Friday, July 31, 2015

The Crimson Field: Nurses Bring Scandal & Smarts to the Battlefront

It's WWI. Yea, I seem to be on a nurses in WWI kick. (I've been watching Anzac Girls too, more about that later.) A group of British nurses are treating the wounded on the front (France). We not only get to know them, but also the surgeons they work closely with, and with this group comes lots of secrets and tensions. A six-hour series, it comes on two DVDs.

There's the matron, with a soft heart for her patients, but not so much at times for her volunteers. There's a huge debate over how much the volunteers should be allowed to do. There's a secret engagement, secret babies, possible love affairs. Resentment, jealousy, fear. Each episode brings up something new to think about: the trials of nursing, how very difficult it can be for a young lady in those times to see a man's body. Cowardice. Should they be shot? Not every man is cut out for war...yet should they shot for their weakness?

There's Irish/British tensions, and even more fascinating to me was the experimental procedures the surgeons perform. I'm not a medical expert, but though brief, the side story involving a wounded patient being put through a painful routine every two hours rather than losing his leg was intriguing.

While the first episode was slow and I had my doubts the series would improve, by the third episode, I was hooked. I became engrossed in everyone's lives and scandals. I found myself shouting at people, especially the wife who tells her husband she doesn't want to hear his war stories. What a shocker of an episode. I dare not say what happens, but I will say it raised a lot of emotion in me.

The secret engagement turned into a shocker of epic proportions bringing the issues of treason. Right man, wrong time... I was happy with the way this resolved. It was realistic and yet could have been worse. I must say though, I am not pleased with one sidestory's resolution...Kitty. Fascinating woman with hints of a scandalous past...but yet we never get the full story. I wanted the full story there and I didn't care for her love interest. I'd have chosen the other guy.

I bought this DVD set on Amazon.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hecate's Moon by Carol Ann Dobson

The title of this book intrigued me.  I knew it was a historical romance.  I have read and reviewed a few of them.  So I accepted a free copy of Hecate's Moon from the author in return for this honest review.


I had really hoped for some lore about Hecate, but there isn't much content about this Goddess in Hecate's Moon.  The herbalist/healer/midwife Esther Cerfbeer struck me as a more authentic Hecate priestess than Mrs. McAlpine who didn't appear to have a clue about her nature. Based on my knowledge of Greek mythology, the sort of rituals that Mrs. McAlpine performed seemed like they should be devoted to Dionysus or Aphrodite Pandemos.

When the hero Armand arrived in the town of Ilfracombe after fleeing revolutionary France to take up residence at his family's Devon estate he found missing girls, witchcraft hysteria, smuggling and shipwrecks.  He also discovered that his house had been named after his estate manager, and mysteriously never even objected to that.  I intellectually understood why he was obsessed with returning to France to fight in the royalist cause, but I didn't think it made him sympathetic.    It wasn't just that it was a lost cause, it wasn't a particularly worthy one.  The House of Bourbon hadn't shown itself to be good rulers.   Of course the revolutionaries weren't any better.  Someone with better judgment would want to stay well away from France and its volatile political situation, but Armand never thought anything through.       

I thought that Esther was the most interesting and best developed character in the book.  There were numerous things that bothered me about  Armand, but what absolutely drove me crazy about him was that he was too trusting.  So I had to categorize him as TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).  He and the heroine, Isabella, both took too long to figure out what was really going on in Ilfracombe.    Esther didn't figure it out at all, but she was old and not in good health. What was Armand and Isabella's excuse?

There is a requisite HEA for the romance, but I didn't like Armand.  I kept on wishing that Isabella had a more sensible alternative.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jam on the Vine by @LaShondaKatrice: An African American Girl Who Grew Up To Be " The Voice of A Community"

I'm pretty sure that Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett was on the Goodreads page for Balm which I reviewed on this blog here.  It was a book that was added by people who liked Balm.  Since I was looking for another high quality African American historical novel, I prioritized the book on my library TBR.  The protagonist is Ivoe Williams who wanted to be a journalist from an early age.  I've never read a historical novel dealing with African American newspapers.  So I thought I'd learn a great deal about their history and the historical context by reading this book.


The book starts in late 19th century Texas.  I am well aware that the issues which the current Black Lives Matter campaign focus on have a long history.  In the minds of some individuals, slavery was never abolished.  Black people owning anything, or having any degree of independence angers these people.  They don't want to accept that African Americans are human beings with the same rights as other Americans.  

 Ivoe  was born to parents who had been free all their lives.  Her  mother was an Islamic woman who owned land and had a small business.  She sold jam made from the tomatoes that she grew in her garden.  Everyone called her Lemon, but her birth name was Leila. Lemon's parents came from a Muslim enclave in 19th century Alabama.  To learn more about the history of African Muslims in the United States read Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane A. Diouf . Ivoe's father Ennis was a metalsmith.  Both were well regarded within Little Tunis, an African American neighborhood.

 Yet this community was an island surrounded by a sea of hatred. As a child, Ivoe first became aware of this when her school was burned down because a little black boy was seen reading to an elderly white woman. A generation earlier it was a crime to teach blacks to read.  Ivoe's writing ambitions were anathema in this context.

Since my last review for Book Babe dealt with a novel whose protagonist was a journalist, I noticed that like Rebekah Roberts in Invisible City, Ivoe's first attempt at an article didn't credit its sources.  It's important to point out that Rebekah had the opportunity to study journalism, so she really should have known better.  Ivoe never had that opportunity.  She did learn how to write better stories from Ona Darden, a woman who became very important in Ivoe's life.  Ona told her, "You are the voice of a community."  So Ivoe's journalistic career wasn't just about achieving her own dreams. She was representing African Americans.  Ivoe's sense of what it meant to speak on behalf of her people evolved over time as she matured.

