Ink and Shadows (A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Novel Book 4) by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

A Witty and Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery

New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams is back with the latest in her acclaimed Secret, Book, and Scone Society series.”

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsLocal bookstore owner Nora Pennington is back on the case in Miracle Springs, North Carolina when an accidental death turns out to be something much more sinister…
 
Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . .

My Review:

My first entry into the series and it’s an amazing introduction to Nora Pennington and her shop, Miracle Books, in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. Either the author has an amazing and thorough history with books or spent months in research as this novel was a treasure trove of titles for all occasions.

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsFirst, protagonist Nora is part of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, she and three other women—close friends, confidants, and co-conspirators—they contribute to the investigations. Nora runs a themed showcase but this year her fictional heroines (powerful women display) runs amok of a group of ladies who decide the books pose a dangerous theme for young, impressionable minds.

In the meantime, a new shopkeeper has popped up, selling CBD oil products along with natural remedies, scents, soaps, and gift baskets. It is her daughter that raises a number of red flags and finding a private moment with the girl offers her help. It isn’t long before the girl is found deceased in Nora’s backyard.

Before I get caught up describing the well-plotted and paced mystery, I must say the support characters in this book add such a dimension to the narrative you want to sit in on their book nights and share a glass of wine with them. And Sheldon, her assistant—wonderful. Later in the book, an old college roommate comes back into her life and wouldn’t we all have loved to known anyone like Bobbie!

If you never had a love for books before, this book should build the flame in your heart that has you running to your closest library. There to smell the pages, inhale the scent of hardbacks filled with knowledge and adventure, or coax out beautiful poems, prose, and memorable thoughts by the authors who shared. There is a reverence in the collection of good books.

Surely there is a category level above cozy (intellectual cozy?) that includes the emotion, experience, and gravitas imparted in these pages. From beautiful prose to too many quotables to list here, and in between, the subtle investigation, the gentle gleaning of leads that weaves in through the lives of the characters, their way of life, and their individual concerns.

An unusual cozy mystery in that the victim(s) are not hateful people and no love lost. The antagonist only gradually prodded out after one of few red herrings or twists. Unusual number of references to particular names or events only an older generation might recognize and an interesting tidbit of information regarding CBD oil—COA—Certificate of Analysis (…”document from a lab that shows the exact number of various cannabinoids in a CBD product…customers know that they’re buying products containing no THC.”)

I might have missed the explanation of “ticket agent’s office,” and “book pockets” by reading this as my first entry to the series. Still, this novel served quite well as a fascinating standalone for me. I read one of the author’s books in the Book Retreat Mystery series, Murder in the Reading Room and enjoyed. This one opened a whole new realm of cozy for me. Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YR9M54

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written dozens of mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves reading, coffee, bubbly, jigsaw puzzles, baking, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and rearranging her bookshelves.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For book club discussion questions, lists of Nora Pennington’s bibliotherapy titles, and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Act of Revenge: A Medial Thriller (A Doc Brady Mystery) by John Bishop MD – a #BookReview #medicalthriller

I have a question for you: Can you really enjoy reading a medical thriller? The CE and I read this one.

 Book Blurb:

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDPlastic surgeon Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.

One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.

But it gets worse.

Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.

Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?

My Review:

Oh yes, refreshing as it is with down home Dr. Jim Bob Brady. Yeah—Jim Bob. From Texas. He’s an orthopedic surgeon, who, at the age of 51 has decided he’s paid his dues and slacked back a bit from the grind. He has to put in continuing education time for his license—why not a conference in Snowmass, Colorado for a little bit of February skiing?

“He had a full head of thick black curly hair and was ruggedly handsome. I disliked him immediately.”

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDIf you’ve ever snow skied, you know it’s that last run of the day when your legs feel like jelly but you JUST don’t want to give it up that accidents are most likely to happen. And it does. Doc Brady plows into a lesser skier who turned into his path. And wouldn’t you know? He’s another doctor from his own area of Houston.

