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Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach

Richard Roach’s Scattered Leaves follows the quest of Ben McCord, an oilman, to find the man who killed his young wife. McCord is a man on a mission, and his negative view of the world permeates the novel. The one light in his life, his wife June, is gone.

Like many of the James Patterson crime fiction novels I’ve read in the past, there is a vast conspiracy behind the death of McCord’s wife. However, some of the police procedure and gun purchasing details were unrealistic and could distract seasoned mystery readers.

On the other hand, the fast-paced plot will carry the reader quickly through the twists and turns. In some cases the reader may wonder how McCord ends up where he does, which is expected given that the novel is told from McCord’s point of view. Some of these plot twists seem outlandish and not well constructed, and the logic McCord uses to deduce his next course of action is shaky at best. However, McCord’s shaky logic is one of his character flaws, and it is this flaw that unwittingly propels him into unlikely situations and that fuels the fire propelling him to find his wife’s killer. The novel takes the reader on a journey from the Oklahoma oil fields to Texas and through Kansas, Colorado, and near the Mexican border.

One of my favorite characters in the novel is an older, hired assassin who gets the drop on McCord as he makes his way home, shooting into his moving car from the woods. This assassin is brash and had me giggling during the exchange he had with McCord in the woods after the attack. Richard Roach has a way with dry humor, which is used to ease the tension in some cases.

According to Richard Roach, Knock ’em down and drag ’em out is more McCord’s style. But, he’s honest, forthright, and oh so tender with the ladies.” Reading this book, you can tell that McCord is rough around the edges, but he’s looking to keep his tender side on the surface more often. About midway through the novel, the action gets more intense and Dr. Pettijohn is thrust into the action in a harsh way and plays an integral role in its ultimate resolution. At times this novel seemed to tell McCord’s emotions rather than show them, and some of the plot points were not necessary to propel the action, both of which could distract readers. However, in spite of these problems with narration and plot, Richard Roach’s first novel is fast-paced and has an imaginative style that will keep you reading.

About the Author:

Born in Galveston, Texas, Richard Roach served four years in USAF as drill sergeant. He attended the University of Texas. Short stories have been published in Man’s Story 2, Happy 2007 volume 20, page 58, Iconoclast 2006 volume 91, page 73, and Bibliophilos 2006 volume 42, page 54. His first novel, Scattered Leaves, hit the book stores n September 2008. His second novel, Scattered Money, will be published by Multi-Media in 2009.

I want to thank Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending along Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach.

If you’re interested in Scattered Leaves, feel free to leave a comment.

Randomizer.org will help me choose a winner.

You have until November 21 to enter.

Stop Back tomorrow for my Q&A with Richard Roach!

Also Reviewed By:
Peeking Between the Pages

The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman

Laura Grossman’s The Sighing of the Winter Trees is a collection of poems I received from Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Following my review, you will have a chance to see what the poet had to say in an interview and a chance to win one copy of her book.

Grossman uses familiar images to tackle loss, love, and many of the emotions we feel. Her sparse language and short poems attempt to evoke emotion from the reader without relying upon complex lines, concepts, or too many literary devices.

Many of her poems have a conversational tone, as if she is speaking directly to the reader. This tone can generate a warmth in the reader, like it does in her poem, “Waiting Warmly Beside Orange Flowers,” or it can evoke sadness, like that found in “Wait, Wait I’ll Be Back.”

Some of these poems tell stories, but those stories leave the reader hanging, waiting for a resolution. Others simply confuse the reader, like “Wooden Ship.” Although I was not overly impressed by this volume, it does have a lot to offer the “everyman” and parents may find some poems in this volume to help introduce their children to poetry. Readers looking for poems that are less daunting than those read during high school or college will discover verses in this volume that will tap their hidden love of poetry.

My Interview With Laura Grossman:


When did you realize you wanted to be a poet? Was there a particular event that started you writing poetry?

I realized I wanted to be a poet when I was a child and I loved describing the winter days in a form of a haiku. The particular event that started me in writing poetry was after my father died and the professor at college had me read a stanza that captured the way I felt about the death of my dad. Suddenly there was beauty and meaning in the way I felt about my late dad.

Is The Sighing of the Winter Trees your first published book of poetry? Could you describe your path to publication?

The Sighing of the Winter Trees is my first published book of poetry. I took books out on how to achieve my goal of getting published and that helped my path to publication.

Do you have a set routine or do you write when the mood or inspiration hits?

I usually write when the mood or inspiration hits.

What are your favorite poetic forms? And are those forms that you find yourself using the most?

My favorite forms of poetry are haiku and rhythmic and I use those forms quite often.

As a poet can you describe your role in the current literary world and what you see your poetry accomplishing for yourself, readers, and other poets?

