Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

FWA Conference Recap – Book Marketing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 3, 2017

Besides giving my own talk on “Book Promotion on a Budget” at the Florida Writers Association 2017 conference, I sat in on a couple of other presentations about book marketing. Here are some of the main points I gleaned. Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

If your book isn’t selling, you may need to:

Change the cover

Get more reviews
Write a letter to readers asking for reviews.
Continue to acquire reviews for backlist titles.
Aim for 100 reviews on Amazon to make an impact.

Evaluate your Amazon page
Check your keywords and categories.
Keyword strings work better than single keywords.
Note the sales rank of each category.

Examine your social media influence
Do you need to increase your engagement? This matters more than the number of followers.

Put your book out in multiple formats, not ebooks alone. Consider print and audiobooks.

Is your book in the right genre?

How relevant is your backlist title? Does it need an update and a fresh cover?

Are you marketing your book to the right audience?

Practice ebook price rotation. Ideal ebook pricing is $2.99 to $5.99. Shuffle your books in and out of sales promotions.

Plan a promotional campaign that includes Publicity, Online Promotion, Events, and Multimedia.

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Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Recent Reads – Book Reviews

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 14, 2017

Readers are always asking, who are my favorite authors? So I’ll share with you some of my recent reads. My tastes vary from romance to mystery to scifi/fantasy. At any time, I’ll be reading more than one book. I have not included the historical romances I’ve read, because these are mostly older books I have accumulated from conferences over time. They’re my comfort books that I reach for when I need a pleasant escape. You can see all of my reviews over at Goodreads. So here are the other recent titles from my shelves that I would rate at 4 or 5 stars.

Reader

The Detecting Duchess by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery)

Soon-to-be Duchess and Victorian bookshop owner Georgia Fenchurch gets embroiled in another murder mystery just days before her wedding to the Duke of Blackford. The case involves stolen Egyptian gold, governmental diplomats, and a missing investigator. As the bodies pile up, Georgia wonders if she’ll be able to make her nuptials. Can she find the killer before the wedding bells ring, or will it be her death knell instead? Another charming addition to a delightful series. http://amzn.to/2t1oKeV

The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander (Historical Novel)

This haunting story about a girl forced into servitude at an Irish laundry run by nuns is gripping in its tale of betrayal, despair, hope, and faith. Vivid historical details bring the story to life as readers suffer along with the wrongly accused young woman, Teagan Tiernan. As she fights for survival, she befriends two other girls, which makes their monotonous routine somewhat bearable. Insisting on her innocence, she never gives up the quest for freedom despite harsh living conditions, forced labor, and humiliating punishments. This dark blot on the church’s history exposes a sorry past of cruelty in the name of love and redemption. http://amzn.to/2srG7si

Honor’s Flight by Lindsay Buroker (Science Fiction)

Book two in the Fallen Empire series has Captain Alisa Marchenko and crew arriving on her home world. All Alisa wants is to retrieve her daughter, but obstacles lay in her path. Her crew members are wanted men, and everywhere they go on this imperial planet brings danger their way. Alisa finally reaches her daughter’s location, but things don’t go the way she’d planned. Her late husband kept a deep secret from her that affects her entire family. Now her quest must continue as she faces a greater foe. This series has me hooked. It’s reminiscent of Firefly and has a sympathetic heroine with a relatable goal. http://amzn.to/2srKO5E

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker (Science Fiction)

This first book in the Fallen Empire series finds former Alliance pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko looking for a way off the planet where she’s been recovering from injuries sustained in battle. The war is over, and the Alliance won. She needs to retrieve her daughter and move on with her life. But she can’t afford supplies even if she can reclaim the ship that brought her there. Her only solution is to take on paying passengers. Thus she takes off with a misfit group of comrades, most of whom guard secrets that could prove dangerous. Alisa and friends get into one scrape after another while each one chases their own elusive goal. Will she survive long enough to find her daughter? And why does she feel attracted to the imperial Cyborg soldier when she should fear him? Can she betray him if the time comes? Readers won’t want to stop with this one volume. You’ll want to follow Alisa and her motley crew on their next rousing space opera adventure. http://amzn.to/2rgCAZx

A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal (Historical Mystery)

Enterprising journalist Kitty Weeks is covering a social affair for the ladies’ page in early 1900s New York when a man is shot dead in the stables. Her assignment turns into a series of interviews of various guests present that day. Using her unique skills, she’s able to gather information on the suspects. But things become personal when a couple of Secret Servant agents implicate her father in a scheme that might have a broader reach. Wartime is on the horizon. How much is Kitty willing to risk to learn the truth? Kitty Weeks is a delightful heroine and so are the supporting characters that populate this historical mystery. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment. http://amzn.to/2rgTVl3

The Keeper by David Baldacci (YA Fantasy)

