Live and Let Read

Spy Novels Books Read

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I’m wrapping up the “February Is for Book Lovers” blog series with a sub-genre of Mystery Thrillers. So, order your martini – shaken not stirred– and join me in a good Spy Novel discussion.

Wait. This Was a Book Before It Was a Movie?

Goldfinger and many others by Ian Fleming

The Guns of Navarone by Alastair MacLean

Eye of The Needle by Ken Follett

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Super Badass Spies

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (Matt Damon aka Jason Bourne)

Killing Floor and series by Lee Child (Jack Reacher)

James Bond series by Ian Fleming (Because you can’t have a Super Badass Spy section without him)

Classic Spies

Yes. James Bond again. Seriously, I could do an entire post just about this character and his author

The Ministry of Fear and Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

The Day of the Jackal by Fredrick Forsyth

Other Impressive Super Spies

Hunt for Red October and series by Tom Clancy (Jack Ryan)

Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva

I hadn’t really explored this Book Genre until a few years ago. Please let me know if you have suggestions for Spy novels. I’d love to read more!

Covert Ops Links

Goodreads Spy Thriller List

15 Classic Spy Novels by Penguin Books

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

MURDER, She Read

Books, Reading, Mystery

© naffarts – stock.Adobe.Com

Footsteps echo against the crumbling walls of a deserted alley. Heart pounding, I take tentative steps into the suffocating passage. Then I see blood spreading across the cold stone before me. Sucking in deep gulps of frigid air, I’m pulled toward the lifeless mass. Dead fingers reach out into the dark unknown. What happened? I won’t stop reading until I find out.

I’m obsessed with murder mysteries. My book shelves are lined with dog eared copies of detective stories. This fascination doesn’t stop at the written word.  My Netflix, Amazon Prime, Britbox and AcornTV queues are filled with brilliant mystery series.

Why am I and others like me so enamored with this genre? Our brains love puzzles. We put on our deer stalker caps and pit our intelligence against the author’s seasoned detective. Sharing the main character’s anxiety to solve the case, we also compete with the clock.

Warning Dear Author! While I love competing with your detective, woe be it for you if I solve the mystery before they do. This is an unforgivable sin to a mystery lover. I’ve thrown books in the used book bin a time or two and vowed never to read anything by the offending author again. Stump me and I’ll be your loyal fan forever.

All Hail the Queen of Murder

Prolific author and master of the mystery genre, Agatha Christie tops the charts of my all-time favorite. In researching this week’s blog, I discovered discrepancies in the number of books she’s credited as having written in her lifetime. It’s definitely over seventy. Here are my top three:

  1. Murder on The Orient Express
  2. And Then There Were None
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

More Top Puzzlers

Scanning my book shelves, I tend to favor classic British Mysteries like the Sherlock Holmes Adventures by Arthur Conan Doyle or the Father Brown series by G. K. Chesterton. In this post, I’d like to focus on some of my favorite American Authors.

  • Patricia Cornwell – Dr. Kay Scarpetta mysteries
  • Raymond Chandler – Farewell, My Lovely featuring Phillip Marlowe
  • Dashiell Hammett – The Maltese Falcon featuring Sam Spade

Mysterious Links

Have I missed your favorite mystery? Share the name below in the comments section. Stuck for good Mysteries? Check out the links below for suggested reads:

Goodreads Mystery Book Lists

Mystery Writers of America

Happy Reading!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

And They Call It Book Love

Running my fingers across the rows of shiny spines, I slowly slide one out of its place among the other tantalizing covers. The aroma of recently cut paper and new print fills my senses. I absorb the words stretching across the back. Heart racing, I wonder what type of adventure this book will take on.

@Sergey Nivens – Stock.Adobe.Com

Sorry Romance fans. Love is fleeting. Book Love is forever. Think about it. Whether you’re two or one hundred and two, a good story is always one of life’s greatest pleasures.

How to Find Your Next Love

Book Stores – Ask for staff recommendations – Check out their Listopia section with recommendations by readers just like you

Best Seller Lists – Amazon and B&N both have Best Seller Lists. I’ll be honest. I rarely pick from the best seller lists, because they distract from other (and possibly better) books

BookBub and Riffle – Books on these sites are vetted pretty well. And they feature the ones on sale. Big bonus!