I describe my role as a poet to bear meaning and shed light to others about the world in which we live. I also use my writing skills as a way of making lemonade out of lemons until the sun come out again into my life and my readers’ lives as well.

How do you view the current state of poetry in terms of public recognition?

There should be more public recognition of poetry for poetry can heal and sooth us and leave a positive impact on our lives.

Could you describe your favorite writing space?

My favorite writing space is by my fall mums by the window in early morning hours.

Do you have any favorite poets, and if so, why?

Emily Dickinson is my favorite poet. Her words touch my heart with wonder.

What are you currently reading and do you have any particular book recommendations?

I am currently reading The Flowering by Agnes Sligh Turnbull and would greatly recommend this book to others.

****

I want to thank Dorothy Thompson for sending me Laura Grossman’s book and for allowing me to interview her for this post. I also want to thank Laura for taking time out of her schedule to answer my questions.

For the inside scoop on how Laura Grossman got her volume published, check out this article at Book Publishing Secrets of Authors.

About the Author:

Laura Grossman graduated from Lehman College with a degree in English literature and won several awards from poetry contests. She has attended poetry readings and has enjoyed positive feedback on her work.

And now, for the contest; This is open to international entrants as always.

1. Leave a comment on this post with an email or a blogger profile that works for one entry.

2. Put this contest in your sidebar or in a blog post for a second entry and leave me a link to it on this post.

Deadline is Nov. 17. I will draw the winner through Randomizer.org.

Also Reviewed By:
Cafe of Dreams

Contest Reminders:

Want to win a copy of Off the Menu by Christine Son, go here; Deadline is Nov. 18

Win a copy of Karen White’s The House on Tradd Street here; Deadline is Nov.14

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Karen White‘s The House on Tradd Street is part romance, part ghost story, part mystery. The narration of this novel grips the reader with its beautiful descriptions of South Carolina and the historic neighborhoods of Charleston. Melanie Middleton specializes in historic home sales, though she hates historic homes and believes those who buy historic homes are saps willing to waste thousands of dollars on renovations. Fate brings her into the home of Mr. Vanderhorst, who asks Melanie if she saw a woman in the garden. Days later, he suddenly dies and leaves her his home.

Melanie is given a historic home and the money to renovate and repair it as part of the Vanderhorst estate. There are a great cast of characters in this book from Mr. Vanderhorst to his mother’s ghost and Melanie, her father, and Jack Trenholm. Melanie is a barracuda in the real estate world, but her inability to relate to her family or male companions hampers her ability to widen her horizons. She’s a strong character in spite of these weaknesses. Meanwhile, Jack uses his good looks and fame to woo women to his side and charm them out of information so he can uncover historical mysteries and publish books. His charm and good looks are just a cover.

The restoration at Tradd Street begins, and Melanie is overwhelmed by her responsibilities and the two attractive men that have fallen into her life–Marc Longo and Jack Trenholm. In spite of the restoration, Melanie gets wrapped up in the mystery surrounding Mr. Vanderhorst’s mother’s disappearance and the ghosts that haunt her new home.

White easily draws the reader into the beauty of Charleston and her ghost mystery. The intricate relationships between these characters are complex, and in spite of the convenient connections between Melanie’s family, the Vanderhorsts, and the Trenholms in a big city like Charleston, I was enveloped in the storyline.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the novel (page 130):

“I was so relieved to see him that I didn’t waste any time asking him what in the hell he was talking about. I threw back the dead bolt and disarmed the alarm before pulling open the door and launching myself at him.

‘Wow, Mellie–it’s good to see you too. But could you wait until I got my clothes off first?'”

The mystery doesn’t get heavy with humor like this sprinkled in. The interactions between Melanie and Jack are contagious and will make readers smile.

I recommend this book to those who love a good mystery and a good ghost story. Stay tuned tomorrow for Karen White’s guest post on the writing and publishing process.

Want to win a copy of The House on Tradd Street by Karen White?

1. Please leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Leave a comment on tomorrow’s guest post for a second entry.

Deadline: November 14 at Midnight EST. The contest is open to international entrants.

Thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me The House on Tradd Street.

Also Reviewed By:

Musings of a Bookish Kitty
S. Krishna’s Books
The Book Czar
Library Queue
Diary of an Eccentric
In Bed With Books
The Tome Traveller’s Weblog
The Book Connection
Cafe of Dreams

Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith, Interview & Giveaway

Thanks to Cheryl at Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Marilyn Meredith for sending this great mystery book, Kindred Spirits, my way. Keep reading to learn about the giveaway.

Kindred Spirits is part of the Tempe Crabtree Series, and Tempe is a deputy in Bear Creek, who is part Native American and married to a Christian minister Hutch Hutchinson. Her police counterparts in Dennison don’t seem to take her seriously, even though she takes care of business in Bear Creek and beyond.