The discovery I made in this book that astonished me most was that African Americans were engaged in sign carrying street protests against segregation in the early 20th century.  I had always thought that civil rights demonstrations began in the 1960's, but there was one described in this book that really did take place in 1905. There were all sorts of African American protests before the 1960's that were reported in African American newspapers like Ivoe Williams' fictional publication, Jam on the Vine. Some historical African American newspapers have been digitized. You can access them on the Library of Congress website

African American newspapers also reported on atrocities.The mass murders of African Americans and burnings of their neighborhoods in the early 20th century which are mentioned in Jam on the Vine remind me very much of anti-Jewish pogroms in Eastern Europe during this period. A great wave of  Jewish immigration appeared on the shores of England and America. At the same time,  a vast influx of African Americans arrived in the cities of the North. This was called the Great Migration which is often framed as a quest for factory jobs.  I realized with Ivoe that although such jobs may have been a consequence of this exodus for some, blacks were really fleeing for their lives.

I was very impressed with the coverage of issues dealt with in Jam of the Vine and their relevance to  Black Lives Matter.  I also loved the way the major characters and their relationships were portrayed.  Lesbian love was shown to be the equal of heterosexual love.  This is certainly one of the best novels that I have read in 2015.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just One Lie by @_KyraDavis

Before reading this story, I read the short story that Kyra Davis released titled Just Once More. I was very intrigued by the ending and couldn't wait to read Melody/Mercy's story.

Melody is Mercy, however, her family thinks she's dead and her new name is Mercy. The story takes place mostly in 1999, and I thought the author did a good job staying true to those times with bands, etc. Mercy is a lost soul with a complicated side to her.

Two men play a part in her life, Ash the hopeful actor and Brad, the drummer in her band. She likes them both, but as a reader, we know only one of them is right for her. Through this story, we go through life's struggles with Mercy until she finally grows into a strong individual, getting over the hurt of her past from her parents.

The story ends in present day witch Mercy getting her happily ever after, which as a reader I was very ready for. At times I felt like this story dragged and I was ready for it to fast forward. Each scene presented added to the story, but I still felt like it dragged a bit at times.

Over all, I liked the story and I would read more from this author. Her writing is good and her descriptions make you feel as though you're there and can feel the emotions. I haven't read Just One Night yet, but after meeting Kasie and Robert in this story and Just Once More, I'm interested to see how their story came about.

Lacey's Rating

About The Book
In the instant international sensation Just One Night, sensible Kasie Fitzgerald unleashed her passions—and found herself—through an explosive affair. In Just One Lie, we meet Kasie’s wild and tortured sister, whose impulsivity and lack of self-control has set off a chain of events that changes her family forever.

Melody Fitzgerald is the opposite of the “perfect” daughter. The lead singer of an indie rock band, she is impulsive and creative, with a rebellious streak that both defines her and becomes her greatest enemy. Her lover, the enticing and unpredictable Ash, shares her free spirit and penchant for trouble. On the face of it, he seems to be her perfect match.

So why is she so drawn to her soft spoken, reliable drummer, Brad Witmer? How can a man who wears polo shirts and reads the financial section of the paper be of any interest to her at all? And why on earth does someone like that appear to be so captivated by her?

Before she knows it, Melody finds herself on a path of self-discovery, passion, and affairs of the heart. But will a dark secret from her past derail it all? Or will its exposure be the very thing that unburdens her heart and allows her to seek a future with the one man who loves her completely?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Killing Secrets by @DianneEmley #giveaway

This was a very interesting book and kept me reading. A teacher and student are murdered and it's made to look like a murder suicide. The male student being obsessed with the teacher and he has a history of attempted suicide.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book as I tried to figure out the truth of who did it, as well as the mystery around the killed teenage boys family.

I found the writing to be good. It flowed well. The author did great on her descriptions and showing us the scenes instead of telling us. I really liked Nan and her daughter Emily. Enjoyed seeing how they reacted.

This isn't the first book in the Nan Vining Mystery series, however it's the first one I've read. I didn't feel like I was missing anything or any pieces of the story by not reading the prior books. I would be interested in reading more stories from this author and in the series. She actually surprised me with the ending, and that's a hard thing for writers to do. I thought I had figured out who the killer was, but I was wrong.

Lacey's Rating:

About The Book
For fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tana French, and Lisa Gardner comes a razor-sharp novel of suspense featuring Detective Nan Vining—a single mother whose worlds collide when her teenage daughter stumbles upon a grisly double homicide.

When she gets the call, Nan Vining responds as a mother first and a detective second. Her daughter, Emily, has made a gruesome discovery in a secluded section of a Pasadena park: a pretty, popular young teacher from Emily’s high school and a bright yet troubled transfer student—both dead and bloody in a copse of trees. But the crime scene isn’t the only thing that seems off to Detective Vining. There’s also the cocky classmate who was with Emily in the park—the boyfriend she never knew about. What else doesn’t she know about her daughter?

As she attempts to channel both her maternal and investigative instincts into one single point of focus, Vining’s superiors at the Pasadena Police Department are moving at lightning speed. Before the evidence has even been processed, the case is closed as a clear-cut murder/suicide: a disturbed teenager murders his teacher, then takes his own life. Vining doesn’t buy it. Now she’s chasing dangerous, powerful people with secrets they would kill for—and taking them down means risking her own flesh and blood.

The Giveaway
A $25 eGift Card and a copy of the book!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author

Dianne Emley is the bestselling author of The Night Visitor and the Nan Vining series: The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, and Love Kills. A Los Angeles native, she lives in the Central California wine country with her husband, Charlie.

