Lisa Lutz Strikes Again With Trail Of The Spellmans

Document 5 in the Seriously Funny Sleuth Series

Lisa Lutz Strikes Again With Trail Of The Spellmans

If you like stories about crime, spies, sleuths and PI's sprinkled with a dash of whimsy and peppered with witty writing then Lisa Lutz has the secret formula for you in the form of her Spellman series. Her new novel Trail of The Spellmans Document 5 is the latest installment in the series after The Spellman Files, Curse of The Spellmans, Revenge of The Spellmans, and The Spellmans Strike Again. I'm a big fan of crime novels and the first time I picked up one of the Spellman books I was definitely hooked! The Spellman series shares the lives of a family of PI's, from their everyday dysfuntional behavior to their downright ludicrous drama. Lisa Lutz has the type of dry humor that translates so well with the crime genre. See a video of Lisa being interviewed by her future readers for an example of her witty repartee.

Excerpt From Trail Of The Spellmans

Surveillance report: 

Vivien Blake
I do my job. I watch. I take notes. I snap pictures and record video. I document subjects’ activities through a filter of twenty years of disassociation. I don’t judge. I don’t manipulate the evidence. I simply report my findings to the client. The client can use the information however they see fit. At least that’s the line I feed them. But the truth is always a murkier business.
November 2 2330 hrs
Female subject, 5’5”, 125 lbs, dark brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt over a dark green military jacket, exits a San Francisco apartment building at Twenty-sixth and Noe. She walks east down the street, scanning the parked cars. She presses a remote key and looks for a flash of headlights. A BMW winks in the distance. Female subject spins in a circle, checking her perimeter; approaches car; gets inside; and starts the engine. She drives east down to South Van Ness Avenue and makes a left turn, stopping on the corner of Seventeenth and South Van Ness at the establishment of Oscar’s Auto. Subject drives vehicle into covered garage. Unable to establish a visual on subject for fifteen minutes.
2345 hrs
Subject and an unknown male (midforties, heavyset, wearing blue mechanic’s jumpsuit with the Oscar’s Auto logo embroidered on the breast pocket) exit the office of establishment. They approach a tow truck with the same logo painted on the side. Subject slips an unidentifiable object into her pocket and jumps into a truck with unknown male. Investigator follows subject vehicle to a liquor store. Unknown male enters the store and leaves three minutes later with a large brown bag (about the size of a six-pack of beer). I have an eye for this sort of thing. The tow truck returns subject to the residence on Twenty-sixth Street where she was previously seen exiting. Subject rings the buzzer. (Could not establish unit number.) Female subject then enters the building and all visual contact is lost.
The preceding events would appear innocent enough to the naked eye, but let me enlighten you as to what the naked eye missed just a few hours earlier that evening: Female Subject met the owner of the BMW in a bar; Female Subject was not of legal drinking age; Female Subject was not the owner of the vehicle taken to Oscar’s repair shop. Finally—and how could you know this?—Oscar’s Auto is a well-known chop shop, doing an arthritic limbo under the radar of the law. Subject, based on my three weeks of surveillance, was a regular menace to society, masquerading as a highachieving coed.
My phone rang just as I was about to end the surveillance and head home. The caller ID said “The Tortoise.” Someone had been tampering with my phone. “Hello,” I said.
“Where is everyone?” “I don’t know, Dad.” For the record, I wasn’t withholding information. I really didn’t know. “I’m tired of always being alone in the house.” “You’re not alone.” “Other than You Know Who.” “Why doesn’t You Know Who have a nickname yet?” I asked. “I think we’re going with ‘You Know Who’ as a nickname.” “Kind of messes with our animal theme, don’t you think?” “Sometimes you got to break protocol.” “True,” I said. I couldn’t have agreed more. “I’m lonely.” “Sorry to hear that, Mr. Tortoise.” “And I hate my nickname. I should be able to come up with my own.” “Did you call for a chat?” “Dinner did not go over very well.” “The roast?” I asked. “Inedible.” “And that’s something coming from you. Did Mom blame me?” “No, she took full responsibility.” “Where is she?” “Origami or pie making, I don’t remember.” “Those are two very different things, Dad.” “Any action tonight?” Silence. “Are you there?” Dad said. I could hear him tapping his finger on the phone, like it was an old transistor radio. “I thought we were no longer sharing information.” “Only on cases we’re working separately. So, any action?” Dad repeated. “Not unless you consider studying or watching TV—or both—action.” “Good. Can you drop by the house on your way back? I need the surveillance camera for tomorrow.” “What’s tomorrow?” “You know better than to ask questions like that.”
To read more from Trail of The Spellmans visit the Simon & Schuster Canada website. Excerpt published with permission from Simon & Schuster Canada.


