Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber


First Line: They say when you believe you're about to die your entire life passes before your eyes in a flurry of poignant images, but all I could think of, rather absurdly, was that I should have worn the blue hat.

When Verity Kent receives an invitation to the engagement party of one of her deceased husband's friends, she almost doesn't accept. Only the cryptic letter she receives changes her mind. The writer suggests that Sidney Kent may have committed treason before his death during the final months of World War I, which would be laughable if not for the fact that the person also knows that Verity's war work was for the Secret Service. This engagement party being held on an island off the southern coast of England is gathering together all of her husband Sidney's surviving friends. It's Verity's best chance of learning the truth. She just hopes against hope that the truth she learns isn't that she never really knew her husband at all.

Modeled after Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Anna Lee Huber's This Side of Murder gives a pitch perfect portrayal of life in England immediately following the First World War. Once I began reading and took note of the similarities between the two books, I thought to myself, "If [a certain something] happens, I'm out of here." It didn't because Huber's book is not a slavish copy of Christie's. 

First off, let me just say that I want Verity Kent's Pierce-Arrow. I love those cars! Huber's main character is an interesting one. Like the women of Bletchley Park, Kent had to sign the Official Secrets Act. She cannot speak of what she did during the war. The death of her husband hit her quite hard, and she's felt at loose ends for well over a year. She's tried going to lots of parties, drinking to excess, casual flirtations (antidotes that thousands of others tried throughout the Roaring Twenties), but nothing seems to work. Trying to learn the truth about Sidney seems to be the catalyst that's going to pull her back from the brink. 

I like the fact that Verity isn't the female version of Dudley Do-Right. She knows more than most women about the horrors of war, and she's suffered loss, too. But she hasn't exactly kept a stiff upper lip and become married to her widow's weeds. She wants to feel better. She wants to get on with her life. She's just not quite certain of how to go about it. This frailty bodes well for the series. Speaking of the series, the pace is slow for This Side of Murder, but that's mostly due to Huber's setting up her cast of characters and future books. The plot of this book has quite a few twists and turns-- as it should when one keeps in mind the book it's modeled after-- so it's best not to speak of it to avoid giving anything away. 

All in all, if I can't have Verity's spiffing Pierce-Arrow, I can have the next best thing: the second book in the series, please!
 

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber
eISBN:  9781496713162
Kensington Books © 2017
eBook, 304 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Verity Kent mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


Monday, September 25, 2017

My List of Favorite Bridges to Cross


You never can tell what will set off a round of Top Ten List making for me, especially since I decided that they didn't all have to be about books. 

This time someone on TV said, "I'll cross that bridge when I get to it," and off to the races I went. 

My mother hated bridges, and if she ever made up a list of them, it would be of the ones she most hated to cross. I think I didn't inherit that dislike. Well... if I were ever to get on a bridge that goes on world without end amen with no land in sight, I might start feeling a mite antsy, but I haven't. 

This week, I'm going to share my favorites of the bridges that I have crossed. I'm going to list them in order of when they were crossed, and the captions under most of them will lead you to more information about the bridge if you're interested. Naturally you can click on the photos to see them in more detail. The first bridge on my list has lingered in my mind for a long time. Let's start with it.


A wooden single-lane country bridge, Illinois.

If anyone in my family ever took a photo of the bridge southwest of the little farm town where I grew up, I couldn't find it. This photo comes remarkably close. The bridge back home was old, it was wooden, it was single lane. There were no guard rails. It was narrower than the bridge in the photo, and as Grampa drove his pickup across it, the boards would rumble and pop. The bridge went through some woods and crossed Flat Branch Creek. In summer, it was like going through a humid, green, mosquito-infested tunnel.  

One winter Grampa took me for a ride in his pickup to take a look at how bad the flooding was out in the country. It was bad. So bad that you couldn't see this bridge at all when Grampa drove us over it. I still remember the wrath visited upon his head when we got home and my grandmother found out what he'd done. (My grandmother was doing such a good job that Mom didn't have to contribute a word.) Hopefully that bridge has been replaced by now!


Thompson Mill Covered Bridge, Illinois.

The Thompson Mill Covered Bridge is a few miles from the farm town in which I grew up. It was built in 1868 and crosses the Kaskaskia River. The first time I visited this bridge, I was quite young, and even then it was blocked off so you couldn't drive across it. My grandparents and I walked across it, and it gave me the creeps. I've never really understood how covered bridges came to be thought of as romantic. I know Mom didn't think they were; she stayed by the car the whole time we were there!


