Book Review: The Accidental Art Thief, by Joan Schweighardt

TheAccidentalArtThief_medTitleThe Accidental Art Thief

Genre: General fiction/Literary

Author: Joan Schweighardt

Websitewww.joanschweighardt.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Find The Accidental Thief on Amazon 

Set in New Mexico, this is the story of 45-year old Kathryn (aka Zinc), a deeply sensitive yet socially awkward woman who’s lived all of her existence without making her own decisions, and whose life suddenly forces her to take charge, face her fears, and grow as a human being.

For the past 25 years Zinc has cared for an old art collector and lived in a casita under the protection of his estate. She writes poetry and her only possessions are her two dogs. Life is monotone and safe for Zinc, whose idyllic environment is perfect for hiding from the world. But things abruptly change when the old man suffers a tragic fall and dies. His nasty daughter Marge takes charge, and gives Zinc only two weeks to gather what little she has and find another place to live. Overnight, Zinc is forced to face her fears and the world she’s been hiding from for so many years—or tries to, anyway.

Her first decision—stealing one of the old man’s paintings—unravels a series of unusual events that forces Zinc to interact with other people—a clairvoyant, her auto-mechanic brother, and a poet whom she ends up meeting in Antigua and falling in love with, among others. She even gets a job at the Chamber of Commerce. But Zinc isn’t the only one struggling through life and facing her demons, and so do the other characters in the book. Eventually, Zinc must make things right and return the painting, but not before going through a series of unusual turns.

The Accidental Art Thief is a well-written literary novel with complex, skillfully developed characters—ordinary people moving through life like ghosts, it seems at times. Their emotions are what makes this novel compelling. Themes of love, friendship, self-growth, and emotional survival interlace in this sometimes darkly humorous story. Elements of magical realism further deepen the tale, adding a light touch of the paranormal to the plot. Fans of Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kid, and J.K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) will surely enjoy Schweighardt’s The Accidental Thief.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics. 

I was given a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Two Princes Book Blast

About The Book
Title:  Two Princes: The Biker and The Billionaire
Author: Victoria Danann
Series: Book 1 – Sons of Sanctuary MC
Publisher:  dba7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Publication Date: June 16, 2015

Format: eBook – 49 pages

ASIN: B00UY477QC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Preorder Book Buy Links:
 
Book Description:
 
Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she won a prize when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary MC.
 
Brigid Roan is a graduate student at the University of Texas. She had no trouble getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle was looking impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with family ties to The Sons of Sanctuary. What Brigid wanted was information to prove a proposition. The last thing she had in mind was falling for one of the members of the club. Especially since she was a feminist academic out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.
Brash Fornight was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him. After reading the article, Brash threw some stuff in a duffle and left his only home, a room at The Sons of Sanctuary clubhouse, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his truck at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find a mysterious guy walking around with his face.

Book Excerpt:

“Sir?” Brash Fornight gradually became aware that someone behind him in the grocery checkout line was trying to get his attention. “Sir?” He refocused and glanced behind him. The woman leaning on a cart overflowing with chip bags and cookie boxes nodded toward the cashier indicating that it was his turn to move forward. Brash looked her in the eye and had to give her props. Most people wouldn’t have the balls to try to herd a guy wearing Sons of Sanctuary MC leather.

The club employed a woman who cooked and did grocery shopping several times a week as part of her job description, but Brash didn’t like to explain his relentless craving for peanuts and he liked being teased about it even less. He didn’t know whether it was the Vitamin B or the fat or just because he liked the taste, but he couldn’t imagine going a day without them.

That’s how he came to be standing statue still In the grocery checkout line, being prompted by some woman with more nerve than sense. While he was waiting, his eyes drifted over the magazine display and settled on the cover of “NOW”, on the Most Eligible Bachelor edition no less. The debonair figure staring back was wearing Brash’s own face and body. He looked different with short hair and a four thousand dollar suit with the shirt fashionably open at the neckline, but the similarity was inescapable.

