Thursday Review: Killing it on Kobo

51buyukczulMy Review


Over six years, the author, Mark Leslie Levebvre built Kobo Writing Life from the ground up. Killing it on Kobo is a must-read for any independent publisher. Mark Leslie Levebvre details the ins-and-outs of the Rakuten Kobo business, it’s culture and its reach into the world of books. It’s written in a clear conversational tone that makes it fascinating and easy to read.

I highly recommend it, and gave it a 5-star rating on, Bookbub and Goodreads.

My Interview with Christine Munroe at Kobo

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Christine Munroe, the director of Kobo Writing Life at Rakuten Kobo chatted with me on my podcast Blood, Sweat, and Words. You can hear her full interview here.

My Notes

I took eight pages of notes, but here are the highlights I think might interest you.

  • Over six years, the author, Mark Leslie Levebvre built Kobo Writing Life from the ground up and recently moved on to work at Draft 2 Digital
  • the name Kobo is an anagram for the word book.
  • Kobo was born in Canada out of the country’s largest book retailer, Indigo Books and Music, which is similar to Barnes and Noble in the U.S.
  • in 2012 the Japanese company Rakuten took over, changing it from a start-up to a major company in its own right with a vastly larger reach
  • Kobo is the number one digital bookseller in France, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It has a strong foothold in Canada
  • differs from Amazon in two important ways: 1. It sells only books. 2. It works on a collaborative business model. Rather than trying to dominate the book market in countries it seeks to work with the brick and mortar stores
  • “…if you are looking to expand your swales to other countries and to gain a readership in other global territories, and, perhaps most importantly, not be dependent upon a single retailer for the majority of your writing income (also known as ‘publishing wide’) leveraging Kobo should be among the strategies you employ.”
  • three huge advantages: Kobo Plus (a reader subscription service), Overdrive (a library connection) and their Promotion Tab
  • on Kobo every pre-order sale has twice the effect on ranking as a regular sale. There are ways to optimize your pre-orders
  • the Kobo team prides itself in its culture of collaboration. They go out of their way to help authors get their books to readers. They respond to all help inquiries quickly and thoroughly.
  • They link to Findaway Voices for audio
  • They have their own weekly podcast called Kobo Life.

Thursday Reviews: One Book in the Grave & Hollywood Homicide

One Book in the Grave, by Kate Carlisle

51w3wvqvdll._sy346_One Book in the Grave is the first book in Kate Carlisle’s cozy, Bibliophile Mystery series.  It opens with the line, “Hello. My name is Brooklyn Wainwright and I am a book addict.” Being a bit of a book addict myself, Carlisle won me over immediately. There are lots of fascinating bookmaking details in this story and I like it when I get to learn something new when I’m reading a mystery. Filled with endearing, quirky characters the cozy made me smile a lot.

The plot is truly intriguing and the men are sexy, but I found myself slowing down in the middle. The banter between the characters became predictable and tiring. I give it four stars and I’m posting my review on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

I recommend this book for younger cozy mystery lovers.


Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett

51t10xrtstlHollywood Homicide, the first book in the Detective by Day series, won the Lefty in 2018 (i.e., an award was given at the Left Coast Crime Conference) and the second book in the series is nominated for a Lefty in 2019, so I had to read one for myself.

I quickly learned that Hollywood Homicide also won the 2018 Anthony award and the 2017 Agatha award for the best first novel.

I was impressed. Filled with quick-witted one-liners and humorous situations Hollywood Homicide made me smile a lot. Consider this line, “Hollywood is high school with prettier clothes and better lunch options.”

The story opens with the down-and-out heroine, Dayna Anderson, applying for a job as a half-naked barista. She has three one-dollar bills left to her name, her father is losing the family home, and her once lucrative job as an actress is over. That’s when she sees a fifteen thousand dollar reward posted for information about a deadly hit and run accident, which she almost witnessed.

While I enjoyed the humor, I found the banter repetitive and predictable, I think, to be fair to the writer it’s aimed at a younger audience. I give it 4 stars and I’m posting my review on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

As always, click the covers for a buy link.


Thursday Reviews: A High-End Finish and Starlight …

A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

A High-End Finish is the first Kate Carlyle book I’ve read, and you bet your cozy cup of coffee I’ll be reading more. It has everything in it 517mszr+w4lto make a wholesome, entertaining read.
What woman hasn’t dreamed of owning a Victorian house, having a handsome cop lend her a hand, sharing a kiss with a charming mystery writer who used to be a Navy Seal and compliments you constantly? Sigh.
If that doesn’t interest you enough, let me tell you it’s a well-paced mystery with vividly depicted characters and a nasty murderer. The seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California is gorgeous. The heroine has a strong, independent character and yet she’s emotionally vulnerable. She’s the kind of woman you would want to hang out with, self-effacing, funny and loyal to her friends and family.
Carlisle pulled me into the book with the story of Shannon, the heroine, going on a blind date with a man who seems charming at first, but then assaults her. She aims her kick for his family jewels and the story goes on from there.
I recommend this book for lovers of cozy mysteries with good plots and charming characters. I gave the book a 5-star rating on, Bookbub and Goodreads.

