When The Feedsack Dress came out in 2007, I started a blog on Typepad that focused on life during the late 1940s and early 1950s. I stopped posting there in 2012, but you can still link to The Feedsack Kids. I’m posting some new blogs and my favorite old ones here.
Category Archives: Reviews of Carolyn’s books
Reviewers Recommend Sinister Snowman
Despite the winter setting, Show Me the Sinister Snowman found favor with reviewers in July.
Librarians and those who request they add books to their collections should note Midwest Book Review’s recommendation. The reviewer says that “dedicated mystery buffs will appreciate the deftly crafted characters, as well as the unexpected plot-driven twists, turns and surprises.… very highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.” To read the full review, go to the July 2017 issue’s “Mystery/Suspense Shelf” at http://www.midwestbookreview.com/sbw/jul_17.htm.
Another reviewer, the Pople Backyard Farm Blog, names Sinister Snowman one of its Best Reads for Summer 2017. Comments include, “Grab your cocoa and curl up with this arctic delight! … The book gave me a laugh as it reminded me of the fun we had playing Clue as kids as it involves a snowbound property. … Well written, fun and a page turner.” To read full the review scroll through http://poplebackyardfarm.blogspot.com/p/best-reads-for-summer-2017.html.
A few print magazines still review books. In its June/July “Show Me Books” column, Missouri Life said, “Carolyn Mulford has readers intrigued with her latest murder mystery…. Show Me the Sinister Snowman takes readers on an adventure to discover the real truth behind the congressman’s death and the unusual circumstances around it.” You can find the full review at http://aftermathenterprises.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Mo.Life_.Review.Final_.pdf.
With the temperatures in the 90s, the winter setting helps readers stay cool.
Reviewers Recommend Novel for All Ages
Who are the readers for Thunder Beneath My Feet? Reviewers have recommended it for tweens through adults. Just what I wanted to hear.
When I planned a story set during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812, I chose to tell it through the eyes of a teenage girl who must grow up overnight and make judgment calls few adults face. I pictured readers as young as fourth graders and expected most to be sixth to eighth graders. I hoped anyone who likes history would enjoy watching the major characters, who range in age from ten to mid twenties, deal with danger and individual and cultural differences.
Below are excerpts from three recent reviews.
The Historical Novels Review, Issue 77, August 2016 (https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/thunder-beneath-my-feet/): “Thunder Beneath My Feet is a charming novel with a strong historical setting. The landscape, characters, and manners of speech all set the tone perfectly. … the story is made intriguing by its diverse characters and well-visualized time period.
“I would recommend this book to my daughter, particularly when she learns about pioneer life in school. I must admit that I had no idea about these events! The story is meticulously researched and will entertain (and educate!) readers from tweens to adults.”
Boundless Book Reviews, June 30, 2016 (bit.ly/29dEjKF): “This suspenseful drama hooked me from the first page and I read it within two days, I just could not put it down. I highly recommend Thunder Beneath My Feet; this is one of those rare books everyone can enjoy. I absolutely loved it and give it 5 Boundless Stars.”
Missouri Life, August-September 2016: “If you’re a fan of the Titanic movie, then you will love Carolyn Mulford’s fictional story of a tragedy that struck Missouri 205 years ago.”
Reviewer: Achilles Steals the Show
“Phoenix’s dog Achilles plays a star role in the whole series, and with each book, he steals more of the show,” wrote blogger Judy Hogan in her pre-publication review of Show Me the Ashes. The review is posted at http://postmenopausalzest.blogspot.com/2015/12/review-carolyn-mulfords-show-me-ashes.html.
The reviewer liked the other characters, too, ending the review with this: “One fiction teacher I had years ago said that the sign of a good book was its memorability. Did it stick in your mind? Carolyn Mulford’s characters stick in my mind.”
A poet, novelist, and activist, Judy’s latest books are The Sands of Gower: The First Penny Weaver Mystery and This River: An Epic Love Poem.
First Review of Show Me the Ashes
Kirkus Reviews has posted the first pre-publication review of Show Me the Ashes. That’s a good thing.
Five Star will release the book, the fourth in the series, December 16, 2015.
The Kirkus headline reads: “A former CIA agent must find a way to solve a cold case without hurting her best friend’s feelings.” The conclusion says: “Phoenix’s fourth provides both plenty of action and enough likely suspects to keep you guessing.” In between, the reviewer sketches the characters’ relationships and the two cases that former covert operative Phoenix Smith, singer Connie Diamante, and Sheriff Annalynn Carr Keyser investigate.
If you’d like to read the whole review, go to https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/carolyn-mulford/show-me-the-ashes.