Vega Jane and her companions traverse the dreaded Quag in this second book of Baldacci’s famed fantasy series. She’ll need all her magical powers to survive the different levels. Each of the five circles comes with its own dangers. Challenged at every corner, Vega must rely on her own wits and instincts plus the allies she meets along the way. Will she and her best friend Delph defeat the creatures that live in the wilderness? Or will they be lost in the Quag forever? This action-packed tale will have readers rapidly turning pages and eager for the sequel. If you like quest stories and monsters, this one is for you. http://amzn.to/2t1gATQ

Really, Truly Dead by Maggie Toussaint (Mystery Novella)

Lindsey, a journalist, returns to her hometown only to find her father arrested for the murder of the town judge. The man didn’t lack for enemies. He was about to put the local shrimpers out of business by not renewing their dock lease. He owned a sleazy motel and had a mistress or two on the side. But it doesn’t look good for Lindsey’s father, who was having an affair with the judge’s wife. Meanwhile, the sheriff has his eyes on Lindsey, and those heated glances he gives her have nothing to do with the case and everything to do with romance. Can she solve the case and clear her father’s name so she can follow her heart? http://amzn.to/2t1kA6K

New Canaan by M.D. Cooper (Science Fiction)

General Tanis Richards wishes she could enjoy a peaceful life at New Canaan, her new home. But planetary defense is her responsibility, and she has secret shipbuilding facilities to expand her fleet. War looms on the horizon between three factions, and they’ll soon all head her way to gain the colony’s technology. This book is part of the Aeon 14 series and is another action-filled adventure with political intrigue, espionage, and the inevitable space battle. I’ve been hooked since book one on this series. http://amzn.to/2tlxsUJ

Duchess of Terra by Glynn Stewart (Science Fiction)

Book Two in the Duchy of Terra series finds newly titled Duchess Annette Bond as the leader of Earth, a.k.a. Terra, and a subject of the A!Tol empire. As she gathers her new government, they wrestle with how to meet the Imperium’s demands for military warships without giving away Earth’s resources. Meanwhile, Kanzi slavers build forces on the border. It’s a race against time as Annette battles to protect her planet while ceding to the wishes of her new superiors. It doesn’t help that she also faces holdouts of the old Earth resistance, and they threaten the safety of her people. With threats from within and without, Annette has her hands full. But as we’ve seen in book one, she is very capable of juggling multiple balls at the same time. Somehow Earth will survive, but they may need to find new allies along the way. This fast-paced story alternates between political manipulations and space battles. You’ll be rooting for Annette to succeed. I’m ready for the sequel. http://amzn.to/2t1j5Wp

The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal (Historical Mystery)

This installment in the Maggie Hope series seems darker than most with a serial killer on the loose in London during WWII. I’ve enjoyed these stories with espionage, intrigue, and adventure but less so this one. If I want to read about women being brutalized, I’ll pick up the newspaper. I prefer lighter fare in my reading. More interesting to me was the puzzle of what had happened to Maggie’s half-sister and to another female operative in Paris. Let’s hope the author leaves the serial killers behind in the next book and gives us a good spy thriller in France. While not as much for my taste, this story is well-written with a likeable heroine. http://amzn.to/2t1k6gS

Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry (Mystery)

This first book in “A Witch City” mystery series is a delightful cozy set in Salem, Massachusetts. Reporter Lee Barrett returns to her home town to move in with her Aunt Ibby and to hopefully get a job at WICH-TV. When she’s passed on the field reporting job she wanted and is offered a role as call-in psychic instead, she jumps at the chance to get her foot in the door. Is it a coincidence that she’s just discovered the body of her predecessor drowned in the sea? And when Lee starts seeing images in a crystal ball, how does she know if Ariel’s spirit is channeling through her, or if she’s developing powers of her own? Something isn’t right at the TV station, and the more Lee digs into things, the deeper she gets in trouble. A charming debut.  http://amzn.to/2rv9VPM

The Finisher by David Baldacci (YA Fantasy)

In the town of Wormwood, Vega Jane acts as a Finisher at the Stacks without questioning her destiny until she sees the unthinkable. Quentin Herms runs away into the Quag, the bordering realm that surrounds Wormwood and where no one is ever supposed to go. The forest harbors nothing except monsters and death. Or so she’s been told. But when the town leaders lie about Quentin’s disappearance, she grows suspicious at their obvious cover-up. Seeking answers, she sneaks into the Stacks at night and discovers secrets beyond her imagination. She also acquires instruments of power and begins to question the very origin of her world. With the support of the stalwart Delph, she plots her own escape. But first she must survive a series of combat and face the wrath of the powerful Morrigone who wants her dead. Excellent world building in this gripping novel will have readers frantically turning pages to see if Vega Jane achieves her goal. The story reminded me of City of Ember that has its young protagonists seeking escape from a similarly mysterious town with nothing but blackness beyond. Or is there more? But while the concepts are similar, the worlds are each uniquely distinctive. http://amzn.to/2tlsOGj

Note: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program and these are affiliate codes.

