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Showing posts tagged: Kristen Houghton click to see more stuff tagged with Kristen Houghton
Tue
Oct 25 2016 11:00am

Review: Night Watch by Iris & Roy Johansen

Night Watch by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen (Kendra Michaels Series #4)Night Watch by Iris and Roy Johansen is book #4 in the Kendra Michaels series (Available October 25, 2016).

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen are a mother-and-son duo who created the character of Kendra Michaels, a hired gun for both the CIA and FBI, and Night Watch is the latest in the popular series. The premise of the series—a blind woman has her sight restored by a researcher working for an organization called the Night Watch Project, thus giving her a new life—is intriguing and exciting.

Kendra Michaels is a person whose senses are keen and on-target. Having been sightless for twenty years, her other senses—hearing, smell, taste, touch—are, in a sense, super-charged. Combine that with the new gift of sight she receives, and you have an investigator with a powerful edge.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Night Watch...]

Fri
Oct 21 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: What Are You Going to Be for Halloween?

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear GWTDT,

With a Halloween party just around the corner, I am torn about what to wear. What fairy-tale figure should I be for that one night? Do I go sweet and angelic like the older versions of Disney characters, or do I opt for something more in the vein of tough and can-take-care-of-myself modern mode?

My boyfriend wants me to be either Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but I have no idea why he chose those two. I’d like to be either Elsa from Frozen or Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. Please help me decide what to do. I value your advice; what would you be for Halloween?

Not Sugar Sweet

[Read Lisbeth Salander’s advice!]

Mon
Oct 17 2016 1:00pm

Rosemary’s Baby: A Halloween Page to Screen Classic!

Ah, to be young and newly married and looking for that perfect first place to live! Such much fun, so many concerns—some of which are will we get the apartment we really want and will we get along with our new neighbors?

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are an ordinary young couple who believe they’ve found their dream place at a gothic looking, pre-war building called The Bramford. It’s large and surprisingly inexpensive. Despite being warned that The Bramford has a disturbing history involving witchcraft and murder, they choose to overlook this and settle into their nice, large apartment. Hey, you can’t really blame them; cheap, expansive pre-war NYC apartments are hard to find!

Getting along with the neighbors doesn’t seem to be a problem either, since Minnie and Roman Castevet, an eccentric elderly couple in the nearby apartment, seems to take an interest in the young pair. 

[A creepy, Satanic interest...]

Thu
Oct 6 2016 1:30pm

Review: All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris is the 9th book in the Aurora Teagarden series (Available October 4, 2016).

New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris gives her fans what they’ve been clamoring for—a return to the fun and excitement of the Aurora Teagarden series.

In the small Georgia town where a pregnant and happy Aurora Teagarden lives, four teens suddenly vanish from the school soccer field one afternoon. One of them is Aurora’s fifteen-year-old brother Phillip, who goes missing along with two of his friends. The fourth missing child, who was with them at the field, is an eleven-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. 

But that’s not all; an even worse discovery is made at the children’s last known destination. A dead body—another girl named Tammy, who was the girlfriend of one of the missing boys—has been found there.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of All the Little Liars...]

Thu
Sep 15 2016 4:30pm

The New Orleans Setting for Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners

New Orleans is a city that is rich in music, cuisine, and Mardi Gras mania. Its summers are known for their stifling heat and humidity; at one time it was notorious for the outbreaks of Yellow Fever during those steaming summers. Add to all this the fact that New Orleans has an air of mystery from the mingling of religious beliefs and superstitions strongly influenced by Catholicism, Spiritualism, and Voodoo and you have the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

New Orleans was my only choice for Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners, Book 3 in the Cate Harlow Private Investigation series. It begins, as all good murder mysteries do, with a bloody murder. 

[New Orleans and murder? I'm sold...]

Thu
Sep 15 2016 1:30pm

Review: Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton

Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton is the 27th book in the Agatha Raisin series (Available September 20, 2016).

There's a newcomer in the town of Carsely in the Cotswolds, and he's a retired New Scotland Yard Detective. What’s a private detective supposed to do when she feels her territory is being threatened?

Agatha Raisin, private detective, resident in the Cotswold village of Carsely, should have been a contented and happy woman. Business at her agency was brisk. It was a rare fine English autumn. But the serpent of jealousy was hissing in her ear. Agatha had been jealous of women before but never in one hundred years had she expected to be jealous of her best friend, Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife.

There was a newcomer in the village, Gerald Devere, a retired New Scotland Yard detective and, of all people, Mrs. Bloxby appeared smitten. She had dyed her hair a rich brown and had taken to wearing attractive clothes instead of her usual old droopy ones.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Pushing Up Daisies...]

Fri
Sep 9 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Paging Dr. Perv

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear GWTDT,

I need advice desperately. I am a 19-year-old woman who sees a psychologist. I have to see him because I tend to cut myself when under stress. He came highly recommended by my family doctor. 

My therapist, who is 57, has been giving me obvious sexually abusive hints throughout the course of my therapy sessions. Things begin to escalate as we spend more time together. He is neither married nor does he have any children. He is creepy looking. My friends have even noticed how withdrawn I am becoming. He is a school counselor, and I shudder to think of any girl having to go through the same thing as I am.

When I’m in his office, he always asks me about sex—and not just regular sex, but truly kinky, weird stuff that involves pain. He says that’s normal for me because I seem to like pain, since I cut myself. Nothing has happened yet, but I’m afraid of him, and I know that if I say something to anyone, he will tell people that I’m lying and crazy. Please help.

—Cari the Cutter

[Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Thu
Sep 1 2016 3:30pm

Why We Love The Fall...and Gillian Anderson’s British Accent

Americans love the show The Fall. Part of that (besides the incredibly good acting by an ensemble cast and great writing) may be having America’s own, Gillian Anderson starring as the protagonist.

In the first season of The Fall—a British series that was a huge critical and commercial hit there and is now available in the U.S.—a string of unsolved murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland brings in Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson from London. Cool, by-the-book sharp, intelligent, and cold as an ice princess, Gibson represents what the folks in Belfast don't like about Londoners.

[Read more about The Fall...]

Tue
Aug 16 2016 12:00pm

Review: Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose

Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose is the 2nd Dixie Dew Beth McKenzie Mystery (Available August 23, 2016).

Wedding Bell Blues begins with a paragraph that is guaranteed to grab the attention of any cozy mystery book lover.

When I heard Crazy Reba’s voice on the phone I knew immediately something was wrong. Really wrong. My first thought was where in the world did Reba get a cell phone? The homeless and street sleepers like Reba weren’t exactly flush extra cash (if any) every month. Maybe somebody had given her one of those phones where you buy the minutes upfront. A phone for her own protection. Some kind person, the thought of which made me feel bad since I had not been the one to think about it. Any other place I might have thought about a cell phone for safety. Protection for all kinds of things. But Littleboro? Not my Littleboro. Except these days it wasn’t safe to be alone and on the loose…even in Littleboro. 

Beth McKenzie, owner of The Dixie Dew, a former old Southern mansion she turned into a bed and breakfast, and the protagonist in Wedding Bell Blues, will gladly tell you that her town of Littleboro has its share of kooky characters. There’s Verna, the town know-it-all and affectionate owner of Robert Redford, a huge white rabbit, and Crazy Reba, who lives wherever the spirit takes her, bathes in any bathtub she finds empty, and is an expert at dumpster diving. Kooky, yes, but they’re part of Littleboro, and she cares for them. 

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Wedding Bell Blues...]

Fri
Aug 12 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Help! I’m Bullied at School

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear Ms. Salander,

I am dreading the end of summer. I am in high school, and I seem to be the target of a group of girls I call the Mean Teens. They’re pretty, popular, come from wealthy families, and they pick on me every chance they get. They call me names, trip me in the halls, and steal things from my locker. I’m terrified to go to the girls’ room because they said they would rearrange my face if they caught me alone in there.

Last year, the leader Crystal locked me inside my gym locker after 3:00 pm. I had to wait until the night staff came on at 5:30, and then I screamed until a night custodian came to help me.

I feel like running away from home so I don’t have to face those girls again. My mom has called the school, but they either don’t care or they can’t do anything legally because it is my word against the Mean Teens. Can you help me?

—Bullied in Bernardsville

[Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice...]

Thu
Aug 4 2016 3:00pm

Review: A Grave Prediction by Victoria Laurie

A Grave Prediction by Victoria Laurie is the 14th book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, filled with humor, threatening situations, and the spot-on sixth sense of a crime-solving psychic.

Bestselling author Victoria Laurie begins her latest book by loaning out her protagonist, Abby Cooper, a cold case consultant for the Austin, Texas division of the FBI, to the Los Angeles division. There, she is greeted by hardnosed detectives that are highly skeptical of what they refer to as her “so-called abilities.” But, her abilities are real and on-target—as she proves to Special Agent Hart during an elevator ride where she details certain personal info about the agent that she has no way of knowing except psychically.

Still, Abby has her own concerns about her predictions, as evidenced in her thoughts about the future.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of A Grave Prediction...]

Thu
Jul 21 2016 12:00pm

Why We Are Fascinated with Hell, the Devil, and Monsters

Teddy Jameson awakens nude and confused in what appears to be a tropical paradise. His guide looks like Brad Pitt and the grounds look like a Sandals Resort. Nice, right? The only problem is that his guide has greeted him with these solemn words, “Mr. Theodore Carter Hugh Jameson, may I be the first to welcome you to Hell.” Hell?

That Hell seems to be an upscale and very expensive Caribbean resort and the man his guide introduces as the Devil appears to be a genial blonde-haired host in white shorts, polo shirt and sneakers with a passion for tennis, certainly adds to Teddy's confusion. Where's the fire and brimstone? Where are the horns and long pointed tail usually associated with the Devil? If this is Hell, it has certainly had a makeover.

That’s the beginning of my novella Welcome to Hell. I was intrigued by creating a story featuring a dapper, modern Devil living in a beautiful resort that just happens to be Hell.

Hell and the Devil—writers are fascinated by the topic. From past classics such as Dante’s Inferno and John Milton’s Paradise Lost to best-selling modern books like Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin and The Omen by David Seltzer, the idea of this place and this person actually existing seems to have been fodder for many writers. Even the charming retelling of the Faust legend in the brilliant comedy Damn Yankees by Douglass Wallop is about “you-know-who from you-know-where.”

See also: Top 5 Movie Devils

[Welcome to Hell...]

Mon
Jul 18 2016 5:00pm

Review: The Baker Street Jurors by Michael Robertson

The Baker Street Jurors by Michael Robertson is the 5th book in the Baker Street Letters series (Available July 19, 2016).

221B Baker Street in England, the former abode of the fictitious Sherlock Holmes, now houses the legal offices for the Heath brothers—Reggie, a barrister; and Nigel, a solicitor. Letters for Mr. Holmes arrive daily from the worldwide fans of the detective who want to believe that not only does Holmes truly exist, but that he is still ensconced in his Baker Street digs, with the faithful Dr. Watson by his side.

The letters, it seems, must be answered. A stipulation in the Heath brothers lease on the Baker Street property is that someone in the office must answer all missives addressed to Mr. Holmes. Usually, a form letter stating that Sherlock Holmes is “retired and keeping bees in Sussex” is sufficient for the true believers who want to know that Holmes is doing well. However, what does one do about a letter that is an official crown summons for jury duty?

Sherlock Holmes, yes the famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street, has been issued a summons to appear for jury duty. All well and good except the summons has been issued in the 21st century, when it can rightly be assumed the fictitious Mr. Holmes as well as his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have long been gone.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of The Baker Street Jurors...]

Fri
Jul 15 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Need to Find a Long-Lost Relative

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

Recently, I found out that someone whom I had believed to have died, my uncle, is more than likely still alive. The story I had always heard was that he left home at sixteen, joined the Navy, and was never heard from again.

That story is a lie.

I have very good reason to believe that he is still alive and that he left home because he thought he had killed someone. He was always in trouble with the cops. One night, he held up a liquor store and shot the night clerk. He ran scared because he thought he thought the clerk had been killed. However, the man survived and is still living in this area.

That was over 20 years ago. He is my uncle and I would like to contact him. How do I go about finding a good PI to help me with this venture? I have no idea of costs or even who I would contact. Should I try to find him on my own?

Lost Boy

[Read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Fri
Jun 24 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: I Want Revenge

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,

As I write this to you, I am contemplating ending it all. Okay, I’m drunk, but that’s how I feel. The man I was with for over two years dumped me for a blonde bimbo-type. He’s been buying her gifts and taking her on trips with the money from our joint savings account, all of which was put there by me. He has no job.  

I did everything for this guy: cooked his favorite dinners, paid all the bills, and bought him an expensive motorcycle. Despite all this, he treated me like crap. This bimbo does nothing for him and he treats her like a queen! I want to text him right now but, as I said, I am just a little fuzzy.

He told me when he left that he will come over in a couple of days to pick up his things and to get his share of the money left in our account. I feel that life isn’t worth living without him, but then, I also want revenge!

—Desperate Diana

[Read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Wed
Jun 22 2016 3:00pm

The Real Serial Killer Behind the Play Arsenic and Old Lace

Many fictional crime stories are based, in part, on real events, and so have a background of interesting characters. Arsenic and Old Lace is one of them. It was based on a serial killer named Amy Archer-Gilligan—who, law enforcement says, murdered between 20 and 100 people, including some of her husbands. The dark comedy had a sinister, real-life protagonist.

The play, Arsenic and Old Lace, created in 1939 by playwright Joseph Kesselring, featured the charming, ditsy characters of Abby and Martha Brewster—two spinster sisters who ran a boarding house for “lonely, elderly gentlemen.” They helped these lonely men to the “Peaceful Great Beyond” by poisoning them with glasses of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide. Darkly funny comedy, indeed, but the acts of the real person who inspired Kesselring were anything but funny.

[Read about the real killer below!]

Fri
Jun 10 2016 1:30pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Advice for a Girl with Daddy Issues

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,

You are my last hope. I guess you get mail like this all the time, but I’ve tried everything else—including writing to other advice columnists. They give sappy, cringe-worthy advice which I simply can’t take. I know that you, at least, will give it to me straight. Here’s the ugly deal:

My father was extremely abusive while I was growing up, and I haven’t spoken to or seen him in years. I recently heard from my aunt that the old man wants to see me. He’s even mentioned coming over to my house and taking me for a ride in his new car. 

My aunt thinks I should see him and tell him that I forgive him, even though I feel that the damage he did is too great to ever forgive. I have been having a lot of anxiety about the idea of talking to him. I am having flashbacks about the horror of what he did to me and to my mother, and I feel depressed about the whole thing. What should I do? 

—Fatherless Child

[Read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Thu
Jun 9 2016 4:00pm

YA Paranormal Mysteries: Q&A with Author D. L. Cocchio

Our literary tastes begin early in our reading life, and classic literature may be the catalyst. Somewhere within the pages of “having to read” certain books dictated by our teachers we begin to find topics that pique our own interests. Believe it or not, the characters in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream or Orwell’s Animal Farm can start a reader on the road to reading paranormal mysteries. The popularity of young-adult (YA) novels that delve into the paranormal is good evidence of this.

D.L. Cocchio is an author who excels at writing for the YA crowd, and the books in her The Psychic Circle series are YA paranormal with a nice mix of romance and elements of mystery. They follow the formula of mystery but, because they are written for younger audiences, sexual connotations are downplayed. Murder and violence are not part of the stories either, making them true cozy YA mysteries.

I met D. L. Cocchio at the NJ Book Fair for authors, where we were both signing copies of our books. Having read her work, I can say that she writes characters and stories that are very readable and relatable to the YA audience. I highly recommend them for those aged 11 to 18.

The following is an interview with her about her muse, her books, and what’s coming next.

[Read the full interview here...]

Fri
May 27 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Honest, Tough Advice from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.
 

Dear Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I am a big fan of yours and admire all that you do. I hope you can help me with my problem. It is an enormous one and I don’t know where to turn!

The issue has to do with my mother-in-law. Holidays are miserable with her, and I dread every single time I have to see her. She criticizes everything about me and my life. Now, my husband has told me that she will be coming on vacation with us in July. I was looking forward to going away for two weeks to a lake resort, and now those two weeks stand to be completely ruined! Add to that, I have just gotten my first tattoo—a fantastic ink of a Harley Davidson motorcycle with flames shooting off the sides of the bike. It is on my back and I love it! I have attached a picture of my tat for you to see.

Unfortunately, I know that I will have to hide it from her. My mother-in-law is a nasty type, thinks only sluts get tattoos, and will refer to me as the “Tattooed Lady” forever if she sees it. What can I do? Please help!” 

Tat Too

[Read Lisbeth Salander's advice!]

Thu
May 26 2016 4:00pm

Mood, Music, & Mysteries

Every mystery lover knows that the theme music for a TV series helps to sets the mood for the viewer. A solid theme song certainly plays an important role in the success of any series. The musical intro adds to the show, evoking a sense of expectation. The right music places you in the specific time and place where the characters “lives,” acting as a prologue to what is about to unfold. Its purpose is to establish the mood of the mystery. You want that music to make the show come alive!

Think of the music for the Mission: Impossible franchise. The original score, written by Lalo Schifrin for the 1960’s TV series, has a pulse raising, heart-beating anticipation. You hear it and you automatically think of intrigue and adventure. That signature musical theme has more than added to the success of the movies based on the series.

[Music and Mysteries go hand in hand...]