Author's website:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vote for Remi

Vote for RemiI love women-running-for-president stories. The drama, the competition, the paparazzi, the politics...all make for great intrigue. And oh, the opposition for being a woman. That'll always be there.

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill story though. This woman ends up running for president by accident and it's actually very touching and cool how this comes to be. She is a government teacher who stresses to her students that anyone who meets the legal requirements can run for president. She encourages kids whom everyone else has given up on to be all they can be, to strive for more. Testing her theory, her students announce she's running for president.... Long story short, they become her campaign team and she ends up really running for office.

But it changes her life and she battles with herself. Is she doing the right thing? Is she doing it for her country or for herself? How many people in her life will walk away from the all the stress and drama before it becomes too much? And then political threats and blackmail enter the picture...and Remi has some moral decisions to make.

I enjoyed this for the most part, but at times it became really bogged down, especially as Remi began debating with herself back and forth on the same personal issues. Should I do that? Should I do this? This stuff was too drawn out and over explained. I began to get bored and wanted it to just "get on with it already".

But Remi is a terrific and likable heroine.

I received this thru Netgalley.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with @DrKimFoster #giveaway

Welcome. You’re here to promote A BRILLIANT DECEPTION, a heist caper. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

When I first got the idea for the Agency of Burglary & Theft series (of which A Brilliant Deception is the third book) many years ago, I was reading books like Bridget Jones and watching Sex & The City and I thought those stories were fun…but I thought: how much MORE fun would it be to read about a girl-next-door type who isn’t quite so innocent and well-intentioned? What about a story about a young woman who is a career criminal? But that story wasn’t out there. So I decided to write it. I came up with the idea that being a crook could simply be my protagonist’s job—she works for an agency that hires people for high-stakes heists—but she has a whole life otherwise. Friends, family, a disastrous love life, etc…

A Brilliant Deception (Agency of Burglary & Theft, #3)We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong. 

My heroine, Cat Montgomery, does happen to be physically strong—she’s a jewel thief, so a lot of her job is very physical, and depends on her agility and strength.

But her other strength is a mental toughness. She frequently has to go into dangerous situations, and that takes a lot of courage. She has to problem-solve her way out of sticky spots.

And in this third book of the series, she faces the moral implications of what she’s doing more than ever. She has to confront the ethics, the right and wrong, and decide what kind of person she is going to be—which may mean turning her back on people who want certain things from her, and people who expect her to be a certain way…and letting go of what has worked for her in the past.

Do you see any of yourself in her?

Mostly, no. I am such a chicken and I could never do the things my protagonist does. I have a major problem with heights, for example, which would pretty much kill the career of a jewel thief. But to be honest I think that’s one of the reasons I had so much fun writing about her. She’s in extreme peril, dangling from a tall building, and I’m safely at my desk with a steaming cup of coffee, wondering how on earth she’s going to get out of this one…

Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

Choosing between her love interests. She has a deep connection with both men in this story—one is a cop, and the other is a fellow thief. One is a classic warrior/hero type and the other a bit of a rogue—although, interestingly, they swap sides in this third instalment. They have both helped her at different times in the series, and they have both hindered her at other times…and in this book she has to figure out where her future lies.

It was tough for me because I am genuinely attached to both men also, and I hadn’t predetermined which way this was going to go. But I knew she had to make a decision to let one love go…and I felt like I went through that heart-wrenching struggle along with Cat.

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? (Perhaps something you had no need to put in the book but stayed in your mind nevertheless?)

I did lots of research for these books. Location-wise, I have been lucky enough to have traveled a lot in recent years, so I was able to draw on first-hand experience for the settings (like Paris for book two, and Venice for book three). As far as research into how to be a jewel thief—that’s a challenge! I’ve needed to research high-tech security systems and biometrics (and how to bypass them), organized crime, the history of famous diamonds, parkour, rappelling, and scuba diving…all super fun stuff. But given my subject matter, particularly the stuff about how to break into places, it’s sometimes difficult to get all the details I need. Some of my google searches are ridiculous—I must be on a watch-list somewhere. But I research as much as I can, and when I get to the point that requires a higher national security clearance than I possess, I splice in a little imagination. The beauty of fiction!

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

In this book, even more than the first two in the series, my protagonist struggles with choosing a path in life. She wrestles with the dichotomy of good and bad, and living an honorable life. I’m not sure I’d call it a “moral” because I don’t exactly provide answers, and I would never want to be preachy.

But mostly? I hope to take my readers on a really fun ride. Cat is off on a wild adventure that takes her across different continents—there’s excitement, action, and romance—and I hope to give readers that vicarious experience. That’s my main goal.

Your book takes place in Venice (among other places). If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country? 

I just got back from a trip to Italy with my family, actually…so I have lots of thoughts on what to see and do in Venice! (See our photos on my Instagram account )

In Rome, Florence, and other parts of Italy, there are so many sights to see – the Colosseum, the Vatican, and all the fabulous art galleries and museums. But to do Venice well, in my opinion, it’s more about experiencing the atmosphere than checking off the sights. You should stroll along the canals, ride in a gondola, taste gelato, sip a cappuccino while listening to beautiful, live music in Piazza San Marco…

Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

I have a fascination for Victorian London (it’s where my next book is set—the new project I’m working on right now!). I find it such an intriguing and exciting historical era, with new discoveries and lots of world-changing events. There was a fascinating juxtaposition between all the glamour and the gritty hardship of the Industrial Revolution—a fantastic backdrop for stories…although maybe not so great to live through. But it was also an age of exploration, and the dawn of much of modern science—I’d love to travel in time and experience it all firsthand. Plus the fashions were fabulous!

Oooh. Do I smell a historical? You'll have to query me on that one, Kim.