You can check out more information on Lisa Lutz and all her books by visiting her website www.lisalutz.com. You can follow @LisaLutz on Twitter and find Lisa on Facebook


                                    Lisa Lutz photo credit © Morgan Dox


The #YMBC will be reading Trail of The Spellmans and chatting with Lisa Lutz on Twitter! This promises to be a very entertaining chat and the date is set for March 28th. Follow tweets by book club host @YMCbookalicious and author @LisaLutz and the hashtag #Spellmans5.


Simons & Schuster Canada is giving away 2 complete Spellman series prize packs! Each prize pack contains all five of the Spellman titles! To enter the draw all you have to do is leave a comment below. For more Simon & Schuster Canada books and author information visit their website simonandschuster.ca, follow @SimonSchusterCA on Twitter and find Simon & Schuster Canada on Facebook.

Yummy Mummy Club Rules and Regs

You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until March 16, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email [email protected] as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize. For more details on upcoming book news sign up for the Bookalicious Newsletter!

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What Was That Number Again?

Take Five With Neil Hedley

What Was That Number Again?

Do you love to listen to the radio? What about the commercials? Do you turn the channel as soon as a particular advertisment comes on? Are there some catchy jingles that just stick in your head? What's with all these questions? Well, did I get your attention? We could all probably share a few likes and dislikes when it comes to radio ads. This is where I get to introduce you to this very accomplished but very modest Canadian treasure named Neil Hedley. Neil has over 30 years of radio broadcasting and he's finally sharing his experiences and opinions in a book called What Was That Number Again? Crimes Against Advertising and How to Prevent Them. Read on to find out more about the book and Neil's fantastic career as a radio copywriter and multi-talented jack of all trades! 

 What or who drove you to share your 30+ years of experience in radio?
 I actually talk about this in the very beginning of the book.  I was sitting having lunch with my wife Tatiana, and three of our friends (Kathy Buckworth, Theresa Albert and JoAnne Wallace).  At some point, the conversation shifted to an examination of why I was still dragging my butt out of bed at 4 in the morning to go do a radio show, when after a 30-year career and a string of #1-rated shows I should have written books, done speaking tours, and whatever else I wanted.

Truthfully the only answer I had was a lack of confidence.  I've never been particularly good at believing in myself.  But my wife came into my life within a few weeks of my mother's very sudden passing.  And all at once, a confidence I'd never known before started welling up inside me.  It was almost as if, by losing my Mom, a voice inside me said "You don't have an unconditional fan anymore; you have to earn your pats on the back and stand up for yourself."  Suddenly I was surrounded by all these amazing people (like Kathy et al) who made me feel like I was one of them.  And the idea of writing the book became a no-brainer.
I still have trouble believing in myself, but at least now I can summon up the courage to fake it when I need to.
 Aside from aspiring radio copywriters, people in advertising or marketing and everyone taking media studies, who else should read WHAT WAS THAT NUMBER AGAIN?
 Anyone who's ever watched the SuperBowl for the commercials.  Anyone who has ever turned on the radio and wondered why a car dealer is yelling at them.  Anyone who's ever had to create anything for work that was meant for consumption outside of their workplace—commercials, PowerPoint presentations, flyers, Facebook posts, even a 'Help Wanted' ad.  Because while the book deals a lot with examples from radio and television, the principles it lays out apply to everything.
 What stories didn't make it into this book? Don't hold back!
 My intention was to avoid pulling punches.  In fact, I think it says that right on the back cover.  And yet, inside, there are a couple of punches that get pulled.  Because much like there are people who claim to be "social media gurus" who have no more professional credentials than my 7-year-old, there are many people in businesses both large and small being given advice by people in the ad industry who are, by way of a timely description, snake-oil salesmen.  I've seen ads run by all sizes of business that actually alienate and offend customers instead of attracting them.  And I realized there were a few examples I used in the book where I think a retailer had been duped by an advertising company that pretended to know what it was doing; those were the times when I held back on naming names.