Golden Gate Bridge, California.

The first time I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, I was two, so I don't remember it. The next time, I was ten and on our family's great cross-country adventure. I don't know which was cooler: going across the Golden Gate or traversing the roller coaster series of hills in San Francisco to get to the bridge!


Coronado Bridge, California.

The Coronado Bridge in San Diego, California is also one that I've crossed a few times. Crossing #1 was on my first visit, and it was my first experience of a bridge with a very steep approach. On my way back to the hotel, a rather large U.S. Navy ship was going underneath, and that steep approach suddenly made all the sense in the world.


Hampton Roads Bridge and Tunnel, Virginia.

As a "honeymoon trip," Denis and I flew back to Virginia to help one of his friends move to El Paso, Texas, but before Denis and I had to climb aboard the big yellow Penske truck to drive their furniture cross country, we had time to explore. When my father was in the Navy, he was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, and we headed over there to discover that that was not the day for visitors to be shown around the base. On our way back, we crossed the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, and I felt as though I was on Mr. Toad's wild ride. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a combination bridge and tunnel, but when you've got ships like aircraft carriers going through, engineers knew that tunnel was the only way to go (even though I don't like being underground). This bridge still makes me feel a bit nervy....


Astoria-Megler Bridge, Oregon & Washington.

Denis and I crossed this bridge while exploring the Pacific Northwest. It's another bridge with a very steep approach. In fact, as we passed multi-story apartment buildings, I was trying not to look in people's bedroom windows. Then we crossed the Columbia, one of my three favorite American rivers. All the shipping went under the tall section of the bridge, which soon went back down to a normal type bridge-- only both guardrails were lined with cormorants. I suppose the fishing must have been really good from that section!


Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Washington.

On the same trip, Denis and I also crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which goes through a particularly gorgeous (and windy) part of Washington State. In the photo, you can see Mt. Rainier in the background. Not only did I love the scenery, I was smiling because I knew that we were crossing a bridge known as Galloping Gertie. Ever heard of her? 


The Forth Bridges, Scotland.

In the photo above, you see the Forth Road Bridge to the left and the Forth Rail Bridge to the right. Both cross the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh, Scotland. The rail bridge is one of the engineering wonders of the world. The first time I crossed the Forth Road Bridge, my head was in a whirl because it was a huge bridge with all this traffic going in the wrong direction. I also remember being disappointed because I was hoping to soak up some of the incredible views, but once you start driving over bridges like this one, there is no view. (In other words, Pay Attention to Your Driving!)


Skye Bridge, Scotland.


The Skye Bridge connects the Isle of Skye to the mainland of Scotland at Kyle of Lochalsh. When the wind gets really bad, the bridge is closed to traffic. (Ask me how I know this.) But that first time across, looking down at that lighthouse and out across the incredible view, was sheer magic. I remember that day as being filled with waterfalls and rainbows. A day I shall never forget. 


Tyne Bridge, England.

The Tyne Bridge is one of seven crossing the River Tyne to connect Newcastle upon Tyne to Gateshead in northeast England. On our way back from the Highlands of Scotland northwest of Inverness and on down to visit a dear friend in Durham, our route took us across this bridge, right in the heart of a busy city. It was extremely difficult to gawk at the bridge and all the buildings at the same time, but I tried my best!


Tower Bridge, England.

So many things to see in London, so many crowds! But even though my head was buzzing with everything I'd seen in the one day of sight-seeing that we had, I couldn't help being impressed by Tower Bridge and the weight of history all around me.


Yes, I did leave some bridges out. I think that's the whole point of these Top Ten lists, don't you? 

What bridges have you crossed that would make your own personal Top Ten lists? Inquiring minds would love to know!



Friday, September 22, 2017

The Rising Cost of Blogging Weekly Link Round-Up




I've been blogging for almost ten years now. I was planning to have some sort of celebration next June. Now I don't know if I will. Back in 2008, blogging was easy. I signed up at Blogger, and away I went. Then I decided that I wanted my own domain name so people could find my blog easier. That was a mere $10 a year. Nowhere close to breaking the bank.

