Q&A and Giveaway with Karen Cantwell!

Today’s featured author is Karen Cantwell, author of Take the Monkeys and Run! Read below to discover more about Karen and her writing… and enter the giveaway!



Five Frugal eReaders will win a Gifted Kindle Copy of Take the Monkeys and Run! Just leave a comment on this post for entry!

See the bonus entry details after the Q&A!


Thank you for spending some time with us Frugal eReaders! Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Elizabeth! I’m afraid I live a fairly mundane existence in the suburbs raising a husband and four kids (not to mention a dog, three cats and a rabbit). Nothing too exciting to report, but that’s okay, because I love my family and my life! (smile)

When did you first know that you wanted to write? What inspired you to start?

I first caught the writing bug when I was in the 6th grade. I started a couple of “novels” that I never actually completed. But I remember even back then, knowing that I wanted to be a published author some day. I was inspired by some of my favorite books I had been reading at the time: The Phantom Toll Booth, Harriet the Spy, and Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

How would you describe the style of your writing?

Generally, I write humor because I like to leave people smiling. I also feel that I have a style that focuses on character development. I love to create quirky, loveable characters.

Take the Monkeys and Run was such a fun novel. How did you come up with the premise?

First, I’m so glad you thought Take the Monkeys and Run was fun, because when I sat down to write it, that was my primary goal:  give readers a fun time. The premise came to me in two parts. First, I had been wanting to write a mystery novel about a long vacant house and the secrets it might hold. Then, while drafting that idea, my neighbor told me her own story about finding monkeys on her roof one morning soon after moving into our neighborhood over thirty years ago. Somehow I combined those two ideas, threw in a nosy soccer mom with chutzpah, and my first Barbara Marr Mystery was born!

Barbara Marr is witty, gutsy, hilarious, and just all around fabulous. I love her! Is she based on anyone in your life? Do you share similar traits with her yourself?

I have to admit, I love Barb too. (smile) She’s sort of “every mom” I think. Living in the suburbs, I find that mothers all have very similar experiences, thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. so I fold all of those into Barb. She and I are similar in a few ways—we both love movies and either of us knows the joy of showing off cleavage. As far as being gutsy—that’s all Barb. I’m a true chicken to the bone and would run in the face of danger like a sissy, whereas Barb tackles it head on.

What were the challenges of writing this novel? What was your favorite part of writing Take the Monkeys and Run?

Take the Monkeys and Run was the first novel, so I would say the challenges were in actually completing it while keeping the plot unique and exciting. My favorite part of writing this book and all Barbara Marr novels is the aspect of creating fun, interesting characters.

What was your creative process for determining the final title and cover for your novel?

Originally, the book was titled Monkeys in My Trees, and I’m proud to say that under that title, it was a Semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  But during a re-write to polish the storyline, I strengthened the movie theme and decided the title should reflect that. Take the Monkeys and Run is a switch-up of the Woody Allen comedy, Take the Money and Run. I thought it sounded fun and it’s my personal homage to Woody Allen films. Now all of my titles are based on popular movie titles.

Any advice to those who hold the dream of becoming an author?

My only advice—NEVER GIVE UP ON THAT DREAM. Work at it constantly and NEVER GIVE UP.

I know the follow up {Citizen Insane} was just recently released, however, are you working on anything new that you’d like to share??

Yes, Citizen Insane came out in June of 2011 and I’m hard at work writing Silenced by the Yams to be released in December before Christmas. After that will be Saturday Night Cleaver for June 2012.

What is one of your favorite passages from Take the Monkeys and Run?

My favorite passage – YIKES! I have many, but I am partial to the opening scene of the book, so here you go:

The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot.  I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice-cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty.  And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air.  Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka.  Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness.  “Three thirty in the morning.  Am I totally insane, Indy?”


“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat.  What’s the big deal?  My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated.  Pshaw I say.  Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy.  As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr.  I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator.  I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity.  Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses and flip them for a profit.  In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments.  I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenaged daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage.  Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond.  True love.  True fidelity and commitment.  That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out.  So, perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements of which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brynner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin.  He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters.  We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on YouTube and got over twenty-five views.  It was very exciting.  Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies.  I love the movies.  Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep.  Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name, ChickAtTheFlix.com, with the intention of building a movie review website.  I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three.  Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.