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How Not to Request a Book Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2017

Occasionally, I’ll get requests from authors to review their books. Some of these I’ve accepted, but mostly I send a polite refusal. Here are some examples of what not to do when approaching an author, especially when you don’t know her personally. This also applies to guest blog posts.

 

Reader

Dear Nancy J. Cohen,
I
noticed your review on Amazon for “Murder at the Seaside.” My book is a suspense novel set in Phoenix. It’s a bit outside the cozy genre, but the language is clean and amusing. Would you be willing to read my book and give an honest review?
[When they start with my full name like this, I know they are unfamiliar to me. This book is outside my genre, and the author is an unknown who got my name off Amazon. No deal.]

Dear Ms. Cohen,
I would love to have you interview me on your blog for my upcoming romantic comedy due for release from XYZ Publishing. See back cover blurb below. Please let me know what other information you need to consider reviewing it.
[Is this person requesting a review or a guest blog spot? Either way, her book isn’t my genre, and the author is unknown to me. I’m not interested.]

Dear Nancy,
I’ve finished my first medical thriller and would be honored if I can get a blurb from you. I love your romantic suspense novels. They keep me at the edge of my seat. I’ve really enjoyed reading Hair Raiser and hope to read more of your work.
[This would be a polite, No Thanks. I write mysteries, not romantic suspense. And this person says “they” keep her on the edge of her seat, but she’s only read one. Thrillers are outside my genre, and while occasionally I do read them, I’d rather not be obligated here.]

Hello Nancy J. Cohen,
I saw that you reviewed“The Stolen Queen.” My book has similar elements but more romance and intrigue. [Story Blurb follows]. This romantic adventure is so thrilling and unlike anything you’ve ever read, you’ll be hooked until the last page. My novel is a spine-tingling adventure with exciting twists & turns.
[Bragging about how your book is a bestseller or how it’ll hook my interest is a turnoff.]

Dear Nancy,
I saw that you reviewed the Alex Rider story, “Stormbreaker.” I am author of a middle grade fantasy titled “The Secret of the Oracle.” In this time-travel adventure, Eddie must overcome his fears and battle evil forces in ancient Greece to discover the identity of a sorcerer. Would you like to receive a complimentary digital copy of my book?
[I accepted this one. YA Fantasy is a genre I like to read, and the story line intrigued me. The author didn’t make any braggart claims about how his story will blow me away. He was polite and concise in his request. I enjoyed this book and gave it an honest review.]

Hello,
I have a new release coming out titled “Murder in the Garden,” and I am organizing a book tour. I will provide excerpts and interviews. I’ll be running a Rafflecopter contest, and if you’d like to participate, I’ll include your social media links. (Story blurb follows)
[I accepted this one and was happy to help a fellow mystery author. Why? Not much to do on my part except schedule a blog post on the set day. It’s the appropriate cozy genre. And I’d get social media links in her Rafflecopter. She sounds savvy and will likely show up on the blog to answer comments. This person made things easy.]

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My Advice

· Request a review from an author who writes in the same genre or who clearly enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written.
· Mention a deadline if you have one for the review.
· Be gracious and accepting that the author might not have the time or interest.
· If you’re proposing a blog post, study the type of posts on the host’s blog and then suggest several relevant topics. Also note, while on her site, if she even hosts guests or has a submission policy.
· Be modest. Don’t make braggart claims about how your book is a bestseller, will keep readers riveted until the end, or is a laugh-out-loud funny story. Readers can judge these things for themselves.
· Mention your website or the Amazon page for your book so the author can find more information there.

· If the author declines your offer, thank her politely for her consideration.

Note that a book review request differs from an endorsement request. What else would you add to this list?

 

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 15 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 1, 2017

My official book blog tour starts today. I hope you’ll follow along and leave comments to support my tour hosts. Some of these posts offer individual prizes. I keep adding new sites, so check my Appearances page often. I’ll do my conference posts from the FRW cruise and SleuthFest on days when I am not a guest elsewhere. See you on the tour!

Blog Tour

Feb. 28Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 28 – Terry’s Place CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

March 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, EXCERPT

March 1 – Island Confidential – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 1 – The Big Thrill – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 2 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

March 2 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST, EXCERPT

March 3 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 4 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST

March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

And in case you missed these:

Jan. 14Life of Writers, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Feb. 11 – Carla Loves to Read, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 22 – Dru’s Book Musing“A Day In The Life” CHARACTER POST

Feb. 22: Socrates Book Reviews, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 23 – I Wish I Lived in a Library, BOOK REVIEW

Feb. 24, Omnimystery News, SPOTLIGHT

Feb. 24, Open Book Society, BOOK REVIEW

 

IN-PERSON

Sunday, March. 5 at 1:00 pm, “Mystery and History”  Discussion and Booksigning with Nancy J. Cohen (Bad Hair Day Mysteries), Alyssa Maxwell (The Gilded Newport Mysteries), and V.S. Alexander (The Magdalen Girls) at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL  33444, Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com/

Saturday, March 11, 1:00 pm, “Writing is Revising” with Nancy J. Cohen in Room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps  Park in Lot 7 next to the L-building on Saturday.  http://mwaflorida.org/events/special-events/

March 16-19, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, http://www.csfoa.com/
Thursday, March 16, 6:00 Meet & Greet Cocktails and Snacks at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Friday, March 17, 6:00 – 6:45 pm, “Conflict and Character” with Nancy J. Cohen at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.

