When Misty Dawn, the former “Hollywood Psychic to the Stars,” receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she knows it can’t be good news. Dorine Witherspoon, an actress and former client is in town for the opening of her touring musical and tells Misty the show’s leading lady, Cassie Marx, has disappeared, and the understudy had to go on for her on Opening Night! Misty immediately suspects foul play and when she and Wilson, Misty’s psychic shade, arrive at the theater the next morning, they discover LAPD’s Detective Cesar Romero meeting with the cast and crew. Events on both sides of the veil take a dark turn when Romero asks Misty off the case, and Wilson appears out of his depth with ghosts who want nothing to do with him. Death, close calls, and forces on both sides of the veil threaten to undo Misty and destroy her relationship with Wilson unless she can find Cassie and restore order to the show.
Wow, I loved and cover and really wanted to love the book as I enjoy psychic ghost stories.You know I do. But I must have some level of veracity and this falls short.
My first experience with the author and the series and I’m still getting used to some of the terminology used for ghosty or psychic stories. I think this is the first time I’ve ran across the term “shade” as it is used for a ghost who is caught behind the veil but not allowed to cross over. In this instance, that’s Wilson. Wilson is just a little TOO over-the-top handy on this side of the veil if he is capable of driving a car. Uh huh…
I like the location of LA/Hollywood and the premise of the old theatre that is going to celebrate one last hurrah—the run of My Fair Lady. Unfortunately, the aging star is murdered and the younger sister—far the better woman for the part—is missing and assumed the perpetrator. A little too obvious, that one. The theatre, with it’s old history, has it’s own ghosts and Wilson manages to get into a hassle with the theatre’s resident ghost.
I also like that Misty, the co-(living)protagonist is a mature person with a plausible history of being a psychic to the stars—and there is some name-dropping here with a well-known politician’s wife who did indeed engage her own. While she coordinates with the LA police, they are reluctant to return the favor.
There is a number of possible perps, some interesting support characters, and the buzz and excitement of the lights and cast, but the thought of the car winding it’s way through LA without a visible driver is just a bit much for me. The conclusion is not really a surprise, and this one may have resolved Wilson’s cross-over. Of course, this is rumored the last in the series, although there is now the specter of a romance between Misty and an ex.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
The Author: After twenty-five years in news and talk radio, Silverman retired to write fiction. In addition to her short stories, Silverman has two series with Henery Press, THE CAROL CHILDS MYSTERIES, featuring a single-mom whose day-job as a radio reporter often leads to long nights as a crime-solver, and the MISTY DAWN MYSTERIES, centered on an aging Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, who supplements her readings working as a consultant to LAPD and the FBI. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a thoroughly pampered standard poodle.
“’Should we wake up the others?’ Felicia glanced around the table. The remaining guards looked shell shocked.”
Angie Turner, chef at Idaho’s finest farm-to-table restaurant, has organized a team-building event at a haunted prison, only to find a real-life murderer in their midst. . . .
Contented employees make for a successful restaurant, which is why the County Seat’s crew goes on a quarterly out-of-office meeting. This time, the location is the Old Idaho Penitentiary near the Boise Foothills, a prison brimming with ghostly lore. The lock-in features actors role-playing as guards, fascinating prison stories . . . and an unscripted murder.
Who sentenced one of the faux guards to a very authentic death? Angie, her boyfriend, and the County Seat gang are locked in with a killer—excellent motivation for a little sleuthing. Between ghostly apparitions and flesh-and-blood suspects, Angie’s plate is full, but will her luck, and her life, hold out until the gates reopen at dawn?
Yes, I love when a book location is one of my old stomping grounds and in particular this spine-chilling old penitentiary in the foothills of Boise. My WOW® motobuddies and I took the years’ ride-in-mascot to the prison for some very special shots of the facility with the mascot (and us in prison stripes).
In this Halloween themed novella, Angie Turner and her County Seat restaurant crew have scheduled a 24 hr stay in the haunted prison as a team-building exercise. (Sorry—no way would I want to be locked in that place overnight, particularly with no cell phone. So many stories about that place and it does give off creepy vibes.)