After putting the girls to bed, I needed a way to keep my mind off Howard.  I plotted and planned a grand design.  The website would contain reviews of current release movies as well as DVD releases of older classics.  I would also have a weekly blog where I waxed enthusiastic on different subjects of the cinema.  Since I had just recently watched a Men of Mystery Film Festival on the Classic Movie Channel, my first blog title would be, “Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes?  Whodunit Better?”

At two a.m., I was too tired to think about the website, but too upset about my marriage to sleep, so I turned on the TV.  Movie fare included The First Wives Club, A Bill of Divorcement, An Unmarried Woman and The Breakup on HBO.  Disgusted, I turned off the TV, turned out the lights, and contemplated learning voodoo so I could hex Howard with a festering urinary tract infection.

By three a.m., I had been crying for at least twenty minutes when I heard the rumble of a truck outside my bedroom window.  Suddenly, I had something else to occupy my frazzled mind.  The truck was back at House of Many Bones.

And that was how I ended up outside on a cold, fall night with no shoes on.

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us learn more about you and your book! I wish you the best!

Thank you, again, for having me here and letting me talk about my books.  It has been fun and I’m especially happy since The Frugal eReader is one of my favorite websites!


Soccer mom, Barbara Marr, just found monkeys in her trees and a severed human head in her neighbor’s basement. Could her day get any worse? When she gets a little too snoopy for her own good . . . you betcha it does! 

237 pages of laugh-out-loud fun.

“This fun if light novel’s quippy, hilarious narrator, Barbara Marr, has so much warmth and genuine gumption, you’d certainly want her on your criminal investigative team.” – Publishers Weekly

Click here to read more about and purchase Take the Monkeys and Run from Amazon for $0.99

Connect with Karen:

Website: www.KarenCantwell.com


How to enter the Take the Monkeys and Run Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post!

Bonus Entries {leave an additional comment for each one!}:


Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin {$7.99}

The smash-hit debut novel for every woman who has ever had a complicated love-hate friendship.

Rachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy’s fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows she must make a choice between her heart and conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.

This new tie-in edition will coincide with the release of the film, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski.

“Compelling, engrossing — I absolutely loved this book and read it in two sittings because I could not put it down.” - Marian Keyes, author of Sushi for Beginners

“A deftly written and convincing tale of friendship gone comically — at at times poignantly — awry.” – Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries

The average customer review is currently 4.5 stars {551 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase Something Borrowed for $7.99 from Amazon

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom ~ $6.64

Tuesdays with MorrieMaybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world.

“Mitch Albom’s book is a gift to mankind.” ~Philadelphia Inquirer

“A wonderful book, a story of the heart told by a writer with soul.” ~Los Angeles Times

“An extraordinary contribution to the literature of death.” ~Boston Globe

“One of those books that kind of sneaked up and grabbed people’s hearts over time.” ~Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“An elegantly simple story about a writer getting a second chance to discover life through the death of a friend.” ~Tampa Tribune

“As sweet and nourishing as fresh summer corn . . . the book begs to be read aloud.” ~USA Today

The average customer review is currently 4.5 stars (2,207 reviews).

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase Tuesdays with Morrie for $6.64 from Amazon

Hostile Witness (The Witness Series), Rebecca Forster {FREE!}

HOSTILE WITNESS (The Witness Series)When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hotshot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

“This story was inspired by a case my husband handled. As a superior court judge he had to sentence a minor to life in prison. It made me wonder how I felt about minors arrested for violent crimes. Are they most vulnerable among us – capable or horrible violence, perceived as adults and yet emotionally still children?” ~Rebecca Forster (author)

“An enthralling read, with colorful, well-developed characters and the unique atmosphere of the California beach communities.” ~Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

“Blending complex psychological character portraits with spot-on accurate courtroom drama, Forster’s riveting legal thriller keeps the plot twists coming until the last, satisfying page.” ~Alafair Burke

The average customer review is currently 4.5 stars {95 reviews}.

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase Hostile Witness (The Witness Series) for FREE from Amazon

Don’t miss the other two books in the Witness Series (click images for reviews and to purchase) ~ both are also Frugal Finds Under Five!

SILENT WITNESS (The Witness Series)PRIVILEGED WITNESS (The Witness Series)

The Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline B. Cooney ~ $5.49

The Face on the Milk CartonNo one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar–a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey–she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl–it was she. How could it possibly be true?

