July 27, 2016

Rave Reviews for Murder on Moonshine Hill–5Stars!!


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Releases 8/23 but Pre-Order today on Amazon and B&N.


Murder on Moonshine Hill, the second amateur detective Jenna Scali murder mystery by Joan Curtis is another fantastic, fast paced mystery.  I love murder mysteries and this is one of the very best I’ve read. You won’t want to put it down.  Jenna finds herself at an Inn in the North Carolina Mountains.  Jenna’s relationship with an estranged childhood friend and the tangled web it weaves finds you not wanting to put the book down.  You won’t know “who did it” until you get to the end.  I got very involved in the characters, just like I did while reading the first Jenna Scali mystery, e-Murderer.  Jenna living in Athens with her two cats strikes a special relationship with her character for me.  I live in Atlanta, GA, have two cats, and am in Athens on a regular basis. If you haven’t read e-Murderer, don’t miss out.  It’s a must read too!

Reviewed by Karla MacKenna

Jenna receives an invitation to a wedding … the bride, Marcy, used to be her best friend, but that was 10 years ago.  There has been no other contact. Dragging her friend, Quentin, she bites the bullet and goes.  She’s still smarting from the way Marcy treated her and she thinks she will use this opportunity to find out why her friend turned against her.

Arriving at their destination, Marcy sees a lot of people from her past which stirs up a lot of memories both good and bad.  She did not expect to find a dead body.

The wedding is cancelled. But then the police arrest Marcy. Jenna does what Jenna does best … sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong, putting her life in danger.

Not overly suspenseful, but a really good mystery, it’s a fast easy read.  I read it in 2 sittings.  I love all the characters.  I have never seen so many dysfunctional people all in one place at one time.

There is Marcy who breaks down and tells Jenna how abusive her intended is, Tom.  There is Tom’s mother, who doesn’t seem to like Tom. There is cousin Clayton, who doesn’t seem to like Tom.  The ex-boyfriend makes an appearance and he doesn’t like Tom, either.

There is Jenna’s mother and aunt … both a little on the ditzy side.  Marcy’s mother and her husband and her father and his trophy wife add to the long list of suspects, especially as the trophy wife and intended groom were having an affair.

It’s a book also filled with humor … which appears sporadically throughout.  I found myself chuckling out loud.  This one just hit all the right buttons for me.

I do recommend that e-Murderer be read first.  There are several references to the events of the first book. I’m keeping fingers crossed that there will be further adventures for Jenna and her friends. She’s an intriguing character.

Many thanks to the author who provided a digital copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Reviewed by Linda Strong of Strong Book Reviews.

5 Stars

Once again I am glued to my couch by one of Joan C. Curtis’ enthralling mysteries; unable to put down Murder on Moonshine Hill. I so enjoyed the antics Jenna Scali got herself into within the pages of the first book in the series, e-Murderer, I was intrigued to find out what trouble a friend’s wedding and murder would create for her. I didn’t want to stop reading.

The way Joan describes the characters, the scenery, and the entire setting, let alone the placement of twist and turns, clues, and potential suspects, is riveting. I tried to solve the mystery most of the way through, yet once again, she got the better of me with a surprise ending.

I have grown to really enjoy Jenna, her BFF Quentin, and her gentle copper crush, Rich, so much; I definitely would love to experience them again.

Reviewed by Bernadette Boas, Ball of Fire, Inc.

Murder on Moonshine Hill by Joan C. Curtis is an interesting story in the murder and mystery genres, featuring powerful characters and a gripping plot, a story of how far a girl will go to find justice for her best friend. Ata wedding, someone gets murdered and Jenna’s friend is arrested.

Jenna wants to learn the truth so she takes matters into her own hands. Her investigation will lead her to the real murderer, but does she have what it takes to face such an evil? There are very interesting things about this story, and I have to avoid the temptation of spoiling the fun for readers by revealing too much about the plot.

