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Book Review ~~ Colorblind by Reed Coleman Farr (Robert B. Parker)

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills    A Review  ~~ Colorblind

I have been wandering the streets of Paradise, Massachusetts with Jesse Stone for over 15 years and {over two decades with Spenser in Boston}. Following Jesse as he tries to make his little town a little safer. We all loved the creator of these wonderful mysteries, Robert B. Parker. After his death, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ace Atkins took over these series, helping the Parker estate to keep them alive. 

The latest offering is Colorblind. Whether by intent or coincidence, it’s a timely story of racism, bigotry and tribalism. The plot is complex while remaining very entertaining and keeps readers on their toes.  And if you’re a series fan of any writer, as I am, it’s always fun to meet back up with recurring characters, such as Molly Crane, Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson, and Healy. 

I am constantly amazed at the writer who can speak in another writer’s voice. Reed Farrel Coleman does this flawlessly. Giving the fans of Robert B. Parker years more of his stories, even though he is gone. I’ve never been one to write spoilers in my reviews. It’s all about the writing for me. The story. The Characters.  But I will tell you, there is a huge surprise in Jesse Stone’s story line. I mean HUGE! 

Another winner and I highly recommend it. 

Did you miss my Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with Writer, Jonathan Rabb

TS. I stumbled upon Jonathan Rabb, a local, fellow author and transplant, quite by accident. I found his take on writing fascinating and asked that he share it with my readers.

 Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

JR. I have a study in the house, which many of my old friends say uncannily resembles my old one-room apartment back in New York before I got married. It’s bookcases everywhere, maps, and an entire shelf devoted to my kids’ artwork. When the writing is going well, it’s hard to find a path from the door to the desk. I like to keep the blinds drawn, with a single overhead soft light. And the desk is an architect’s desk – a flat space with no drawers.

As it turns out, it is my dream workspace.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JR. My ritual (now) starts with the kids getting up, breakfast, the dog out for walk, carpool (on my days), and then a mug of hot water at the side of my computer, which I refill throughout the day. I usually dive in at about 8:30 and, if I remember to eat lunch, a break at 1, then on again until about 3. And then the kids come home. If I’m deep into a book, then I’m in the study at all hours. Those last three weeks are tough on everyone.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

The Whiffenpoofs

JR. I sang in a group called the Whiffenpoofs in college (the oldest cappella singing group in the country). I also soloed with the NY Pops at Carnegie Hall.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JR.  As I said, usually in at 8:30, out at around 3. But that shifts the closer I get to the end of a book. That’s when I need to be with the characters, and I need to know how the whole thing will find its way to a conclusion. Not necessarily a resolution but a stopping point. I can’t step away from it for too long when I’m at that point.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JR. Writing is all about making choices. They don’t have to be big ones (or at least appear to be big ones at the moment), so make one. Writer’s block and procrastination are really just about being overwhelmed by the infinite number of choices you could make. That can freeze you. So choose. It might be the wrong choice, but at least you’ll be writing. And nothing is ever completely wrong.

It’s the old NY Lottery motto: you have to be in it to win it.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

JR. For me, place is always a central character, so I usually start there. Then I have to find the people to interact with that character, and that’s when idiosyncrasies and cadences begin to make themselves known. But the best part of creating characters is when they surprise you. That’s when you know you’ve created someone real.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JR. I was an academic at Columbia in political theory, and I needed an escape. So I came up with an idea for a thriller, in which the main character is a young academic at Columbia in political theory….who saves the world. That was great for my ego and sent me to the computer every day to see how the character would make good on that promise. It turned out to be my first novel, The Overseer.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JR. Hard to say. I think both are crucial – at least according to Stephen King – but I’m not sure I can distinguish them from one another as completely as I’d need to in order to prioritize one over the other. The characters reflect the demands of their situation; the situation shifts to meet the needs of the characters. I suppose the answer shifts from situation to situation and character to character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JR. Yes. My wife often has to call me to remind me to have lunch. Those are the great days.

 

My interview with Jonathan continues September 21st. Don’t miss it! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Emma and the Lost Unicorn ~ Kids’ Book

     A new edition of Emma and the Lost Unicorn has been released.  Full color illustrations in watercolor by artist, H. J. Stine. 

Emma, an earthling girl visits her friends in the forest all the time. She delights in the antics of Stare, the rhetorical owl and Cheets, the mischievous elf.  One day she is introduced to Rainey, the Unicorn,  a prince who’s been banished, for centuries, by the warlord, Hazard.   He can never return home unless Emma solves more riddles than Hazard’s Lieutenant, Kodak. The fable ends with a surprise twist which will delight readers young and old.  While written for children, this fairy tale is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults as well.