Word of Mouth – Book clubs or Goodread Groups are a great way to discuss what others are reading

What I’m Reading Right Now:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz


The Most Action Packed Weekend of The Year

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It’s coming! A few weeks left before the superheroes, artists, actors, authors and fans return to Denver. That’s right! It’s almost Denver ComicCon time!

I’ll be there leading a panel (Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave: Complex Plots In Fantasy, Mystery and Suspense Thrillers) and signing books. Look for me under the two HUGE LIONS!

“The Heart of The Warrior” series at

Hanging With Holmes


Subtitle for this blog: Why The Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) is my favorite museum on the planet.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes has come to Denver, Colorado and DMNS threw a heck of a party. After the kiddies left and the doors closed to the public, they transformed the museum into Victorian London. Music, dancing and generously stocked bars set a Holmesian atmosphere. Residents of Victorian Baker Street, dressed in beautiful costumes and staying true to character, helped transform party goers to the world of mystery.

“It’s A Party, My Dear Watson” drew fans of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson like bangers to mash hmm no spots to d…to the event. Most were sporting their finest Victorian togs. I decided to go Cumberbatch. (If you got what I meant and laughed, Heaven bless you! You are a true fan.)

IMG_0102 [Subbing for Benedict Cumberbatch who was off being brilliant someplace else. ;)]


[Dr. Watson newly returned from his trip to Oxford.]

The real fun begins on the third floor of the museum in the Sherlock Holmes exhibit where we were issued a challenge by Professor Moriarty. Solving murder mysteries is a blast, but solving them with Sherlock Holmes is a surrealistic challenge. If this exhibit comes to your area, put on your deerstalker and grab the pipe. Go test your skills of deduction and follow the clues left for you by Sherlock himself.

The Game is Afoot!

Publisher Spotlight: Literary Wanderlust


Literary Wanderlust is a new royalty paying print and digital press located in Denver, Colorado. We publish well-written fiction and interesting non-fiction books.

We are currently accepting the following:

  • Romance/Erotica
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Non-Fiction
  • Short Story Collections of all genres

Please send query, brief synopsis, and 1st three chapters, and a brief marketing plan to


I’m pleased to welcome Susan Brooks, Editor-in-chief of Literary Wanderlust. Thanks for joining me today. Let’s get started:

What do you look for in a novel or short story? Do you look for the same things in your non-fiction projects?

We look primarily for well-written works. By well-written I mean that we can see that the author has learned their craft regardless of the genre. For genre fiction, it is important to us that the author has worked through the plot and there is a good story arc with enough conflict. The story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. It is also important to us that the author has created compelling characters that are interesting and dynamic. There should be some unique twist if at all possible.

Short stories are a different on many levels and are structured quite differently than novels. Short stories tend to focus only on one character in one moment in time. There may be more narrative. There may be significantly less action and conflict, but this is not always so. Short stories still should have some unique twist, and we truly love it when we didn’t expect the ending. We look for short story collections where the writer has been judicious with word usage and has thought carefully about how the sentences are structured. Usually the collections are themed, but this isn’t necessarily so. We recently signed two authors with short story collections, both with themed collections.

Non-fiction, topics can range from everything you ever wanted to know about Billy the Kid’s girlfriends’ brother’s son who ran for governor of New Mexico, to how-to manage your time, to a history of all the head stones in the Fairmount Cemetery. We like niche, interesting, and even obscure topics. The key is that the editorial team has to find the topic interesting and we like it especially if the project has “a freshness” to it. In other words, the non-fiction project presents information that hasn’t been presented before, or hasn’t been presented before in this way.

Tell us about your latest release. What made it special? What made it stand out above other submissions in your slush pile?


Our latest release was Frog Kisses by Linda Joffe Hull which was released June 1st. Frog kisses is a romantic comedy and is Linda’s fourth book to be traditionally published. Linda is usually known for her mysteries, but she really wanted to tell this story about a young woman who realizes that she dislikes her life because she has made choices based on who she thinks she is, rather than who she really is. This book is special because Linda writes with such wit, and creates interesting characters that she puts in difficult situations. The story made the whole editorial team laugh out loud, and that is special in and of itself. Linda is a professional and that showed in her submission.