Murder on Moonshine Hill is a gripping, well-written story. I loved the prose and the engaging, plot-driven dialogue. Jenna is one of those protagonists readers want to follow in a series; well-developed with areas where readers want to be part of their progress. There is something very dangerous and attractive about her, her uncanny curiosity, and how it plays out in the entire story is fascinating. I loved the cast of characters, the conflict and how it creates a sense of suspense. The plot is fast paced, and readers can’t tell where Joan C. Curtis is leading them. I admire the author’s originality when it comes to plot and characterization, and won’t hesitate to recommend this one for any reader looking for something fun, surprisingly entertaining, and engaging. Joan C. Curtis is now one of those writers I will be watching closely.

Reviewed by Christian Sia Reader’s Favorite

Set against the idyllic mountains of North Carolina, Murder on Moonshine Hill is a powerful entry in the Jenna Scali Mystery series by Joan C. Curtis, a tale of murder and a woman’s courage to seek justice. Jenna expects anything unwelcoming the moment she chooses to attend her friend’s wedding, but when someone gets murdered at the wedding, one has to find out how it happened, why it happened, and who made it happen.

Jenna might have said it was just one of those bad days, but her friend is behind bars and the killer could be walking free. Find out what happens when she decides to discover the truth.

Very suspenseful and laced with mystery, Murder on Moonshine Hill is one of those books that will set readers’ hearts racing, with a carefully conceived and well-executed plot and a cast of dazzling characters. JoanC. Curtis is a genius when it comes to building conflict and she knows how to weave beautiful literary elements into a fast-paced plot – such as suspense, tight and engaging writing, a great sense of mystery, and characters that wholly grab the reader’s interest. The writing is focused and the author did a great job with point of view. One of the things that made me enjoy this book a lot is that the author limits herself to relevant pressing issues, so the reader doesn’t have to wade through a maze of things to get inside the story. The characters are irresistibly attractive and Jenna stands out as a strong and well-realized protagonist. Focused writing with compelling characters make Murder on protagonist. Focused writing with compelling characters make Murder on Moonshine Hill a great success in the murder and mystery genre.

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

Murder on Moonshine Hill: Jenna Scali Book 2 (A Jenna Scali Mystery) by Joan C. Curtis is a murder mystery that follows Jenna as she reluctantly attends an old friend’s wedding. Jenna and Marcy used to be best friends, but fell out after a tragic incident that affected them both. This left them unable to continue their friendship to the same degree, and then they drifted apart. There was some bad feeling between them that grew as the years passed … until Jenna receives an invitation to Marcy’s wedding. The invitation contains a cryptic message that results in Jenna feeling obliged to attend. When she arrives, she discovers an array of characters and relationships, and a mysterious death – or rather murder – leads toMarcy being the prime suspect and Jenna fearing for her own safety.

This is a classic whodunit. The characters are very well developed and the author, Joan Curtis, goes to great lengths to describe each person and their relationships with the ‘cast,’ whether by blood or more tenuous. The plot is intricate and there are motives galore which draw the reader in to try to solve the case. The setting is well described and believable and if there isn’t a Moonshine Inn in real life, perhaps there should be. The twist at the end is unexpected and the ending is satisfying and complete. The character of Jenna is likeable and well developed so that the reader empathizes with her as the protagonist. This well thought out mystery will keep the reader wondering to the very end.

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers’ Favorite

Pre-Order your own copy on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Why Aren’t You Visiting My Blog?

I share world-renowned blog posts. I write my own thoughts. And, I give tips from my experience as a writer. Things like HOW to show and not tell. Or, when to use a comma instead of a semi-colon. Or why some writers say blond and others say blonde. bigstockphoto_Unhappy_Pretty_Woman_3535183

Many of you like my posts on Facebook and on Twitter. A boatload of you retweet the posts and hit the little heart to show you like them. But no one is visiting me. I feel very alone.