Queens, warlords, faeries, elves, unicorns, handmaidens, scary henchmen and one small mortal girl child in an enchanted forest.  This fable offers many subtle lessons.

 

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Other books in the Series of The Fabled Forest

Interview with Best Selling author, Susan Mallery

Photo: Annie Brady

TS.   I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written and I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  Just good, solid stories about real people and their lives. And I love me some good storytelling! After, literally, years of requesting an interview from this busy author (at least four new books a year!) I have finally caught her at maybe a not so busy moment. For whatever reason I succeeded in interviewing this best selling author.  I am so happy to share with my readers a few casual moments with one of my favorite writers.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SM. When life is going smoothly, I write in my home office, surrounded by sleeping pets. (Two ragdoll cats and a small poodle.) But when there’s chaos at home, I go to what I call my “faux

Stark rented space

office.” It’s a real office space that I rent outside my home, but I hate it. It’s very utilitarian, with no personal touches whatsoever—deliberately. Just a boring box. No artwork on the walls, no internet, not great cell phone service. I make it as unpleasant as possible so I’ll get my pages done and can go home. There is a window, but I keep my back to it so I will be less likely to be distracted. (I’m very distractible.)

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SM. I’m afraid of flying. Not to the point that I won’t do it, but I’m wildly uncomfortable every time. I was once on a plane that depressurized during turbulence, and I was already a little nervous before that. I’m a writer, with a writer’s overactive imagination, so every time I get on a plane, my brain goes through all the possible horror stories. I usually distract myself with a Disney movie.   So if you ever come to one of my book signings, just know that I truly sacrificed for my readers in order to be there.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SM. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to write. When the writing isn’t going well, everything will sound more appealing than putting words on the page—even cleaning your baseboards with an old toothbrush. No one is going to stand over your shoulder and make sure you write. The motivation has to come from you. If you give yourself an inch, you’ll take a mile. You must require more of yourself. Have a goal for the number of pages or scenes you want to write that day, and don’t let yourself do anything else until that work is done. Even if you’re not happy with what you’ve written, at least you have moved the story forward. You can always come back and revise, but the first step is to get the story down, from opening line to The End.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

Head Shot. Lucy and Susan

SM. They’re intrinsically tied together. What comes to me first is usually a character in a specific situation, and then the story builds from there.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

SM. I always have a new book coming out! I usually publish four books a year, sometimes more. I think it ties in to the whole “I’m easily distracted” thing. If I don’t write fast, I get bored, so I need to write multiple books a year to keep myself entertained.

Next up is WHY NOT TONIGHT, part of my Happily Inc series. (A Fool’s Gold spinoff. Happily Inc is a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale.) Ronan Mitchell has been wounded by his parents—emotionally. A couple years ago, he discovered that he is the result of his father’s affair. He is not his brother’s twin at all, but a half brother. And the worst part of it is that his beloved mother lied to his face his entire life. He doesn’t feel he can count on anything, and it has shattered his self-image.

When he meets Natalie, she’s so filled with joy that he assumes incorrectly that nothing bad has ever happened to her. But Natalie has had tragedy in her life, too, and has made the decision not to let sadness bog her down. Ronan will learn a lot from her as they fall in love. Readers can learn more at HappilyInc.com.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SM. My life is far too boring for fiction. (Thank goodness!) To be interesting, fiction must be dramatic in a way that I’m glad my life is not. Happily married to the same guy for many years, a lot of peaceful time at home with the occasional dinner out… not really riveting fiction. And if I did use my life for inspiration, readers would get really weary of reading variations on the same stories over and over again.

My stories come purely from my imagination, and always grow from a point of me asking how the characters might feel about what’s happening in the story. Our emotions drive our actions unless we deliberately choose not to let them—and that says something about a character, too. My job is to take readers out of their everyday lives and let them experience the world through someone else’s eyes, at least for a little while.

Did you miss my REVIEW of Mallery’s When We Found Home?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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A Book Review ~~ The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing     3 out of 5 quills     A Review

I was disappointed in this latest offering in the Maggie Hope series. The plot was so implausible that, after a few chapters, I hurried to the back of the book, hoping for an author’s note. Sure enough, this plot was  far-fetched but based upon truth.  MI-6 and S.O.E. actually had a ‘cooler’ where the British intelligence community sent, what they deemed, their ‘unstable’ agents. 

