Saturday, December 24, 2011


You may be wondering what I mean by the title.  Good question.  Since August, I have come across 5 new authors by randomly dropping in on bookstores.  I have read books for all 5 of these authors and have already blogged about 4 of them - A.R. Silverberry, Jasmine Haynes, Adina Senft, and Hannah Jayne.  Tonight I am blogging about the 5th (and final, for now) author - Juliet Blackwell.  This is good timing because starting next Tuesday, and going into January, I have a number of my longstanding favorite authors coming out with their latest books:

12/27 - W.E.B. Griffin - Presidential Agent series
             Dean Koontz
1/3     -  Tom Rob Smith - book 3
             James Grippando

And those are just the ones I know about!  On top of that, I got 3 ARC's (Advanced Reader Copies) from Lindsay Wood, a Penguin Books rep, at the "M" event.  On her name tag, she said "Are you a blogger?"  Of course I said I am.  She gave me books that are going to be published in March (1) and May (2).  I'm already reading the March book - Helsinki White by James Thompson.  The life of an avid reader who also happens to blog is never boring.

Here's something you haven't heard from me before.  Juliet's book is in a genre that I would never have read if I hadn't come across her in a bookstore (oh, wait, you've been hearing that from me since August!).  It's about Melanie (Mel) Turner who runs a construction company in the San Francisco Bay Area (SF is for the benefit of you readers who are not in Northern California - all of us natives just call it the Bay Area - like highway 880 will always be highway 17).  Mel is only managing the company because her father fell apart a year or two earlier when his wife died.  So now it's on Mel to run the show.  Their specialty is old Victorians.  And as you might not be shocked to learn, there are ghosts to be dealt with.

I know this is beginning to sound like a broken record, but I liked this book a lot.  Mel is a great protagonist, and the supplemental characters - her dad, her rockstar client, her ex-boyfriend, and a ghost, among others - had substance.  There was murder, danger, excitement, and, one of my favorites, humor.

But here's the really cool part.  I'm an East Bay guy.  I have lived in the Bay Area (notice I didn't say SF Bay Area) all of my life.  And Juliet refers to a bunch of areas that I know really well.  For example:

1.  Mel lives with her dad on Fruitvale Avernue in Oakland.  I lived not far from the other end of Fruitvale Avenue.  And, in fact, I worked for a burger joint (Doggie Diner) very close to where Mel lives.
2.  She refers to the old Oakland Army Base being closed.  When I was in the Army Reserve in the late '60's/early '70's (I was #152 in the draft and might have gone to Viet Nam if I hadn't joined the Reserves), I was stationed at the Oakland Army Base.  I had to be there one weekend every month for almost 6 years.
3.  Mel drives through the Caldecott Tunnel, which takes you from Oakland to Lafayette/Orinda/Walnut Creek/Concord/Pleasant Hill.  I lived about 2 miles from that tunnel.
4.  Mel has lunch at Absinthe in San Francisco.  Joni and I have eaten at Absinthe.  Also, Juliet refers to the executive chef at Absinthe competing on Top Chef, the Bravo TV reality chef.  We love Top Chef and clearly remember that particular season.

If Walls Could Talk is book 1 of the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery.  Book 2, Dead Bolt, is already available, and I intend to read it.  She also has written another series, The Witchcraft Mystery series, which has 3 books.  Once again, I can say to an author - "Nicely done."

Contest Winner:  Jen wins Hannah Jayne's book, Under Attack, which is book 2 in the Underworld Detection Agency series.  Thank you all for your entries.

Coming Attractions:  Next week I will be listing all the books that I've read this year with a rating (1-4 stars).  It's 70 books so I will probably divide the list into 2 blog posts.  I will be starting at 4 stars and go down from there.

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