So, you say, “I’m not a writer.” That’s okay because I create a number of posts for you. I’ve written reviews of the books I read so you can decide if that book is for you. I interview new and exciting authors. Don’t you love learning how they get their ideas and what it takes to actually write a book? Yeah, I know you do. I share information about the latest reading habits. For example I wrote a post on e-books versus paper books.

And yet, here I sit alone. Talking to myself.

Maybe even tell me what you’d like to see on my blog. I’m easy. I’ll do whatever you want!




Getting Reviews is Like Pulling Teeth

I do it because… well, why not? I enjoying having the opportunity to share my opinions about what I’ve read. Readers may or may not agree with me, but at least I’ve had my say.

business hand clicking customer reviews on virtual screen interface

Think back years ago when the only way we could share our opinions about books was through word of mouth. Now, we can give stars and speak our minds easily through the online outlets. Furthermore, we can read everyone else’s views. We can learn what people loved and what people found challenging in particular books. I use that information before I decide to purchase. Don’t you?

People who read my books come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed it. “I loved the characters,” or “I really liked the way you wove everything together,” or “I enjoyed the setting and how the place came alive.” All these are great comments and I appreciate them very much. But, then I say, “Why don’t you write a review on Amazon or Goodreads or B&N?” They invariably say, “Well, I’ve never done that.” Or, worse, “Geez, I don’t know what I’d say.” Who is grading their review? There are no English teachers with a red pencils looking over their shoulders. All they need to do is put on paper what they told me.

Even though I assure them that they don’t need to write very much, but just enough for readers to get an idea of their opinion of the book, they still don’t do it.

We writers know how important reviews are. They are our bread and butter.

It gives us impetus to keep on writing. Writing isn’t easy. It’s even harder when there’s so little opportunity for feedback.

So, please, if you are one of those people who read reviews but don’t write them (now I sound like Ira Glass on NPR), get over it.

GimmeThatBook says The Clock Strikes Midnight Grabs You and Pulls You in…

Kyle says…


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This book is truly Southern Gothic—family secrets, manipulation, drinking to ease the pain of loss, plus guilt all around. This is a plot I can sympathize with–trying to right a wrong in your life before you die, knowing that even if you do accomplish murder, you will also be getting away with it because you only have three months to live.

Stepfather Ralph is a truly odious character, and I cringed every time he was around. The “bad thing” that makes him a target for murder isn’t explained until the end, but I was rooting for him to lose based on how Curtis described him, with his onion breath and mean eyes.

Even though Janie has murderous intentions, she is a sympathetic character and devoted to her sister, as the reader will discover as more of the plot is revealed. Suspense is generated via the reader knowing the clock is ticking both literally and figuratively on Janie’s life. There are a few close calls, and a flashback that will seem a bit out of place at the time, but once you get closer to the end it will all make sense. I’ll admit I was hoping for a different kind of ending (no spoilers here!), but I was satisfied how things turned out.

There is also love, strength, honor, and friendship. Almost all of the female characters are strong ones, trying to remain in control of their lives despite the curves thrown their way. The main thrust here is justice, a departure from the usual fare of girls chasing men under the guise of romance and pillow talk. Descriptions of Atlanta make you feel as if you are experiencing the town for yourself, and I could easily picture the characters in my head.

THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT is a sleeper of a book; you turn the pages until you realized you’ve been hooked, quietly, and then you simply must see how things are going to turn out.

 Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Read all Kyle’s reviews at GimmeThatBook.

Join us for a Twitter Chat on April 14 at 9pm EDT to talk about The Clock Strikes Midnight.

5-Star Review on Amazon UK for The Clock Strikes Midnight

Clock Strikes Midnight blog tour button

This review was part of the Virtual Blog Tour:

The Clock Strikes Midnight is a well-written and fascinating story with plenty of twists and revelations that will have your mind wondering what’s next while questioning what has been revealed. Joan C. Curtis presents an entertaining and dramatic journey into the lives of two sisters with a tragic and complicated past that they wish they could forget but can’t move beyond.