Do you have more new releases in the works?

Our latest projects are slotted to be released March 1st, 2016. Both are short story collections.

The first collection, Mexicali Blues by Joseph Grant, takes a dark look at the dichotomy between what it means to be Mexican in Southern California versus Mexican in Mexico, and how some people are not Mexican enough, while others are too Mexican. Both of these scenarios can lead to racism and all the stories have unusual twists.

The second collection, Not Quite So Stories by David Atkinson, is a collection of absurdist humor stories. David has a way of looking at things from a unique perspective which we find refreshing. The humor ranges from the slightly absurd to the very dark. These stories express David’s belief that existence as a whole is beyond everyone’s grasp. Life is absurd and beyond comprehension.

Both of these collections stood out to us because the authors thought about their topics deeply have learned their craft and it shows. It started with well written queries.

Do you have any advice for new writers who want to submit their work to you?

First of all, I want to congratulate them for completing their books. I am well aware of the amount of work that goes into completing a novel, or a collection of short stories, or a non-fiction book.  For new writers, I would say take the time to write the best possible book that you can write. Don’t submit it until it is ready. Don’t submit a draft. Submit polished pages. Take the time to write a synopsis that tells all the action from beginning to end for genre fiction (don’t leave out the ending to entice me. I want to know that the writer knows how to resolve the story). If it is a short story collection submit a brief paragraph about each story. For a non-fiction book project, write a clear synopsis of the project.

Look at the publisher’s website before you submit. Each publisher will have their own guidelines and requirements. Tailor your submission to meet those specific guidelines. Be professional.


Susan Brooks, Editor in Chief

Susan Brooks has been reading voraciously since she was a toddler and got her hands on a copy of Go, Dog! Go! Soon after, she won a copy of A Wrinkle in Time through her public library’s summer reading program for reading more books in one summer than all the other students combined. She was six. She decided right then that when she grew up she wanted to read books for a living.

Since 2009, she has served on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a non-profit educational organization supporting both published and aspiring writers of commercial fiction, and she currently acts as the conference chair for Colorado Gold, RMFW’s annual writers’ conference. She holds a master’s degree in publishing from George Washington University and has over 20 years of editorial experience.

Susan’s main focus in fiction is romance, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, and short story collections.

You can follow her: and @oosuzieq


Look To Your Own Backyard

Stuck for inspiration? Have a story idea, but not sure where it takes place just yet? Look to your own backyard. Your hometown/ home state has a history. I know what you’re thinking. Yawn. Nothing interesting happens here. Are you sure about that? Delve a little. You may find some juicy history interesting to a reader who’s never been to your part of the country. Don’t forget about the folks like me who love old unsolved crimes or haunted places.

I’m one of the blessed souls who gets to live in the state of Colorado. Stunningly beautiful, impossibly mellow with the addition of our newest agricultural commodity (Puff. Puff.) and dripping with interesting history. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, The Unsinkable Molly Brown…the list goes on. Denver is full of history (and ghosts), as is the rest of Colorado. It makes a great location for several genres.

Doing research on the early days of the Colorado and New Mexico Territories for my new Horror novella, The Hounds of Perdition, has been an amazing journey into the past. I walked into the story with preconceptions for certain simple details about life in 1865. Yep. You guessed it. They were all wrong. The Civil War had just ended in 1865, affording me the opportunity to throw two characters on opposite sides into the same bad situation. Indian attacks had risen to a high intensity, necessitating several forts to be built in the territories to protect settlers. Famine. Disease. Life wasn’t easy and civilized townships were far apart. In fact, Denver wasn’t established as the capital or recognized central government until a few years later.

Now it’s your turn. Check out your state’s history. Do any ideas come to mind? Good luck and have fun!

Book Addicts Unite

Indie Publishing is a journey. No wait. Maybe journey isn’t the right term. Indie Publishing is an exploration mission. There you go. Every path I take holds something new. It could be a new way to reach readers or a dead end. You never know until you get there.