No, Jim Bob won’t do the surgery but they do get him back home and one of Brady’s colleagues does the surgery. Dr. Brady and his wife, Mary Louise keeps up on his progress while Mary Louise befriends Lou Edward’s wife. She has lupus and is in ill health due to breast implants Edwards himself insisted she undergo. Of course that opens the disclosure that Dr. Edwards, a plastic surgeon, having been sued in regard to related silicone breast plant injuries, had his malpractice insurance cancelled. Come to find out, so has many other plastic surgeons with the same kind of practice. Their insurance based right in the Houston area.

Hooboy, you do get some medical jargon, but it’s fascinating stuff and really doesn’t slow the well-plotted storyline. I really enjoy that personable Dr. Brady and his family, his friends, the local police with whom he’s worked before. This is Book 3 of the series, but even if you’d not started with Book 1, this would work just fine for you. The characters all work well and it doesn’t take long before you become engaged. So medical malpractice insurance and breast augmentation discussion and can be interesting.

An entertaining medical thriller mystery with a protagonist full of wit and charm, that oozes a sense of humor that’s contagious. (I also enjoyed Book 2, Act of Deception, also an easy read.) It’s a writing style full of tenderness and affection.  The author keeps it on the lighter side. He’s a doctor who is brilliant at what he does and he does enjoy getting into an investigation, even when it appears to be getting dangerous. The 1990s setting puts the reader in an era of medical discovery and technology. The conclusion comes about as easy and satisfying as the rest of the narrative without extended blow-by-blow discussion that extends the page count another twenty. Very entertaining. Trust me.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Book 4, please.

His Review:

Could some people need to be dispatched? I nominate Paul Thompson, the head of a malpractice insurance firm, as a possible candidate. He is a bully, rude and despicable to say the least. Doctor Jim Bob Brady, Orthopedic Surgeon, should refrain from investigating. But his friend, Dr. Lou Edwards is missing and presumed to be the villain.

The writer, John Bishop MD, seems to have a lot of time on his hands. He is a practicing physician but still has time to concoct tales of a surgeon who solves crimes in his spare time. Dr. Bishop is good at his hobby! This book is suspenseful and engrossing. I can understand Jim Bob’s attempt to save his friend’s life and reputation but at what cost? Engaged by the Houston Police Department, he investigates the crime while trying to exonerate his associate. They met during a ski accident at Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado. This is a novel way to get new patients.

The locales are colorfully described, particularly the hospital and medical school in Houston. Dr. Bishop also develops his characters with an eye to beauty and detail. The ladies are all beautiful and well educated. Mr. Thompsons’ office has four dedicated and lovely ladies who handle the books and do the daily work as well as the financial tasks.

Self-centered and egotistical Paul pushes everyone around with no care but for himself. As the novel develops his character turns into a despicable victim. Any sympathy for the victim evaporates as you progress through the novel. The drama is captivating and spell-binding. The climax is a surprise and I did not suspect or see it coming.

CE WilliamsI suggest a block of time be set aside to read this tale. Mary Louise, Dr. Jim Bob’s wife, is an empathetic character who would be a jewel for any man. She supports her would be detective husband and the other doctor’s wife throughout the story. The Houston police department accepts the novice’s assistance in solving the crime because of his association with the suspect. A really fun twist to the story. I had trouble sleeping until I finished the book. 5 stars – CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Mantid Press

    • ISBN-13 : 978-1734251142
      • ASIN : B08F11BVVW

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

John Bishop - author
John Bishop MD

The Author: Lost for over 20 years, Act of Murder is the first rediscovered novel in a new medical thriller series set in the changing environment of medicine in the mid-1990s. Bishop’s sense of humor and surprising wit create a story of medical miscreants capable of murder, mayhem, and greed. His 30 years as a practicing orthopedic surgeon give the reader a unique glimpse into the medical world with all its problems, intricacies and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of most health care professionals.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaMurder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.