If you’d like to read my description and the first chapter, click on the book’s cover on my home page.
Different Readers, Different Reviews
More reviews of Show Me the Gold went online this week, and the difference in comments from those who had read the first two books and who had read only the third one struck me.
In a brief review on the January 7, 2015, Bibliophilic Books Blog, Star noted that Gold has good characters and an interesting mystery and reads very well as a standalone. She added, “I could have gained more insight into the characters from reading the other books in this series.” To read the full review, go to
I hope her readers follow her advice and read Show Me the Murder and Show Me the Deadly Deer, too.
A similar remark came from P.J. Coldren in a much longer review in the January issue of Reviewing the Evidence. She wrote, “There is enough back story to move the reader along, and yet not quite enough— this makes most readers want to go back and read the first two in the series.”
Coldren saw familiar traits in the characters. She wrote, “Connie, the third member of this long-standing trio, seems to take turns aiding and abetting Annalynn, then Phoenix; who doesn’t have a friend like this?” To read the entire review, go to http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/review.html?id=10204.
Judy Hogan, who reviewed the first two books, noted, “This is a fast read, but I like the slower scenes best, where we learn more about the characters. Each book in the series reveals more about the trio of women. Fortunately novel four is already in the works.”
Like many reviewers, she didn’t neglect the canine hero: “The dog Achilles continues to add a wonderful human tone to these novels, as do the various minor small town and rural characters.”
Her review ran January 11, 2015, on http://postmenopausalzest.blogspot.com.
One of the reasons readers and writers like series is the chance to get to know the ongoing characters and watch them change.
Reviewers Value Books’ Characters
Yesterday two reviewers gave me an early Christmas gift, appreciation of the people who inhabit Show Me the Gold, the newly released third volume of my mystery series.
In Living on the Page: Personal Journal of Author Sandra Parshall, the Agatha winner wrote, “The plot has enough twists, turns, and blind alleys to keep readers turning pages, but the greatest strength of Carolyn Mulford’s writing is her gift for creating likable characters with the kinds of flaws that make us all human. … Highly recommended for readers who love character-driven stories with realistic small town settings.”
If you need a model for writing book reviews, read this one and others at http://livingonthepage.blogspot.com/2014/12/review-show-me-gold.html.
Few newspapers give space to writers these days, but Columbia Tribune arts reporter Amy Wilder surveyed the local scene literary scene in “Missouri scribes fill shelves with varied volumes.” She even read Show Me the Gold before she interviewed me.
She focused on the fast pace, the sense of place, and my characters. She wrote, “Mulford is interested in, and draws a lot of inspiration from, social dynamics she has observed in people throughout her life — both while she lived and worked abroad and at home.
“While many things have changed” since the author left Missouri decades ago, “I don’t think people have changed very much,” she said. “I didn’t have an awareness of as many of the strains of Missouri life as a child, as I do as an adult — particularly as an adult who’s come back; you see a place more clearly when you return to it after being away.”
You can read the full article at http://www.columbiatribune.com/arts_life/ovation/missouri-scribes-fill-shelves-with-varied-volumes/article_4a7f2a0d-7e14-5858-86b1-ecff2f4e7041.html.
Those two perceptive reviewers made December 21 a great day for me.
Library Journal and Gumshoe Like Show Me the Gold
One of the most important reviews for any author comes from the Library Journal. With Show Me the Gold to be released December 17, I started searching for the review, only to discover it came out October 1, 2014.
I’d missed two months of feeling good. The reviewer, librarian Viccy Kemp, put Phoenix Smith in the company of three of my favorite mystery protagonists: Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone, and J. A. Jance’s Joanna Brady. Those three writers pioneered in introducing intelligent, tough female investigators.
Here’s the review: “Ex-spy Phoenix Smith and Sheriff Annalynn Keyser respond to a call from a neighboring county in rural Missouri and kill two bank robbers trying to escape an abandoned farmhouse. Now they are the No. 1 targets of the surviving members of the Cantree clan. The third entry (after Show Me the Deadly Deer) in this character-driven series will intrigue fans of female PIs such as Sharon McCone, Kinsey Millhone, or Joanna Brady.”
The December issue of Gumshoe Review delighted me by posting two reviews. Both reviewers gave the nod not only to Phoenix and her two old friends but also to her canine sidekick, Achilles.