Warning there are some sensitive topics that are discussed in the storyline involving things pertaining to sexual abuse, abortion, and post partum depression.

Janie has been diagnosed with Cancer and her doctor has given her 3 months to live. With the reality of death on the horizon Janie decides it’s time to deal with her past and put some things she’s been putting off in order. She has a list she needs to complete before her time runs out and that means she needs to go back home to Atlanta to face her demons, to face her stepfather Ralph who killed her mother. It’s been 20 years since she ran away from Atlanta leaving her past behind her but she has a plan. Once she’s back home she ‘s going to contact her sister Marlene and convince her estranged older sister that it’s in both their best interests if they work together. However, Janie’s plan doesn’t go as smooth as she thought it would. Marlene isn’t exactly in a good place. She’s harboring anger and bitterness over Janie disappearing on her 20 years ago, her marriage is in shambles and she’s turning into a depressive and angry alcoholic like their mother.

Most of the characters in the story aren’t exactly likeable nor are they perfect. They make mistakes and do some rather selfish things but it’s their raw and relatable imperfections that make them compelling and as a reader I couldn’t help but want to delve deeper into the psychology of each character and pick away at their misguided attempts. I was won over by Marlene and Janie’s determination and inner strength. The two are complex characters with layer upon layer of secrets and emotions that once pulled back reveal moments in their childhood that shaped them as adults. I don’t want to reveal too much of what happens so I don’t take away from the insights and nuances that build up the mysterious reasons behind Janie’s plans.

The storyline transitions between the past and the present and between different points of view from Janie’s perspective, to Marlene’s, to their mother Eloise who as a teenager went through something that would one day shape Marlene and Janie’s future. The transitioning was done smoothly and in a way that allowed the story to reveal itself in a gripping manner adding to the intensity of the plot. The book was suspenseful and dramatic with touches of loss, tragedy, adversity, love and family unity.

Copy provided for review.
Reviewed by Joy for Crystal’s Many Reviewers

How Much do Reviews Mean to Writers?

After just releasing my first mystery, The Clock Strikes Midnight, I’ve been struggling to get reviews posted. As a reader I depend on reviews (or word of mouth) to decide what to read. I listen to radio reviews of the top bestsellers, and I also read reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It helps me determine if a book is right for me. Not everyone likes what I like. That’s why I enjoy reading all the reviews. Then I often order a sample to taste the book before committing myself. My guess is many readers do the same thing.


C’mon write a review!!

The one difference between what I do as a reader and other readers do is I write reviews. After I finish a book, I go to Amazon and Goodreads and post my thoughts. I do this as a way to pay back all those reviewers who helped me decide what to do. I suppose I naively thought everyone did the same thing. I have many reader friends, avid readers like me. I assumed they did as I did. Read and reviewed books. I was mistaken. My friends, colleagues and connections read, but they don’t review. So many people have told me they have read The Clock Strikes Midnight, but they haven’t reviewed it. Why? “I’ve never done that before.” Okay, is that like listening to NPR and never giving. Ira Glass might say so.

What I hope this post will tell all those people who read but don’t review is we writers cherish each view. Here are my thoughts on what reviews mean to writers.

 We have no other way to hear from readers. Not being bestselling writers, we are not hearing from people through fan mail. We depend on those reviews to see if all our hard-earned efforts paid off.

I’ve learned that my readers like the depth of my characters. But, some have said the characters were not all likable. Granted some of the characters weren’t supposed to be likable. But, I wonder which characters were considered unlikable. I do hope my main characters were likable in the end. This is something I would never know were it not for the reviews.

 When you write a pithy sentence in your review, I cut and paste it for my Tweets. I also talk about my book in those terms. Amazon compiles what is said in reviews most often. I use those statements to help people understand what readers are saying about the book.

We don’t get paid very much (or anything at all). It’s through the reviews where we get our pats on the back. Recently one of my writer colleagues posted an amazing review in our Yahoo writers group. She did this to spread the word about her book, but also because she felt so rewarded by the review. We all loved reading it and getting vicarious thrills up our backs.