It all started to change this year. If I believed in conspiracy theories, I'd be tempted to think that the money grubbing element in the world has it in for bloggers.

First, it was Photobucket holding large sections of my blog graphics hostage. Instead of doing what they'd been doing for free year after year, they now wanted $400 per year to do it. I tried several free places, but I could not get the coding to work on my blog, so I ponied up the $400 and chalked it up as an early annual Christmas present to myself.

Now Google has informed me that, if I don't have a security certificate, every time someone who uses Chrome as a browser is going to get some sort of "Danger, Will Robinson!" warning when they visit Kittling: Books. Used to be, hardly anyone used Chrome as a browser. Now well over 50% of folks use it. That's a lot of people getting warnings when they land on my blog. Started doing my research, and... cost of a security certificate: $400 per year. (Who decided upon $400 as the go-to gouge figure?)

I'm being held over a barrel again, and I am angry. I'm also heartsick because, if I now have to budget for these two annual fees, I know that there are going to be others. It would be different if I had a hugely popular blog that received tens of thousands of hits per day, but I don't. It would be different if I received some sort of income from Kittling: Books, but I don't. This is a labor of love, plain and simple. I'm being forced to make a decision. Do I want to keep on blogging with the ever-rising costs of it? Yes, I do, but... I'd also like to have money for other things in my life that I enjoy.

I'm going to mosey out to the corral, and get these links ready for you. I need to do some pondering and soul-searching.

Head 'em up! Mooooove 'em out!



►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
  • How French cuisine took over the world (and the early cookbook industry). 
  • The art Monet owned. (One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen is one of Monet's water lily paintings.)
  • The transformation of the American shopping mall
  • The damage from Hurricane Irma can be seen from space. 
  • The roots of computer code lie in telegraph code. Makes sense when you think about it.
  • Before she was an etiquette authority, Emily Post was a road warrior.
  • Kayla Rae Whitaker writes about hanging out with Pennywise and her grandmother's ghost.
  • Balzac tried to buy a waistcoat for every day of the year (and other revelations of Parisian fashion).

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Oysters can get herpes, and it's killing them. 
  • To save Australia's ecosystem, ecologists say eat kangaroos
  • Hemingway's six-toed cats rode out Hurricane Irma in Key West, Florida. 
  • When disaster strikes, the zoo must go on.

►I ♥ Lists◄


That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn


First Line: In my dreams, the dead can speak.

Cedar Valley, Colorado is filled with hikers and campers in the summer and skiers and snowboarders in the winter, but beneath the beautiful scenery that surrounds the residents lie some pretty gruesome secrets.

Almost forty years ago, two little boys disappeared without a trace until Detective Gemma Monroe uncovered their bones a few years back. Their murders remain unsolved, attributed to a ghostly monster locals call the Woodsman. Now a young man has been murdered in a seedy little traveling circus, and as Gemma tries to find justice for the victim, she's going to uncover secrets that will shake this Colorado community to its foundations.

This is a debut novel that doesn't read like one. Emily Littlejohn has a beautiful, lyrical writing style that captivated me from beginning to end. She's also created a nuanced main character that I definitely want to read more about. Gemma Monroe's parents were killed in a car wreck, and she was raised by her grandmother who is now in the grip of dementia. Gemma is pregnant, and her partner is off in the wilds of Alaska on a geological survey. Their relationship is complicated; Brody is a man Gemma loves deeply, and she trusts him with her life-- she just doesn't trust him with her heart. So she's got all sorts of personal troubles compounded by being forced to work with a fellow officer whose ethics have been questionable on more than one occasion.

Inherit the Bones has a fascinating premise that kept its hooks in me throughout the book, but it's one you can't really talk about for fear of giving things away. Whodunit was easily deduced by me this time around, but with the character of Gemma, the storyline, and the way Emily Littlejohn writes, I didn't care. I'm looking forward to more.
 

Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn
ISBN: 9781250089397
Minotaur Books © 2016
Hardcover, 336 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Gemma Monroe mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Am Your Judge by Nele Neuhaus


First Line: He saw her coming.

The murder of an elderly woman who was shot and killed while out walking her dog prevents Detective Pia Kirchhoff from leaving on her long-awaited honeymoon when scheduled. When another eerily similar murder occurs, Kirchhoff abandons all thoughts of leaving her short-handed department outside Frankfurt, Germany. Two more murders follow. None of the victims had enemies and all were well-respected and genuinely liked. 

