2018 October Reads and Unfinished Deeds

After I returned from China, I dove into listening to audio books, finishing two hardbacks, and reading ebooks. September and October turned into story-drenched months with new releases and old finds.

The status of the second Ravenscar shifter book? It’s still undergoing revisions midst a plethora of distractions. In my heart of hearts, I believe I can publish this novel in the next few weeks. Yes, I can.

Now let’s clear my library shelves!

Books I’ve finished in the last month?

Lying in my Prescott space cocoon through the quiet dark hours of night, I listened to Sara Hanover’s The Late Great Wizard, the first book in the Wayward Mages series. What a ride! A fun urban fantasy with unexpected twists and turns that take place in secret basements and tourist spots on the eastern seaboard.

With her father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life destroyed, Tessa Andrews is determined to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. If only their borrowed house didn’t shake and rumble as if haunted. But at least she and her mom have a roof over their heads, so her luck couldn’t be all bad, could it?

Late August I listened to John Scalzi’s Lock In (Amber Benson narrated) and was mesmerized. I’m a fangirl of his science fiction novels, military and humorous, but Lock In may be my favorite! A mystery with a social/political slant that will have you cancel dinner plans.I immediately bought the second one, Head On. I took Scalzi’s Redshirts (paperback) to China with me, but was kept too busy to read. I finished Redshirts late last month–now a book that definitively explains Star Trek reality. Last week I turned to Head On, listening to Amber Benson’s narration again. Fabulous all around. This is a phenomenal series. Instead of a book description, I’ll add this dead-on opinion. Click on the Head On link if you want to know more.

As much as Scalzi has the scientific creativity of a Michael Crichton, he also has the procedural chops of a Stephen J. Canell to craft a whodunit with buddy-cop charm and suspects aplenty—most of them in someone else’s body.” —USA Today

For destination romance fans, I discovered Kristy Tate’s That Song in Patagonia. I ducked out of work to escape in this satisfying romance that roamed from Boston to Uruguay, with loads of fun in between. Hey! It’s only 99 cents now.

Two people with hurting hearts and unrealized dreams explore the streets of Buenos Aires and the South American countryside, and it changes them both forever. And what they find in each other is something that might just heal them both.


Books I’ve recently started?

i almost entirely buy e- or audible books because my plank library shelves are full and I’m trying to save the planet. I do buy a hardcover/analog book now and then when I must be in airplane mode or batteries are low or need to remind my corneas that not everything is backlit or volume controlled. It might take awhile to finish a book that is only read in waiting rooms or departure lounges so I get a book that is worth savoring. Margaret Robeson’s An Enchantment of Ravens was a feast I finally finished in September. Released last week, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s Dry is the next meal I’ve chosen. I’m a few chapters in and already obsessed.

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

Talk about saving the planet! This book debuted in the NY Times Bestseller’s top ten this week.

If you like your mysteries with a touch of cozy and shovelfuls of creepy, grab Greta Boris’s third book in her Deadly Sins series Sanctity of Sloth. I’m loving what I’m learning about anchorites and a body dumped on the grounds of a California mission.

There’s one thing more dangerous than testifying to a crime—staying silent. Locked in the ruins of a California Mission, Abby Travers watches helplessly as a girl dies outside her window. As she struggles between her moral obligation to come forward as a witness, and her commitment to a Medieval religious practice that requires her to retreat from the world, the situation spins out of control

Charlaine Harris’s new series with an alternate history twist is my go-to book now for exercising. An Easy Death. When I need that extra push to do pushups or to hit the pavement for long brisk walks, this book is it. Great premise and great characters are great incentives.

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose.

If you like any of these books, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help authors and readers.

Before I sign off, mystery writers and reader, check out DP Lyle’s radio show at Criminal Mischief. If you like forensics or need a good mystery resource, it’s a treasure.

Please let me know what you’re reading and recommending in the comments. I love a great find. Happy reading and listening!