The main case in this mystery is the death of Vanessa Ainsworth, formerly the wife of Acton Ainsworth, a major furniture shop owner and philanthropist. While a wildfire rages in Bear Creek, displacing many residents, Deputy Crabtree and firemen discover a body–Vanessa Ainsworth–after having contained much of the fire. Crabtree is on the case even when her legal counterparts push her to the sidelines. She’s quickly sent to speak with Vanessa’s family and friends in Crescent City, which is when the real twists and turns begin. You’ll meet some intriguing characters along the way, including my personal favorite, the trench coat, VW bus driving Lanny Hargrove.

The twists and turns in this novel will keep you guessing most of the way, but even if you figure out who the killer is before Tempe and the other detectives do, the way Meredith meshes in Tempe’s troubled marriage and her questions about her heritage will keep you interested. What worked best for me about this novel is the evolution of Hutch from the beginning to the end; he grows even more compassionate and grows to understand the importance of Tempe’s drive to find the truth. He also learns to open his heart to issues and situations he normally would disapprove of, fear, and dismiss. Tempe is easy to love and her drive to discover the truth is addicting.

I’d like to thank Marilyn Meredith for taking the time to answer a few questions about her writing process, and to thank Cheryl at Pump up Your Book Promotion for sending Kindred Spirits and putting me in contact with Marilyn Meredith. Without further ado, here’s Marilyn:

1. Was there a great deal of research involved in terms of the Tolowa and the other Indian tribes and the tinges of discrimination found in the novel?

The book came about because I met a Tolowa woman four years ago when I was giving a workshop at a writers conference in Crescent City. We spent a couple of hours together before a booksigning event held in the Gushu Galleria–a real place that’s in the book.

In merely a few minutes as she told me about herself, her life as an Indian, some of the history of the Tolowa and a few legends, I knew I had to write a book that included some of this information. My first thought was Tempe has to meet a woman like her.

I grew up in California and never heard anything about the Indians like I was hearing from her. However, I do live quite near our local reservation, have met quite a few Yokuts, and had researched their history so was well aware of the discrimination and prejudice the Indians have faced.

I also did more research about the Tolowa as I was writing, but Junie Mattice, the Tolowa woman in Crescent City was my major resource for Kindred Spirits.

2. What character do you most identify with and why?

I don’t identify with any of the characters in the way that you mean. As I’m writing, I get inside the head of whoever I’m writing about. I know Tempe Crabtree better than I know anyone in my family because I know how she thinks. Tempe Crabtree lives inside my head whether I’m writing about her or not.

I’ve lived for a long, long time, had many experiences–good and bad–and I do draw on them as well as the emotions that go along with them.

3. Could you explain the significance of your title, Kindred Spirits, in terms of the plot, characters, or themes in the novel?

Kindred Spirits just seemed to be the perfect title. Some titles reveal themselves almost immediately as this one did. I recognized Junie as a kindred spirit not long after we began talking to each other. We kept in contact via email through the years and I told her what I was writing and she answered questions I had. The book launch was held in Crescent City and she signed books right along with me. It was a special time for both of us.

In the book, Tempe realizes she is a kindred spirit to the two Tolowa women in the Crescent City part of the story. And then, I also thought of the ghost of the murdered woman as being another kindred spirit. There are several books with the same title, which I knew, but Kindred Spirits was definitely my only choice.

4. Do you have a set writing routine? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?

When I am working on a book (which is nearly always) I try to work on it at least three or four hours a day–and mornings are best–unless I’m on a roll, then I might just keep plugging away.

5. Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?

Learn the writing craft by going to writers conferences, reading books on writing, reading the kind of books you hope to write, then write, write, write.

6. What are your favorite rewards for reaching your writing goals and why?

I always feel terrific once I’ve actually finished a book, had it edited and send it off to a publisher. Of course then it means I have to get busy on the promotion.

7. Are you working on any other projects, and if so would you care to tantalize my readers with a few hints?

My next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is scheduled to come out a year from now. It’s titled “Dispel the Mist.” Tempe has an encounter with the Hairy Man, who is similar to Big Foot. I loved writing that book.

Want to win a copy of the latest Tempe Crabtree novel, Wingbeat, which is a book about a hidden marijuana farm and the murder of a long lost granddaughter that keep Tempe busy, while her husband has troubles of his own–when the description of a man who exposes himself to school children sounds just like Hutch.

1. Leave a comment here about what you found most interesting about the book or the interview

2. Blog about the contest on your own blog or spread the word in another way and leave me a comment with a link to where you posted it.

If you don’t have a blog or another way for me to contact you, PLEASE leave an email address or you will not be counted for the contest. Thanks!

Deadline for the contest will be Oct. 22 at Midnight EST.

Also Reviewed By:

Bermudaonion