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In the Bag by Emery Harper

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In the Bag by Emery Harper In the Bag by Emery Harper
Series: Celeste Eagan Mysteries #2
Published by Carina Press on January 30, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary Mystery
Pages: 242
Format: eARC
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Life as the principal actress at the Peytonville Playhouse is all I ever thought it'd be—and more. I'm practically living the bohemian dream, until my BFF Levi finds a dead body on his property. And is swiftly arrested for murder.


Detective Shaw Muldoon is my almost-but-not-quite-there-yet beau. He knows me. He knows Levi. He knows neither of us is capable of something so heinous. And he knows that despite his strict orders to leave the case with the professionals, I'll launch my own investigation to clear Levi's name.


One more gruesome murder: check.

A dubious bakery owner who's taken a fancy to me: check.

This season's "it" handbag practically falling into my lap: check.

Levi's up the creek if I don't uncover the truth…but my investigation has put me firmly in the murderer's sights.

Life in danger: check.

I didn’t read the first in the series, but I picked up In the Bag based on the blurb. I like mysteries and this one sounded fun. I chose well.

The cast of characters is great. Celeste is the lead and is a blast. she’s funny, caring, has a tendency to get herself into potential danger, but who can blame her? Her best friend’s the main suspect in a murder investigation. Speaking of Levi, I like him. He’s got his own troubles, but still has time to give out advice, for better or worse. Celeste’s dad’s in town and adds to the confusion. There’s also a bookie whose interest in Celeste is obvious, and a little creepy.

The plotline was good. There are enough suspects, but not too many. The clues tie together pretty well. For me though, the enjoyment was in the characters and the situations they get themselves into, no necessarily the whodunnit.

I was not a big fan of Celeste’s “relationship” with Muldoon. Yeah, he’s a busy detective and he’s got some issues, but I don’t know. He gives her just enough to keep her holding on, but not enough for it to actually go anywhere. Hopefully, that situation will get a little resolution next time around, but otherwise she should just dump him. Of course, seeing how much often she seem to “visit” the police station, maybe she doesn’t want to end up on his bad side. Especially with how little credit being on his good side seems to get her.

Overall, a fun, light read – a good mystery with quirky characters and a touch of romance.

About Emery Harper

Born in Alaska, relocated, reared and still residing in North Texas, Emery started writing at a very young age—pretty much before she knew what writing was. She’s always had stories running around in her brain—doesn’t everyone?!? She penned several short stories, poems and one attempt at a novel when she was still a teen, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant with #4 boy-child that she seriously developed her manuscript chops.

A little murder, mayhem and maybe a twist and turn keep her plenty occupied in her make-believe worlds, though she is often grounded quickly from any one of the four boy-childs who live in her casa along with the man-child who’s been her personal hero for over twenty years.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway)

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Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway) A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mysteries #2
Published by the author on January 30, 2017
Genres: Mystery
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After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

An Author By Any Other Name ….
By Lauren Carr (aka Jack’s wife, Tristan’s Mom, Marilyn Mayhem, and Beast Master)

Occasionally, I receive an email from an author terrified of using Facebook, the Internet, or any social media for fear of friends and relatives identifying them. Once, I received an email from an author afraid to promote his upcoming book. “I have relatives out there who I don’t want to find me,” he said.

I’m certain there’s a great story behind this, but he refused to tell me.

I was surprised when I first started conducting workshops in using social media to discover that many writers are terrified of promoting their books online for fear of their friends and family finding out that they’re published authors. So, I offer this solution: Use a Pen Name!

Read on to learn about my not-so-secret identity.

My husband has been the financial director at our church for over twenty years. Yep, this mystery writer, who spends her days researching how to kill people is a middle-aged church lady. Since I am somewhat a local celebrity, our church’s gift shop carries my books. While we don’t endorse murder, my mysteries are clean of profanity, graphic violence, and explicit sex. Therefore, our senior pastor (a fan) allows my titles to be sold in our bookstore.