My Review:

Not content to wait closer to release, I had to jump to my new Mizushima book. I am always so delighted by each in the wonderful series that features the awesome GSD Robo, a well-trained service dog. Always a late bloomer, I discovered the series at Book 3, read each since, and really enjoyed them all.

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaThe K-9 series features Robo as a brilliantly, intuitive service animal–the stories do not breach anthropomorphic levels–they stay authentic. Robo is a large powerful animal and is treated with respect while carefully kept to his manners. His handler, Mattie Cobb works with local law enforcement and in this narrative finds a DB (dead body) washed downstream and caught in a tree snag off the trail in the flood of the high country she and wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, are scouting. The wild mountains of Colorado and Timber Creek are dangerous and unpredictable, but this is obviously a homicide.

Mizushima’s books always run a strong sub-plot and this story dealing with the issue of family pushes her backstory to the foreground. Her own family was torn apart resulting in an abusive childhood and many unanswered questions. She is carefully cultivating a relationship with the local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his family that appears to be progressing.

Investigating the death of the young man on the mountain, they discover a new “family” that has moved to their area, a cult. There is a subsequent death which Mattie and Robo also discover and all leads continue to swerve back to the cult where there appears to harbor a smoldering discontent. Cole is introduced to the members through a visit to investigate a split hoof on one of their farm animals where he notes a girl about his oldest child’s age with her own beautiful GSD.

While the team continues to investigate the two deaths, obviously related at this point, they begin to ferret out more and more details and discover a new vet in the area tied to a pharmaceutical rep adding an additional layer to the mystery.

In the meantime, Mattie has been contacted by her long-lost sister and nervously awaits a visit by Julia and her grandmother. As she was raised in the foster care system, she is hoping to finally answer questions about her abduction and the disappearance of her mother. Oh, yes, this is a thread that will weigh heavily in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the duo-protagonists, Mattie and Robo, bring the mystery to a successful but nail-biting conclusion. I love that dog. My review of Hunting Hour here, Burning Ridge here, and Tracking Game here. Each can work as a standalone, but you might wish to catch up on this remarkable series and go back to Book 1. Which one did I love best? The one I was then reading.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery with an immersive, atmospheric setting, impressive animals, and their skillful handlers will find this series fully engaging and entertaining.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Traditional Detective Fiction
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H2KD9H
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at http://www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Field Guide to Homicide (A Cat Latimer Mystery Book 6) by Lynn Cahoon – a #BookReview #cozymystery

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonBook Blurb:

Cat Latimer and her writer’s retreat group go on a hiking trip—but a murderer has been lurking off the beaten path . . .
 
Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.

To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

My Review:

Loved the concept of a writer’s retreat for authors, written by an author, about authors learning to be authors. Or readers who enjoy reading about it! It’s bound to be a cozy narrative in a beautiful locale in a small town setting.

Cat (Catherine) Latimer has the perfect location and large home remodeled as a B&B and found her niché, the writer’s retreats. (She is a successful writer, formerly teacher.) Full when she wants, quiet when she needs it to be. Covington College is located within walking distance and accommodates Cat’s guests in the library. She has an amazing best friend, Shauna, a buddy from California who moved back to Colorado to help with the B&B, cook amazing meals, and cleans the rooms. Cat has a boyfriend, Seth, a first love from high school and an uncle who is a police detective.

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonIn Book 6, Seth discovers that the body Cat finds with her group while hiking is a former Army buddy of his. There is only one problem: he was supposed to have been killed while they were still in Germany, and that was ten years ago. Seth had joined the Army thinking they’d wed when he returned. In the meantime, however, Cat marries Michael who was full of surprises. She receives the house after his untimely death.

As a character-driven cozy, the mystery trundles along while Cat discovers her new group is unique–two couples and one college student. The latter doesn’t exactly fit in and almost immediately the two couples click and proceed to produce activity separate from Cat’s usual agenda. There is the hike, but it ended with the discovery of the body. I don’t see her providing guidance in a lot of group discussions or learning moments and it’s handy she has Shauna who handles the bulk of the physical work. But Shauna has a problem of her own, providing a separate little (almost) sub-plot. Then there is the tension between her and Seth and my question, does she really love him or not? Given the little time they have to be together, she doesn’t exactly jump to take advantage of it.