On impulse he grabbed the magazine and tossed it onto the conveyor belt with his week’s stash of peanuts.
He stuffed the bags into the saddlebags of his bike and roared toward home, nervously tapping his fingers on handlebars at red lights, riding on shoulders to keep from slowing down. He was anxious to get to the privacy of his own room and read about Branach St. Germaine.
Two beers, one jar of peanuts, and one “NOW” article later, Brash was sitting on the edge of his bed looking at the wall, seeing nothing but his own heavy thoughts. He pulled out his phone, looked up a website, and waited on hold for ten minutes to hear the time of the next flight from Austin to New York.
There was a flight to Newark in a little over three hours. He looked at his watch and calculated the time it would take to drive from Dripping Springs at that time of day. As he booked the flight, he stood up, walked to the small closet, grabbed a duffel bag, and began shoving stuff into it. Ten minutes later, he closed his door and locked it, threw the duffel over his shoulder, and headed straight for the office downstairs. He dropped the duffel on the hallway floor beside the closed door and knocked.

“Yeah?” Brash looked inside, glad that his dad was by himself, and stepped in. “What’s up?”

“I’m takin’ personal time, Pop. Gonna be gone for a couple of days.”

“What the hell is ‘personal time’?”

The gruffness made Brash smile. “It means I’m not gonna be here if you call and I’m not tellin’ you why.”

The Sons of Sanctuary President looked up at Brash, over the top of his readers, and narrowed his eyes. “You got a secret?”

“Everybody’s got secrets.”

Brandon Fornight studied his son for a minute. “True enough. Is it the kind of secret that could affect this club?”

Brash shook his head. “Don’t see how.”

“Well, then. See you… When did you say you’d be back?”

“I didn’t.”

“Bein’ purposefully vague, are you?”

Brash grinned. “That’s why they call it personal time. But I expect to be back Friday.”

“You gonna have your phone with you?” When Brash nodded, Bran looked back down at his ledger in a deliberately dismissive gesture. “Well, get outta here then.”

Brash parked his bike in the airplane hangar. The structure had already been on the property when the club had bought it and turned it into a compound twenty years earlier. They used part of it for vehicle maintenance and repair and part for parking.

Some of the guys who were working looked over and shot curious glances his way when Brash threw his duffel into his pickup and started it up, but it wasn’t their way to ask questions. The Sons figured that if somebody wanted you to know something, they’d tell you.

Brash took a cab to a midtown hotel, wondering all the way why human beings would choose to live in such a place. As he slid his credit card across the hotel counter to the agent on duty, he glanced at the name, Brandon Fornight. It seemed unlikely that it was a coincidence that that the mysterious look-alike’s first name began with the same four letters. He ordered room service and pulled out his laptop.

Getting intel on the guy didn’t take advanced ops. Within an hour Brash knew where Brannach St. Germaine worked, what kind of car he drove, what kind of women he dated, who his tailor was, and where he liked to dine. There was no shortage of photos online, but the one that grabbed his attention wasn’t one of the many with starlets or debutantes on his arm. It was the one taken with his arm around his mother as they were arriving together for some red carpet fundraiser. Brash had an almost irresistible compulsion to reach up and touch her face on the screen in front of him.

The knock on the door signaled that room service had arrived. It cost a fortune, but looked and tasted like shit. So he closed the computer and went out for a walk to clear his head and find something edible.
About The Author

Victoria Danann is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of The Knights of Black Swan, which has won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES TWO YEARS IN A ROW (2013, 2014). Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Victoria writes cross-genre with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. She is making her debut into contemporary romance with publication of the SUMMER FIRE ultimate romance collection anthology. It contains a novella intro to the Sons of Sanctuary MC series. The first full novel of the series will be released June 16, 2015.

Contact Victoria at:

Website: http://victoriadanann.me/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvictoriadanann

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vdanann

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vdanann

Character Interview: Crown Prince Ashamet from Terry jackman’s fantasy adventure: ‘Ashamet, Desert-Born’

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Prince Ashamet from Terry Jackman’s new fantasy adventure, ‘Ashamet, Desert-Born’.  The handsome prince is 30 this year, a soldier and heir to the throne of Kadduchan.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, your highness.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

That’s a good question. I’m sure some of my father’s courtiers would describe me very differently. But since their versions wouldn’t agree either I’ll be gracious, and allow that Terry probably got as close as a female could.