No one seems to know why these people have been singled out, but Kirchhoff and her partner Oliver von Bodenstein realize that the sniper-- who calls himself "The Judge"-- does have a mission. They have to piece clues and facts together to find out what that mission is before anyone else dies... and what they uncover will shock them profoundly.

I've read other books in the Kirchhoff and von Bodenstein series and have enjoyed them for the two main characters and the books' plots. Once again, author Nele Neuhaus has created a really good storyline that takes a lot of deduction to put everything together, and it's one in which readers witness the sacrifices dedicated police officers often have to make in their personal lives, but-- ultimately-- I Am Your Judge just was not my cup of tea. 

My reasons for this are mostly subjective, beginning with the title. I am a contrary soul, and when someone tells me point blank that he/she is my judge, I beg to differ. In addition, one of the storylines that I do not care for at all is the one in which the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children. I say, if you have a serious problem with your father and think he needs to die, then kill him, don't kill someone who doesn't have a thing to do with the situation. As you can see, Neuhaus did get a firm grip on my emotions with her plot and her killer, but it wasn't necessarily in a good way. It also didn't help that this book suffers from too much middle and could easily have lost around one hundred pages to tighten it up and heighten the suspense. 

Yes, my dislike of this book is mainly subjective, so keep this in mind when you're trying to decide whether or not to read it. Your hot buttons may not be the same as mine.

I Am Your Judge by Nele Neuhaus
Translated from the German by Steven T. Murray.
ISBN: 9781250071682
Minotaur Books © 2016
Hardcover, 416 pages

Police Procedural, #7 Kirchhoff & von Bodenstein mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Book Outlet.

My Favorite Movies about Teachers


This week my top ten list stays closer to the original subject of this blog because many of the movies on it are based on books.

I've found movies about teachers to be inspiring for many years, ever since I was a child in fact. I think I harbored an idea of becoming a teacher once, and for a period of a few years, I was sent from coast to coast to train people for the company that employed me. But the idea I had involved being something like a history teacher, where I could use many of the bizarre facts I've learned over years of reading to spark the imaginations of my students. But I don't really have the emotional fortitude it takes to be a teacher, and my path led me elsewhere.

But I can still love watching movies about teachers, and this is my list of my top ten movies featuring them. They inspired me when I first watched, and they inspire me still. This time, I've listed my choices according to the years they were released. If you click on the portion of the caption after the release date, you'll be able to find out more about the movie. Let's take a look---


1939. Looking back over a long career.


1955. English teacher in a violent, inner-city school.


1958. Clark Gable goes back to school.


1962. As pupil or teacher, Patty Duke owned Gibson's screenplay.


1967. Idealistic teacher in an inner-city school.


1967. Young female English teacher in an inner-city school.


1969. The incomparable Maggie Smith.


1988. Calculus as a way to success.


1989. O Captain! My Captain!


2007. Young teacher learns about herself and her students.


If you like movies about teachers, did I leave out any of your favorites? Which ones? (You knew I was going to ask!)

Perhaps my caption below The Miracle Worker needs a bit of explanation. I watched the film when I was young. Both Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Academy Awards. Although I wanted to be loyal to Bancroft, my attention was commandeered by Patty Duke as Helen Keller. I just marked it down to the girl having the "showier" role. (The movie poster makes the film resemble The Exorcist!) But in 1979, The Miracle Worker was made again, this time with Duke in the role of Annie Sullivan. Once again Duke was absolutely riveting. It didn't matter which role she had, both Helen and Annie were hers. It's as though no one could possibly understand those parts the way she did. They were in her soul.

Hmm... I feel a trip to Netflix coming up shortly! How about you?



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dangerous to Know by Renee Patrick


First Line: "The food was too rich, for one thing."

No longer a department store sales clerk, former aspiring actress Lillian Frost is adjusting to life as the social secretary to movie-mad millionaire Addison Rice. Costume designer Edith Head is running Paramount Pictures' wardrobe department, but only until those in charge find someone they think is better. When an international scandal hits the newspapers, the two friends find themselves working together once more.