Janie can’t believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really Janie’s parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?
Caroline B. Cooney is the author of Goddess of Yesterday (an ALA Notable Children’s Book); The Ransom of Mercy Carter; and The Face on the Milk Carton (an IRA–CBC Children’s Choice). She lives in Westbrook, CT.
The average customer review is currently 4.5 stars (595 reviews).

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase The Face on the Milk Carton for $5.49

UPDATE: Price down to $5.69! ~ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel, Mark Haddon ~ $6.64

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A NovelChristopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. 

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

“Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an emotionally disassociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.” ~Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

“A brilliant autism novel has been overdue—and this is it! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is delightful. Mark Haddon shows great insight into the autistic mind, and he brings his young narrator protagonist quite wonderfully to life. I found it very moving, very plausible—and very funny.” ~Oliver Sacks, author of Uncle Tungsten

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brims with imagination, empathy, and vision — plus it’s a lot of fun to read.” ~Myla Goldberg, author of Bee Season

“I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon’s funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you won’t want to lend yours out.” ~Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

The average customer review is currently 4 stars (1,634 reviews).

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel for $5.69

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley ~ $4.79

Brave New WorldAldous Huxley’s Brave New World has the modern age firmly in its sights. With devastating irony and fascinating precision, the novel, published in 1932, describes a futuristic world some six centuries hence in which mankind has been re-engineered for maximum efficiency, and contained and controlled by the constant satisfaction of pleasure. It is a less violent vision than that of Huxley’s friend and former student George Orwell, in 1984, but it is possibly even more disturbing.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is the author of the classic novels IslandEyeless in Gaza, and The Genius and the Goddess, as well as such critically acclaimed nonfiction works as The Devils of LoudunThe Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Born in Surrey, England, and educated at Oxford, he died in Los Angeles.

The average customer review is currently 4 stars (794 reviews).

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase Brave New World for $4.79

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom ~ $7.20

The Five People You Meet in HeavenEddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?” 

“Simply told, sentimental, and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership.” ~Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A book with the genuine power to stir and comfort its readers.” ~Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“There’s much wisdom here . . . An earnest meditation on the intrinsic value of human life.” ~Los Angeles Times
The average customer review is currently 4 stars (1,688 reviews).

Purchase The Five People You Meet in Heaven here for $7.20

Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, Kyra Davis ~ $8.85

Sex, Murder and a Double LatteWhen a mystery writer cries bloody murder, everyone blames her overactive imagination…

Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be. So Sophie knows it’s not paranoia or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can’t tell a good plot from an unmarked grave.
When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose —and that she’s the next target. If she doesn’t solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her grisly imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the ax?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect.…
“. . . a thoroughly readable romp.” ~Publishers Weekly

“. . . just about perfect!” ~Detroit Free Press

“A laugh a page: This one’s a winner!” ~Kayla Perrin, author of Gimme an O!

“A story as delicious as designer coffee — and with twice the jolt . . .” ~Booklist

“Spicy dialogue reads like Sex and the City while the mystery keeps you turning pages.” ~Alina Adams, author of On Thin Ice: A Figure Skating Mystery

The average customer review is currently 4 stars (52 reviews).

Purchase Sex, Murder and a Double Latte here for $8.85

Price Update: Now $5.00! ~ One Day, David Nicholls ~ Was $8.22

One DayIt’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

“[An] instant classic. . . . One of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you’ll ever encounter.” ~People

“Big, absorbing, smart, fantastically readable.” ~Nick Hornby, from his blog

“Those of us susceptible to nostalgic reveries of youthful heartache and self-invention (which is to say, all of us) longed to get our hands on Nicholls’s new novel. . . . And if you do, you may want to take care where you lay this book down. You may not be the only one who wants in on the answers.” ~New York Times Book Review

“Who doesn’t relish a love story with the right amount of heart-melting romance, disappointment, regret, and huge doses of disenchantment about growing up and growing old between quarreling meant-to-be lovers?” ~Elle, Top 10 Summer Books for 2010

“A great, funny, and heart-breaking read.” ~The Early Show [CBS]

“Funny, sweet and completely engrossing . . . The friendship at the heart of this novel is best expressed within the pitch-perfect dialogue/banter between the two.” ~Very Short List

The average customer review is currently 4 stars (191 reviews).

Click here to read customer reviews or to purchase One Day for $5.00 from Amazon

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