There are so many books out there nowadays... What makes your book stand out from them?

I like to think my particular combination of action, romance, and humor is what sets this series apart. My protagonist is somewhat atypical, also, in that she’s a career criminal. She’s definitely an anti-heroine (which is what I wrote about the last time I visited Book Babe).

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

We have rabbits! They live in a converted playhouse in our backyard (our winters are very mild here in Victoria so they can live out there all year round). Sodapop and Darry (yes, my husband is an Outsiders fan). Here’s a pic of Darry (Sodapop is quicker…and more camera shy).


Kim Foster is the author of the Agency of Burglary & Theft Series, a series of novels about a professional female jewel thief. Kim has a typical background for someone who writes thrillers about thieves and spies and criminals: she has a degree in medicine and is a practising family doctor. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t make much sense to her friends and family, either.) She’s addicted to yoga, loves to travel, and has a clinical weakness for dark chocolate with sea salt. Kim lives with her husband and their two young sons in Victoria, BC, where she's hard at work on her next book. And drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee.

And Kim is offering digital copies one all three books in the series to one lucky winner! Leave a comment with your email address and at the end of two weeks, we'll pick one of you. Contest ends August 6th.

More about A Brilliant Deception:

Fresh from pulling off her latest heist, Cat Montgomery believes she’s ready to leave her thieving lifestyle behind. But old habits die hard. When she’s recruited to retrieve the Lionheart, a legendary medieval ring made from the finest gold and excavated from the grave of Robin Hood, Cat’s determined to end her career with a bang.

Or so she thinks…until the Caliga Rapio, a mysterious brotherhood of thieves, beats her to the punch. Now she has to high tail it to Venice to swipe it back. With two old flames thrown into the mix and an Interpol agent hot on her tail, things are about to get a lot trickier. Cat’s troubles only worsen as she realizes the legend of the Lionheart runs deeper than she could have possibly imagined…

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Color of Secrets by Lindsay Ashford

The Color of SecretsThe premise of this story fascinated me. A woman in WWII England, whose husband has been missing, possibly dead for two years, falls for a black American soldier. A baby results. How does this affect the future generations? What happens is/when her husband shows up?

I love a good scandal, especially when it doesn't involve me. *sheepish grin*

This one disappointed me though, mainly due to the total lack of love and passion between the heroine and her black GI. She's attracted to him instantly, I got that. But it was more a "oooh. this is so wrong it's hot" thing than real attraction--at least that's the impression I got. They exchange very little information between the two of them before they're doing the horizontal mambo. This is not a love affair.

After Louisa's birth, some characters begin appearing in the story whose characterizations were just OTT, unfathomable. WAY too good or WAY too bad. The husband returns and is apparently the kindest man in the whole world, so kind he's willing to raise another man's baby and protect her from everything and give his wife the space she needs...and on and on and on. And then Louisa grows into this young woman that every man wants to rape. The story began getting a little ugly with the uncle, but I could buy that. But then the hippie came onto the scene and I decided I'd had enough. I quit. I really wasn't gaining anything deep from reading this. I wasn't laughing, I wasn't falling in love with the characters, I wasn't learning anything aside from the typhoid outbreak by the sea and that the Red Cross was shipping bastard babies back to the States.

Despite the WWII time period, there was very little historical detail.

I thank Netgalley for providing a digital file of this, but I didn't enjoy it much.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Invisible City-- Hiding Homicide Among The Hasidim @juliadahl

If I read an award winner or nominee, it's usually a remarkable coincidence.  I don't read books because they've been nominated for awards.  I've learned from experience that award winning books are rarely the kind of books that I want to read.  This applies to award nominated mysteries.  I don't care for the extremes in the mystery field--noir and cozies.  The awards are dominated by these polarized trends , and I prefer my mysteries somewhere in between.   I want realism, but I don't want the deep despair of noir.  I like sympathetic protagonists but I don't want the saccharine sentimentality that I find in the mysteries that are marketed as cozies. 

Invisible City by Julia Dahl was nominated for an Edgar in the first novel category.  It's somewhat grimmer than the mysteries I tend to like, but I was intrigued by the background of the protagonist, reporter Rebekah Roberts.


   Rebekah was brought up by her Christian father, but her mother, Aviva Kagan,  had come from the hasidic Jewish community and left it behind. Apparently, she was ambivalent about this decision because she soon left her daughter behind as well.   Ambivalence about my Jewish heritage is a situation that I identify with and understand.

The hasidic community call themselves haredi.  This literally means "those who fear" in Hebrew.  The implied connotation is that they are those who fear God. Yet it seemed to me that Dahl does portray haredi as generally fearful.    Their distinctive 19th century Eastern European dress makes them the most visible Jews and a special focus of prejudice.  Prejudice is catalyzed by fear of what is considered strange and unfamiliar.  Closed off communities like the haredi tend to cultivate their unique identity as a survival strategy. So the haredi are insular because they are afraid of the outside world, but those in the outside world who are most inclined to attack them are afraid of how different they are as a result of their insularity.  Fear begets more fear.  Fear was the reason why the haredi tried so hard to conceal murder in this book.

Invisible City centers on the killing of Rivka Mendelssohn which might easily have become an anonymous crime statistic in New York City.  The victim was a warm outgoing woman who wanted to help people.  She also strongly supported the rights of individuals to choose how they live and what they believe which ran completely counter to the haredi ethos.

There were a number of  characters in this book who were alienated by the lack of freedom among the haredi.  The most indelible are Rivka Mendelssohn and Aviva Kagan who never actually appear, but are nevertheless vividly portrayed through the memories of the people who knew them.

