric Gamblyn is a ghost! Stella has to stay focused, but it can be hard with ghost Eric and police officer John Trump, who has more of an interest in her than just being one of her volunteer fire fighters, vying for her attention. But Stella has to find a killer before she's the next to die.

Author J. J. Cook - AKA husband and wife team Jim & Joyce Lavene, have a real winner on their hands.This is a fantastic book!.I wasn't sure at first that I would like a ghost with my cozy (though I love ghost stories and watch true ghost shows), but it worked and I really enjoyed it.

Stella is a strong protagonist and not only because she's a fire fighter. She's intelligent and insightful, as well as kind and caring. I love that she has the respect of her volunteer fire fighters. Many stories would have at least one or two men disrespecting her authority what with it being a small town. I also like the way she excepts ghost Eric Gamblyn. If all ghosts were like him, I'd want one too! Eric is a good sounding board for Stella. The two play well off each other. Policeman/fire fighter John Trump's feelings for Stella are at war with his feelings for her family, but he seems a good pairing for her. And with a supporting cast of fire fighters Ricky, Petey, Banyin, and Bert, local war hero Tagger, Police Chief Rodgers, who is not a supporter of Stella, and a host of Sweet Pepper locals, THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE is a must read and has left me burning for more!

ATTN: Recipe lovers - Look for the great pepper recipes at the back of the book!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thanks to help from Julie Hyzy (Thank you Julie), I can now add photos to my blog. So here are the covers of the first four books I reviewed.

A DEADLY GRIND by Victoria Hamilton
KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero
HEARSE AND BUGGY by Laura Bradford