Ashamet-CoverDo you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

A female could hardly truly understand a warrior-type. It’s amusing how complex she’s tried to make me appear though. Everyone who really knows me will tell you I’m just a simple soldier. I leave the devious stuff to my father. And of course to my team of eyes and ears.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My sword arm? All right, if we’re to be serious I suppose Terry did get that part right; I am pretty stubborn. I don’t back down. Ever.

Worse trait?

Some would tell you it’s my sense of humour – only they don’t necessarily phrase it like that. But is it my fault the world around me is so often ridiculous? At least it spices up the boredom between battles.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

What the gods is a “movie”? Oh, a street performer? Any such who pretended to be me would quickly find themselves whipped raw, or in a dungeon while my father’s questioners enquired who had paid him to, and with what motives.

If I wanted an imposter though, a body double to allow me to sneak off unnoticed… there’s a commoner of yours called Alan Rickman who might do; he’s not unlike, and has a face that promises a wicked sense of humour.

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

Gods, no, I just like sex. Lots of. Well, maybe it’s not always entirely physical. I mean, I might get interested in someone because they’re… interesting, or a puzzle. But there’s definitely no sighing, or poetry or anything embarrassing like that. Definitely not.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

Hells, I spent most of the book nervous about one thing or another. That and cursing it. I didn’t mind the assassination attempts but the rest… I tell you, I don’t want anything to do with priests. Let alone magic. Give me problems I can throttle!

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

That has to be old Sil. Well, the look of him is enough to put you off your food, don’t you think? Of all the High Priests he’s always been the one I liked least. The other two have some redeeming features but Sil… that one’s all about number one. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

How do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away? 

I’ll tell you one thing: I was seriously worried there; I’ve never slept so badly. And I doubt I’m out of the storm even now.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it? 

Less magic would be nice, but alas Terry seems to like making my life complicated. But then she’s a writer and my spies say writers don’t always know what they’ll write next. In fact, according to her we write all this stuff. That’s obviously a lie. I mean, I’m certainly no writer, and how could I know what’s in my future?

Thank you for this interview, Prince Ashamet.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

As I said, ask Terry. Assuming she knows. Rumour is she’s been meeting up with some very different types recently but as usual she’s not talking to anyone about her writing. Just my luck my author turns out to be one of the shy ones. That’s one thing she didn’t get from me!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Ashamet, Desert-Born

Genre: Fantasy/adventure/romance/paranormal

Author: Terry Jackman

Website: www.terryjackman.co.uk

Publisher: www.dragonwellpublishing.com

Find out more on Amazon

A desert world. A warrior nation that worships its emperor as a god. But for Ashamet, its prince, a future filled with danger…

Ashamet is confident his swordsmanship, and his arranged marriage, will be enough to maintain the empire’s peace. But when a divine symbol magically appears on his arm, closely followed by an attempt on his life, he no longer knows who to trust. Worse, the strange attraction he feels toward a foreign slave could be another trap. As events unravel, too fast,Ashamet must find out if this innocent young male is a tool for his enemies–or the magic key to his survival.

“Ashamet, Desert-Born” is a debut adventure fantasy with an exotic Arabian-style setting and elements of same-sex romance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author pic 1

Terry Jackman was christened Teresa, and is married with kids. She’s not pretending to be a guy just for the book. It’s just that nobody, but nobody, calls her anything but Terry, so Terry is actually the most honest name to put on the cover.

To go with her two names she inhabits two worlds. In one she’s a mild-mannered lady who tutors children and lives in a pretty English village, called Lymm. [It’s not far from the Manchester United football ground. You can take a peek at it onwww.lymmvillage.co.uk/gallery If you look carefully at the picture of the old stone cross in the village centre you might see the ancient stocks below, where villagers would have thrown rotten eggs etc at local miscreants – but we don’t do that now, honest.]

In the other, she’s written articles and study guides, is secretly on the committee of the British Science Fiction Association, coordinates all their online writers’ groups, writes a regular page for Focus magazine and reads submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland. Oh, and has been known to do convention panels and some freelance editing.

When Ashamet goes public the two worlds will finally collide. She suspects there’ll be some raised eyebrows so she’s stocking up on fortifying tea and biscuits – and lots of chocolate!