Indeed we know not everyone will love our work. That happens. I’ve written bad reviews of books, but I’m very careful. I want readers to know what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I don’t want to crush the writer’s spirit. If you write a bad review, think about that lonely writer sitting day and night at his/her computer. That writer has no one to share the work with. He or she must go it alone and hope others understand what prompted a decision to g
o one way or another. Be kind, but be truthful. There’s no need to crush a writer. Just share what you liked and what you didn’t like.

 Bad reviews aren’t all bad. If the reviewer is honest, the writer can learn from that review and grow. In the end, as a writer we must expect that not every reader is going to love our work. But if they respect our work, it’s worth it.

Keep it up and remember your review means a lot to the writers and keeps us motivated to keep writing.


What Qualifies as a Great Read?

bigstockphoto_Dog_Training_736793As a writer, I’m interested in hearing from readers. What qualifies as a great read. I recently listened to the NY Times book reviewers talking about their picks for the best reads of 2014. They mentioned books that were “surprising.” Something we don’t expect to find. They like books that are deep but also funny. They mentioned wanting to feel emotions while reading. One person talked about laughing  aloud as well as crying in the same story. Another talked about “cheeky” writing and reading excerpts from the book to her husband.
What qualifies a book as a great read. Here are some of my requirements:

 Clean tight sentences that do not stop me. If I read a sentence again, I do it because it was so beautifully constructed.

The villains aren’t all horrid and the heroes are not perfect. People have strengths and weaknesses and they act in a manner consistent with their foibles.

 I want to read more after that wonderful hook in the beginning. A couple of the NY Times reviewers mentioned the hooks in their choices for great reads.

I’ve recently read a couple of books that started out like gangbusters, but then fizzled in the end. Great reads cannot fizzle in the end. The ending must wrap up everything neatly and succinctly. Liane Moriarity is the master at this as is William Krueger. Donna Tart is not! Goldfinch felt as though it would never end. None of the NY Times reviewers listed Goldfinch among he great reads.

My best reads of 2014 were: 1) Ordinary Grace 2) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet 3) Provence 1970 4) The Husband’s Secret 5) Big Little Lies

These are a few of my thoughts on great reads. What are yours? How do you decide to become a “fan” of an author? What books might you include if you had to pick your best reads of 2014.



Looking for a New Series–Try Death Scene

Death Scene 200x300

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Some of my blog readers will recall I interviewed Sara Jayne a few months ago. You can read that interview here.

If you like a comfortable mystery that will not cause your heart to palpate too much but will keep you entertained, this is a book for you.

The author did a nice job of creating a believable and yet, not a perfect character. She was believable because she was not sticking her nose where it shouldn’t be until she was really provoked. There were several instances when I thought, she needs to (I won’t say what, in order not to spoil things), but she did not. And, she did not because most of us would not. Unlike some cozy mysteries with amateur sleuths who take risks we’d never take in real life., Shara was much more realistic. Nonetheless when she realized what was going on, she didn’t waste time or mince words.

The story begins when Shara is called back to England (her birth home) from Canada to help her mother attend to her sister who was suffering from a mysterious illness. In England Shara realizes how much she misses not only her family but also England. She also realizes that she has little that is holding her in Canada. As the book progresses, Shara uncovers the truth behind her sister’s illness while she  learns more about what is important to her.

 I felt the cold and wet English days. I also felt right at home with the love/hate relationship between the two sisters.

Fortunately for those of us looking for new writers and new series, the new Shara Summers mystery , Dead Cool, is available for pre-order.

Here’s a taste of Death Scene:

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

David Newman Reviews Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em

Hear what people are saying on Amazon about Hire Smart and Keep ’em

David Newman talks about Hire Smart and Keep em. In this video he says, “This is the only book that I’ve ever read that has a strategic focus and specific tactical scripts about what to say and what not to say.”