Michelle

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My 2018 Reads that Include a FREE Book and Camp NaNo Brag

I love talking about my current fave books, almost as much as I love to brag. Permit me to start with myself or scroll down to discover your next fun read.

I went to Camp NaNoWriMo in July and met my goal by writing over 75,000 words. Deep editing included deleting, altering, and adding new words from my 72K manuscript. I wrote the discovery draft of the SF novel The Legend of Hero Constant seven years ago and pick it up and put it away often. This year I polished the first five pages if it in Laura Drake’s First Five Pages class and fleshed out the macro-plot and character threads in Suzanne Johnson’s class. I also gave it a new but temporary title Moon for a Hero. Pleased with the result. Hope to publish it in 2019.

My August reading list includes titles I’ve finished, just started, re-reading, and one of my own. I heard that a novel I bought in 2016 is offered free now and included it too. Since I’m on a Scalzi binge, I’ll just mention that I also read his novella The Dispatcher–a cool Subterranean Press publication with eerie illustrations and narrator Zachary Quinto and The B-Team, first short in the Human Division novel.

Starting with John Scalzi, Lock In sucked me in fast. I listened to Amber Benson’s narration of the audio book. Incredibly fine science fiction and mystery. I kept finding reasons to do housework or walk longer so I could listen more. I down loaded the second book and was thrilled to hear there is a third coming out soon. Here’s a description.:

In a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

For fantasy fans, I found out that Kristy Tate’s book Menagerie, first in the series, is now FREE. Do you like talking animals, young adult novels, and a dollop of romance? Grab this book now.

Everyone talks to animals. Some do it every day, although very few stop to listen for a reply.

Lizbet Wood does, and this is just one of the things that set her apart. She really doesn’t understand how different she is until violence shatters her solitary existence.

From the moment Declan meets Lizbet, his life is thrown into turmoil. She’s unlike anyone he’s ever met and the creatures she introduces him to will change not only his plans for the future, but everything he believes about life, science, and the animals surrounding him.

If you like breathtaking action, mystery, schnauzers, and a hint of romance, then you’ll love this edge-of-your-seat story by USA Today bestselling author, Kristy Tate.

First book is The Corpse Reader, another wonderful historical mystery from AmazonCrossings, this one by Antonio Garrido. I loved the China setting, the forensics, and the surprise twist that kept me reading into the wee hours. For Amazon Prime members, the book is free and the audio version is only $1.99.

After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.

Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.

And here is my contemporary mystery novella at only 99 cents. Part of the Deluded Detective series, Pam Graff turns detective work when an accident sidelines her career as a high school physics teacher. The problem in Jack Fell Down? She cannot distinguish between reality and hallucinations, and a child’s life hangs in the balance.

Pam knows she is the last person to be looking for a lost child. Yet her teacher instincts and the hope that this may reveal what happened to her 17 months ago drive her to find him.

With the help of family, students, felons, and a female Elvis impersonator, Pam searches for the boy throughout Southern California.

If you like any of these books, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the authors and readers.

Happy reading!

Michelle

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A Sample July Day of Vegan Meals

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates

When they find out I’m vegan, friends, family, and medical doctors’ first concern is whether I’m getting enough iron, protein, and vitamin B6. The answer is yes and backed by a pile of medical research. My personal results? My lab tests for those and everything else has been rock solid great. While meat-eating friends my age and twenty years younger talk about weight or high blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes, I can’t add my own complaints. Doctors usually frown when they see my chart and wonder why I take no pharmaceuticals*. They check my labs and wonder why my numbers are so good.

Yep! Plant-based, whole foods are what we should all be eating. It’s humane, the number one thing any individual can do to save the planet, it’s healthy, and it’s the way to solve world hunger.

Next thing I’m asked–what do you eat? I freeze up with that question, because I have lots of choices and am never sure what to recommend in a sentence or two.

Here’s what I ate yesterday. 

