Book Review – Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn


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Love Letting

By Kate Clayborn

Kensington trade paperback


Jan. 2020

308 pages

$15.95/US, $21.95/Canada

Meg Mackworth’s skill at calligraphy adorns couple’s wedding invitations. It gives life to love. But, in truth, her own happiness is absent and she’s lonely. Then in walks Reid, a tall, handsome reminder of what she was attracted to, but he’s taken. His comment strikes her perfectly organized self: How did she know his marriage would fail? Reid knew that her drawings and letters present messages that a trained eye can view and interpret. At a coffee shop he explains that he saw the message “It’s a Mistake” and that he and Avery didn’t get married. That he was going through the motions with his employer’s daughter and there’s a pretty good chance he’s simply going to leave New York. He doesn’t feel at home here.

His confession isn’t the only statement to stun Meg. Nothing could have prepared her for her best friend’s announcement that she’s moving out of their apartment and in with her boyfriend. On top of that, she’s creatively blocked right before the deadline of a major project. She comes up with a plan for lettering ideas and includes Reid in her research. They explore the city through long walks to see the various painted signs. Meg hopes it will kindle new ideas and help her better understand what catches the eye. She also hopes the time she spends with Reid will help him come to love the city as much as she does.

As new opportunities spring up for this creative young woman, so do new friendships and the desire to be closer with Reid.

With Love Lettering, a lot of time was spent on her thoughts and lettering. I would have liked to learn what was really going on with Reid and seen the relationship start a little earlier. I enjoyed learning about calligraphy as an art and how she could have a successful career adding personal messages on walls and brands, adding her special touch on wedding invitations and datebooks. I liked seeing New York through her eyes and seeing her grow as a person. The ending wasn’t what I expected and that’s what made it good.

four personal datebooks out of five

Denise Fleischer

July 2, 2020

Book Review – Mousse and Murder By Elizabeth Logan


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Mousse and Murder

By Elizabeth Logan

An Alaskan Diner Mystery

Berkley Prime Crime paperback

May 2020

Pages: 302

reviewed the kindle e-book

Set in Elkview, Alaska

Elkview, Alaska is nothing like San Francisco, but that’s where Charlie Cook’s parents’ home and diner is located. Charlie leaves behind the fast-paced big city restaurant career to manage her parents’ business. It’s no easy task with the constant disapproval of the diner’s longtime chief, Oliver Whitestone. He wants nothing to do with Charlie’s menu-changing suggestions. One day, he storms out of the diner and never returns. The town learns he was murdered and Charlie appears to be the prime suspect because of their frequent public arguments.

Both the town’s newspaper reporter, Chris Doucette, and Charlie know she isn’t the killer, but it’s going to take a lot of research to find the guilty party. They come up with a suspect list and work out a strategy. She would talk to Doc Sherman, the local physician and medical examiner. She was also going to question Oliver’s sister, Kendra, telling her that she’d like to interview her for the local newspaper. After speaking with Kendra, they learn that he was adopted when he was eight and when they check out his house, even though they really shouldn’t, things start to become clearer. Oliver knew someone was going to come after him. There was a good chance he knew who that someone was and why.

I would have preferred reading the paperback version of this book. It’s just not the same as an e-book, even though it’s easy to read at night in bed. That said, I loved the cover, the characters, seeing Alaska through their eyes, wondering who in the world wanted Oliver dead. I want to visit Bear Claw Diner, but I’d never eat anything with moose. Not sure if it was right for Charlie to take a possession of Oliver’s when they searched his home. I liked that numerous people were involved trying to solve this mystery. And, yes, the past does have a way of catching up with you.

four servings of cherry cheesecake mousse

Denise Fleischer

June 20, 2020



Guest Blog Post – Does an Author’s Mood while Writing Affect Your Mood while Reading?



Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries (as seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors’ closets, but murder victims, too. Kate’s newest book is The Grim Reader, now available.

By Kate Carlisle

I recently read Little Women and then did extensive research about the book’s history and its author, Louisa May Alcott. In the Bibliophile Mysteries, my heroine, Brooklyn Wainwright, is a bookbinder who solves modern-day murders that are linked to the rare book in her care. In The Grim Reader, the book at the center of the mystery is Little Women.

What struck me during my research was that Miss Louisa was way ahead of her time. A 21st-century woman living in the 1800s. She insisted on being self-sufficient at a time when women didn’t have much freedom to make that a reality. She couldn’t go out and get a job as a lawyer or a banker or a policewoman. Most women in the late 1800s had just one career path: homemaker. Louisa wasn’t interested in being dependent on a man. Despite incredible odds, she found a way to not only survive but to thrive without ever marrying. She put her imagination to work as a writer, and supported her family on her earnings.


