Thursday, May 22, 2014

Death Runs Adrift, by Karen MacInerney | Blog Tour | Review and Guest Post

I read a really good book recently, y'all. Let me tell you a little about it.

First, the synopsis, from the author's website:
With her own wedding fast approaching and her mother-in-law dating an unexpected beau, the last thing Natalie Barnes needs is to find a young man shot dead in a dinghy. A note she finds with the body suggests the dearly departed had a secret rendezvous planned with somebody on the island. But when suspicion is cast on a fisherman Natalie believes to be innocent, she begins to wonder if the murder was the result of a lover’s quarrel . . . or a lobsterman’s disagreement gone horribly wrong.

I really like this book!  In fact, I really like this entire series — the Gray Whale Inn Mysteries.  Again, from author Karen MacInerney's website:  Welcome to the world of Natalie Barnes, proprietor of the Gray Whale Inn. This Agatha-nominated series takes place on quaint Cranberry Island, off the coast of Maine; each book contains several delicious recipes you can make at home.
Natalie and (most of) the other Cranberry Islanders are so likable, and their descriptions and characters are so well-written, that I feel like I've gotten to "know" them over the years.  I now think of them as old friends that I am glad to visit with, during the course of each new book.  

I have rated each of the previous books Four Kitties out of Five.  You can read my reviews of #3, Murder Most Maine, here, and #4, Berried to the Hilt, here.  The books in this series just get better and better!  I recommend reading them in order, so as to keep all of the "supporting cast" straight, but a reader new to the series could follow the plot of Death Runs Adrift easily enough.

I really like this book!  Death Runs Adrift is a very enjoyable "feel-good" kind of book — for a murder mystery, of course!  It has romance, just the right amount, for Natalie and John, the handsome leading man.  It has a mystery to be solved — several, in fact — and a few murders, but no gory descriptions.  There are only two guests staying in the Gray Whale Inn, and even though they were strangers, wonder upon wonders, they are perfectly compatible, and are barely a bother to Natalie at all! (That doesn't seem to happen very often.)  My favorite part of Death Runs Adrift is the resolution of a major problem that had arisen.  I think I may have been smiling while I read it.  I can reveal no more without the risk of giving something away, and as this is a spoiler-free blog, all I can say is, 
Death Runs Adrift has earned Four Kitties!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Death Runs Adrift (The Gray Whale Inn Mysteries)
Series: The Gray Whale Inn Mysteries (Book 6)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (May 8, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0738734608
ISBN-13: 978-0738734606


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Guest Post

In Defense of Time Wasting

I was thinking the other day, as I Googled squash trellises and then watched a video of a cat hanging from a ceiling fan, that it is very easy to fritter away time.  You sit down at the computer prepared to write a nail-biting scene about someone holding someone else at gunpoint, when you realize you don’t know much about what kind of gun that person would have.  Naturally, you feel compelled to do some research.  And before you know it, while reviewing at a rather daunting selection of guns at an online sporting store, you notice that the flip-flops your daughter likes are on sale in a different department.  You buy the flip flops – they’re half-price, and it only takes a moment – and as you click ‘complete transaction,’ you realize that summer vacation is mere weeks away, and you haven’t signed anyone up for camps.   

Three hours later, your kids are signed up for pottery camps, you’ve watched two videos about wheel-throwing and browsed the entire selection of handmade mugs at Etsy, and somehow, along the way, have acquired an intimate knowledge of David Hasselhof’s German fan club.  And your manuscript is at the same place it was when you sat down at the computer.

So how does one avoid this perilous trap?

Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t – I enjoy cruising around the Web, and I never know when I’m going to stumble across something interesting.   Other times, if I’m on a deadline, or feel I’ve been led astray a bit too far (or for too long), I just type “XXX” into the manuscript (so I can easily search and find it later) and move on.  Details, I remind myself, can wait until the second draft.  

But a certain amount of time wasting is a good thing.   Playing around and picking up random bits of information can spark connections between seemingly unrelated things, or jog your brain to solve a problem; one of the hallmarks of creative people is that they are often insatiable information gatherers.   Web surfing is procrastination, but it also fills the well; we creative folks need an information bank to draw on when we’re making new things! (I might have to work David Hasselhof’s fan club into my next Margie Peterson book, now that I think of it.)

For me, doing mindless physical tasks (with the exception of laundry and dishes) can be more productive than trying to force a solution that isn’t ready to present itself.  While procrastinating… er, doing research recently, I found an article that discussed how physical activity, like walking or weeding a garden, allows the brain to ruminate, solving problems by making deep connections.  Evidently, physical activity has been shown to boost creativity, and I suspect it works by shutting up our conscious minds and setting our subconscious minds free to do their magic.

I don’t know about you, but my conscious mind is a control freak.  It worries about what hasn’t been worked out yet (like the plots of books I’m writing, at least ninety-nine percent of the time), and likes to nail down as many things as possible.  But if I preplan too much in a manuscript, I get bored; the fun of writing, for me, comes from the unexpected connections that come as the story grows on the page.  Major guideposts are important for me – I like to know if I’m headed for Topeka or Costa Rica when I set out to write a book -- but it’s in the open area between the dots on the map that the magic happens, at least for me.

How about you? Are you a chronic Web surfer, or do you like to work out problems on long, rambling walks? What do you do to boost your creativity? 

About This Author
Critically acclaimed author Karen MacInerney also teaches writers’ workshops and drives a mean carpool. Her book Murder on the Rocks was selected as an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. When she’s not writing or chauffeuring children, she loves to read, drink coffee, attempt unusual recipes, and hit the local hike-and-bike trail. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two children, and escapes to Maine as often as possible.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Courtesy of the publisher, Midnight Ink, I have one print copy of Death Runs Adrift to give away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Death Runs Adrift from the publisher, with no expectation of a positive review.