One afternoon, I was coming down the hall outside my husband’s office when I heard our office manager telling a woman, “You really should ask Lauren Carr about that. She might be able to help you.”

“Lauren Carr?” the woman replied. “Do you have her number?”

“Of course,” Jill answered. “She’s Jack’s wife.”

Hearing my name, I stepped into the office and a woman, a church member who I had known for years, turned around. When she saw me she said, “That’s not Lauren. That’s Marilyn.”

Laughing, Jill explained, “She’s all three of them. Lauren Carr is her pen name. She’s also Jack’s wife. He calls her Marilyn Mayhem. But her real name is Terri.”

The woman’s eyes got wide. “Jack is married to Lauren Carr!” Judging by her expression, you would have thought I was Nora Roberts (another author that uses a pen name) living undercover as a middle aged church lady called Marilyn by her close friends.

My true identity is not exactly a state secret. Yep, Lauren Carr, Jack’s wife Marilyn (which is another story), Tristan’s Mom, Beast Master to three dogs—they would all be me.

Pen names are nothing new. Authors have been using them for centuries. Some names are famous: Mark Twain was really Samuel Clemens and Dr. Seuss was Theodor Geisel. Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman. O. Henry was William Sydney Porter.

Why would an author change his or her name to hide his or her identity from the real world rather than step forth and take all the glory they deserve for having completed the daunting task of writing a book?

There could be any number of reasons:

In Mary Ann Evans’ case, she was writing at a time when books written by men were more successful than those written by female authors. So Evans assumed a man’s name (George Eliot) to relate better with her readers.

Likewise, award winning mystery author L.C. Hayden, says that when she first started writing by her real name of Elsie Hayden, she received rejection after rejection until she changed her name to L.C. to give publishers and readers the impression that she was a male writer.

Another author I had worked with used a pen name because his first book, fiction-based-on-fact, said some not so nice things about some real people and he wanted to hide his identity. During my career, I have met more than one writer considering the use of pen names for just this reason.

In the case of Stephen King (Yes, even Stephen King used a pen name!) he didn’t want to risk saturating the market with Stephen King books. At the beginning of Stephen King’s career, publishers limited authors to one book a year. In order to increase his publishing, he convinced his publisher, to print a series of novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman.

My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not quite so grand, or even interesting. Frankly, I don’t like the name Terri. I never did. That’s why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It’s a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

What a kick!

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister’s name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren, not Terri, would have naturally followed Karen. Don’t ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather’s last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

Is it fun? Sure is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn’t know Tristan’s mom and Jack’s wife wrote those murder mysteries. “She seems so normal!”

Other questions that writers considering using pen names ask me:

What about when customers write checks? Do you have to make them sign them under your real name? Check with your bank. When I first started making public appearances, I contacted my bank and explained the situation, which they thought was cool. This bank said they would accept checks made out to my pen name as long as I deposited the whole amount into my account, which is under my real name.

Yet, when we opened an account at a different bank, this one stated that they would not take a check made out to Lauren Carr because Lauren Carr is not a real person.

Post Office: Let the post office and your mail carrier know that mail addressed to your pen name is for you. Otherwise, it might be returned as wrong address.

Email Address: Very simple. Many people who don’t have multiple identities have more than one email address. I have one email that I use for my personal accounts, one for Lauren Carr for my writing business, and yet another for my social media accounts (which I rarely check). I get more emails to Lauren Carr than I do for my real identity.

I also have different signature lines set up in Outlook. If it has to do with writing, the signature line is from Lauren Carr, author. If it is a grocery list to my husband, it is Marilyn. Terri doesn’t have a signature line.

Social Media: For book promotion, I have a Lauren Carr account and a separate personal account for my personal life. Not too long ago, a friend said that she had to friend Lauren Carr because I never used my personal account.