So it’s no surprise that she didn’t love writing this domestic drama, and why it annoyed her that, after Little Women was published, readers clamored for Jo to get married. Why did readers insist that Jo must have a husband to be happy? I can imagine Alcott grumbling all the way through writing Little Men, pairing off the sisters to satisfy the heart-eyed public.

While reading the books (most modern editions contain both Little Women and Little Men under the one title), I couldn’t tell that its author was disgruntled at all. Could you?

I think the reason this is on my mind is because I was anything but grim while writing The Grim Reader. I had a wonderful time! Murder at the Dharma book festival—what could be more fun than that? It’s filled with laugh-out-loud moments, quirky characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing. Sure, there were days when I wanted to pull out my hair while wrestling with a story problem, but for the most part, it was a romp. I wonder if that comes through in the writing.

Judge for yourself. Read the first few pages of chapter one:

While you’re on my website, you might want to sign up for my mailing list so I can let you know when I release a new book. I’ll also send you an email when I hold a contest, such as the June contest for a 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the cover of The Grim Reader.

What is the latest book you’ve read, or that you’re currently reading? Do you think the author’s mood comes through in the writing, or is it just the characters’ moods you pick up on?

Readers Invited to Free Virtual Book Club Event featuring Brit Bennett in Conversation with Keily Reid on Tuesday, July 7


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New York, NY –June 3, 2020 – Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest retail bookseller, today announced The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett as the June 2020 selection for the Barnes & Noble Book Club, a monthly book club designed for readers across the country to discuss the most compelling books. Barnes & Noble is selling a special, exclusive Book Club edition of The Vanishing Half as well as hosting a free LIVE virtual event on B&N’s Facebook Page with Brit Bennett in conversation with Kiley Reid, author of Such a Fun Age, about the book on Tuesday, July 7, at 7pm East Coast Time. Customers can purchase the exclusive edition in stores and at

The Vanishing Half, an intricately crafted tale about identical twin sisters whose lives diverge when they leave their tiny hometown, is both moving and thought provoking, making it a perfect Barnes & Noble Book Club selection,” said Jackie De Leo, Vice President, Bookstore, Barnes & Noble. “Brit Bennett weaves an incredible, indelible story of identity, family, sisterhood, and home that we are sure our readers will enjoy discussing. We hope everyone is able to join us at our virtual event with Brit Bennett next month.”

While Barnes & Noble can’t hold its usual monthly Book Club meetup in stores for readers to discuss the book, the bookseller is encouraging customers to engage with this important and gripping novel on social media and join the new B&N Book Club Facebook Group, as well as through a special virtual Book Club event a month after publication.

“As a young girl, I spent so many Saturday mornings lost in the Barnes & Noble shelves, so I couldn’t be more honored to be chosen as the June Book Club Pick. I hope everyone at the Barnes & Noble Book Club enjoys The Vanishing Half,”  said Brit Bennett. 

The virtual event on July 7 will be hosted on Barnes & Noble’s Facebook Page and will include a conversation between Brit Bennett and Kiley Reid. Before the virtual event, customers can also join in discussion at their convenience in the new B&N Book Club Facebook group and on social media via the hashtag #BNBookClub.

Previous Barnes & Noble Book Club selections have included: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See, Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, Inland by Téa Obreht, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, and Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.


New Title – Lady Rights A Wrong By Eliza Casey


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As the suffragette movement sweeps England in 1912, Lady Cecilia Bates wants to march but ends up trailing a killer instead in the latest entry to the Manor Cat Mysteries.

Lady Cecilia of Danby Hall feels adrift. She couldn’t be less interested in helping to plan the church’s upcoming bazaar. Instead, what excites her most is the Woman’s Suffrage Union meeting she has just attended.

Inspired by the famous and charismatic leader of the group, Mrs. Amelia Price, Cecilia is eager to join the Union—if she can hide it from her parents, that is. But when Mrs. Price is found dead at the foot of the stairs of her home, her Votes for Women sash torn away, Cecilia knows she must attend to a more urgent matter: finding the killer. With the help of her lady’s maid Jane and intelligent cat Jack, she hopes to play her part in earning women’s equality by stopping the Union’s dangerous foe.

Eliza Casey is a pseudonym for a multipublished author. Her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.

