Nadaness In Motion is the book blog owned by Nada Adel Sobhi and it is where honest book reviews meet author interviews, guest posts, and personal writing ranging from poetry to short stories alongside the Takhayyal/Imagine writing prompt challenge. ---
“You cannot kill a breeze, a wind, a fragrance; you cannot kill a dream or an ambition.” - Michel Onfray
Amanda Tucker is excited about opening her fashion design studio in Shops On Main, a charming old building in historic Abingdon, Virginia. She didn't realize a ghost came with the property! But soon Maxine "Max" Englebright, a young woman who died in 1930, isn't the only dead person at the retail complex. Mark Tinsley, a web designer with a know-it-all attitude who also rented space at Shops On Main, is shot in his office.
Amanda is afraid that one of her new "friends" and fellow small business owners is his killer, and Max is encouraging her to solve Mark's murder a la Nancy Drew. Easy for Max to want to investigate--the ghostly fashionista can't end up the killer's next victim!
Book Review by Nadaness In Motion
Designs on Murder by Gayle Leeson is the first book in a new paranormal cozy mystery series. Amanda decides to go on a hunch and start her fashion business in Shops on Main, a building housing several other small businesses. There she discovers her ability to see the place's resident ghost, Maxine "Max" Englebright.
Soon after she settles in, Amanda is confronted by the death of one of the shop owners in the building, Mark the web designer. Meanwhile, Max decides that she and Amanda should take up the task of solving Mark's murder. Despite thinking that this is a crazy idea, the reader can see that Amanda has already been curiously asking questions to uncover more about Mark and possibly his killer.
"I heard [Mark] on the phone a day or two before he was killed telling someone that he was about to get an influx of cash."
We also learn that Mark had a mystery girlfriend. Soon after the murder, one of the shop owners, Janice, claims her shop was broken into, adding to the mystery and the possibility that Mark's killer was still looking for something he couldn't find with Mark.
"Gee, that was awkward," she said. "I was sure you knew."
"That I'm a ghost."
I loved the cast of characters. Max is smart and hilarious; she constantly lightens the mood and puts Amanda in embarrassing situations. With Max's presence, Amanda finds a friend and becomes attached to the place. Amanda teaches Max how to use her tablet and downloads books and movies for her to read while the shop is closed. I loved their relationship.
"The big difference between you, me, and the old lady in the book is that fictional characters don't get killed for sticking their noses into other peoples' business."
I also liked Amanda's friendly and loving grandfather, who, when Max was not around, brainstormed with her about suspects and ideas. There are lots of other likeable characters in Shops on Main, many of which I expect to appear in later books.
Designs on Murder is narrated from Amanda's first person perspective. There is also lots of conversation, making the pace quite quick and enjoyable.
"Max fanned her face with both hands. 'That man was looking at the small of your back the way a child looks at a chocolate cake.'"
We also get some mystery around Max's death in the 1930's as well as a possible relation between Max's family and Amanda's. Later, a psychic, brought in by Mark's mother, says she could feel Max's presence in Shops on Main, noting that the person – that is Max – may have fallen ill or have been poisoned.
"I can tell you one thing. Your son died because of someone else's secret. But that secret will soon be revealed."
I disliked that Amanda had to often repeat herself when she retelling certain events to her grandfather or other characters. I thought these could just be mentioned in narration rather than half long quotes in the book.
Apart from that, I think Designs on Murder by Gayle Leeson is a five-star humour-filled read with loveable characters. I'd definitely pick up the following books in the series. Overall rating: 5 stars
Update: This post originally included giveaways, which have ended have been removed for space (and to avoid endless scrolling!)
About the Author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. Gayle has also written as Amanda Lee and Gayle Trent. As Amanda Lee, she wrote the Embroidery Mysteryseries, and as Gayle Trent, she writes the Daphne Martin Cake Mysteryseries and the Myrtle Crumb Mysteryseries.
Going forward, Gayle intends to keep her writing until the Gayle Leeson name. She has a series of women's fiction novellas set in a shopping mall that has been converted to include micro-apartments (the Kinsey Falls series) and has just begun this new cozy series, the Ghostly Fashionista Mystery series.
Another Down South Cafe novel is slated for release in August with book two in the Ghostly Fashionista series scheduled for October.
a long while, I've wanted to read self-help and development books, particularly those on the
writing craft. BUT I had a problem. And because of it, I kept postponing
reading those books.
I picked up one and then the other. Two years later, and not as many books as I
would have liked done, I still have that fear.
So what is it?
it's not just one problem. They're several and all linked together.
books contain lots of information and that freaks me out.
starters, my memory isn't as good as I would have liked it to be. It's a little better than Dory's in Finding Nemo, but
close enough, especially when it comes to things I 'really' need to remember. Even back in school, I couldn't get high grades in certain
subjects because I couldn't memorise stuff.
if my memory were good – I won't say impeccable - it's hard to remember
everything you read.
you read fiction, you don't have to remember "everything." You can
read 300 or 500 pages and come out with a plot, characters, a few events, and
some ideas. Even if you forget that you read a novel, nothing happens, since you're often reading for your own leisure or for fun. But when you read a self-help book, for me, the situation
want to read this or that book so I can apply the content to my daily life or
to my writing, or both.
multitude of information simply scares me. How on earth would I remember all of
this? And how would I begin to apply it if I can't remember it?
I started reading, I realised that unless I had a photographic memory, I would
never be able to remember everything and most likely a lot of people won't
I've resigned myself to the fact that there is no way what I read would stick,
whether I read the book once or several times even.
-highlight the bits I think are important (and use
-write notes whenever and where I need.
These should help me remember what I was thinking when I read that particular
comment or idea.
-add bookmarks in places where I've written down notes or
highlighted something important so I'd know where to go when I need something
-"maybe" write a summary and/or book review that
can help as well.
important thing I learnt is that with books on the writing craft, don't try to read more than a few pages in one
sitting. You'll end up with a headache and whatever little might stick in your
I love to constantly develop myself but
let's face it, being surrounded by a tonne of knowledge can be scary. So, baby
steps and trying to avoid perfection are key. Something I'm trying to remind myself, while also making progress. If this isn't enough, I'll be starting a new project - well actually job - that heavily relies on self-help books! Talk about facing one's fears, right?
are some self-help writing-related books I've read
and her twin brother Jon are heirs to an ancient magical realm and its most
valuable treasure, an enchanted library. The library endows readers with the
supernatural means of crossing into the uncharted inner-sanctum of the second
dimension, inhabited with peculiar and sometimes perilous creatures.
children are emboldened with a wondrous mystical gift that no other being has
ever possessed. But fate intervenes and triggers a disastrous inter-dimensional
war that disrupts the fabric of time and space spanning multiple universes,
tearing destiny a new and savage pathway.
two must rescue their world from a phantom hybrid alien race controlled by a
demented dark-wizard, Jeremy Sermack. They will either assimilate or be
they be the saviors the prophets spoke of, or will they retreat to the
perceived safety of their distant homeland?
Review by Nadaness In Motion
delaying the writing of this review for some time now, a few months actually.
But here goes…
TwoSpells by Mark
Morrison is a bit of an odd fantasy middle grade novel. Sarah and Jon are twins
visiting their strange grandparents. Their mother leaves shortly after they
arrive and the grandparents begin telling a tale that sounds like a bed-time
story rather than "history." The events and the way they were told aren't
I have mixed
thoughts about TwoSpells. On one hand, the pace was really quick but the
action and the magic itself took a while to occur. Until half of the book, no
real magic had taken place and the reader is unsure how exactly Jon and Sarah
are special. True, their mother has many secrets of her own but how are they
special? What are their abilities? And, until the end of the book it's not clear
what those abilities are.
Was reading while waiting for a doctor's appointment. Photo by Nadaness In Motion
I felt that
the author was trying to cram too many genres together; fantasy with a bit of
science fiction and some steampunk. I think it was too much and it didn't help
me visualise a few scenes. It also stretched some scenes more than necessary.
interesting part is that they visit a library where readers can join the
characters within the books they're reading, provided that they don't alter the
events of the book. The parts Jon and Sarah experience entering a book for the
first time and their do's and don'ts was fun to read.
leave the story, simply open the book to any point in the story and begin
reading backward. Finally, the most important rule of all: you are witness
only. Do not participate. Do not attempt to change the story. You may end up
trapped in there-or worse."
Overall, I think
TwoSpells could be a good book but it needs a lot of work. Some comments
or quotes that came in the end should have been made at the beginning. Things need
to be clearer about Sarah, Jon and their strange but magical family. How does
that magic work in this world… among other things.
rating for TwoSpells: 2 stars
I received a free copy of TwoSpells from its author Mark Morrison in
exchange for an honest review.
Publication date: 5 March 2019 Hardcover: 336 pages ISBN-10: 0451489632 ISBN-13: 978-0451489630 Digital ASIN: B07DMZPLWY
Theodosia Browning serves tea and solves crimes in Charleston, a city steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO's soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO's personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques' dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancée of one of Theodosia's dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
Exclusive Interview with Laura Childs by Nadaness In Motion
Nadaness In Motion:
Having written 20 books in the Tea Shop Mystery series, what has been your
favorite thing about the books and/or writing process?
Childs:The absolute coolest thing is that I’ve never
run out of ideas. There are so many delicious ways to kill someone that I’m
always anxious to start the next book. I also love developing a “theme” I can
carry through the entire book. It can be something like wine tasting or
Halloween or a hurricane – a kind of hook that weaves its way through your
Nadaness In Motion:
How many years have elapsed between book 1 and book 20?
Childs:It’s been 19 years and book 20 has just come
out. I’m also halfway finished with book 21 and have notes for book 22.
Nadaness In Motion:
How many books do you write per year?
Childs:It varies between 1 and 4 books. Last year
was a super busy writing year with 4 books, this year I’m slacking off and
writing 2 books.
Nadaness In Motion:
Has your writing process changed over the years? For example, have you picked
up new hacks that have helped you write better or faster?
Childs:I think I write better and faster because I’m
doing it constantly. The imagination is a powerful muscle and the more you bend
and stretch it, the more flexible and responsive it becomes. The other thing I
do is read constantly – sometimes 3 books a week. It’s amazing what you can
learn (plotting, pacing, twists, etc.) by studying other writers!
Nadaness In Motion:
Has your former role as CEO and Creative Director of a marketing firm helped
you with your books? How so?
Childs:I’m lucky in that I developed the skill to be
creative on demand, despite the pressure of tight deadlines. I also have a
distinct knack for knowing what appeals to an audience. And I’m pretty darn
good at figuring out how to market a product – even when it is my own.
Nadaness In Motion:
Since your books can be read as standalones, what aspects do you have to remind
your readers of between books?
Childs:Actually, not that much. I do a bit of
backgrounding on the main characters, of course. Then I re-introduce some of
the secondary characters and then quickly move on to following up with hints or
suspicious that I planted in the previous book.
Nadaness In Motion:
When you’re not writing or researching something for your books, what would you
Childs:Traveling, shopping, having lunch with
friends. But please realize, I usually write six days a week.
Nadaness In Motion:
If you could pick up only one of your series to be made into a TV series, which
would it be – and why?
Childs:My Tea Shop Mysteries have already been
optioned twice for TV (I’m still waiting), so I think the Scrapbooking
Mysteries would be perfect. Since they’re set in New Orleans, the plots could
be quite exciting (Mardi Gras, bayous, vampires!) and I’m positive the camera
would love the city’s spooky, ethereal atmosphere.
Nadaness In Motion:
Apart from book tours, what else do you do to market your books?
Childs:My rule of thumb is that an author needs to
do at least 50 different things to publicize a book. My publisher handles about
a dozen things (ARCs, contests, press releases, Book Bub, interviews, etc.), so
that leaves me doing blog tours, guest posts, Q&A’s, library visits,
bookstore visits, book club talks, presentations to librarian groups, web
contests, public relations, media relations, industry book show appearances,
running print ads and radio spots, promos on Shelf-Awareness.com, Bookclubbing,
Facebook posts, Facebook ads, Bookmovement, DearReader, Kindle Nation, and a
whole bunch of other things. It’s exhausting – it almost kills you – but it
the Cliff’s Notes on Laura Childs’s newest mystery Broken Bone China.
catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally, tea shop maven Theodosia and
her tea sommelier Drayton bask in a hot air balloon ride. But as the skies
darken, a rogue drone buzzes in and strikes a nearby balloon, causing an
enormous, fiery explosion. People are dead and one of them is Don Kingsley,
software bigwig and owner of a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag.
Kingsley’s widow presses Theodosia for help, suspects abound in the form of
rival antiques dealers, museum representatives, and private collectors. Five
million dollars is also missing from the software firm and the fiancé of Angie
Congdon (Theodosia’s dear friend and B and B owner) also becomes a prime
In the midst
of all this drama, Theodosia still has to charm her tea shop guests, manage the
photo shoot at Drayton’s historic home, and pull off a Beaux Arts Tea, her most
elaborate tea party yet. In the tradition of all Laura Childs’s previous New York Times bestselling
thriller-cozies (thrillzies!), Broken Bone Chinadelivers a breakneck pace, heart-warming moments, and recipes that
include Eggnog Scones, Strawberry Butter, Banana Pudding Pie, Parmesan Stuffed
Mushrooms, and Sea Scallops with Brown Butter.
About the Author:
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:
The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.
The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!
The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.