Character Interview: Commander Truchaud from R.M. Cartmel’s mystery, The Charlemagne Connection

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Commander Truchaud from Dick Cartmel’s new mystery, The Charlemagne Connection. Commander Truchaud is a 45 year old police detective from Nuits-Saint-Georges, currently on leave there from his post in the National Police in Paris, the capital of France. It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Connect with the author on the web:

Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Amazon

RMCARTMEL_GARDENBB: Thank you so for this interview, Commander. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

CT: I think so yes. Certainly the narrative is an accurate description of what actually happened, and he has described the feel of the middle of high summer on the Côte.

BB: What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

CT: I am a very thoughtful policeman. I wouldn’t have reached the rank of Commander if I wasn’t. That’s similar to being a Captain over here.

BB: Worst trait? 

CT: People tell me I’m not really a people person. I don’t really know what they mean by that.

BB: If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)? 

CT: Of course I would say someone like George Clooney, but if you were then to ask me why, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea! If you want someone like me to play me who wasn’t me, I might say someone like Thierry Godard from the French Series Engrenages. But then I’m not really like Gilou at all. Maybe it should be someone like Clark Gregg who plays Agent Coulson in Agents of Shield or Ben Miller in Death in Paradise, are probably more like me, yes I think Ben Miller in that role.

BB: Do you have a love interest in the book? 

CT: Er, Yes I suppose I do. You’re not doing to discuss this with my superiors are you? I think my thoughts about one of the junior officers in the book are singularly inappropriate for a Commander.

BB: At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

CT: When the author described me looking at that officer’s knees. I was afraid he was going to go off at a tangent into some fantasy world of his own. We were at a potential crime scene, for heaven’s sake, and there was this author apparently concentrating on a police officer’s legs. I thought we ere going to have a fairly major row at that point.

Charlemagne_cover_webBB: If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

CT: Well fairly obviously the victim. Why? Because the victim won’t ever get to taste the wine that is being made during the course of the book, some of which I can assure you is exquisite.

BB: How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? 

CT: If I gave anything away, I have a sneaking feeling the author would be most upset, but what do I feel about it? Wistful, I suppose, would best describe it, but then we’re not talking about the solution of the book, we’re talking about the ending. What’s the difference? You’re going to have to read it and see.

BB: What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it? 

CT: Interesting way of putting it. I sincerely hope he does so, this is the second book of a trilogy, and it can’t be a trilogy unless there are three of them! The first book, {The Richebourg Affair} is set in the spring. This one is set in the high summer, and the third one that he tells me he is writing now is set during the vintage, where they harvest the grapes and make the wine. So what words of advice would I give him? Do the research and get it right.

BB: Thank you for this interview, Commander Truchaud. Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

CT: If you invite me, I will try my very best to get here, it’s been great fun.

Interview with Richard Michael Cartmel, author of THE CHARLEMAGNE CONNECTION

Originally posted on The Dark Phantom Review:

RMCARTMEL_GARDENBorn into a military family, R.M. Cartmel was educated at Sherborne School in the South West of England and at Oxford.  Cartmel served as a practicing doctor for over three and a half decades. As a novelist Cartmel combines two of his lifelong loves—writing and traveling throughout France’s exquisite Burgundy region.

Connect with the author on the web:

WebFacebook / Twitter / Blog

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Charlemagne Connection What was your inspiration for it?

A: It is the second book in a series of books set in the famous wine making part of France called Burgundy. Originally when I retired I was looking for a novel set there, and when I couldn’t find one I decided to write one. That was The Richebourg Affair, which was set in the spring in Burgundy. The second book, The Charlemagne Connection is set…

View original 561 more words

Character Interview: Dana McGarry from Lynn Steward’s literary fiction ‘April Snow’ – Book Two in the Dana McGarry Series

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have you here today Dana McGarry from Lynn Steward’s novel April Snow, Book Two in the Dana McGarry Series. Dana is a thirty year old teen accessories buyer at B. Altman department store, living in New York City, New York.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Dana.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yes, I was fairly portrayed. Lynn understood that I was stressed and conflicted about my desire to suddenly end my marriage last December when I discovered my husband’s affair, and she helped me work it out with a kind priest, who I met in London, and through dear friendships in New York. I have no regrets. We had many good years and fond memories, but Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00031]the marriage was beyond repair. Lynn has also experienced challenges at work and she understood how important it was for me to create The English Shop, in the vein of the new women’s department at Brooks Brothers. It’s very frustrating when senior management is set in their ways, not willing to think outside the box: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Lynn had the same problem, people underestimated her, so she did an excellent job painting the two sides of my personality: I am accommodating but at the same time ambitious and determined.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Fortitude and independence. 