Book Review – The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams


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The Book of Candlelight

By Ellery Adams

Kensington Hardcover

Published: January 28, 2020

292 pages with reader’s guide


Buy from Kensington

Buy from Amazon

The continuous downpour was difficult enough to deal with for Nora and the entire town. Then Nora sees a body in the water beside the base of a bridge. Intuition tells her it’s the young potter she spoke with the day before at the flea market. After calling   the authorities, Danny’s death begins to haunt her. He seemed to have a happy marriage and artistic skill and his life ended suddenly and tragically.

Life moves along at its natural pace. Nora is drawn into the mystery of Danny’s death. It remains with her as three other people come to town. One is a dramatic, humorous man who sadly suffers from fibromyalgia who wants to work for Nora when he is physically able. There are also two new residents renovating an old house to become an inn. They’re goal oriented and great friends. Clearly, they’d be a special addition to the Secret, Book and Scone Society. There’s also a mystery behind the manor’s former owner during the 1880s, which has to do with a forbidden love affair and a child. The owner of the inn, during that era, took care of wounded soldiers from both the North and South. Ghosts rise with the mists. Then there’s a mysterious man who appears and disappears wearing a white t-shirt and pants.

There’s one symbol that continues to be a clue, but Nora isn’t sure how it relates to Danny’s life. She knows the bird on the bottom of the bowl she bought from Danny means something important. More than symbolism.

I wasn’t sure how the inn and Danny’s life were related but they are and that’s what makes the story interesting. I adored Sheldon, the stranger who needs to find a home, friends and love and has so much to offer. He’s adorable. I hope Nora and her friends make him part of their secret society. Loved the part about the banned books and the story of the women in Danny’s family. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

four out of five diaries

Denise Fleischer

June 7, 2020


Blog Tour Spotlight and Cover Reveals


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Allow Gotta Write to give your book the attention it deserves. A 3-day blog tour Spotlight includes:

Day 1 – An in-depth interview focusing on what you need your readers to know: who you are, what you’ve accomplished in terms of novels and experiences, and a highlight of your latest book.

Day 2 – An excerpt of the first chapter, including where to purchase the book.

Day 3 – Guest blog post with pictures.

We’re adding even more ways for you to promote your next great novel!

Day 4 – Up to a 5 book summary with pictures. This is an opportunity for your books from last year, or the year before, to get coverage.

Day 5 – Two months of event listings. Tell them where you’ll be meeting your readers.

Day 6 – Photo gallery – Up to 6 pictures featured from your booksignings and photo captions.

Day 7 – Entitles you to a press release.

Prices: 3-day-$25, 4 day-$30, 5 day-$35, 6-day-$40, 7 day-$45.

Email: for information. “Blog Tour Spotlight” in the subject line.


Have a new book coming out and you want GWN’s readers to learn about it? Send the book’s jpg and a two-paragraph summary to Send both the link to your website and where it will be sold. Write: Cover Reveal in the subject line. Fee is $20 for a week. For more information, email


Banners on GWN $30 for 4 days.

Book Launch Tours $10 for 1 day.

Your newsletter copy $15 for 1 day.

Just the book cover and ordering links $25.00 for 15 days.

Reserve a date: Once a month submit an announcement or press release for $10.

New Title – The Prisoner’s Wife By Maggie Brookes




Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible—until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.

Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.

The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds.

About the Author

Maggie Brookes is a British ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist. She is an advisory fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also an Associate Professor at Middlesex University, London, England, where she has taught creative writing since 1990.  She lives in London and Whitstable, Kent and is married, with two grown-up daughters. She has published five poetry collections in the UK under her married name of Maggie Butt.

Guest Blog Post – Murder She Wrote – The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher


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Check any list of the best mysteries of all time and you’re virtually certain to find And Then There Were None somewhere near the top, if not in the number one slot overall. The 1939 Agatha Christie classic imagined ten strangers lured to a deserted island where they end up marooned to be murdered one at a time in a manner keeping with the nursery rhyme.

How I came to write The Murder of Twelve, both an homage to and update on And Then There Were None, is a story in itself that dates back almost to the day I was fortunate enough to be handed the reins of the iconic Murder, She Wrote series, featuring America’s favorite sleuth Jessica Fletcher.

My first solo entry in the series became Manuscript for Murder, in which Jessica nearly becomes a murder victim herself. Though she manages to escape the flames that nearly consume her beloved home at 698 Candlewood Lane, the house is badly damaged which forces her to take up residence in a suite at Cabot Cove’s Hill House Hotel.

As a fan of fabulously successful, television show on which the book series is based, like many one of my favorite episodes of the nearly 300 was “Murder Takes the Bus,” in which Jessica, Sheriff Amos Tupper, and an assortment of other random bus passengers find their respective journeys waylaid by a storm at a roadside diner. Before you can say whodunnit, one passenger is murdered and another is attacked, leading the rest to realize a killer with no plans on stopping is in their midst.