Lillian attended the Manhattan dinner party in which a maid with Nazi sympathies divulged secrets that have all of New York society running for cover and two Paramount stars (Jack Benny and George Burns) facing smuggling charges. If that wasn't enough, Marlene Dietrich's pianist in her budding nightclub act has disappeared. Lillian reluctantly agrees to look for him. When Lillian finds him dead, Dietrich blames Nazi agents, and it's up to Lillian and Edith to uncover the truth.

Reading Renee Patrick's Lillian Frost and Edith Head mysteries is like walking into Old Hollywood; you never know who's going to have a cameo role. So much of the plot is based on actual events-- like Jack Benny and George Burns facing smuggling charges-- that readers get a real sense of life in the movie industry before the U.S. enters World War II. 

For some reason, I'm having a difficult time warming to Lillian Frost, and I don't know why. I can certainly sympathize with what Edith Head had to endure-- being considered the cheapest alternative while the studio brought in a continuous round of prospective replacements. Edith is a good foil to Lillian and does provide the younger woman with sound advice. Frost's new job as social secretary helps give her the entrée into Hollywood society that she needs in order to conduct her investigations.

The writing team of Renee Patrick is adept at creating absorbing, complex mysteries that keep the pages turning. Anyone with even a minuscule interest in old Hollywood movies and stars should enjoy their Frost and Head mysteries. In fact, the books are so good that readers unfamiliar with the territory may find themselves becoming fans, too.
 

Dangerous to Know by Renee Patrick
ISBN: 9780765381866
Forge Books © 2017
Hardcover, 336 pages

Historical Mystery, #2 Lillian Frost & Edith Head mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.


 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Matt Goldman & Rachel Howzell Hall at The Poisoned Pen!




Sunday, September 10, I climbed aboard the Jeep and headed over to The Poisoned Pen to see two new-to-me authors, Matt Goldman and Rachel Howzell Hall. They would be talking about their latest books. Gone to Dust is Goldman's debut novel, and Hall's City of Saviors is the fourth book in her Lou Norton series-- a series that has been on my radar for a while. 

My vantage point in the back.
When I arrived, I picked up the four books that were waiting for me and headed to the table in the back. I was going to do something different for this event. It's rather difficult to juggle a notepad, pen, and camera while sitting on an uncomfortable folding chair, so I thought I'd stay at the table in the back. The way the authors are usually situated, I knew that the zoom lens on my camera would be able to get good shots, so I wasn't worried about that, and it would be heaven not to try to balance a notepad on my knee and try to write. As soon as they set up the chairs, I knew decent photos were doomed. As you can see, they weren't expecting a very big crowd, so they set the chairs in a circle, which I do not care for. (Hey, what can I say? I always preferred to sit at the back of the classroom when I was a young'un!)


Barbara Peters came in early to say hello to the authors and to see how things were progressing. She's standing in the photo above, and the woman to the left with the black and yellow backpack behind her chair is author Rachel Howzell Hall.  Once the event began with Poisoned Pen staffer Karen in charge, all the seats were filled. I'm always sad when there's a small turnout, but these events often are the most fun and informative.

Karen's introduction of both authors let us know that Hall is on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America, and she collaborates with James Patterson on BookShots. Goldman is an award-winning writer for Seinfeld, and his book Gone to Dust has been adapted for the screen and is on the market to be optioned for film. Having read both books, Karen was impressed by their bizarre crime scenes, their strong sense of place, and their irreverent sense of humor. "Both of you have a sense of humor that I found refreshing," Karen said. "More than once I found myself commenting that I hadn't heard anyone say that out loud for a while. And both of you give a very real sense of the political side of an investigation."

Matt Goldman with Barbara Peters
 "It's funny that you should say that about our senses of humor," Hall said. "We've been told that our humor almost sounded alike. I don't know if it's because we have the same editor or not!"

Karen began talking about City of Saviors. "It's the hottest day of the year in Los Angeles, and there's a dead man in a boarded-up house. Your Lou Norton is an African-American woman in a good old boys club. She's also been recently promoted, which will undoubtedly cause problems."

Hall nodded in agreement. "City of Saviors is also church-related. It's about people trying to help people. Lou is back in her old neighborhood trying to save people whom she left behind when she left to get an education."

Goldman's character Minnesota native Nils Shapiro went through the Academy but when the budget cuts came, he was caught in the "first hired, first fired" cut. Shapiro then decided to become a private investigator. "When local police find that their crime scene is a house with a body that's literally covered in dust, they don't know where to start," Goldman told us. "They haven't investigated a murder in over a decade, so they bring Shapiro in as a consultant. I've been told that this book is 'too Scandinavian' but I've never been to Scandinavia!"  