 Saul Katz is another of these disaffected characters, and he is very prominent within the storyline because his community contacts were invaluable for Rebekah Roberts.  In fact, without Saul Katz Rebekah wouldn't have gotten anywhere with her efforts to find out the truth about Rivka Mendelsson's death.   Saul is a compelling character, but Rebekah's unquestioning trust in Saul shows her naivete.

Frankly, I didn't think much of Rebekah.  I'll grant that she's young and new to journalism. Yet I wondered how it was even possible for her to become a stringer for a newspaper in a major market which would be highly competitive.  She should have needed to start her career in a smaller market like Oshkosh or Juneau. She also made mistakes that even a beginner shouldn't have made.  Having anonymous sources that need to be protected is one thing, but having anonymous sources because the reporter forgot to ask who they were is just incompetent.  I can understand why the author chose  Rebekah as the viewpoint character.  So much information that readers might need to know had to explained to her.  Yet she totally lacked professional credibility.   She does learn from her mistakes and presumably will be much improved in the sequel.  In Invisible City, I didn't find her interesting and wished that I was reading her mother's story rather than hers.

Still it was a good mystery.  I kept reading because I identified with Rivka Mendelssohn, and wanted to see justice done in her case.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Lethal In Love by @msomerswriter - Book 1 in a Thriller Serial

This is the first book in a romantic suspense serial and WOW, did it leave me needing more. I love serials. Its seems like as a reader you either like them or don't, and I love them. Especially the frustration when the book just ends, and you need the next story to know what is going to happen.

In Lethal In Love, we meet Jayda, a homicide detective. A serial killer titled Night's Terror is on the hunt after taking a long break. As she investigates the murders, she can't help but feel the last two murders were a copycat.

On an undercover assignment, she meets Sean. There is a big mystery around him, even though he's a main character. As a reader, I just couldn't figure him out. This is a good thing, it adds to the mystery.

Near the end, the author brought me to tears right before the end of book 1. I so hated that part of the story and can't tell what since that would give away the story, but as a writer myself, I can see how what happened and the aftermath is what is going to bring Sean and Jayda together.

I can't wait until the release of book 2!

Lacey's Rating

About The Book
Lethal in Love is a steamy romantic suspense about an instinct-driven detective and a sexy, scoop-hungry reporter, both on the hunt for a sadistic killer.

Jayda Thomasz is a sassy homicide detective who never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Seth Friedin is a reporter chasing the story that'll make his career. When he enters the world of swinging for research, he never imagines he'll be distracted by a hard-talking female detective whose kiss plagues his mind long after she's gone.

Past experience has shown Jayda that reporters are ruthless and unscrupulous. But when the murders get personal, will she make a deal with the devil to catch the killer? How far will she and Seth have to go? And do you ever really know who you can trust?

Currently free on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Yin and Yang of Fictional Sleuthing By @DelynnRoyer #Giveaway

It started with Nancy Drew.

My mother was a yard sale enthusiast. Between those sales and flea market used books, I snagged every Nancy Drew mystery from The Secret of the Old Clock to The Secret of Mirror Bay.

That’s a long time ago, but here’s what I remember. I wanted to be Nancy. (Oh, yes, I did.) I wanted Nancy’s hair (shoulder-length blond flippy-do), I wanted that smokin’ hot blue roadster, but most of all...

I wanted that smokin’ hot Ned Nickerson. Although...

Even at ten, I suspected there was something missing from Nancy and Ned’s romantic subplot. Like maybe the smokin’ hot part. Or maybe it’s better to call it the romantic conflict part.

The Romantic Conflict Part

There are several reasons why romance is always present in my stories. Writing strong heroines is the best of it. But another reason is the built-in conflict.

Call it Yin and Yang. Mars and Venus. Attraction of opposites. It’s that built-in male-female conflict that’s a gift to romance writers.

 It can be deceiving, though. It may seem to be about forces that are at odds, but, in reality, it’s about forces that complement. (Light and shadow, push and pull.) In the end, the two will add up to be more than the sum of their parts. It’s a dynamic that can enrich any human relationship.

It also plays well with solving mysteries.

The Yin and Yang of Detective Duos

Goodbye, Tootsie: A 1920s Romantic Mystery
Fictional detective duos are nothing new. Holmes and Watson were there from the start, although Watson was more of a sidekick. With Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, the sidekick began to emerge as yang to that armchair detective’s yin.
Dashielle Hammett mixed the sexes to create a new trope—married sleuths—in his 1934 mystery, The Thin Man. That was the cake. The icing? Myrna Loy and William Powell. Their romantic chemistry knocked it out of the park in the movie, and my favorite snooping couple was born.

Nick and Nora Charles

Nick is a glib, hard-drinking former Pinkerton detective who spent his working life mingling among New York’s shady 1920s underworld. Nora is a Nob Hill heiress, a gin-tippling society girl with a spicy sense of humor and a taste for adventure.
If that’s not a lovely, bubbling mix of opposites, I don’t know what is.

Sean and Trixie: My Own Snooping Couple

In my first 1920s romantic mystery—It Had to Be You—I created my own snooping couple. Were there shades of Nick and Nora? Some. But as characters always do, my leads took on their own personalities.

Sean Costigan knows New York’s shady underworld all too well. He’s a deep-thinking homicide cop with a Philip Marlowe, seen-it-all attitude. The last thing he needs is a perky, bright-eyed Long Island debutante who dreams of becoming the next Nellie Bly.
Or so he thinks.

Trixie Frank is indeed a perky, bright-eyed society girl. She’ll inherit her family’s five and dime store fortune someday. But she’s also got ambition. She’s a tabloid reporter with her sights set on the crime beat.

When these two meet, it’s a lovely, bubbling mix of opposites. At least, it has been for me. I’m now at work on their third mystery case.