There seemed a few plot holes; missing elements. (Was it because this is my first experience with the author and the series?) Seth didn’t want to introduce his Army buddies to Cat, which I found rather odd, so we don’t know much about them. Cat manages to get a name she can investigate and discovers the deceased had a local girlfriend that she was able to interview. She manages to glean a few tidbits and coordinates with her uncle.

We really don’t get development of the guests with the exception of the college kid and she did impart some wise writerly wisdom to him. (One of the couples takes snide verbal pot-shots at each other.) Uncle Pete plays a large part as does his sweetheart, an ex-cop who flies in to see him but is caught up in his absence with the murder investigation. There are red herrings that have you focusing first on one possible perp, then another, none quite making sense. The why is a biggee: how did he manage to leave Germany, come back to Colorado and be living off grid for so long? Ah, yes, but then we get little off-hand remarks that drop clues like crumbs leading back to the who. Did you pay attention?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but not the length of time that it took to lay all the elements to examine. There were quotables and old sayings, “We work in fact here, not maybes.” And “…make sure she knows that no is a complete sentence.” (Loved that one!) “A high tide floats all boats.”

The novel takes some time to get into, moving rather slowly for me and appeared to be one that suggests the reader might be better served to begin with Book 1 of the series. The conclusion wraps up loose ends and confirms the motive, which became obvious earlier, and has Seth taking the next step with Cat. (Perhaps that’s a step he should reconsider.) I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
ISBN: 149671685X
ASIN: B07R9SXCQ8
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! January 28, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Field Guide to Homicide
+Add to Goodreads 

Lynn Cahoon - authorThe Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Dogs Don’t Lie: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery by Lisa Shay – a #BookReview

One book, two opinions. Do they agree or disagree? The CE and I weigh in on a new cozy mystery.

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

On call at Crater Emergency Animal Hospital, I, Doctor Kallie Collins, receive a curious request from the sheriff’s department. I’m to meet with a detective at a small ranch outside of town.
You see, there’s this dog with a bone he’s not willing to part with.
On scene, the dog tells me the bone is human. Actually, he shows me the location of the body, complete with a human skull, through an animal-communication technique I learned a couple years ago. Now I have to explain how this works to the detective, convincing him I’m not the murderer.
Who knew a simple farm visit would put me in the middle of a murder investigation? Well, I did kinda jump into this mess. I had to. I know what happened. The two four-legged witnesses to the murder told me.
And I’m the only one listening.

My Thoughts

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayIt didn’t take long before I realized I’d bumbled into YA fantasy turned cozy. And I must admit, the cover and the blurb got me.  While I might not be the target audience for this particular genre, I was intrigued by the unusual concept of Dr. Kallie Collins, veterinarian, being able to communicate with animals. In this case, most specifically a dog and cat. Notice I didn’t say talk, although certainly she did that. The communication took a different form. Kallie is young, unmarried, and recently out of vet school, but she’s making (air) waves right into notoriety.

The characters, beyond protagonist Kallie, are all very engaging and very well fleshed. She has two close friends, Gracie Parker and Samantha Griffin (Sam), who are quick (well, mostly, sorta) supportive of her swiftly escalating escapades. While once again, the author drops the name Nancy Drew, Kallie prefers being known as Kinsey Millhone (a reference to the fictional character created by Sue Grafton in her Alphabet series).

Kallie meets the probable love interest, Detective Ben Jacobson, when she is called out to investigate a dog that won’t relinquish her bone. She found it–it was hers! The problem was that it was a human bone and it doesn’t take long for Kallie to exhibit her dog whispering talents and create converts.