Rachel Howzell Hall (L) asking a question.
Karen then asked about each author's background. "I was a quiet kid growing up in an at-risk neighborhood," Hall replied. "I was a voracious reader. I was an observer. A lot of what I saw bothered me, but I internalized it, and the only way I could deal with it was through writing. I soon discovered that the 'dark side' interested me, and I wrote a play when I was in the third grade that disturbed many of the grownups! My first book was psychological suspense, and I've learned that the best way for me to solve the things that bother me is through my writing."

Matt said, "I was a chemistry major for three years, and I thought I'd be going to medical school. Like Rachel, I was very quiet, and I read a lot. One night some friends were going to a standup comedy place and I went with them. Then I started doing standup myself. I hated to perform, but I met a lot of people through it

"I opened for Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, and others which led to me writing for Seinfeld. Now... I am quite introverted and most writing for television is done in a room full of people. I hated it. Then in January of 2015, both my kids went back to college. It was -11°, and I thought to myself, 'You're not going back to TV writing for a few months, why don't you give writing a novel a shot?'"

Available Now!
When Karen asked, Goldman said that Raymond Chandler was a big influence on him, especially with characterization and social commentary. Who are Hall's influences? "Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Judy Blume, and Jackie Collins."

Matt admitted that "I didn't start reading mysteries until six or seven years ago. I was a bit of a lit snob, but I love that the mystery carries the plot so that the characters don't have to do it all the time."

Rachel said, "I have to be angry or interested in something before I'll start writing. I work full-time. I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who's heavily involved in sports. I have to outline when I write. I'm a control freak, and I need a map!

"Those CSI shows on TV make me angry," Goldman admitted, "getting in the way at crime scenes with their guns! I wanted to write a book in which those people didn't matter.

"I get a wisp of an idea, and I start writing. I'm 60,000 words into my third book, and I'm hoping it will work."

"I wish more movies and TV showed the Los Angeles that I love. I love writers who have a strong sense of place!" Rachel said.

Goldman said, "I think most people want to be brought into a world that's real and fair. I like learning bits and pieces, and I really enjoy writers like Jo Nesbo and Michael Connelly because they know what they're writing about."

Available Now!
Continuing the talk about the writing process, Hall said, "I like the fact that we can sneak all this educational stuff in because it's fun to read about it." When Karen asked her about  BookShots, Rachel said, "I got a call from Patterson's editor asking me if I wanted to do this. At first I said NO! but then I went out to dinner with my husband. We talked it over, and I realized what an incredible experience I'd be missing if I didn't do it."

First person or third person? 

Hall said, "I tried writing in third person, but it's just not my voice. I'm much more comfortable in first person. It just flows. Although if I had to write a book in the third person, I could."

"First person just felt natural," Matt added.

Hall then told us of a problem she had when writing in first person and that particular character died. She worked through the issue with her editor.

When Goldman wrote Gone to Dust, he was already contracted for two more books, so this is the first book in a series. "The second book will be about in June 2018, and the third in June 2019. Writing books is so much better than writing for TV! There is a pure voice coming through, and no one else is weighing in on what you're saying."

What have they been reading lately? For Rachel, it's Michael Connelly and random non-fiction like Darcy O'Brien's Murder in Little Egypt. For Matt, it's Rex Stout, Hamlet, and Michael Chabon's latest book.

When asked about book covers, Hall said, "I have some say on the covers. My husband is an illustrator, and covers are important to me. When my second book came out, the cover looked so much like the cover of the first book that many people didn't buy it-- they thought they already had!"

"The cover on Gone to Dust is really cool," Matt said. "It's actually printed on the book itself, and the cover is see-through acetate."

Both authors said that they loved working with Tor/Forge Books because they cared about authors, they cared about the writing, and they were very collaborative. It's always nice to hear that writers are happy with their publishers. It has to make writing just that little bit easier.

I am so glad that I went to this event. I came away with two new authors whose books I can't wait to read, and that's always a good thing.

And just one stray thought before I let you go. The body outlines on the floor at The Poisoned Pen have always made me smile. Why is it that when I looked at one on that Sunday, it looked as though the "person" died while trying to reach for the books on that bottom shelf?