Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post + Giveaway: A Minor Deception by Nupur Tustin

Please join me in welcoming Nupur Tustin to Let Them Read Books! Nupur is touring the blogosphere with her debut historical novel, A Minor Deception, first book in the Joseph Haydn Mystery series, and I'm thrilled to have her here today with a guest post about how Haydn became a sleuth for his very own mystery series and how she tackles combining fact with fiction. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of A Minor Deception!

When his newly hired violinist disappears just weeks before the Empress’s visit, Haydn is forced to confront a disturbing truth...

Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist, Bartó Daboczi, the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso.

But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job.

Before long Haydn’s search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.


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From Kapellmeister to Kapell-detective
by Nupur Tustin

The Chicken Or Egg Question

Which comes first: the character of a series or the genre? Michael Brown who wrote the delightful Paddington Brown books said he discovered the character first. After that, the bear's adventures pretty much wrote themselves.

Read the books, and the first thing you'll notice is that things don't happen to Paddington so much as Paddington happens to them. This fits the mold of general fiction quite well, but mysteries are different.

In mysteries, as in life, we don't always control what happens to us. Watch any true crime program, and you'll realize just how tragically true this is. Mysteries, like life, are an interaction between character and events, or plot. Oftentimes, plot happens first, and we're left, belatedly, to respond to the awful incident. How we respond depends, of course, on our character.

Mystery writers most often choose their genre, and even their sub-genre, well before the task of researching the novel begins. In order to write a good puzzle-plot mystery, we need to be in control of our plots, and we need a character who'll work with us rather than against us. By this I mean that when I've concocted a crime, I've already determined that it can and will be solved.

I knew I was going to write a historical mystery series. I also knew I wanted to write a biographical mystery. I didn't want to focus on England. Several excellent writers have already done that: Charles Todd, Margaret Frazer, Susan Wittig Albert/Robin Paige, to name just a few.

Some have chosen to write about other writers: Stephanie Barron with her Jane Austen series and Laura Joh Rowland with her Charlotte Brontë series. I wanted to do something different.

So, I turned to my other passion: music. After that it was merely a question of finding the composer with the right personality. I knew Beethoven and Mozart with their prima donna personalities wouldn't do. I needed someone who was approachable and responsible, tactful and discreet.

I found all this and more in Haydn. A personable, warm-hearted, witty individual, he quickly captured my heart.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Blog Tour Spotlight + Giveaway: Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard

Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
ASIN: B01EGSC8N8
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

“Illusions of Magic, set in Chicago in early 1933, does a masterful job of telling the highly entertaining love story between an out-of-work magician and his old flame . . . Rivard creates a historically accurate background for his cast of fascinating characters, creating a moving novel . . .” —Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor at Sam Houston State University and co-author of Killing the President.

“Illusions of Magic, a story of political intrigue in 1930s Chicago, is written in an informative, yet entertaining style. Rivard weaves into his narrative the true story of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak’s murder and he does it with accuracy and complete authenticity . . . Each chapter powers along, insisting you read ‘just one more’ part. The taut writing has a ‘made for the movies’ tension . . .” —Mel Ayton, author of The Forgotten Terrorist and Hunting the President.

“[The] attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in…1933…is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel….Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker. The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.” -Joanna Urquhart, Historical Novel Society

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!


Let Them Read Books will be on hiatus for the holiday season, but I'll be back mid-January with more features and reviews!

From my family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year!

My pups, Sassy and Gunner (12 weeks and 22 weeks old)


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Review: The Rebel of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

From the Back Cover:

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

Since childhood, Magnus has been led to believe he is the Laird Alwyn’s bastard, and raised to hate the Clan Kincaid. But when he learns he is without a doubt the son of the murdered Laird Kincaid, his life as he has always known it is shattered. Now, hiding his knowledge and his fury, he returns to Burnbryde Castle, awaiting the chance to strike against the man whose treachery robbed him of his legacy. His first act of rebellion: to steal a kiss from the redheaded beauty who’s betrothed to the Alwyn’s eldest son and heir.

Since her arrival at Burnbryde, Tara Iverach has been confined to a tower to guard her virtue before she marries. But after a surprise embrace with a lean, bare-chested Highlander who claims to be the Alwyn’s oldest son, she can’t contain her excitement over her good fate. Unfortunately, he is the wrong eldest son, and she is set to marry his cruel and lecherous half brother, Hugh. Can Magnus conquer his rivals and claim his Kincaid destiny before the woman who’s captured his heart becomes his sworn enemy’s bride?

My Thoughts:

I do enjoy a Scottish Highlands tale, and the description of this one really intrigued me. Who doesn't like a good tale of betrayal and vengeance? The Rebel of Clan Kincaid is second in a series, following right on the heels of The Beast of Clan Kincaid, and while I may have understood some of the politics and secondary characters better had I read it, this one stands alone just fine.

The story begins with Magnus, raised as the bastard son of the Laird Alwyn, discovering that he is really the son of the murdered Laird Kincaid and that he has been serving his parents' murderer all his life. Initially thrown for a loop, Magnus soon develops a burning desire for vengeance and vows to bide his time until the day he can prove Alwyn guilty and avenge his parents' death and the loss of their ancestral lands. As a fierce warrior and chief of the laird's war band, he is in the ultimate position to enact his plan with the help of his newfound brother, Niall. But the arrival of his half brother Hugh's betrothed threatens everything when Magnus falls in love with the vulnerable yet surprisingly brave beauty.