To celebrate the release of my second Trixie Frank – Sean Costigan mystery—Goodbye, Tootsie—I’d be happy to gift one of my romantic mystery ebooks for Kindle to a Book Babe reader.
•           It Had to Be You (Book 1)
An ambitious tabloid reporter stumbles on the story of her career when she joins up with a jaded homicide detective to solve the Central Park murder of a notorious bootlegger.

•           Goodbye, Tootsie (Book 2)
A homicide detective and a tabloid reporter are on the road to romance but at cross-purposes at work when they investigate the New Year’s Eve murder of a young heiress after she comes into control of a family fortune.

It Had to Be You(This gift is available via U.S. Amazon in the Amazon Kindle version only.)
To throw your name in the hat, leave a comment no later than July 21st with the book title you’d like and your email address. Winner will be chosen at random on July 22nd.
So, tell. Who are your favorite fictional detective duos and why?

To get started, here are more of my favorites.
•           Thomas and Charlotte Pitt (Historical mysteries by Anne Perry)
Why? Wonderful romantic chemistry between married sleuths.
•           Laura Holt and Remington Steele. (Old TV series Remington Steele)
Why? Smart and stylish. No one looked better in a fedora than Laura Holt.
•           Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson (TV series Elementary)

Why? Clever with complex characters.

Happy armchair sleuthing!

Delynn Royer writes historical romantic fiction for the light of heart. Aside from the research that inspires her novels, she enjoys classic movies and yoga. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.

Follow Delynn on her blog, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Six and a Half Deadly Sins by Colin Cotterill

Six and a Half Deadly Sins is the most recent book in a mystery series that takes place in Laos in the 1970's.  If historical fiction is defined as fiction taking place at least fifty years ago, then this series doesn't meet that criterion.  The central character, Dr. Siri Paboun, is one of the more memorable mystery protagonists.  I've loved him ever since he debuted in The Coroner's Lunch which is still my favorite book in the series.   At the beginning of the series he was drafted to become the coroner of Laos.  There was no one else who was qualified.  At this point, he's retired from the position.  Yet Dr. Siri continues to involve himself in murder cases along with his remarkable wife, Madame Daeng.


The title of this book is a pun.   In Lao a traditional handwoven skirt is known as a pha sin.  Dr. Siri received a sin with a grisly surprise sewn into it.  This sent him, his friend Civilai and  Madame Daeng to the North of Laos where the sin had been made to investigate further.  He traveled from place to place being given sins with more clues.   Clues to what?  The case is very slow to develop.  We don't learn exactly what Siri is investigating until close to the end of the novel.  A group of very courageous woman weavers had no other way of exposing a killer who terrified everyone in the region.

Unfortunately, the slowness of plot development is a serious problem.   Most of this book had little going for it beyond witty dialogue.  Southeast Asia was in tremendous upheaval during the course of this novel, and we are told about these events.  Yet very little actually happens in the narrative until we finally find out what's really going on in Northern Laos.  Once the plot gets going there is a great deal of suspense and some clever twists, but it's all backloaded toward the end of the book.

 By the way, don't cross Madame Daeng.   She's quite an action figure for an old lady.  There's lots of life in the old girl yet.

So I liked the book by the time I finished it, but 75% of this book had far too leisurely a pace.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Reading Radar @Kate_Breslin @authorjoditaylo @DinaSleiman1

What's the Reading Radar? It's just a list of books that caught my interest in the last week, why they caught my interest, and HOW. Having been an author myself once upon a time, I was always curious about how to reach readers. I type this up every week to share with readers books they may be interested as well and to let the authors know how they're being "discovered".

Not by SightNot by Sight by Kate Breslin...spotted on Netgalley and had me from the word "suffragette". Say no more. I'm on it!

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.


Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)Spotted via another author I like on Facebook...this time travel series by Jodi Taylor has hit my radar. The first is: Just One Damned Thing After Another.

A story of history, time travel, love, friendship and tea. Meet the disaster-magnets at the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around history, observing, documenting, drinking tea and, if possible, not dying. Follow the catastrophe-curve from eleventh-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria.


Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts, #2)Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman was spotted on NG. Naturally, I must read this. Woman knight. Nuff said.

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Safe At Last - A Second Chance at Love Story by @maya_banks

Safe At Last is my favorite in the Slow Burn Series so far. I really enjoyed book 1 and book 2 was a miss for me, so I was a little nervous going into book 3. I read this book in an entire afternoon because I needed to know everything that was going to happen and how this story would end. Second chance love stories are a favorite of mine, and this was one of those stories.

Zack, who we've met throughout the first two books, has never been able to get over a girl. Twelve years ago she just disappeared on him. He searched and searched, worried she was dead. Until one day a client hires him and he comes face to face with Anna-Grace, aka his Gracie. Only she HATES him for something he did to her, and he has no idea what.

We've been following a group that has been targeting this family in the series, and that group comes into play when they beat Gracie to a pulp, which gives Zack his time to swoop in and try to fix things. As this story unveils and we learn what Gracie thinks that Zack did, I was on the edge of my seat to see how he would prove to her he had nothing to do with it and see her finally let go of the pain from her past.

Even if you've not read the first two in the series, you can still read this one and be able to follow along. I really, really enjoyed this story and hope that Maya Banks is going to continue the story with characters she has introduced. I'm hoping Eliza gets a story soon.

My Rating

About the Book

They say young love doesn't last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace—his "Gracie"—was the one. But one night forever altered the course of their future; when a devastated Gracie disappeared without a trace, Zack was left to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years passed, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing.

Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he comes face to face with her, he is shocked—and heartbroken—to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He'll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they'll never be torn apart again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sword of the Gladiatrix: Women Duke it Out in the Roman Arena

03_Sword of the Gladiatrix_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Publication Date: May 2015
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Formats: Trade paperback and eBook
ISBN: 978-0692386491
Pages: 260pp

Genre: Historical/Adventure/Romance/LGBT

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Two women. Two swords. One victor.
01_Sword of the Gladiatrix Cover
An action-packed tale that exposes the brutal underside of Imperial Rome, Sword of the Gladiatrix brings to life unforgettable characters and exotic settings. From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero's Rome: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Enslaved, forced to fight for their lives and the Romans' pleasure; they seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other's arms. But the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

Praise for Faith's first book: Selene of Alexandria

“A promising new historical novelist [with] the gift for wonderfully researched, vividly evoked, good old-fashioned storytelling.”—Historical Novel Society

“I am blown away and enthralled with the work of this author.”—

“Does what historical fiction does best—weaves historical fact, real-life historical figures, and attention to detail with page-turning, plot-driven fiction.”—The Copperfield Review


Having read and enjoyed Russell Whitfield's Gladiatrix, I was pretty excited to give this a go. You can't have too much of a good thing, and women fighting each other in Roman times makes a very exciting story. Throw a conflict such as two women who love each other being forced to fight each other and it's doubly interesting.

But at the same time having read a similar twist before, it made this book a tad predictable. On top of that, the heroines do not actually becomes gladiatrixes until about 65%, so calling this Sword of the Gladiatrix seems a little like false advertising.

That being said, I did enjoy the story. For some reason I connected with Afra way more than I did Cinnia. Cinnia's parts began with her fighting for Boudica. I should have loved this, but her parts fell flat for me and I didn't care for her flashbacks or dreams. Afra's scenes took place in Africa and began when she worked for her Kandake. Circumstances with her stepsister lead to her being enslaved and taken to Rome where she works wonders on a pair of hunting cats. I really liked her character. Cinnia rubbed me wrong a few times and she also ruined the romance for me by getting it on with another chick in the story. What kind of love is that?

Having read about Rome, the fights, and weapons before, I can tell the author did meticulous research into this story and her writing was well done.

Sword of the Gladiatrix Available At

CreateSpace (print only)
iBooks (ebook only)
Kobo (ebook only)
Smashwords (ebook only–all formats)

About the Author

02_Faith L. Justice_AuthorFAITH L. JUSTICE writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, the Circles in the Hair anthology, and many more. She is a frequent contributor to Strange Horizons, Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, and co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.

For more information visit Faith L. Justice's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sword of the Gladiatrix Blog Tour

Monday, June 29
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Tuesday, June 30
Guest Post at I Heart Reading
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, July 1
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, July 2
Review at Book Babe

Friday, July 3
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, July 6
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, July 7
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, July 9
Review at Genre Queen
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Friday, July 10
Review at Bookramblings
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann

Normally, I wouldn't read any book with the word "drunken" in the title because characters who are drunks don't interest me.  Yet I felt that I learned things that I hadn't known about 16th century Japan when I read Claws of the Cat, the first book in the Shinobi mystery series by Susan Spann.  The series features Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit, and Hiro, the shinobi who is protecting him.  Shinobi is the way that Japanese really pronounce the word which is otherwise known as ninja.  Ninja is the Chinese pronunciation of the word.  That's one of the things that I learned from Claws of the Cat.  I hoped to learn more from  Flask of the Drunken Master which is the third book in the series.



Over the course of this series I'm getting to know the characters.  Since I'm not a Catholic, I hadn't expected Father Mateo to be so sympathetic.  In this book he voices opinions that are dangerous in Japan.  Yet it occurs to me that they would be just as dangerous in Europe of this period if they were truly taken seriously.  Portuguese nobility would not be that different from samurai in wanting to curb any expression of opinions that would threaten their power.

 Another character that I was glad to get to know better was Akechi Yoshiko whose father was murdered in Claws of the Cat.   Yoshiko, who dresses as a male samurai, is now making her way in the world by hiring herself out as a debt collector.  Since the novel is mainly from Hiro's perspective, and he dislikes Yoshiko, it's difficult to get to the truth about this character.   Is she a woman of integrity or is she a conniving woman without principle?  Is Hiro's concept of Yoshiko distorted?  It's interesting, but not unexpected that her clients tend to be women.  Most men don't take Yoshiko seriously.  Yoshiko's life must be difficult.  She would need to have a thick skin and a great deal of persistence to be successful in the career she has chosen.  I actually admired Yoshiko.  There were other strong women in this novel--most notably the victim's devout Buddhist wife, Mina and Tomiko, the daughter of the man who was accused of killing the victim.

I was noticing Hiro's limitations in this book.   I was bothered by the fact that he doesn't understand a basic Buddhist concept.  You'd think that he would have been exposed to it previously given the prevalence of Buddhism and Buddhist ideas in Japanese culture.  I realize that Hiro isn't a Buddhist himself, and that he has issues with religious beliefs in general.   Yet I thought he would be more familiar with Buddhist doctrines.

I also found Hiro's approach to teaching Father Mateo self-defense somewhat problematic, but I suspect that this is an indication that Spann has little knowledge of how the martial arts are taught.   Hiro is described as beginning with basic katas.  Actually, someone like Father Mateo, who has no experience at all with any martial arts would need to begin with breathing.  Then he would need to be taught the proper stance.  Only then could he start with katas.  Ideally, each kata would be taught individually and mastered before the student moves on to the next one in the sequence.