This week my literary exploration vessel is mooring at the shores of Choosy Bookworm. I’m seeking a way to connect with new readers and hopefully get a few reviews for my urban fantasy, Pariah. They have a free “Read and Review” program I’m pretty excited about on two levels. Here’s how it works:

As an Author: I submitted my book for review by Choosy Bookworm. Quality checks are important to build trust with their reader community. They also accept pre-published books now. Big bonus. I plan to use this option for my upcoming epic fantasy, “The Lords of Valdeon.”

Pariah’s feature date started on July 14th. Readers select my book from a list of many others (the selection is awesome by the way) and commit to read it within 2 to 3 weeks. All this is free to the reader. Choosy Bookworm then sends me a list of names and emails at the end of the day. I “Gift” the readers a copy on Amazon and send them a thank you email, reminding them to put the all important disclaimer at the end of their review. This meets the Amazon TOS guidelines.

I listed Pariah for 30 Readers. There are still spots left. If you enjoy urban fantasy and would like to participate, here’s the link – Free Copy of Pariah. I’d love to hear your feedback on the book.

As a Reader: Talk about a Book Addicts dream! Choosy Bookworm features free books from a wide selection of genres. You’ve got your choice of new authors and pretty established favorites. I’ve found at least two books I’ve already read on their site. Oh pooh!

Free books. Personal contact with the author. What better way to sate a book addict’s cravings?  Here’s the link for Choosy Bookworm’s feature page – Awesome Free Books.

Dodging Bullets in a Winter Wonderland. Trapline


Focus on Mystery and Suspense

Murder and deadly sport in the Colorado Wilderness.

Trapline Cover

A badly chewed-up corpse high in the Flat Tops Wilderness leaves Colorado hunting guide Allison Coil mystified and wary. Obvious signs suggest the dead man is the victim of a mountain lion attack but Allison’s wilderness-savvy bones scream otherwise. A few miles away and a few thousand feet lower in downtown Glenwood Springs, a controversial candidate for U.S. Senate is shot during a campaign stop as newspaper reporter Duncan Bloom dodges the long-range gunfire. Coil and Bloom follow leads to the city’s overlooked communities—encountering both the powerful and those who keep their heads down—and follow traces to the for-profit prison industry. Coil is joined by neighbor Trudy Heath, a popular businesswoman whose use of immigrant workers is attracting attention. Coil’s tracking skills and Bloom’s dogged investigative experience attack a shadowy organization from opposite ends.  The snare tightens as the pair trade explosive details around who is benefitting from a for-profit prison. Determined to protect the Flat Tops Wilderness from criminal mayhem, Coil knows she must take every means necessary to uncover the conspiracy even as she realizes she is tangling with an organization engaged in a cruel sport that sets a new, dark low for depravity.

Available for Purchase: Amazon

Check out the special December Edition of my Books and Banter Newsletter for more information about today’s story. The newsletter features new book releases from several talented authors. Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery and Suspense, and Romance. You’re sure to find a good read!

Deck the Halls With Sounds of Murder! Dead Wrong


Focus on Mystery and Suspense

Grab a glass of holiday cheer and curl up with this suspenseful tale! Better make it two glasses. This sounds like a nail bitter.

DeadWrongFront 264x408

Newlywed Lynnette Foster’s cop husband is in trouble at work and takes out his frustration on Lynnette by punching her in the face. To Lynnette, the first assault will be the last. In an attempt to get as far away from him as she can, she books a flight from Miami to Los Angeles.

Lynnette doesn’t know it yet, but her husband is the least of her worries.

At the airport, a vicious, foul-mouthed thug known as Fat Ass Sammy Grick carelessly switches Lynnette’s laptop case and his own. Sammy’s case contains something very important to his criminal boss, Benito Ortega. Something Ortega would kill to get back.

To complicate Lynnette’s life, an eleven-year-old runaway girl follows her off the plane during the Denver layover. Then Lynnette makes a horrible discovery. Her husband was murdered a few hours after she walked out. Lynnette needs to contact the police, who consider her a person of interest in the murder. Escaping the killer on her trail and protecting the child must come first.

Will her life ever be normal again?

Purchase information:


Barnes & Noble

Check out the special December Edition of my Books and Banter Newsletter for more information about today’s story. The newsletter features new book releases from several talented authors. Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery and Suspense, and Romance. You’re sure to find a good read!