So why was I having such a hard time connecting with the story? Usually I adore  Maggie Hope and the series. For one thing,  I didn’t care about the other agents. There wasn’t enough of a back story on each of them for this reader to care whether they lived or died.

Just too many clichés for me. A castle and a stormy night, tripping over dead bodies, the wife locked in a castle tower. By this time in the series, Maggie is too high up in the espionage business to be unceremoniously thrown into an island prison by her own government! I couldn’t buy it. She has kept countless secrets for the realm, why is she not being trusted to keep this latest one?

Then in the last forty pages, or so, I felt like I’d been dropped into an action film, with bombs going off and Maggie having to swim for her life. It was disconcerting and unbelievable.  I just wasn’t that excited about this book, but I remain a fan. The rest of the series is one of my favorites in this genre. 

Released today. Click here

Did you miss my Interview with this author?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery ~~ A Review

   5 out of 5 quills     

I have read dozens….correction…..I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written.  I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  

But, she has outdone herself with Sisters Like Us!  It is delicious!!  My only complaint is that it ended too soon. As my readers well know, I do not include cliff notes of the story line (in my reviews) or spoil the joy of cracking a book open and meeting its characters. 

I am certain, however,  fans will soon rise up in revolt, demanding a sequel.

Did Ashton and Becca survive being separated?
What was Becca’s next year like?
Did Harper’s wonderful business blossom into an empire?
Did the partnership with Dean flourish?
Did Lucas continue as a detective with LAPD?
How did Jazz do at the memory care unit?
Did Stacey ever warm up to her baby daughter?
Did Kit ever run out of patience?
Did Bunny soften toward her own daughters?

Susan Mallery

I would recommend any of Susan’s books…but I highly recommend this one. It is a flawless story and you will fall in love with the characters. It’s one of those “I couldn’t put it down” books. 

Reminder:  Susan will grace my blog, in August, with an interview!

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 MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe.  July:  K.M.Ecke.  August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with legal Thriller writer, Manning Wolfe (part 2)

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

MW. Next month, (July) Green Fees, the third legal thriller in the series will be published. It’s about a Russian money lender who uses an evil enforcer to extract repayment of illegal loans. Of course, Merit Bridges works to extricate a young golf pro from the Russian’s grip.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MW. I’ve always taken writing seriously.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MW. I’ve had professional material published for years. As for fiction, the Merit Bridges Legal Thriller Series began in 2016.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MW. It’s hard to describe, but when I feel a certain emotion or tone as I write it, readers tend to feel it when they read it.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

A Night at the Ballet

MW. I carried a mini bottle of champagne around for a year thinking I was going to finish the book any day. Finally, I got to pop it!

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MW. I’ve practiced law for many years and use the legal aspects as well as my knowledge of people and their proclivities in my writing.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MW. Yes, I expect to publish a memoir at some point.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MW. I have witnessed many times that a good person can do a bad thing and change their lives and those around them forever. Those good people deserve a second chance, and in my stories, they often get that chance.   As above, my main character, Merit Bridges talks to me about a situation. That said, all my stories are based on real life legal dilemmas that happened in my law firm. Of course, I take the facts only so far and then explode them into a thriller.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MW. Often, but I am usually writing from a dual perspective. I can be the writer and the reader at the same time. That way, I can gauge what my audience may enjoy about the story I’m telling.

Did you miss the first part of this writer’s perspective? Click here 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) !

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Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins ~~ A Review

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5 out of 5 quills   Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins  ~~  A Review

 

Once again Ace Atkins nails it!!  Old Black Magic is right up there with the best of Robert B. Parker’s previous books. 
But readers better brush up on the history of Boston, as seen through Parker’s eyes, the hoodlums and mobsters over the past twenty years (introduced in the Spenser series)  ’cause they all show back up, alive and dead. The biggest heist of millions of dollars in classic art from a museum in Boston and the case was never solved. It finally goes cold for over twenty years. Hired by the museum to find the art, Spenser and Vinnie Morris team up…odd bedfellows to say the least. ….and that’s all I’m giving you of the story line.  

I don’t write spoilers in my reviews but I am known for sometimes running off on a tangent that has much or little to do with the book. So I thought it would be fun to see if the story plot had any truth to it…as truth tends to be stranger than fiction. Bingo!! Here’s what I found:  El Greco’s Gentleman was stolen and not returned to its rightful owners for decades.  But it was not a Boston crime crew who knocked it off but rather the Nazis!