My biggest issue with Hiro in Flask of the Drunken Master is that I think that he got out of hand and committed an act of completely unnecessary violence.  The situation could have been handled differently.  It seems to me that Hiro's judgment isn't always reliable and he has a tendency to cover up his mistakes.  Of course he doesn't want to lose face in the eyes of those whose respect he needs to maintain, but I wish he were more introspective so that he could learn from his errors.  I acknowledge that Hiro is still young.  He will hopefully mature over the course of this series. 

This was not as enlightening as Claws of the Cat.  I also have to say that there were parts of Flask of the Drunken Master that I enjoyed more than others, but I thank the publisher for allowing me access to this book in advance of publication through Net Galley.


Monday, July 6, 2015

The Castlemaine Murders--An Untelevised Phryne Fisher Novel

Until I read The Castlemaine Murders  I had no reason to think about the Australian TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and how it might be different from the books.  I actually didn't know very much about the issue because I hadn't seen very many episodes of the TV series.  A few of them appeared on American public television, and it looked like it was a typical situation of adaptations needing to leave out sub-plots or other details due to the constraints of episodic television.  I understand that.  I try not to let it bother me unless what the TV series leaves out feels very important.

I have a friend on Goodreads whose first exposure to Phryne Fisher was the TV series. She is now reading the books in order,  and made a remark that she preferred the TV version because of the lovely relationship between Phryne and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson.  I was taken aback by this news because I knew that Jack Robinson was a happily married man in the book version, and that he was much too conventional for Phryne in any case.    Yet I still didn't think about how much such a change would matter to me.

I've been reading the Phryne Fisher books in no particular order based on whatever book happened to catch my interest.   Enter The Castlemaine Murders stage right.  I started reading it and saw that Phryne's lover, Lin Chung, was very prominent.

Then I wondered what they had done with this book on the TV series.  I looked at a list of episodes on IMDB and saw that it wasn't there. When I understood that the TV series had engaged in a deliberate de-emphasis of Lin Chung in order to make room for a potential relationship with Jack Robinson, I felt a rant coming on.  There really are some serious implications in this change, and for me The Castlemaine Murders represents why it's important.


Phryne Fisher is controversial because she isn't monogamous, and is often considered promiscuous.  Yet she does have a primary relationship in Kerry Greenwood's books.  He is the man to whom she always returns because he's special, and that special individual is Lin Chung.  He is portrayed as not only attractive, but also competent, intelligent, resourceful,compassionate, courageous, loyal, generous and considerate.  He also has remarkably good taste.  He is rooted in his culture. He feels committed to his family and community.  Unlike many Asian characters in fiction who make their home in the West, identity isn't a troublesome question for him.  He knows who he is, and where he belongs.  He isn't lost and has no feelings of angst.   Yes, he's idealized.  Yet it does mean something that for Phryne Fisher the perfect man doesn't have the same background as she does.  Kerry Greenwood celebrates diversity through the relationship between Phryne Fisher and Lin Chung.

In The Castlemaine Murders Lin Chung comes into his own.  He has carried out important missions for his family before, but in this book he's shown as establishing diplomatic links with other Chinese families and taking a philanthropic role in giving assistance to elderly impoverished Chinese.

The significance of this novel goes beyond Lin Chung's metamorphosis into a family and community leader.  It also deals with race hatred directed at the Chinese in the Australian Gold Rush during the 19th century.  There is mention of an extraordinary individual, a white Australian constable named Thomas Cooke who risked his life to stop an anti-Chinese riot.  There is a commemorative plaque devoted to Thomas Cooke which can be found at the Monument Australia website. This history needs to be remembered.  Racism is a worldwide problem, but it's possible to make a stand against it.  It is the presence of Lin Chung in the book series that allowed Kerry Greenwood to address this theme.

My feeling is that the choice to make Lin Chung a minor background character in the TV series reflects a discomfort with the interracial relationship and with the potential of this character to raise issues that are equally disquieting.  Replacing him in Phryne's life with Detective Inspector Jack Robinson makes the TV series more like a conventional crime series.  It probably broadens the appeal of the TV series, but I consider it a disservice to a character that I love.

The Castlemaine Murders could have made a powerful episode in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.  Fortunately, the novel still exists to show us that a Phryne with Lin Chung is far more interesting than a Phryne without him.




Thursday, July 2, 2015

Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery (A Mary Handley Mystery #1) by Lawrence H. Levy

Second Street Station: A Mary Handley MysteryI had an absolutely good time reading this historical mystery with the most intriguing cast of characters--from Thomas Edison to J.P. Putnam to Tesla (Yes, Tesla was responsible for AC electricity. We're not talking about the car.)

But in the middle of the drama--Who invented what? Who's stealing what? Who is Bowler Hat going to kill next? And heck, even the invention of the electric chair--and the interesting characters, the heroine of the story steals the show. Mary.

Mary's mother is ashamed of her. Mary is unconventional. She doesn't want to get married and have babies. She can't even make French toast. And she curses sometimes. She wants to be a detective. She runs through the streets after bad guys, tearing at her corset so she can breathe. She's scandalous!

And I loved her. She stands up for herself and others, does the right thing, and has a sense of humor, or at least the narrative does. The narrative is different, in a good way. It head hops skillfully between characters, is in third person, and is not jarring. It's very well done.

The mystery is simple: a man is dead. Who killed him? Only the people, inventions, a journal...all makes it more complicated than it needs to be, which also keeps the reader guessing. Not an easy solve, this one.

On top of that, Mary is the first woman working with/on the police force. She must deal with all kinds of discrimination.

There's a romance that seemed out of place and I question why it was there. It fell flat in light of circumstances I can't reveal without spoiling things. I'd rather it not have been there at all. But the addition of real-life people, the inventions and the stories surrounding them...really made this go from cool book to awesome book. I'll be reading more of Mary's adventures. She has a lot of them! From attacks in alleys to martial arts to hijacking trolleys...