However, I don’t put truly personal information out there on the social media. The foremost reason I use it for promotion. Therefore, never—I repeat—never put anything personal out there on the Internet that will reflect poorly on your public image. Example: You have a fight with your husband—don’t go onto Facebook to announce that you married a doofus and then provide a blow-by-blow account of your side of the fight. That’s not going to sell books and will alienate some of your readers. Constantly think about your public image and how you want to present yourself. Don’t upload that video of you wearing the beer hat and dancing naked on the kitchen table while singing “I’m a Little Tea Cup.”

Security is a big thing that most authors are concerned about in using social media. We have all heard stories about maniacs hunting down people who they have been following on the Internet. A few years ago, I received a phone call at home from someone who had found my mailing address on the internet. He knew he lived in the same town where I lived and GoogleMapped it. He claimed he lived only a few streets from me. After a few long emails from him and phone conversations, I went on the Internet and removed my address from everywhere I could find it.

Make an effort to not give away too much about your personal life even if you use a pen name to hide from long lost relatives. I don’t post pictures of my house. I refrain from posting pictures of my son and my husband. Not too long ago a reader who realized she lived in the same town I did posted questions on my timeline on Facebook trying to find out where I lived and if we knew the same people. At one point, when she had put it together, instead of sending me a message off-line, she posted on Facebook “Are you …” I refused to say yeah or nay. If she had sent a message off-line instead of my timeline where everyone could read it, I would have answered her.

What’s the point, or the fun, of having a pen name if you don’t get to live behind a veil of mystery? As an author, with a pen name, you can be whoever you want to be.

Are you a middle-aged church lady on the outside with a young adult cozy writer buried deep inside you? Or maybe you’re a shy kindergarten teacher harboring a thrilling romantic suspense author behind those reading glasses.

Then maybe you might want to unleash your alter-ego and give her a name.

It’ll be fun!

Enter the Giveaway!!

Ends April 22

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri

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The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Series: Commissario Montalbano #8
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on March 1, 2010 (first published 2004)
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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Winning fans in Europe and America for their dark sophistication and dry humor, Andrea Camilleri's crime novels are classics of the genre. Set once again in Sicily, The Patience of the Spider pits Inspector Montalbano against his greatest foe yet: the weight of his own years. Still recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered in Rounding the Mark, he must overcome self-imposed seclusion and waxing self-doubt to penetrate a web of hatred and secrets in pursuit of the strangest culprit he's ever hunted.

The kidnapping of a beautiful young university student, Susanna Mistretta, rocks the community of Vigàta. Distrusting of his colleagues' ability to solve the case, Montalbano jumps in, his accute senses picking up on the subtleties that will leading his investigation on a winding trail of provincial politics, odious journalists, and delicious Italian food.

This is the second Montalbano mystery I’ve listened to in a row. To some extent, I could just copy the review from the last, Game of Mirrors; Montalbano and his circle just don’t change that much from book to book. For the most part, it’s only the plots that vary. But they’re easy, enjoyable listens, and usually available from the library, so I keep coming back to them.

This time, it’s a kidnapping, but the family clearly does not have enough money to pay a ransom, so who could possibly have kidnapped Susanna? An outsider who doesn’t know the family’s financial standing, or was she kidnapped for some other reason? The girl has a worried boyfriend and a father who would do anything to have her back. Her mother is on her deathbed and her uncle is doing all he can to help the family. I guessed most of the answer early on, although one piece took me longer.

Overall, it’s a good story. Camilleri really gives a feeling of the place and especially the people of both Sicily in general and Montalbano’s acquaintances. We do see a lot of his girlfriend this time around, and I’m not much of a fan of hers. There were several funny spots though and I found myself walking around the house repeating some of the Italian names and foods, one of the dangers of listening to a book like this on audio.

About Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri (born September 6, 1925 in Porto Empedocle) is an Italian writer. He is considered one of the greatest Italian writers of both 20th and 21st centuries. Camilleri lives in Rome where he works as a TV and theatre director. About 10 million copies of his novels have been sold to date, and are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and North America.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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