Tara Iverach has spent the past five years in a priory, ward to the powerful Earl of Buchan, the king's son. When he pays her a surprise visit, Tara hopes for a life outside the convent, and she is about to receive her wish, but at a terrible cost. Her beloved older sister, Arabel, has died, and Buchan needs Tara to take her place in a wedding designed to strengthen his alliance with Alwyn. But life at the Alwyn stronghold of Burnbryde turns out to be a nightmare rather than a dream. Locked in a tower, deprived of companionship except for a maid and the ailing Lady Alwyn, Tara quickly becomes suspicious of the circumstances surrounding her sister's death. Her betrothed is a malicious, angry man who takes pleasure in terrifying her, and Buchan's intentions and ambitions prove to be less than honorable. The only bright spot is her growing attraction to her betrothed's half brother, the handsome and noble Magnus. But their illicit romance is fraught with danger, and though Magnus promises to help her escape marriage to Hugh, when his ulterior motives come to light, Tara realizes the only person she can rely on is herself. But will she be able to pull off a daring escape by herself? And if she does, will she be able to leave Magnus to his fate?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: Secrets in the Mist by Anna Lee Huber

From the Back Cover:

In this spellbinding novel of romantic suspense, written in the tradition of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, the bestselling author of As Death Draws Near plunges readers into a world of secrets and deception hidden amongst the mist.

England 1812. Since the death of her mother and brother, Ella Winterton's life has been consumed by keeping her drunkard father out of trouble and the roof of their crumbling cottage over their heads. But even isolated deep in the Norfolk broads, Ella has never been afraid of the marshes surrounding her home, despite their being riddled with treacherous bogs and local smugglers. Until one night a man masquerading as a Lantern Man—a frightening figure of local legend—waylays her in the marshes near her home, and her world suddenly begins to spiral out of control.

Ella can tell her friends and the local villagers are all hiding something terrible, something they refuse to share, and she can’t help but wonder if it has to do with the Lantern Man and his secret activities in the shadows of the seemingly quiet broads. But when Ella’s father is caught with smuggled brandy by the authorities and levied a crippling fine, she is forced to turn to the stranger for help, despite her distrust and his alarming ability to kiss her senseless.

Now she must unravel a twisted trail of deception and secrets, and uncover once and for all whether the Lantern Man is friend or foe. Or else risk being dragged down into the marshes, like the victims from the myth, and buried in a watery grave.

My Thoughts:

So many of my friends are fans of Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby mystery series, which I've not yet had a chance to read, so I jumped at the chance to review the first book in her brand new romantic suspense series centered around Gothic myths and folklore, Secrets in the Mist.

On a dark, foggy night, the kind of night where most people wouldn't dare cross the marshes on foot, Ella Winterton ventures out to take much-needed medicine to her sick friend, skeptical of her old housekeeper's tales of Lantern Men until she spots their floating lights in the mist and comes face-to-face with one. Only he's no specter but a flesh-and-blood man, dark and menacing and delivering a warning to stay out of the marshes. But that's hard for Ella to do, living on the edge of them as she does, and spending so much time traveling back and forth between her humble home and her friend Kate's home, Greenlaws. Kate recovers from her illness, but it soon becomes apparent that she and her brother, Robert, with whom Ella has a complicated past, are keeping secrets, and Ella's refuge from her drunken father and dwindling prospects no longer seems so inviting. After several more run-ins with the handsome Lantern Man and a lecherous revenue man who levies an exorbitant fine for her father's smuggled brandy, Ella has no choice but to take her family's future into her own hands. But rather than turn to Robert for help, she forces the Lantern Man, aka Jack, to help her and stumbles onto an enterprise far more dangerous than she'd imagined. Now, caught in a trap of her own making, Ella must decide how far she's willing to go to protect her father, her friends, and her very life, and whether Jack can be trusted or if he's leading her into danger for his own nefarious purposes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Spotlight: Abbey's Tale by Katherine McDermott

Abbey's Tale
by Katherine McDermott

November 30, 2016
The Wild Rose Press
Historical Romance
ebook; 161 pages
ASIN: B01LX0ARZR


An immigrant from Ireland, Jeremy McKetcheon took the place of a wealthy New Englander drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War. Jeremy, terribly scarred by a shell that set fire to his tent, is now a reclusive lighthouse keeper on an island off the coast of Maine. He is haunted by flashbacks of the war, and never expects to find love, understanding, or acceptance.

 Beautiful but blind from birth, Abigail Morrison sees the world through the intricate carvings her father brings back from Lighthouse Island when he takes supplies there. She wonders about the artistic carver and why he hides from the world. But when the opportunity arises for her to visit the island, she and her father are tossed overboard in a raging storm. Having seen their distress from the lighthouse, Jeremy attempts a rescue in the frigid waters, and all their lives are changed forever.

Excerpt:

Abigail gasped and sucked cold salt water into her nose and sinuses. It stung and made her eyes tear as she choked it back up. She flailed at the water, trying to remember what her father had taught her about swimming as a child, but the lessons had taken place in a calm inlet not a tempest.

“Papa!” she screamed. “Papa!”

Could he hear her above the roar of the sea and the pouring rain? She felt something churning the surface of the water.

My God, a shark?!

Thunder cracked overhead. Teeth closed around her upper right arm. She screamed and reached out with her left hand, but the head she touched had hair, short hair, and she felt a long, floppy ear—a dog.

The heavy wool cape dragged her down. She tried to clutch the dog, but it let go its grip. I’m pulling it under too. She untied the cape at her throat and let it disappear into the surf. Her teeth chattered in her head, and she felt cold, as cold as death. So this is how it feels to die.

No longer able to struggle, she slipped beneath the surface.