‘In 1920, Mr. Priester began amassing a notable art collection of Old Masters, including the famous El Greco, which he displayed in his Vienna home and office. By 1938, however, Mr. Priester was forced to flee with his wife to Paris to escape the Nazis
Before leaving, Mr. Priester entrusted his impressive collection to a friend, but the art was ultimately seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Germany. At the end of the war in 1945, Mr. Priester, who had escaped to Mexico City, undertook an internationally publicized recovery effort with the help of the Austrian authorities, but his collection and the El Greco painting could not be located before his death. 

After WWII, restitution of stolen art work would often take decades. But sometimes it could be accomplished seamlessly if the dealers who purchased the stolen art agreed to cooperate with the claimants, as recently occurred in the case of the stolen El Greco painting, Portrait of a Gentleman.

In a rare deal announced by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, representing the original owners, and Art Recovery International, representing the art gallery which acquired the looted painting in 2010, Portrait of a Gentleman was returned to the heirs of the collection of Julius Priester. This deal took several months to arrange after seven long decades searching for the masterpiece.’ (credit: Observer.com)

Ace Atkins

So I digress a little…sue me!  But, am I the only one that finds stuff like this fascinating?

This is a terrific story and Ace Atkins tells it flawlessly in Robert B. Parker’s voice.  I highly recommend it.
 

Did you miss my interview with Ace Atkins?
Old Black Magic on Sale Now!!  Click here
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 MY  features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Mystery writer, Manning Wolfe.
 
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Interview with Visionary and Author, Tal Gur (part 2)

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?  (continued)

TG. It was my mom who first told me I should write seriously 🙂 That was almost 20 years ago when I still wrote in Hebrew. I just arrived to Australia and I was lonely, so for a few months I wrote a series of emails about life in a new country. Writing was my refuge, my way to rip all the loneliness out of me. The topic was Australia, but underneath all that it was just a way to make sense of the world inside of me. My second “serious” attempt with writing was in English. Same as my first attempt, I used writing as a way to share and reflect upon life’s journeys. Whether it be a trip overseas, my Ironman journey, or simply a random weekend escape, I played with the words like a new toy.

Q. How long after that were you published?

TG: I published my first book 20 years later. In between I blogged at http://fullylived.com/blog

Estonia

Q. What makes a writer great?

TG: Skills + Passion + Dedication. I think it’s a winning formula.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

TG.  mmm… I wish I had a linear step-by-step process… In my case, the process looked more like me sitting at my desk and letting inspiration take over. Whatever felt right at the moment.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

TG. I’d say A LOT. My life experiences as well as my challenges provided me with valuable lessons that I couldn’t learn otherwise.

Somehow, in our society, we’ve decided that struggling is the enemy.But if you’ve ever or embarked on a big and meaningful journey, you know that discomfort and pain are simply part of our growth.Struggling is not the enemy. Hopelessness is;When we feel hopeful about our journey ahead, when we move in a meaningful direction, then struggling is not the problem.On the contrary, it can be part of our joy. Because the struggle is for our dream. And we know that we are giving it our all.

Trek in the Himalayan mountains

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

TG. Consistent action in the direction of your dreams. It may take a month, it might take a year, it might take a decade. but you will eventually make it if you take consistent action.

To purchase: The Art of Fully Living

Did you miss part I yesterday? Click here 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

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Interview with World Traveler & Adventurer, Tal Gur

I first met Tal when he requested a review of his new work, The Art of Fully Living. His back story intrigued me so much that I asked and he consented to an interview. A person buys a one-way ticket to Napal, India? Who does that? Tal did.

 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….)  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

TG: I usually write at coffee places. Also, I wear earphones when I’m at my computer. Otherwise I can be easily distracted.

Gulf of Finland

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

TG. Yes, I usually put my favorite music and almost instantly feel at ease.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

A pathway in Nepal

TG: A few years back, I sold everything I had, packed a small backpack, and left on a one way ticket to Nepal. I thought I’ll spend 3-4 months but that trip turned to be a fateful encounter, eventually leading me to become a blogger, an entrepreneur, and travel and live abroad in various countries for more than than five years. In a nutshell, after a few months I felt the urge to experience freedom on a whole new level. I purposefully did not set an ending date and traveled on one-way tickets, which meant that I stayed in places as long as I wanted and moved to wherever I felt like going. The wealth of time and the richness of places provided me with a unique opportunity to look deeper and gain broader insights into life. 

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

TG: Usually first thing in the morning.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

TG. Do it first thing in the morning, before you get distracted by life 🙂

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

TG. Rarely. My writing is pretty slow. Mainly because I think about it while doing it.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

Tune in tomorrow for Part II of this wonderful visit with Tal. 

To purchase: The Art of Fully Living

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

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