The desire to create a fresh take on that episode, coupled with the fact that Jessica was now residing at Hill House, led me to picture her stranded in the midst of a historic, killer blizzard with a dozen strangers who, you guessed it, are being murdered one at a time. Confession time: I had never actually read And Then There Were None, although I had vivid memories of the 1945 film adaptation, so my first order of business was to dig into those classic Christie pages even as I was embarking on my own version. Good writers borrow, as Victor Hugo famously said, but great writers steal.

The resulting The Murder of Twelve is distinguished by my never having more fun writing a book. I had a notion of who the killer was going to be, but little else, so I was essentially creating on the fly, stuck with Jessica inside Hill House as five feet of snow collects outside the windows. This time out, there’s no Sheriff Mort Metzger, Dr. Seth Hazlitt, or private detective Harry McGraw to ride to her rescue. Jessica is totally on her own, save for the little they can do for her via cell phone.

For structure I opted for a kind of Murder, She Wrote version of the classic Eugene O’Neill play Long Day’s Journey into Night when the warring factions of a wedding party fill many of Hill House’s remaining rooms. But the bride and groom are no-shows. Money goes missing. Secrets abound. Red herrings can be found anywhere and everywhere, as Jessica races to sort through the morass of murder to uncover the killer before she, too, becomes a victim.

As a thriller writer by nature, I’m a firm believer in the slowly simmering fuse, so the primary events of The Murder of Twelve actually begin outside the hotel as the first few flakes begin to fall. Jessica attends a town meeting to go over emergency preparedness, in between dealing with a murder on the outskirts of town and a vehicle strangely abandoned in the middle of a road. That these were connected to the greater plot to come was never in doubt; I just didn’t know how yet, when Jessica finally settles in at Hill House with the members of the warring factions of the wedding party.

By then, the snow is already piling up and I was off and running—well, sledding. What a blast it was to ratchet up the suspense with each passing hour, and murder, first knocking out the cell phone service and then the power. Planting clues only Jessica notices and setting up pretty much the entire wedding party as potential suspects, the ultimate revelation of the killer’s identity as shocking, I hope, as the one behind the murders in And Then There Were None.

I believe that the mark of a great story is one that every single reader feel was written strictly for them, and that’s the case with The Murder of Twelve more than anything I’ve ever written before. The first-person prose makes it indeed feel that Jessica is speaking directly to you, even perhaps asking for the kind of help you can’t provide from your bed and easy chair. The effect is akin to the classic children’s tale The Never Ending Story in which a boy reading a book gets sucked into action.

That’s not going to happen here, though you may want to belt yourself into wherever you’re sitting regardless. Because I’m going to predict you’re going to enjoy reading the roller coaster ride that is The Murder of Twelve just as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Guest Blog Post – Not to be Truffled With – Kate Lansing


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There are many types of truffles. And, no, I’m not talking about the fungi foraged by pigs in picturesque European country sides, although those are also quite delicious. I’m talking about the chocolate variety. Those decadent morsels rolled into flavorful balls of perfection.

They might be dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some combination. Coated in toasted coconut, crystallized ginger, or perhaps sliced almonds. Stuffed with raspberry jam, salted caramel, or Nutella. The possibilities are endless!

Honestly, I didn’t know much about truffles when I first started writing Killer Chardonnay. Only that they sounded luscious and, being a new mom at the time, I wanted to cram my face with as many as I could get my hands on. STAT.

One of the perks of writing is getting to live vicariously through your characters. Hence, Parker Valentine’s borderline-obsession with truffles, especially when prepared by a certain steamy chef.

While testing recipes and suggested wine pairings for the back of my book, I stumbled across a diabolical combination: dark chocolate espresso truffles, which pair especially well with a smoky, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon. They’re bitter and sweet and just a little bit dangerous with the chocolate-covered espresso beans. I’m excited to share the recipe below!

Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles

(Yields 12)

8 oz, or 2 bars, of your favorite dark chocolate (such as Ghiradelli’s Intense Dark which is 72% cacao)

½ cup heavy cream

1 T. brewed coffee

½ tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate covered espresso beans, crushed

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan until it’s just coming to a simmer, being careful not to let it curdle. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Mix in the coffee and vanilla.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using two spoons, scoop the chocolate mixture into small balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly roll each of the balls in the crushed espresso beans. Refrigerate for an additional 20 minutes, or until truffles are firm. Serve at room temperature.