Kallie seems to be a great deal more adventurous than cautious and it doesn’t take long before she is deep into the mystery, part of which was also a new plot concept (to me anyway). Then come red herrings, lots of giggles, food (especially cupcakes and burgers), and her mother’s trying to match her up with a nice young man. (I must confess there are several eye-rolling passages.) A few edit misses and could have used an expanded explanation to account for the passage of time or change of scene.

But…you know what? It’s cute. And it works. The venue is the gorgeous Pacific Northwest (or as my motobuddy used to call it, the Great “Northwet”). The characters are engaging, the well-plotted concept unique, and the interaction with the animals investing and I’m quite sure anyone a monster fan of Star Wars would love it. (Her ringtone was The Imperial March, for heaven’s sake.) You will enjoy getting to know these solid characters and now is the time to get in on the first of what looks to be the first of a sweet new series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A very astute veterinarian oversees an unlikely adventure with the help of two animal friends. Communicating telepathically with a dog and cat, Kallie Collins is thrust into an investigation of mysterious events including fraud against senior citizens.

This author writes an entertaining tale that kept me turning pages. At times I wondered why the heroine kept investigating when very real threats were made on her life. Twists and turns lead to the intriguing climax with a little potential romance brewing with an attractive sheriff’s deputy detective named Ben Jacobson.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsKallie’s strong female character with the help of two friends, brings the story along smartly. Of course, her mother is attempting to find a suitor for her unmarried daughter. A younger crowd will find this read very entertaining. C E Williams – 5/5 stars

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and shared with the CE who also greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended as a fast, fun romp in a cozy mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

  • ISBN-10:1686589409
  • ISBN-13:978-1686589409

ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
      Print Length: 191 pages
Publication Date: September 30, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dogs Don’t Lie

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Shay - authorThe Author: Yes. Lisa Shay is my pen name.
But it’s still me. R E Sheahan. Since I write YA Science Fiction/Fantasy, it seemed a good choice to go with a pen name for the cozy mysteries.
I live on the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
I read. A lot. Pretty much any genre.
I love animals. A bonus since the cozy mysteries are about a veterinarian who can communicate with animals.
I’m crazy over anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, LOTR, Dr. Who, and, well all of them.
Yes. I’m a geek.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Let’s Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris – a #BookReview

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisTitle: Let’s Fake a Deal (A Sarah W Garage Sale Mystery Book 7 by Sherry Harris

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Craft and Hobby, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496716981
  • ISBN-13:978-1496716989
  • ASIN: B07K5ZMBZB

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

SHE’S GOT THE GOODS . . .
As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

BUT SARAH’S PROBLEMS ARE JUST BEGINNING
Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

My Review:

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisYes, Book 7 of the series and I read Book 6! Has to be a record, huh? Our favorite garage sale guru protagonist, Sarah Winston is back. Her friends and acquaintances from the local air force base stemming from her marriage to military man CJ, now an ex, are also featured, including Seth, who has already uttered the “L” word. Once again, I appreciated the short explanation of military acronyms (it’s been a long time since my man was in the Navy) and general description of the military community as well.

Sarah really seems to know her business and can identify a valuable piece when she sees it. She is busy working a garage sale when the police show up, shut it down, and arrest her for receiving and selling stolen goods. About the same time, her enlisted friend, Michelle from the base is front and center person of interest when a body is found in her trunk. She has a complaint lodged against her and suspects it was the deceased.

Sarah begins wrestling with both issues as she takes on a new client, one that will take a great deal of time sifting through boxes of old treasures in the basement, finding and separating the more valuable and setting prices for all of the cat-related items from jewelry to paintings. The cat lady herself is pretty eccentric, making for a fun interlude between her running down leads and interviewing persons who might help with either her own arrest or the pending arrest of Michelle.