Verna Suit concluded, “The complex plot of Show Me the Gold finds Phoenix getting into lots of tight corners as she hunts down the elusive Cantrees. Frequently she is saved at the last second by the alertness of her Belgian Shepherd, Achilles, who easily earns his place in the series’ cover art. This very satisfying book traces the exploits of a 50-something single woman creating a new life for herself in small-town America; a CIA agent’s second act.” (See http://www.gumshoereview.com/php/Review-id.php?id=4513.)
Mel Jacob focuses on how Phoenix and her friends, Acting Sheriff Annalynn Keyser and singer/musical comedy director Connie Diamante, deal with crime and personal problems and what Achilles contributes. Jacob endorses Show Me the Gold by writing, “Readers will be looking forward to [the] next installment on Phoenix, Annalynn, Connie, and, of course, Achilles.” (See http://www.gumshoereview.com/php/Review-id.php?id=4682.)
Nothing beats knowing that readers enjoy my books.
Kirkus Praises Show Me the Gold
“Mulford confronts her troupe of reluctant crime solvers with plenty of action and a few surprises.”
So ends Kirkus Reviews’ 300-word review of Show Me the Gold, the third mystery in my Show Me series. Five Star/Gale, Cengage releases the hardback and e-book editions December 17.
As usual, Kirkus is the first pre-publication reviewer. The publisher sends paperback uncorrected proofs (often called advanced reader copies—ARCs) to national review publications three to four months before the release date.
I send out copies to my own list, which consists mostly of bloggers and newsletters. Few newspapers today carry staff-written book reviews. The reviews, and some interviews, that I generate will come later. So will comments on such sites as GoodReads and Amazon.
That later response makes the first review from a well-respected magazine particularly special.
The entire Kirkus review is posted at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/carolyn-mulford/show-me-the-gold/.
Reviews of Show Me the Deadly Deer
Below are excerpts of reviews of Show Me the Deadly Deer with links to the full reviews.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2013
“Small-town Missouri again proves almost as dangerous to a former CIA agent as European back alleys. Mulford’s second provides plenty of excitement as readers wend their ways through a slew of suspects.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 21, 2013
“Mulford’s depiction of north-central Missouri will surely displease many people who live there. … raising the rural region’s murder rate close to that of St. Louis. Still, the local color can be colorful indeed.” —Harry Levins
Suspense Magazine, “Inside the Pages,” January 2014
“A mark of a good mystery series is when you can pick up any volume as a starting place and not feel lost. That test is passed by “Show Me the Deadly Deer,” the second entry in Carolyn Mulford’s enjoyable Show Me series, set in rural Missouri.
“Carolyn Mulford has crafted a satisfying mystery with enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages. She captures the flavor of the rural life, where everyone knows everyone’s business, but where deadly secrets can still remain hidden.” — David Ingram
Gumshoe Review, January 2014
“Tying all the clues together takes time. An exciting climax places Phoenix and Annalynn in danger. Overall, Mulford provides interesting characters and a good mystery.” —Mel Jacob
Columbia Daily Tribune, “Ovation,” January 26, 2014
“With decades of life experience behind them and healthy independence, none of the women in Mulford’s books could be described as one-dimensional, weak or foolish. They are fully human, with complex personalities and dynamic interactions with the world and one another.”
“Show Me the Deadly Deer flows with deceptively simple language and a satisfyingly complex plot.” —Amy Wilder
Reviewer Calls Characters Appealing, Story Compelling
Dozens of editors and publishers have rejected my nonfiction and (especially) fiction manuscripts over the years, so forgive me if I report some reassuring praise.
In the February issue of Gumshoe Review Magazine of Mystery Literature, reviewer Verna Suit ended her review of Show Me the Murder with, “Phoenix is a can-do heroine and all three of the women are appealing characters. The reader cheers when Annalynn steps up to take control of her life. Plot and setting are convincing and the compelling story keeps one reading. I look forward to finding out what the future has in store for all three of them.”
The 15 other books reviewed in the issue included Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King, Calculated by Death by J.D. Robb, and Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly.
To read the full review of Show Me the Murder, go to http://www.gumshoereview.com/php/Review-id.php?id=3558.
Kirkus Reviews Show Me the Murder
The first review of Show Me the Murder came from Kirkus Reviews, the venerable magazine that carries pre-publication reviews.
The reviewer sums up by writing, “The first in Mulford’s planned series explores the unsettling rise of crime in rural areas and provides an amusing and touching look at the reunited gal pals.”
The magazine reviewed 17 mysteries and 258 other books in the issue. You can read the entire review of Show Me the Murder on the website ((http://www.kirkusreviews.com/search/?q=Show+Me+the+Murder) or on page 33 of the January 1, 2013, issue (Vol. LXXXI, No.1).
The book will be released February 15, 2013.