But you know what really irritates me lately?  The people who get up on their "marketing" high horse and look down on advertising, as if it is somehow beneath them.  They pretend that advertising is for neanderthals, and that enlightened companies can grow successful businesses with cool Facebook pages, carefully crafted mission statements and empowered customer service people.
The best way I can describe it is this: Remember when the TV show "Seinfeld" first started, and people were falling all over themselves to get to comedy clubs?  The comedy boom wore off, because there was a massive demand for live comedy, and insufficient supply of comedians who were worth paying to see.  Advertising was like that.  People heard commercials for Al Palladini, saw commercials for McDonalds and they started doing ads too, even though they were wholly unqualified to do so.
The truth is that advertising is a critical piece of the marketing puzzle, and the reason there are so many people throwing rocks at the ad industry right now is because there's still massive demand, but insufficient talent.  People don't fast-forward through the commercials on their video recorders because they hate the sponsors; it's because the overwhelming majority of commercials suck, and very few people making their living as "marketing geniuses" have the skill set to turn the ship around.  It's the same reason that most television reviewers have never made a television show, most Broadway critics have never acted, and most fashion critics wouldn't be able to design a napkin.  It's very easy to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at something you can't do.
 What do you think the future holds for advertising in radio broadcasting and what's next for Neil Hedley?
 There's been a lot of noise about this lately.  Despite what you might read from the "oracle of the week," the Internet is not about to replace television.  Radio's not going anywhere either.  We've been hearing that radio was on its last legs ever since they started putting 8-track tape players in cars.  Those "experts" were wrong, too.  In the 1960's, ad genius David Oglivy said that television had rendered radio "obselete." Really, David?  Tell Howard Stern that.  Tell Rush Limbaugh's 20 million listeners that.
What I think will happen soon in television, is that we'll go back to the early days of TV when "product placement" was the most widely used form of advertising.  Jack Benny, Bob Hope and countless others used to have characters that would come on their shows specifically to pitch a product.  It was primitive by today's standards, but it worked.  As an example, I think the X-Box people will stop buying time nationally for commercials to run during Big Bang Theory, and will instead pay the producers a fee to have Sheldon and Leonard mention or play a different X-Box game every few episodes.  Hard to fast-forward through it if it's weaved into the show in a way that's not heavy-handed, cheesy or deceptive.
What's next for Neil Hedley?  That's funny, because we've been discussing that at my house lately.  To be honest, there are days when I feel like 32 years in the public eye is more than enough, and it's time to find a gig where no one has a clue I'm there, and my name isn't on a single thing except a list of phone extensions at the receptionist's desk.  But, like the radio business itself, I'm probably not going anywhere anytime soon.  To that end, there's a second book in the works, also about radio but more about the music, and the music industry's relationship with radio.  That one's a more massive project and it's something I've already been nibbling at for about eight months now.  And I'll keep hanging out at CTV for as long as they'll let me.  Because of the book, I'm starting to field calls from radio companies all over the place who want me to come in and do one-day workshops for their clients, which could be a lot of fun.  And if I can find a decent piano player, I'd love to start singing again; maybe even a little "Rat Pack" combo.
 What else should we know about the multi-talented world renowned radio copywriter, tv host, actor, stand-up comic, singer, speaker, consultant, web designer, restaurateur, blogger, father, husband, and author of the #1 advertising book on Amazon.ca known as Neil Hedley?
 Wow—that guy sounds cool.  I'd like to meet him.  He's not the guy that stares back at me in the mirror, I'll tell you that.  One thing I really want to do (beside spend more time with my kids and my wife), is to do more work with charities.  I used to do this crazy stunt when I worked in Waterloo (circa 1994-98) where I would get up on top of a roadside billboard in the dead of winter and live there in a tent for a month at a time.  We did it as a fundraiser for the United Way.  I took that project to the United States with me in 1998 and did it there for several years as well.  My "world record" came about in 2005 when the radio station we were working with bailed out before a billboard event and we did it anyway, on an Internet radio station we built.  Six figures later, it became the largest local fundraising event in the history of Internet radio (a record I believe stands to this day).  Over the years of doing that stunt I've been shot at, assaulted, blown away by an impromptu visit by Doug Gilmour and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and within an inch or two of being blown into the middle of an Interstate during a tornado (picture Lieutenant Dan atop the mast in Forrest Gump).  In a sick, twisted way, I kind of miss it.  But I especially miss working closely with charities to shine a light on what they're doing.
To find out more about Neil Hedley and his work you can visit his website neilhedley.com. You can find What Was That Number Again on Facebook, follow @NeilHedley and the #WWTNA @writegreatspots account on Twitter. 
There will be a What Was That Number Again? book launch party on Saturday, February 25th at Caesar Martini's in Waterloo, Ontario! Check out the WWTNA guest list for the invitation and more information. For a limited time you can get in on a special offer for a signed copy of What Was That Number Again? by clicking here to order!
Neil Hedley has signed copies of What Was That Number Again? to give to 3 lucky Bookalicious readers! To enter the draw all you have to do is leave a comment in the "click here to spill it!" bubble below. Good luck!
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until March 5th, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email [email protected] as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize. For more details on upcoming book news sign up for the Bookalicious Newsletter!
If you enjoyed this article then you might want to check out Buzz Bishop's post about a controversial radio contest.
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The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