Dialogue is exchanged easily and believably between her friends, Seth, and her brother Luke, often punctuated with her own comical comebacks in self-talk. I like the way she thinks and it adds a humorous hue to the well-plotted, easy-going storyline. Since she’s been on her own, created and managed a business, Sarah has definitely gained in her ability to handle people. I particularly enjoyed her retort after a veiled threat from a ranking officer, “You may outrank him,” I tipped my head toward James, “but you hold no sway over me.” Bravo! And with that said, I believe you’d get a good idea about her character, whether the others are all well-fleshed in this series entry or not. Most receive sufficient general description to visualize the individual. I think each book could function well as a standalone within the series.

My problem was with the usual bull-headed police officer arresting or immediately jumping to conclusions regarding guilt with little regard to investigating the crime and leaving the leg work to an amateur sleuth. Still, the novel was engaging and easily invested in reading through to conclusion, solving both issues, neatly buttoned up.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy the Sarah Winston character and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy mystery out of the food loop.

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sherry Harris - authorThe Author: Agatha award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsTitle: Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery Book 5) by Ellery Adams

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496715659
  • ISBN-13:978-1496715654
  • ASIN: B07G6NJK5W

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: Released April 30, 2019-Happy Publication Day!

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Murder in the Reading Room

Book Blurb:

Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsDefinitely a book lovers paradise, the author knows her books and has created a beautiful picturesque setting in Storyton Hall, aptly named for it’s multiple private, cozy settings.

This being the fifth in the series and yes, of course, my first with the author and the series, I seem to have missed a well-developed fleshing of the protagonist and the storyline leading to this last(?) of the series. This is one series where you might do well to begin with number one. I greatly enjoyed the author’s writing style, very subtle, full of prose, and so descriptive of the idyllic venue that you want to start packing for your bags.

Apparently in the Book 4, Jane Steward’s boyfriend went missing. Jane is a widow with two young precocious boys. She is the manager of Storyton Hall, a pseudo-resort, with a strong literary style that includes a number of themed rooms/ libraries; i.e., Henry James Library, Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, and William Faulkner Conference Room. In her role as manager, she has joined a luxury hotel management seminar that is taking place at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate–specifically because she believes that is where her Edwin Alcott is being hidden. The seminar will give her access sufficient to haunt the halls and grounds in an effort to find Edwin. The first, very shocking problem, however, manifests when she and Landon successfully discover him–and confront despot rogue Templar Ramsey Parrish as well.

Storyton itself has been in the Steward family for generations and is home to a wide variety of beautiful arts and treasures, not the least of which is possibly the Secret Library which may hide a suitcase stolen from Ernest Hemingway, lost in 1922. With the rumor that the Stewards are holding the suitcase and its priceless content comes many a problem, including the one that is currently the target of the Templar Ramsey, current manager of the behemoth Biltmore Estate. He will apparently stop at nothing to get to the secret library and the suitcase, including kidnapping. Jane’s own Landon Lachlan (head of Storyton Hall’s Recreation Department), is part of an elite group called “the Fins” also their first line of defense. In addition, she has a ladies group called “the Cover Girls” a literature club. Eloise is her best buddy, sister of Edwin. (She might have gone too far, however, when she named her boys Fitzgerald and Hemingway.)

The characters are all complex, literate, and deep in the bookish world, upper-class society, and southern history with associated activities. More twists are incorporated into the well-plotted mystery, dripping with charm, nostalgic quotes from many famous and classic authors. (Test yourself on how many you recognize!)

There are just too many secrets associated with the theme resort, hidden society, however, and push come to shove, Jane is tired. While there are casualties, they happen “off page.” I really enjoyed the wide variety of support characters, so appropriately named, the location so visual, the atmosphere cerebral. The pace works well right into a downplayed climax almost smoothed over in the blurred conclusion which forms part of the reason for the epilogue.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review this unique and captivating novel. Recommended for any bibliophile who can quote from the classics or book lovers in general, as well as cozy mystery lovers. There is something here for everyone–including that touch of romance!