BREAKFAST: Coaches oats with flax and chia seeds, cocoa nibs, raw pumpkin seeds, blueberries, banana, and a splash of maple syrup. Ooh, expensive you say? Not really. Breakfast probably cost a dollar and took minutes to make. Guess what? About 28g of bio-available protein too.

LUNCH: A Beyond Meat Beast Slider with horseradish mustard&pickle&basil leaf, color variegated potato salad with Italian spices and vinaigrette, chopped cabbage with a sprinkle of raw pistachios and cantaloupe on butter lettuce for dessert. Protein count? About 18g.

DINNER: A quesadilla with nopali corn tortilla with vegan cheese, spinach, red onion and guacamole. Olive and chives hummus dip with orange sweet pepper, rainbow carrots, and celery. Banana ice “cream” for dessert with a vegan gingersnap. About 15 grams of protein.

I don’t starve and haven’t been overweight since I gave up meat in 2004. After yesterday’s eating, I weighed a pound less today. When I switched from vegetarian to vegan, I lost seventeen pounds in six weeks.

Most knowledgeable doctors will say that you should be counting fiber, not protein. Who is old enough to remember Weight Watcher’s Fat & Fiber plan? A good cardiologist would agree that a diet that maximizes fiber and minimizes animal fat and processed vegetable oils is the best way to go. Who needs to count calories, fiber, fat or protein if you eat your Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen? There’s an app for that! Keep it real and keep it simple.

I make an herbal iced tea early in the day. After coffee in the morning, I drink iced tea and water throughout the day. I make power green smoothies often.

Next? I’ll be experimenting with Banza chickpea pasta (vegan and gluten free) and cilantro vegan pesto. I bought six boxes of the pasta, so will try my summer pasta recipe with it–a lovely chilled salad with oomph. I’m making Easy Peanut Noodles for dinnertonight.

Happy eating!

Michelle

  • Note: Pharmaceutical medicine is valuable for a small portion of our population. It has saved the lives of family and friends and I’m glad that it’s available. For conditions caused by diet? Let’s fix the diet!
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Writing Status July 2018 and IDENTITY ISSUES

A busy July!

Between Native American music at the Bowers, life assessments, Mandarin lessons and buying Identity Issues for a super deal, I sprinted and am ahead of schedule to meet my Camp Nano goal. I aim to finish a new draft of a science fiction novel that would include writing about 20,000 new words and revising 75,000 words. I’m over the 57,000 word mark now.

Yesterday I submitted a flash fiction piece “A Sword Taken from the Third Grave” to an anthology, for a October 2018 release. Less than 500 words. Whew.

Have I mentioned that I love Amazon Crossing? It allows us English-only speakers to read or listen to fabulous writers around the world. I have a growing bookshelf of books by Spanish, South American, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and German authors. I very much enjoyed the medieval Chinese mystery called The Golden Hairpin.

Speaking of mysteries—Identity Issues by Claudia Whitsitt is only 99 cents! Who could resist this description?

If Sam thought teaching was murder, just wait until she gets home. Although Samantha Stitsill’s instincts warn against it, her curiosity over the theft of her husband’s passport festers until it becomes an obsession. Haunted by late night phone calls for the other Jon Stitsill and caught up in tutoring the impostor’s son, Sam uncovers disturbing secrets and lies. To make matters worse, her only likely confidante is an uncomfortably attractive detective. She is no longer just a wife, mother, and educator, but an in-over-her-head amateur sleuth facing complicated feelings and, even worse, threats to her life.

This first novel in the Samantha Series is based on Whitsitt’s own experience with identity theft and blends fact with adventure and romance.

So I bought it and when I finish the incredibly good Bayou mystery Wild Man’s Curse by Susannah Sandlin, I’m jumping into Identity Issues.

Good books. They make life rich.

Happy reading!

Michelle Knowlden

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Deals and Steals on Two Fantasies and Three Mysteries

My reading list just exploded! I discovered several new releases or novels with their price slashed and wanted to share them with you. It’s summer time at the beach or in departure lounges where one really needs a good book at hand. I threw in one of my own books in case you needed a short read.

For those waiting on tenterhooks for Rebecca Lang’s next book, here it is. Three Floating Coffins is aimed at middle graders and anyone who loves a hero’s quest.

On the run and unsure of who she can trust, Odele undertakes a journey to find the one thing that may defeat the evil priest: a magical amulet her mother hid years ago somewhere in the Seven Isles. Hunting Odele are the priest’s twin daughters, witches who control dragons made of wind and water. With time running out, Odele must pry open the secrets of the past before she loses her family forever.

For fans of the Sanyare Chronicles, Megan Haskell offers Guardian, a novella featuring Judith, an angel, who has her own mission with deadly consequences and a ticking clock.

A single mistake disrupts the closure, crippling the guardians and threatening the safety of the nine realms. Can Judith prevent the next breach before the wicked march on the living and destroy the order of life?

For mystery fans, I discovered LJ Sellers who is offering her standalone thriller, Point of Control, at 99 cents for a limited time. What I liked, as I’m a huge audiobook fan, was adding the audio version for just $1.99. Win-win!

Two world-renowned scientists have disappeared, and FBI agent Andra Bailey is assigned to find them and hunt down the kidnapper. She’s exactly the right person to get it done. In her personal life, Bailey works hard to control her sociopathic tendencies. But on the job, her cold logic comes in handy.

Cool, eh?

If you like your mysteries with a touch of paranormal and set in Louisiana, try Wild  Man’s Curse by Susannah Sandlin. I’m listening and loving this book as I’m walking. More expensive at $4.99 but also comes with the $1.99 audio add-on. That’s a deal! The narrator is fabulous too.

The bones said death was comin’, and the bones never lied.

While on an early morning patrol in the swamps of Whiskey Bayou, Louisiana wildlife agent Gentry Broussard spots a man leaving the home of elderly Eva Savoie—a man who bears a startling resemblance to his brother, whom Gentry thought he had killed during a drug raid three years earlier. Shaken, the agent enters Eva’s cabin and makes a bloody discovery: the old woman has been brutally murdered.

And here is my cozy mystery short story Found Dead in Arugula, only 99 cents. I call it my lunchtime read.

When Faith finds the body of a neighbor in her arugula, the police arrest her for murder. As expected, her protests fall on deaf ears. Only two people have ever listened without interrupting her. One of them is now dead. The other is her lost love.

Help from an unexpected source, and the bane of her life—interruptions!—prove that one can expect blooms in the compost.

A short story of second chances, this cozy mystery is set in a garden community east of Los Angeles.

If you like any of these books, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the authors and readers.

Happy reading!

Michelle

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Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona

I broke my budget at Prescott’s Farmers Market. Who could resist coffee, marmalades, patty pan squash, sourdough bread, cactus tea, Lebanese zatar bread and spinach pies, radish sprouts, raw cacao nibs, and veggie samosas? Not me.

But I digress.

After a hike at Pinnacle Park and the farmers market, fueled by New Zealand cold brew coffee, a mung bean samosa and Lebanese dolmas, my brother and I headed for Sharlot Hall Museum.

The Sharlot Hall Museum is an open air museum located in Prescott, Arizona. Opened in 1928 by Sharlot M Hall as the Old Governor’s Mansion museum it is dedicated to preserving the history of folklore of Yavapai County, Arizona. Above is a photograph of the governor ‘s mansion.

Sharlot Hall (October 27, 1870 to April 9, 1943) was an American journalist, poet and historian. (Sharlot is the Kansas Indian version of Charlotte.) She was the first woman to hold an office in the Arizona Territorial government and her personal collection of photographs and artifacts served as the starting collection for history museum which bears her name. I found this 1911 photo of Hall at Wikipedia.

Each museum building was rich with history and mostly attended by docents who could answer questions or give a spiel. One of my favorite exhibits was in the main building and included world class visuals of life of Prescott’s first inhabitants. The video and exhibit on WWI was also fascinating.

One building was a replica schoolhouse that would fit easily in a motel room. Another was a ranchhouse with a hobbit-high front door. Opportunities to experience frontier life abounded on these grounds.

I spent time and money in the museum shop: a lovely carnelian cabuchon necklace crafted by a member of the local gem club and two books: The Doctor Wore Petticoats by Chris Enss and a short story collection Meeting the Four O’Clock Train by Dixon Fagerberg Jr. (Boyhood recollections of Prescott, Arizona 1909–1927)

My own recollections of a wonderful Saturday in Prescott are now recorded here.

Happy reading and adventuring!

Michelle

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Lists and a FREE Book: Lists of Books and Films at Prescott’s Film Festival

For those who like lists and free stuff, this post is for you. The two lists are my ever-changing top seven must read books, this one limited to authors that have passed AND the films I’d see if I was at the Prescott Film Festival opening June 8, 2018. Scroll down for the link to the anthology free until June 10.

A LIMITED LIST OF MICHELLE’S MUST READ BOOKS

I took a Facebook challenge to list seven books I love. My self-imposed rule? Only books by authors no longer with us and ranked in no particular order. Check my Facebook Page to see my final list. I just posted day three. Who knows if I’ll alter this list tomorrow!

  1. A Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. The book made me a fan girl of Richard III and of forensic mysteries.
  2. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. Discovered this book in a Boston bookstore ages ago. Who wouldn’t love a Victorian archeological mystery set in Egypt?
  3. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Location brought back childhood memories of times I spent with my Pacific Grove grandparents.
  4. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. I was so obsessed with this book, a blend of fantasy and history of King Arthur, I named my first rescue cat Merlin.
  5. Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny. I don’t blame you if you believe his Princes of Amber series the best ever. I recommend Doorways just because it is science fiction at its best.
  6. Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria Laso. Destined to be a classic with a voice as distinctive as Scout’s in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  7. The Fifth Daughter by Jade Snow Wong. Captivated me in middle school. Memoir of growing up Chinese American in San Francisco.

AN ABBREVIATED LIST OF FILMS I’D ATTEND AT THE PRESCOTT FILM FESTIVAL 

I won’t  be attending the film festival as I heard about it too late. I spent a morning scouring the film guide and picked seven I’d see if I could attend the first three days of the nine day event at Yavapai College.

  1. A Boy called Sailboat. JK Simmons, a slanted house, and a ukulele come together in a small town.
  2. Downside Up. In a world where everyone has Down syndrome, a normal boy struggles to fit in.
  3. Swimming in the Desert. In a drought-stricken town, a 10-year-old girl challenges her grandfather to bring water back to the dry river.
  4. Gray Area: Wolves of the Southwest. In the American Southwest, a unique species of wolf unlike any other is making a comeback. Considered extinct nearly 40 years ago, the little known Mexican gray wolf has slowly pulled back from the very brink, against all odds. Is it possible for man and wolf to coexist?
  5. Meercat Maantuig. (South Africa Meercat Moonship) A fearful 13-year-old visionary meets a little boy who spends his days training to be an astronaut, an enchanting magical journey of hope.
  6. Woman Walks Ahead. Stars Jessica Chastain. A New York widow is an artist in the 1890s who decides to walk away from her privileged lifestyle and head west to Dakota. She hopes to paint a portrait of Lakota holy man Sitting Bull.
  7.  I Got You Babe. An ambitious young woman must decide what she is willing to sacrifice should she marry her boyfriend before midnight to save him from the Vietnam War draft due to an executive order signed by President Johnson on August 26, 1965.

FREE BOOK

This just in! The anthology ebook is FREE for a very limited time. Grab it quick.

My short story, Last of the Skipjack, reveals a typical day in the life of an engineer—if she were the type to consider mass murder mere collateral damage to win a submarine program for NASA.

Murder, Mystery & Mayhem is available for e-readers and in paperback. Check it out for yourself and your favorite mystery, thriller and suspense reader family and friends.

If you like the anthology, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help authors and readers.

Happy reading!

Michelle

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