A Novel of Catherine The Great

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

Catherine The Great is one of the most intriguing and powerful figures in the history of women rulers. Eva Stachniak is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel Necessary Lies and the Garden of Venus. Her recent novel The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine The Great tells a tale of young princess Sophie's destiny to rule as Catherine The Great. Her story is told through the voice of Sophie's servant Barbara. Any member of royalty knows that loyalty is the key to a powerful monarchy. Barbara becomes Sophie's confidante and does whatever it takes to align herself with the powers that be. She conspires, spies, and manuipulates to suit both  her own ambitions and Sophie's desire to run the Russian royal court. The Winter Palace is an intriguing saga with a skillfully crafted combination of historical fiction and vivid imagination.

Excerpt from The Winter Palace

I could have warned her when she arrived in Russia, this petty German princess from Zerbst, a town no bigger than St. Petersburg’s Summer Garden, this frail girl who would become Catherine.
This court is a new world to you, I could have said to her, a slippery ground. Do not be deceived by tender looks and flattering words, promises of splendor and triumph. This place is where hopes shrivel and die. This is where dreams turn to ashes.
She has charmed you already, our Empress. With her simplicity, the gentle touch of her hand, the tears she dried from her eyes at her first sight of you. With the vivacity of her speech and gestures, her brisk impatience with etiquette. How kind and frank Empress Elizabeth Petrovna is, you have said. Others have, too. Many others. But frankness can be a mask, a disguise, as her predecessor has learned far too late.
Here in the Russian court, I could have warned the pretty newcomer from Zerbst, life is a game and every player is cheating. Everyone watches everyone else. There is no room in this palace where you can be truly alone. Behind these walls there are corridors, a whole maze of them. For those who know, secret passages allow access where none is suspected. Panels open, bookcases move, sounds travel through hidden pipes. Every word you say may be repeated and used against you. Every friend you trust may betray you.
Your trunks will be searched. Double bottoms and hollowed books will not hold their secrets for long. Your letters will be copied before they are sent on their way. When your servant complains that an intimate piece of your clothing is missing, it may be because your scent is preserved in a corked bottle for the time when a hound is sent to sniff out your presence.
Keep your hands on your pockets. Learn the art of deception. When you are questioned, even in jest, even in passing, you have mere seconds to hide your thoughts, to split your soul and conceal what you do not want known. The eyes and ears of an inquisitor have no equals.
Listen to me.
I know.
The one you do not suspect is the most dangerous of spies.
Excerpted from The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak with permission from Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited.

Read more from The Winter Palace on the Random House of Canada website.


Eva Stachniak was born in Poland and moved to Canada in 1981. She lives in Toronto where she is working on the second book of her Catherine The Great novels. The Empire of The Night will tell Catherine's story from her own point of view. You can read more about Eva Stachniak and her novels on her website www.evastachniak.com, follow @EvaStachniak on Twitter, find Eva on Facebook and The Winter Palace on Good Reads.


The #YMBC will be discussing The Winter Palace with special guest author Eva Stachniak on March 14th from 9:30-11:00pm EDT. To join the chat follow host @YMCbookalicious and use the hashtag #WinterPalace to participate. Using Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to follow the discussion is recommended. Find out more information on the #YMBC by visiting www.bookalicious.ca and sign up for the Bookalicious Newsletter for future updates.

Eva Stachniak will be appearing at locations in Canada.
February 27, 2012 in Vancouver, BC, at CBC Studio One Book Club. More info and time TBA.
April 10, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the Toronto Public Library, 40 St. Clair Ave. E. in the Deer Park Program Room - 2nd Floor at 2:00 pm.
April 18, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the Jane/Dundas Library, 620 Jane Street, at 7:00 pm.
April 19, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the High Park Library, 228 Roncesvalles Avenue, at 6:45 pm.
See the author's website for more details and future appearance dates.
Random House of Canada is giving away copies of The Winter Palace to two lucky Bookalicious readers who leaves a comment in the "click here to spill it!" comment bubble below.  Good luck!
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until February 24, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email [email protected] as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize!
For more great books visit RandomHouseCanada.ca, follow them on Twitter: @RandomHouseCA @BookLounge @McClellandBooks and find Random House of Canada on Facebook.

Relish reading,

Wanda Lynne Young