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written over thirty-five mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves coffee, bubbly, boxing, jigsaw puzzles, baking, and black jelly beans.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For discussion questions and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Something Red, Something Dead by Eva Gates

Something Red, Something Dead by Eva GatesTitle: Something Red, Something Dead: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: To be released, March 13, 2019

Print Length: 320 pages

  • ISBN-10:1683319508
  • ISBN-13:978-1683319504
  • ASIN:B07H7Q5L1C

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Something Red, Something DeadCute cozy cover

Book Blurb:

Dark deeds in the Lighthouse Library threaten to send Lucy Richardson’s soon-to-be-wed cousin Josie to an early ‘til-death-do-us-part.

Winter falls on North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Lucy Richardson and her friends joyfully help her favorite cousin, Josie O’Malley, plan her wedding. The owner and head baker of Josie’s Cozy Bakery and her fiancé, chef Jake Greenblatt, want a small, simple wedding.

But to their horror, Josie’s imperious grandmother, Gloria, descends with the “Louisiana Mafia”: a gaggle of aunts and cousins who intend to take control of the wedding plans. Gloria doesn’t do small and simple, and cousin Mirabelle has her own ideas for Josie’s wedding, something grand and lavish—and paid for by Josie’s parents, of course—that will kickstart her fledgling event planning business and get her work shown on the covers of wedding magazines. To make matters worse, Mirabelle focuses her full Southern charm on the prospective groom…and Jake doesn’t seem entirely adverse to her attentions.

To smooth the waters, Lucy hosts a bridal shower at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library. But it turns deadly when Mirabelle collapses—soon after eating the gluten-free treats Josie prepared specifically for her. Now, to save her favorite cousin from prison, Lucy will have to bring a crook to book in this fifth festive Lighthouse Library mystery from national bestselling author Eva Gates. Continue reading “Something Red, Something Dead by Eva Gates”

The Puppy Who Knew Too Much by V.M. Burns – a #BookReview

The Puppy Who Knew Too Much by V.M. BurnsTitle: The Puppy Who Knew Too Much (A Dog Club Mystery Book 2) by V.M. Burns

Genre: Thriller and Suspense, Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Animals

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

Print Length: 242 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! February 12, 2019

ASIN: B07D233MVK

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Puppy Who Knew Too MuchPuppy pictures always catch the eye!

Book Blurb:

Lilly Echosby and her toy poodle Aggie find a fresh start in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spoiled by the scent of murder . . .

Having solved the shooting death of her cheating husband, Lilly’s left behind the drama of Lighthouse Dunes, Indiana, to start over in the hometown of her best friend, Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson. As she gets settled in her new rented house, Lilly gives Aggie, short for Agatha Christie, her own fresh start by enrolling her in the Eastern Tennessee Dog Club, where Dixie is a trainer.

But drama seems to hound Lilly like a persistent stray. Her cranky new neighbor appears unfamiliar with Southern hospitality and complains that Aggie barks too much and digs up his prized tulips. But what the poodle actually unearths is the buried body of a mysterious man who claimed ownership of the lost golden retriever Lilly recently rescued. Now it’s up to Lilly and Dixie to try to muzzle another murderer . . . Continue reading “The Puppy Who Knew Too Much by V.M. Burns – a #BookReview”

The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie NagelTitle: The Advice Column Murders: The Oakwood Mystery Series by Leslie Nagel

Genre: Currently # 235 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Traditional Detectives

Publisher: Alibi

Publication Date: To be released April 3, 2018 – Happy Publication Day! Clink cocktail glasses

Source: Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Advice Column Murders – Attractive, compelling cozy mystery cover

My first introduction to this series, I found the novel on the more serious side of a cozy mystery. As the third in the series, the protagonist is Charley Carpenter who is the owner of a vintage shop she calls Old Hat Vintage Fashions. This is apparently meant to be a standalone, though characters are brought forward from the first two in the series, including the situation with her shop which is now undergoing a major renovation that she will call Old Hat New Beginnings. (This is also my third book in a row in which the female protagonist is a Charley, Charlie, or Charlee–it must be getting popular to call a female protagonist Charley!) Continue reading “The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview”