Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt @SusanBernhardt1 #CozyMystery, #GeneManipulation, #Suspense

The Plot:

On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner’s report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgement, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls.

With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.

About the Author:

Susan’s town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint setting of her Kay Driscoll novels. Like Kay Driscoll in her cozy mysteries, The Ginseng Conspiracy and Murder Under the Tree, Susan is a retired nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. She lives with her husband, William, and has two sons, Peter and David.

An avid reader of mysteries, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. and the Wisconsin Writers Association. Her published works include: A Manhattan Murder Mystery: An Irina Curtius Mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 1), Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 2), Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 3), “October 31st”, “Midsummer”, and “John and Madeline.”

When not writing, Susan loves to travel, bicycle, kayak, and create culinary magic in her kitchen. She works in stained-glass, daydreams in her organic garden, stays up late reading mysteries, and eats lots of chocolate.


I really wanted to enjoy The Ginseng Conspiracy, and for the most part, I did. However, it needed better editing. Maybe I missed something at the beginning, but there were times when I couldn’t figure out where characters came from or who lived where. One major example is Margaret. The book begins with Kay Driscoll going out walking with her two best friends. Elizabeth and Diedre. She describes them in detail, and says Diedre lives next door. When she gets home, Margaret calls and they agree to meet later at Sweet Marissa’s Patisseri. Who the heck is Margaret, and why is Kay meeting her? There’s no explanation.

Later, Ms. Driscoll says someone lives “two doors down from Elizabeth.” I’m not sure if she’d yet mentioned that Elizabeth was across the street from Kay, but I was totally confused about where this person lived. I may have been confusing Elizabeth’s house with Diedre’s, because people already lived two doors down from her, and I wondered how these characters could live in the same house. I don’t usually miss details like “Diedre lives next door, and Elizabeth’s across the street.” But at least if you’re going to start a book with a page or two of info dump describing your protagonist’s best friends, you could tell the reader where they both live instead of just one.

The mystery itself was pretty good. There were several people involved in the murder, and while I was able to identify a few obvious perps at the very beginning, a few remained mysteries to the end, and there were even a couple of good red-herrings. But with the confusion over people popping out of nowhere and characters all seeming to live in the same house, I found myself backtracking—so it wasn’t the page-burner I’d hoped. Therefore, I’m afraid I’m closing out Roses & Thorns with three roses for The Ginseng Conspiracy.

Warnings:  None
Length: 284 Pages
Print: $10.99
Digital: $3.95

You’ll notice we always include the publisher’s buy link. That’s because authors usually receive 40-50% of the net proceeds from the publisher. Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%. When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their cuts from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40-$2.99. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $1.70-$2.10.

Download the file from the publisher onto your computer as you would any other file. I’ve created a folder for books on my computer, with subfolders by source (Marketing for Romance Writers, Net Galley, Authors who find me on Kindle lists, etc.). That way, if there’s a glitch with your Kindle, the books are on your computer. Some publishers send books in all digital formats. If my Kindle breaks and my kids buy me a Nook, I won’t have to replace all of my books. If you have a Kindle and your hubby has a Nook, you won’t have to buy separate copies, so buying directly from the publisher can save you money.

Moving the file from your computer to your e-reader is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive. Plug the larger USB end of your e-reader charging chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from the folder into which you’ve downloaded the book to Documents/Books directory on your e-reader. You can move the file by highlighting it and dragging it to the documents directory in you Kindle you want to move it to. Or right click on it, and then left click copy or move. Or hit Control/C for copy, Control/X for cut, and Control/V for paste.

Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. To those of you who have been loyal readers, I’m sorry this is my last post. I simply can’t keep up with this blogsite and my own writing and promotion. Happy reading.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chase Me by Sharon Kleve @SharonKleve #CozyMystery #RomanticSuspense #Friendship

The Plot:

Sage McGuire had a great job she loved. All that changed in the blink of an eye when her long-time boss, Mr. Smithfield, had an accident involving an over-sized rubber band. When Mr. Smithfield’s semi-worthless son, Daniel, takes over Smithfield Laboratories Sage figures it’s time to turn her childhood dream of being a PI into reality.

After a night of unadulterated, mind-blowing sex Sage mistakes Sergeant Carter Morgan of the Portland Police Department for a serial killer and runs for the hills, but his sexy pinecone scent and black leather pants have her coming back for more.

Sage’s wild spirit, crazy red hair, and quirky sense of humor take Carter for the ride of his life and he’s more than willing to stick around and see what kind of trouble Sage can get herself into next.

About the Author:

Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

Sharon is a multi-published author of contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other’s arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is pick up a new book and sink into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.


Sage McGuire is good at her job. As the administrative assistant to Mr. Smithfield of Smithfield Laboratories, she pretty much runs the place. (Show me a boss who can cope without his admin, and I’ll try to wrest my first-born from her husband and give her to you.) It’s a good thing Sage is competent, because Daniel Smithfield, the boss’ son, clearly isn’t. Actually, I found some of his naiveté to be a bit of a stretch. While the scene in which Daniel goes dumpster-diving in search of his e-mail was funny, it was hard to believe anyone could grow up in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century and not know what e-mail is, or how to work a smart phone—no matter how short his dad kept the leash. I can certainly understand Sage wanting to work for herself instead of spoon-feeding an overgrown baby.

About Sage becoming a private investigator. It kind of doesn’t help that Sage is somewhat of a klutz. At least it doesn’t help her career. It makes the book hilarious, as she blunders her way into the life of a narcotics detective, and “helps” him solve a big case. Well, okay, she does play a fairly large role in solving the case, but she didn’t exactly plan to. If I say much more, I might spoil it for you. Just go get Chase Me. Take Daniel Smithfield’s helplessness with a grain of salt. (How does one get an MBA without understanding what e-mail is?) And just enjoy the exploits of Sage and her friends Bridget and Ophelia, not to mention the heat between Sage and Carter.

Length: 168 Pages
Print: $7.50
Digital: $1.99

Thanks for visiting.

Key Words:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Penhallow Train Incident by M S Spencer @msspencerauthor #Archaeology #CozyMystery #RomanticSuspense

The Plot:

In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a tug of war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.

About the Author:

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled on five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and “domestic engineer”—aka parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems—both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a Diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. She divides her time between Maine and Florida. All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.

Writing as M. S. Spencer, she has published eleven best-selling contemporary romantic suspense novels.


I love well-written murder mysteries, and I confess I’ve been a fan of Ms. Spencer for several years. Alex Trebeck has said many of the best Jeopardy contestants come from the D. C. area, and reading Ms. Spencer’s bio, I suspect she’d really kick… um…

About The Penhallow Train Incident. It’s a wonderful romp through Maine, Egypt, and the Sudan while Rachel and Griffin try to solve a murder, track a suspect, and even search for the tomb of the Queen of Sheba. There’s a wonderful cast of supporting characters including both natives of Maine and “outsiders”—people who can’t trace their ancestry back to the fur traders who settled Maine before the American Revolution. (Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but apparently they’re pretty insular up there.) Throw in a whopper of a surprise ending, and The Penhallow Train Incident is a perfect beach read. (I don’t know why they call them summer reads. Unless you’re reading War and Peace, a book isn’t likely to take the whole summer these days.) The Penhallow Train Incident is almost three-hundred pages, but it’s not a long read because once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down. So, I suggest carving out some time before you start reading. Stockpile food, tell the family they’re on their own, and lock the door.

Length:  266 Pages
Print:  $16.99
Digital:  $4.99

Thanks for visiting.