Starlight and Tinsel by Judith Hudson

41n1gxn+iwl._sx311_bo1,204,203,200_Starlight and Tinsel is a heartwarming story about two highly-independent individuals who lived nomadic lives until they arrived in the small town of Fortune Bay. In each other, they find love and a sense of home.
Judith Hudson’s richly descriptive prose pulled me into this story. From the first page, I rooted for Star, a woman who has had a hard life.
I recommend this novella for readers who like romantic, women’s fiction. (5 stars)

You can hear my Christmas podcast episode with Judith here.

Thursday Review: Death of a Dapper Snowman and more from James Bond

This week I’m reviewing two fast and funny stories.

Death of a Dapper Snowman (Stormy Day Mystery, Book 1)

by Angela Pepper

The opening of this story is AMAZING. Pepper pulled me slowly into her tale and then 51E1msNhz2Lbam, knocked me off my reading chair with a shocking event. I don’t want to give away the plot, but she hooked me.

Stormy Day is a likable heroine, the kind you want to hang out with. She left her big-city job to return to her hometown to help her dad recuperate from hip surgery and ease into retirement. The characters Stormy meets are so richly drawn the town becomes very real.

And then there’s the cat, Jeffrey. He’s adorable and indispensable.

The mystery is so well plotted  I didn’t figure it out until the end. I highly recommend it to readers who love cozy mysteries. (5 stars).

Click the cover for the Amazon link. Last I looked it was free.

Secret Bond (Jamie Bond Mysteries Book 2)

by Gemma Halliday and Jennifer Fischello

Jamie Bond runs a detective agency, which mostly tracks down cheating spouses, but this time the main case is personal. The gun used to shoot her father, Derek, three years ago has been found. In order to protect her, he hasn’t told her what really happened. Slowly she unravels the truth and almost gets herself killed.

51Gcb9mXOjLThe two secondary plot lines add a lot of humor. One involves a nudist colony and the other requires her best friend Danny (who we all know wants to be more than a best friend, and who is as straight as they come) posing as a gay guy. Lots of jokes, and situational humor.

Adding to the bedlam is an emerging love triangle between Jamie, her best friend Danny and the grief-stricken DA Aiden. I’m personally rooting for Danny, but I’m not at all sure he’ll win and of course, I have to read the next story to find out.

Its’ the second Bond mystery I’ve read and I’m eager to start a third.

I strongly recommend it for people who like humorous cozies, with Janet Evanovich-like humor. (5 stars)

Click the cover to get the Amazon link.


Thursday Review: The Girl in the Mayan Tomb


If you like the adventures of Indiana Jones, you’ll love this book. It’s an action-packed archeological thriller, filled with strong, well-defined characters that had me sitting on the edge of my seat from the first word to the last. There are many things I like about this story, but I’ll focus on one. The story opens when a young boy discovers the location of an ancient archeological site; that event captured my imagination and from there I was hooked.

I’m looking forward to reading more in Kevin Tumlinson’s,  Dan Kotler series.  I highly recommend The Girl in the Mayan Tomb to readers who like thrilling, archeological adventures.

Amazon Link

Thursday Review: Robyn: A Christmas Bride

Robyn: A Christmas Bride

(Book 9 in the Brides of Noelle  Series)

by Jacqui Nelson

51ceT3gOvKLJacqui Nelson swept me away to the small town of Noelle, Colorado in the year 1877, The love affair between Welsh tomboy Robyn Llewlyn and Max Peregrin isn’t happening fast enough for Robyn, so she decides to become more ladylike, thinking that will surely snare his heart. These two have a torturous time of it. We know they love each other and we suspect that deep down in their hearts they know that too, but their reluctance to share their true feelings keeps them apart. The question becomes, will another bachelor steel Robyn away from Max?

The characters in this story are strong and bold. Grampa Gus is once again my favorite. His gruff manner hides a soft and endearing heart. Robyn’s three big brothers are great fun and the women of Noelle create a perfect tableau.

I loved the story, and I highly recommend it for readers who like sweet romances with happy endings that leave you with the feeling that all is right in the world. (5 stars)

Click on cover for Amazon link.

Thursday Review: The Banshee of Castle Muirn and Sherlock Holmes

51dEAkJqOTLThe Banshee of Castle Muirn

by Sheila Currie

Sheila Currie’s debut novel, The Banshee of Castle Muirn, is a romantic fantasy steeped in Celtic lore. Currie skillfully drew me into the story with a rich setting, twisting myth, legend and historical detail into a magnificent crucible for love. It is the story of a young woman with the powers of a Banshee living in a troubled time. She would like to live a simple life with the man she loves, but all the forces are against her. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and recommend it to readers who enjoy Scottish historical romance.

Buy Link


Sherlock Holmes and the case of Brash Blonde

by Gemma Halliday & Kelly Rey

This is the second book by Gemma Halliday that I’ve read. While I believe it’s targetted to51xIQsDHsXL a younger audience, I loved it. I doubled over with laughter when the heroine interrogates a yoga instructor from the sixties and worries about twisting her pancreas. Omigosh, these ladies can write. The mystery is intricately woven with a heavy dose of red herrings. The characters jump off the page. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes witty, cozy mysteries.

Buy Link