Worse trait?

Too intense.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself)   Kristen Bell. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes. Mark Tepper, president of the Tepper Display Company.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I met my boyfriend’s spoiled college age daughter and she was cool to me. 

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

My boss, Helen Kavanagh, the divisional merchandise manager at B. Altman. She was an obstructionist in book one, A Very Good Life, and she’s obstinate in April Snow. She’s only in her late forties, but she’s inflexible and controlling. She resists my suggestions at every turn. I would not want to treat my staff that way and stifle their creativity.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I am convinced that the right choices were made.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I would like an exciting career in the fashion industry, more romance, and a handsome and charming soul-mate!

Thank you for this interview, Dana.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Yes you will! There are five volumes in the Dana McGarry series and the synopses for the remaining three are written. Lynn tells me that I will love the English influence and characters in the next book, so I’m looking forward to it! As you will learn if you read April Snow, I’m an Anglophile!

Title: April Snow

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Author: Lynn Steward

Website: www.LynnSteward.com

Publisher: Lynn Steward Publishing

Website/Amazon

At the cutting edge of women’s fashion in the 1970s, a visionary young woman subdues her desire for love to remake retail at New York’s most glamorous department store.

Newly single, Dana McGarry learns she must divorce herself from more than a bad marriage to succeed. Not only must she prove to family and friends that she can make it on her own, but she also must challenge an antagonistic boss who keeps standing in her way. Moving out of her comfort zone and into the arms of a dynamic businessman, Dana bets it all on a daring new move that will advance her buying career, But at what price?

Her dreams within reach, Dana’s world is shattered in a New York minute when a life is threatened, a secret is revealed, and her heart is broken.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn Steward photo in library

Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. April Snow is volume two in the Dana McGarry Series. A Very Good Life was published in March 2014.

Book Review: ‘Death Is Always a Resident,’ by Lorraine Jeffery

Death-is-Always-a-Resident-Ecover_9781462124763_FULL (1)Jan Myers is a widowed mom and director of the Forest Hills Skilled Nursing Facility in Ohio. One day she receives an unexpected visit from Detective Pollander from the Columbus Police Department, asking unsettling questions about a Mr. Packard Nickle, who used to be a resident but had suffered a heart attack and died recently.

Jan and the staff are disturbed by the detective’s visit, especially after he begins interrogating the nurses and aides.

Soon the reason for the detective’s visit becomes obvious: there’s been either negligence or murderous intent surrounding Mr. Nickel’s death, and the whole facility is put under the microscope, especially Jan, who’s the director. It turns out the victim was a very difficult and demanding man, and most nurses and residents would have cheerfully strangled him. Jan won’t be able to get any job in Ohio when he’s through. The list of suspects begins to pile up, and it’s up to Jan to investigate the case, especially now that she’s also a suspect…and someone wants her dead.

Death Is Always a Resident is a well written cozy mystery that kept me turning pages and wondering who the killer was until the end. Jan Myers is a likable protagonist, a kind, hard-working woman with problems of her own, with a high sense of justice and integrity. Her mother and her daughter are secondary characters that add flavor to the story.

The setting was very real to me, making me think that the author either did her research well or has experience with nursing facilities. This is the type of tale where the police stay sort of in the background while the civilian protagonist investigates on her own. The pacing felt right for this cozy–not too quick like a suspense thriller, yet not too slow to drag. There’s also a sprinkle of romance for good measure. In short, it is a nicely written, well-structured and plotted little mystery. I look forward to reading more books from this debut novelist!

Purchase from Amazon.

My review originally appeared on Blogcritics

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