Sunday, March 19, Signing in the Author’s Tent at “The Walk” between 26th and 29th Streets on the west side of University Drive in Coral Springs, FL

 

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Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Book Excerpt, Book Reviews, New Release, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Strippers and Sock Puppets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 23, 2016

Mystery book reviewer Oline Cogdill spoke to the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at the August meeting. Oline’s reviews have appeared nationwide as well as regularly in the Sun-Sentinel. Oline offered some useful tips for writers on repetitive elements to avoid in crime fiction.

Oline1

· Strippers as murder victims or confidential informants are overused. Also, male writers seem to have an obligatory scene with a woman in front of a mirror fantasizing herself in this role. How many women secretly long to be a stripper? Not many.

· Coffee habits can take over the story. Count how many times your sleuth meets someone for a cup of coffee, drinks the coffee, heats up a mug of coffee, or tosses the empty cup in the trash. Go lightly in this regard.

· Restaurant scenes where a conversation occurs, and then the diners get up and leave in a huff before finishing their meal, are unrealistic. At least, have them sit down and finish eating or ask for a takeout box.

· Don’t neglect the kids or the pets. Show them being cared for and not being left alone at home or in a car. If you stay away all day, remember to let the dog out when you come home or to feed the cat.

· The sleuth shouldn’t wish for a murder to relieve her boredom. She should have a personal reason for getting involved in solving the crime. The death should be treated with gravity and respect.

· Don’t have your character rush out at night or go into a dark cellar alone without telling anyone or calling for backup.

· How many times is the cell phone left at home or runs out of its charge or there’s no signal? Don’t overuse this excuse. Just as important, if the phone rings, have your character answer it. Too often the ignored phone call means doom and gloom are in the next chapter.

· Less is more regarding graphic violence. It’s better left off-scene for the most part.

· Use the word “woman” instead of “girl,” where appropriate.

· Avoid the “talking killer” who explains the entire crime to the sleuth while holding a gun to her head.

· Talking animal stories don’t have to be silly. Treat them more seriously.

· And a non-story tip: Keep your website updated. Have a short bio, a longer bio, a good headshot, and author contact info. Do not play music in the background.

Oline spoke next about ethics among reviewers. She mentioned “sock puppets,” which are false online identities some people create to praise their own books and to trash others. Respected critical reviewers give objective opinions. It’s best for new authors to avoid paid reviews.

Oline2

It was really fun hearing these clichés, some of which I’ve been guilty of using. Thanks to Oline, now we’ll all be more alert to these foibles in the future.

CLICK TO TWEET

 

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Recent Mystery Reads

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 15, 2016

These are some cozies I’ve enjoyed reading in the past month or two. I hope you’ll share some titles in the comments, too!

Flourless to Stop Him by Nancy J. Parra (Mystery)

This installment in the “A Baker’s Treat” mystery series has Toni Holmes whipping up gluten-free holiday treats in her bakery despite December blizzards and a murderer who’s left her brother framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Unable to avoid her sisterly duty in clearing his name, she sets on the trail of a killer who may be someone closer to her than she realizes. Stonewalled by the police who refuse to look further for the culprit, she conducts her own investigation while fending off a couple of potential suitors. This amusing, quick-paced mystery will have your mouth watering for bakery treats while you consume the pages to finish the story. 


Pane and Suffering
by Cheryl Hollon (Mystery)

When Savannah’s father dies, she takes over his stained glass art studio, hoping to turn management over to his right-hand man. But when Hugh keels over next, she realizes something is amiss. Her father, who’d worked for the government prior to retirement, leaves clues for her to follow. She uses her geocache experience and code-breaking skills to track the killer. Can she trust the handsome bar owner who works next-door? What about the students in her stained glass class? A rival shop owner? Or a real estate developer who covets the property? Suspects abound in this charming debut title in the Webb’s Glass Shop mystery series. Interesting tidbits about the artisan craft add detail to this story.


The Conspiring Woman by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery)

The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries featuring bookstore owner Georgia Fenchurch continue to delight. In this installment, Georgia’s association with the Archivist Society brings her into contact with Sir Edward Hale, whose dead wife is found by the waterfront and whose son is missing. While Hale was estranged from his wife, he wasn’t the only one with a motive for murder. Georgia’s investigation takes her from the aristocracy to a group of ladies whose mysterious network might have contributed to the victim’s death. And when the handsome Duke of Blackford returns from his overseas trip, Georgia has a lot more to cause her concern. He wants to talk to her in private, and her heart beats fast at what that might mean. Another trip into Victorian London will hopefully continue this charming series.

 

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal (Historical Mystery)

When Maggie Hope accompanies Winston Churchill to Washington D.C. right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she doesn’t expect to become embroiled in a case involving civil rights, intrigue, and murder. Yet Maggie is unable to stay out of trouble even as she juggles a couple of suitors. She meets Mrs. Roosevelt, who commandeers her to help prevent a scandal involving the First Family. It’s entertaining to see Maggie on this side of the “pond” and to view her English colleagues’ reactions to American culture. Enhanced by historical detail, this engrossing mystery will have you deep into post-Pearl Harbor politics and intrigue as Churchill and Roosevelt attempt to cement an alliance between their countries to battle a fearsome foe. Another Winner!


Giveaways and Bargains!

July 1-18
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

July 11-Aug 8
Enter to win over 40 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire. You can win my novel Permed to Death, plus books from many more of your favorite authors. Click Here to Enter

Cozy Contest

July 1-31
Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) ebook is on sale for $1.00 at Smashwords until July 31. Use Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/580614

 

 

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Book Reviews

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 11, 2016

As an author, I’m often asked what I like to read. Basically, my taste runs to genre fiction. I like to escape to other worlds far away from the reality of daily news. Here are some of my recent reads from Fall 2015. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen

Bookshelf

A Matter of Honor by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction)
Captain Liam Hoffen and crew are determined to rescue the survivors from Cape of Good Hope, a ship abandoned by the powerful Belirand Corporation. But even as they set this goal, they’re marked for death. Because now they know the secret that Belirand will kill to keep. Aiding their quest is the mysterious inventor, Phillipe Anino. While avoiding Belirand’s assassins, Liam and friends discover the issue is way bigger than they’d thought. It could blow a hole in everyone’s concept of the known universe. And Belirand is willing to guard this knowledge at the expense of Liam, his crew, and their families. Is he willing to risk all to save the forty-five crew members of Cape of Good Hope?

A Matter of Honor is another action-packed installment in the Privateer Tales. What makes you care are the characters who are noble at heart and take the moral high road. They are heroes you can cheer for until the final page is turned, and then you have to wait impatiently for the sequel.

Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron (Mystery)
Cajun cuisine mixes with murder and history in this delightful debut novel from Ellen Byron. Maggie Crozat, an artist from Manhattan, goes home for a stay at her family’s B&B. The mansion’s rooms are filled, but no sooner can you say “Laissez les bons temps roulez,” than the shenanigans begin. First one guest meets her demise. When her death appears suspicious and the finger points to Maggie’s relations, Maggie vows to uncover the truth. Impeding her progress is the sheriff, whose feud with the Crozat family is legendary. Fortunately, his handsome relative shows up on the force and quickly becomes Maggie’s ally. Will she unmask the murderer before more guests meet their untimely end? Can she save their plantation from financial ruin? Maggie needs to fire up her southern charm and sniff out a killer to save the estate. With the richly Southern setting, quirky characters, and evocative descriptions, you’ll be wanting more in this charming series.

Kris Longknife: Unrelenting (Science Fiction)
Admiral Princess Kris Longknife is in charge of Alwa’s defense, a planet under imminent threat of attack from a homicidal race. Her resources are limited. But it’s hard for her to remain focused when an act of sabotage within her own ranks neutralizes a number of military women’s birth control devices. Kris is one of the affected officers who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. With a baby on the way, she faces her biggest battle yet. The survival of the planet depends on her. Will her forces be strong enough to defend this one world and prevent the aliens from eradicating humanity elsewhere in the galaxy? Natives, colonialists, scientists, and soldiers join forces in the ultimate confrontation.

Kris Longknife is a sympathetic, strong female protagonist who keeps being forced into military space battles when she’d rather seek peace. But with her brilliant strategic mind, she’s best suited to lead her people toward victory. I’m eager for the next installment.

A Cup of Jo by Sandra Balzo (Mystery)
The grand opening of Maggy Thorsen’s coffee shop by a train station is proceeding according to plan, until the event organizer is found dead inside an inflatable coffee cup. Suspects abound, from the woman’s husband to various acquaintances, most of whom have motives. When her boyfriend’s integrity is called into question, Maggy decides to do some investigating of her own. A solid mystery, a cast of quirky characters, and a savory setting make this a pleasant whodunit to add to your shelves.

Killer Transaction by Catherine Bruns (Mystery)
Real estate agent Cindy York has the job from hell. She’s consistently cheated by rival Realtor, Tiffany Roberts. Tiffany steals her listings and woos her clients while their boss looks the other way. Being cheated one time too many, Cindy leaves a nasty message on Tiffany’s voice mail. This comes back to haunt her when she discovers the woman’s dead body. The police focus on Cindy as the main suspect. With her job in jeopardy and being a hairsbreadth away from serving jail time, can Cindy find the culprit and clear her name?

Smuggler’s Dilemma by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction)
In Book 5 of the Privateer Tales, Captain Liam Hoffen and company are hired to locate a battleship operated by the deadly pirates known as Red Houzi. The pirate fleet has just decimated a naval force, and the Navy must regain control so people don’t panic. Liam’s unorthodox tactics are the only thing that might help them gain the upper hand. But when Liam spies the enemy ship, he decides that rather than call in the Navy as he’d been ordered, he’ll attack the vessel and take it over instead. Meanwhile, he struggles with his girlfriend’s recovery from disabling injuries. Can she manage well enough to come along as his pilot? This story contains the usual battle scenes, along with personal interactions that develop the characters.

Mercy’s Prince by Katy Huth Jones (Fantasy)
Valerian is second in line to the throne until his brother is killed in battle. Now the Crown Prince, Valerian must live up to his father’s expectations and become a warrior. While he’s struggling with his fate, Mercy lives in a nearby village and has to discover her destiny. Aware only recently of her healing power, she has no idea how extensive her gifts are until forced to use them. When Valerian and Mercy meet, they slowly realize they belong together. United, they can defeat the enemy. But how long will the peace last before the fearful soldiers come back stronger? Dragons, mind melds, magic, and romance blend together in this coming-of-age tale. Mercy’s Prince is a pleasant escapist read.

The Savants by Patrick Kendrick (YA SciFi Thriller)
The Eastern seaboard of the U.S. is imperiled when a nuclear bomb explodes underwater off the coast, triggering a fault line to crack apart. A gigantic tsunami will flood a number of states unless the President can find a solution. He discovers unlikely help at a research institute for savants, individuals who’ve suffered brain damage but are gifted in unique ways. Working together for the first time, these young people believe they can help. But their leader, who has brought them there to study the group’s dynamics, hides a secret of his own. Much worse is the secret guarded by the Vice President, who sows the seeds of distrust in our government. Can disaster be averted and the traitors in our midst exposed in time to save the world? Scientific theories collide with political intrigue in this fast-paced thriller. Kudos to Mr. Kendrick for educating us about savants and their special talents.

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Historical Mystery)
This installment in the Royal Spyness series is the best yet. A trip to America for Lady Georgiana, distant cousin to the royal family, provides laughs with its fish-out-of-water theme. Add to this a wacky cast of film stars, an eccentric producer, and a jewel thief, and the fun accelerates. Georgiana’s suitor, the mysterious Mr. Darcy, appears when the crew congregates at a glitzy Hollywood mansion. He’s after the jewel thief, but then someone turns up dead. As the puzzle deepens, Georgiana wonders which one of her new friends is the culprit.

G-2 (The Guardian of Earth Series) by Nigel Carson (Science Fiction)
When Zeke discovers a hostile alien fleet is headed to Earth, he is determined to stop them. His role as Guardian of Earth and descendant of a faraway race is a secret. He trusts no one for help, including his robot valet, Forman. It’s a good thing, since Forman’s creator has tampered with his programming. She’s put a locator inside him, and this becomes useful as Zeke and Forman are compromised by the Maleem invaders. Zeke has a narrow escape aided by his girlfriend, Jessie. Could they use the way she freed him as a means to repel the alien force? Why is it that humans are disappearing around the globe? As more world leaders succumb to the Maleem mind link via a mysterious necklace, Zeke consults his Taman relatives for answers. How can he defeat an ingenious enemy who is seemingly unstoppable? They tell Zeke that he needs to have faith in his own powers and the help of others who believe in him. Can he use his newfound heritage to protect the planet? Filled with action, adventure, and suspense, this story will take you on a ride that’s out of this world. The secondary characters are memorable and unique. An exciting, edge-of-your-seat read!

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Honeymoon brings Florida sleuths to imperiled Arizona setting

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 8, 2015

Great review of Peril by Ponytail by Phil Jason at Florida Weekly.

Phil Jason Reviews Books

Peril by Ponytail, by Nancy J. Cohen. Five Star. 292 pages. Hardcover $25.95.

Certain formulas help focus a writer’s effort. Adaptations of the so-called classical unities of time, place, and action advanced by Aristotle (for drama, not prose fiction) put helpful limits, and the pressure of limits, on the writer and the reader. That’s why island motifs are so popular. In theater, the arrival/departure frame has long been a design staple. Nancy J. Cohen exploits these conventions effectively in her in twelfth “Bad Hair Day Mystery,” featuring hair salon owner Marla Vail, recently married to Dalton, a South Florida homicide detective. PerilByPonytailFront

The romantic Arizona honeymoon that they are planning at the Last Trail Dude Ranch, to which they’ve been invited by Dalton’s cousin Wayne Campbell, the general manager, ends up being short on romance but long on adventure. Strange happenings, disappearances, and even deaths plague the resort and threaten…

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Book Reviews: Summer Reads

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 3, 2015

Here are some of the books I’ve read over the summer. You can also follow my reviews on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen

Reader

The Royal Assassin by Kate Parker (Historical Mystery)

This is the third title in the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, and it’s just as enjoyable as the first two installments. With the Russian Princess Kira visiting England, Georgia Fenchurch from the Archivist Society is employed to keep Her Highness safe. To this end, she takes a job as secretary to a Duchess. When the royal visitor’s guard is killed and her chaperone is found dead, the stakes escalate. Which one of their household bears a grudge strong enough to murder? Are Russian anarchists involved? And how do these incidents relate to a series of bold thefts in the area? Georgia has her hands full playing detective along with the handsome Duke of Blackford. With the detailed period setting, engaging characters, and puzzling mystery, you’ll keep turning pages to the end and will be eager for the sequel.

Rookie Privateer by Jamie McFarlane (Science Fiction)

Liam Hoffen chafes against his fate, being stuck on a mining asteroid and working in his father’s business. But a pirate attack changes everything. His heroism, along with two friends, saves the settlement. However, his injuries prevent him from every applying to the Navy which he would have done if he’d had the funds. As if in answer to his dreams, the Navy grants him and his friend Nick salvage rights to the pirate vessel and asks for their help in a secret mission. Soon Liam and Nick are off on a voyage of adventure and the beginning of many more stories.

I really enjoyed this book and hope to read the next in the series. It’s fast-paced, well-written, and reminds me of the early Vorkosigan saga stories by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris

With his wife about to give birth and his best friend enamored of a mysterious French emigrant, Sebastian St. Cyr gets on the trail of a killer who mutilates his victims. Ties to the French royals, rumors of the “Lost Dauphin” being alive, and a possible conspiracy to prevent a peace treaty with Napoleon keep him busy tracking clues. Someone has targeted him, and Sebastian must find this perpetrator before his wife and unborn child are endangered by his investigation. But the one person who can help is the one he trusts the least. Why Kings Confess is another sterling addition to a gripping series.

The Impertinent Miss Bancroft by Karla Hocker (Historical Romance)

Sophy Bancroft takes a job as governess to Viscount Northrop’s unruly niece and nephews. But caring for children isn’t enough to hold her interest. She insists on investigating several thefts that have recently occurred at his lordship’s estate. Her forthright manner and logical approach startle the viscount into allowing her participation, and he soon finds himself under her spell. But when thievery turns into murder, he dares not risk her life. How can he convince the determined woman to comply? The Impertinent Miss Bancroft is a clever mix of a murder mystery and a Regency romance.

Gathering Mist by Karla Brandenburg (Fantasy Romance)

Giselle is a Kundigerin who possesses powers she tries to deny. This becomes impossible when people close to her are killed. She learns a demon is responsible, and he’s after her next. She turns for help to an old flame turned rock star, who is the only man that can help her. But to work together, they must regain the trust they lost so many years ago. Set in a unique universe, Gathering Mist will have you rooting for this young couple to combine their powers and defeat the enemy.

Imperfect Daddy by Gregg Brickman (Mystery)

A former cop and now a nurse, Sophia isn’t happy when her police detective boyfriend won’t talk about his past. Ray has a personal connection to a recent murder case that makes her question his judgement. The deeper she digs, the more concerned she becomes. Did Ray knowingly help convict an innocent man who went to jail for murder? Or was he duped? Later he brought forth a witness whose testimony freed the guy. Now the man is on the loose, and he might have killed again. His wife and son are found murdered and the daughter raped. She claims “daddy” did it. Is the released criminal at fault? And how is Ray’s ex-wife involved? The closer Sophia gets to the truth, the further she pushes Ray away. But if she can’t trust the detective, she can’t be a part of his life. This solid whodunit will keep you guessing until the end.

The Improper Wife by Diane Perkins (Historical Romance)

Maggie Delaney seeks the lodgings of her about-to-be born child’s father, but the man who opens his door to her is a stranger. Pleading for his help, she accepts the nobleman’s aid in the birth of her son. But if this is the real Captain John Grayson, who was the man she married? She’d believed the guy to be dead, drowned in the river. Afraid to be accused of murdering him, she remains silent about her past.

When a pregnant woman shows up at his door and announces she’s his wife, Gray is stunned. The lady even has papers to prove their marriage took place. Foisting her off on his relatives along with her newborn son, he forgets about her until he returns home to his father’s country manor. There he finds Maggie, who has entranced his family. He has no choice but to go along with her charade that she’s his wife. As he falls under his charms, he wishes their marriage wasn’t a sham. There is only one thing that stands in his way, and that’s the identity of the man who fooled her. Maggie is oddly reluctant to discuss the fellow. How can he trust her when she refuses to confide in him?

Dark Moon Rising by Jacqueline Seewald (Romantic Suspense)

Dark Moon Rising has gothic undertones, ghosts, and family secrets. A curse on the Hunt family claims a victim each year who dies a violent death. When Cassie’s car breaks down and she is given shelter by Colonel Hunt in his southern mansion, she’s grateful for his help. But she’s soon swept into a swirl of deceit involving his sons and other townspeople who don’t seem to want Cassie to leave. Why does she keep sniffing lilac scent around the house? And what’s wrong with the girl she meets in the woods who acts possessed? How come the Colonel won’t tolerate the girl’s name being mentioned? Trouble is brewing, and Cassie senses the evil that pervades the house. Will only another tragedy right a past wrong? Or can she prevent the doom that she senses is coming? Can she trust Jim, the Colonel’s son, or does he have a violent disposition like his brother, Drew? Somebody must die to fulfill the curse. Which one of them will it be? Dark Moon Rising is a gripping story that will have you turning pages until the surprising outcome. Another winner by Jacqueline Seewald!

Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy (Mystery)

White House chef Ollie Paras is horrified when politician Carl Minkus dies in the midst of a meal supplied by her staff. Relieved from duty, she doesn’t trust the Secret Service to look for the true culprit when they’re convinced her kitchen provided the tainted food. But who would want to get Minkus out of the way? And who else had access to his meal? Involved in intrigue and politics, Minkus could have stumbled onto a secret that someone might kill to protect. Ollie hastens to find the killer so her visiting mother and grandmother can get the White House tour she’d promised them. But can she guarantee no one else will come down with a fatal case of food poisoning? This cute story in the White House Chef mystery series will have you rooting for the crook to be caught so Ollie and her crew can prepare for the upcoming Easter Egg Roll event. Entertaining and inventive.

Vicky Peterwald: Survivor by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)

In this second volume of the Vicky Peterwald series, the Grand Duchess of Greenfeld focuses on the goal of helping her people. Vicky has led a spoiled life. But now the palace holds nothing for her but intrigue and death. Tired of assassination attempts and abductions, she escapes with the Navy fleet where she serves as an officer. But as her leadership skills surface, she finds herself pulling on her title more often for clout. She uses her elevated status to help the people starving in the wake of her stepmother’s play for power. As she comes closer to outright rebellion, Vicky builds her supporters, including a diplomat named Mannie of whom she grows fond. I’m hoping we see more of their relationship in the sequel, and that Vicky halts her promiscuous ways to settle on one guy. I’d like her more in a straight, monogamous relationship with a clear focus to free her people from the yoke of her evil stepmother’s family.

Vicky Peterwald: Target by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)

Grand Duchess and Greenfeld Navy Officer Vicky Peterwald is on her way home from a battle with ferocious aliens that left most of her fleet dead. But someone doesn’t want Vicky to make it back to the palace. Several assassination attempts leave no doubt in her mind that her evil stepmother wants Vicky out of the way. Her father, the Emperor, has become this woman’s puppet. Even when Vicky reaches the palace, she sees it’s useless to tell her father the truth. He prefers his own version of reality. Meanwhile, the empress initiates attacks on Naval leadership, who decide they want Vicky on their side. But is she strong enough to resist the net tightening around her and to rally supporters? Along the way, she grows from a spoiled sex vamp to a leader who cares about her people. This first series title is a spinoff from the Kris Longknife series. It is fast-paced and fun with a sympathetic—albeit promiscuous—heroine.

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What books have you enjoyed lately?

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Praise for Peril by Ponytail

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 1, 2015

It’s always exciting when reviews trickle in for a new book. With Peril by Ponytail’s release date on Sept. 16, I am thrilled to share the first batch of reviews.

PerilbyPonytail

“Hairdresser Marla Vail spends her honeymoon at the dude ranch from hell. Marla is annoyed when her handsome husband, Dalton, accepts his cousin Wayne’s offer of a post-wedding stay at the Last Trail Dude Ranch in Arizona. She’d rather be lounging by the pool in a Caribbean resort than riding ponies up dusty trails and learning the mysterious ways of saguaro cactuses. And she’s even more annoyed to learn that Wayne and his wife, Carol, have asked Dalton to check out a string of mishaps at the ranch, ranging from a fire in the kitchen to a flood caused by an open valve on the water heater…As usual, it’s just a matter of time before Marla risks life and limb to help her husband solve a case that’s bigger than either of them anticipated.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Cozy fans will have fun.” —Publishers Weekly

“Nancy J. Cohen once again delivers a delightful cozy mystery with the latest escapades of Marla and her partner Dalton.”—PaulineMichael, Night Owl Reviews

“This is a good addition to Cohen’s long-running series. The heroine is in fine form and … the slight bit of paranormal activity adds a nice touch.”—Susan Mobley, RT Book Reviews

“The author does a great job between all the characters, the storyline, the descriptions and the scenery. Each of them draws you into the book and you never want to stop until the story ends even then you want the story to keep going. A great series you will not be disappointed in reading.” —Babs Hightower, BTS eMagazine

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