Thursday, November 19, 2015

Death Before Decaf: New Murder Mystery!

I am not a coffee drinker, but I am delighted to help my friend Caroline Fardig spread the word about her new mystery series, Java Jive! Death Before Decaf is the first book in the series, which takes place in Nashville. I may not drink coffee, but I do love Nashville. At least the TV show, NASHVILLE. I’ve never been to the actual city ….

What it’s about:

Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson, Caroline Fardig’s captivating new mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse . . . where murder is brewing.

After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancĂ© robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved cafĂ© down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.

The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.

Praise for Death Before Decaf

“I was hooked from the first page. I loved it!”—Dorothy Cannell, award-winning author of the Ellie Haskell mysteries

“Caroline Fardig brings a fun cast of characters to life in Death Before Decaf! Juliet had me laughing, smiling, and rooting for her from the first page to the last. I can’t wait for more!”—Gina LaManna, author of Teased to Death

“Caroline Fardig keeps you turning pages in this fast-paced mystery set in a Nashville coffee shop.”—Nancy J. Parra, author of Engaged in Murder

Buy it here:
Barnes and Noble
Direct from the publisher!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spoil Sport: How Spoilerish Should Book Reviews Be?

Thanks to Amazon, everyone’s a reviewer now. While over a thousand people are getting sued for leaving false reviews, that still leaves millions of others who aren’t. I’m not saying that people who leave reviews should be sued. Just the people who leave bad reviews on my books. Ha ha. Just kidding. No, really. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve only had two negative reviews, and in both cases, the reviewers followed the rules – they were specific about their complaints, and, more importantly, they didn’t give any spoilers. For many authors I know, spoilers in their Amazon reviews are incredibly annoying. But these reviewers are amateurs. Should professionals make sure not to reveal later plot twists?

As a reviewer for Chick Lit Central, I’ve written a heck of a lot more reviews than books. And the spoilers thing is something I grapple with regularly. I generally try not to reveal anything that happens in a book after about the first 25%, which is up to and including the first major plot point. That is usually what you’ll find in the plot description given on the book’s back cover, so it feels fair.

But sometimes something happens after that point that is so big, it changes the feel of the entire book. For instance, one book I read was a pretty fun ride until the last third, when the writer decided to kill off a teenage girl in a casual manner and then have the protagonist make internal jokes at her funeral. This might have worked had the protagonist been a psychopath but not in women’s fiction. Before that point, I’d been working on a fairly positive review for the book. Instead, I opted not to review it at all.

A few months ago, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies came out with a lot of fanfare, and the reviews were positive. I was intrigued by the idea of a book about marriage written first from the husband’s point of view, then from the wife’s, that didn’t include anyone faking their own death. It sounded good, and I put it on hold at my local library. (Can I just do a quick shout out here for the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative and the amazing job they do getting the latest books and circulating them around the system? And, just, libraries in general. What an amazing concept. Thank you, Ben Franklin, and thank you PPLC.)

Then I read this review over the weekend in the New Yorker. Turns out that Fates and Furies is not the book I thought it was. Not that Groff really needs to worry about losing one potential reader, but I’m taking the book off my list.

As a reader, I’m grateful for the time saved. As a writer, I’m torn. I believe readers should know exactly what type of ride they’ve signed up for when downloading, borrowing or buying a book – especially for someone who’s shelling out nearly $30 for a hard cover. (Which I don’t often do, but am planning for the new Stephen King. But as a writer, I’m perturbed that the reviewer wasn’t more indirect about the book’s second half. Don’t readers deserve a chance to decide for themselves whether these plot twists work? Shouldn’t a review that gives readers the book’s concept, characters, tone, and first plot point or two be enough?

This reviewer seemed to write his piece as a warning: The book doesn’t deserve the positive press it’s gotten so far. And I appreciate that he saved me the time of reading a book that would disappoint me, not to mention an extra trip to the library. But this was the New Yorker, friends. I imagine it devastated Groff.