Anyway, in addition to the team, there are four “guards” (actors) as well as other guests. Angie is allowed to include Dom, her trusty St Bernard. It’s a cozy. Someone is gonna die. And it’s a prison after all…
I’m not sure how much team building actually got done, although we got to be privy to some support character personalities and their work together as they solved the whodunit. The fun part (for me) was the paranormal element—that of the story of a female ghost (so many stories there). The ghost and Angie communed and Angie (with the help of her crew) followed the clues. There can’t be that many suspects—right? But it won’t be as easy as you think to solve.
This is a great setting for a Halloween mystery. It’s has some interesting characters and the mystery moves along. A fast read and fun cozy.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Two-Hour Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads, Fiction Short Reads
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 https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0market 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
(C) 2020 V Williams
NB: This is the first post using WP’s new block editor. I voted it down last time. Apparently, I do not have that choice this time. So, it being rather crude, it’s obvious there’s a learning curve and not easy for this old dog. Please forgive.
“The awesome and mighty power of dog love at work.”
When social worker Hildy Schneider commits to an after-hours side job, she finds herself drawn into the darker side of small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin—and the twisted mind of an unnamed killer . . . Strange things have been happening since Hildy started moonlighting with local police, but a desperate late-night call involving a former patient from Sorenson General Hospital tops the list. Although Danny Hildebrand has been tormented by hallucinations for years, he swears he’s being haunted for real by the victim of a grisly murder . . . The rambling ghost story seems like another delusion. But after a body turns up in a neglected farmhouse crawling with secrets, Hildy and the magnetic Detective Bob Richmond rush to explain Danny’s knowledge of the incident. As the crime-solving partners unwittingly grow closer while examining a series of eerie leads, they realize that surviving past sunrise means shedding light on a criminal willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the shadows . . .
I do appreciate humor included in a novel, especially a cozy, where no one should take too seriously the serious stuff. It’s not meant to be dark and this narrative stays rather on the light side due in part to MC Hildy Schneider. She’s a social worker newly committing to a second job (maybe I missed why, but the usual is m o n e y) with the Sorenson Police Department. At any rate, there were several details missed in her job description when she signed on, one of which is that as a trial program with the police called Helping Hands, she’ll ride along with the night shift cop.
This could be a good thing using golden retriever Roscoe, a trained therapy dog, and her general experience with the hospital where she’s based as the social worker.
Her first night sees a homicide victim that manages to tie into one of her patients with schizophrenia who is obviously off his meds. Something is really wrong here–she knows he wouldn’t have done the deed–meds or no.
The author has peppered in a variety of damaged and unusual support characters along with the usual–one of my favs is PJ, the (autistic) teen who walks Roscoe. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of Detective Bob Richmond, but that’s a thread that will be further explored in the next series entry. The sense of humor manifests with some weirdly funny analogies producing a soft chuckle or two.
“…his room has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon and one neon yellow pillow isn’t going to fix that. That pillow is like a random piece of corn in the middle of a giant turd.”
“He might be a cam bolt shy of being fully assembled.”
The mystery is not that difficult and the perp is rather obvious early on with the motive by mid-book. Some twists meant to throw the reader off-track, don’t. The storyline is easy to follow and the characters add depth and a little fun to the narrative.
However, another damaged protagonist, while quite engaging is getting tiresome. There are repeats of conversations (wait…didn’t I just read that?) and commonly repeated descriptions.
The very real problem of a possible conflict of interest pops up that might lead to an in-depth discussion of which job comes first, takes precedent, and where should her allegiance lie? A situation that will surely force a resolution.
I’ve read this author before in one of her other series (Dead Ringer review here), thought I’d try this one. I tripped over a few quibbles, but basically enjoyed a well-plotted and easy-paced cozy read with characters I grew to invest in. Recommended.
Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion.
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Medical Thrillers Publisher: Kensington Books ASIN: B07ZPLB14V Print Length: 266 pages Publication Date: July 28, 2020 Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.
In S. C. Perkins’s Lineage Most Lethal, the captivating second mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster grapples with a mystery rooted in World War II and espionage.
It’s the week before New Year’s Eve and genealogist Lucy Lancaster is ready to mix work and play at the beautiful Hotel Sutton, enjoying herself while finalizing the presentation for her latest client, hotel heiress Pippa Sutton.
Freshly arrived at the hotel—and determined not to think about Special Agent Ben Turner, who went radio silent on her after one date—Lucy is stopped in her tracks when a strange man comes staggering toward her. She barely has time to notice his weak, sweaty appearance before he presses a classic Montblanc pen onto her hand, gasps, “Keep them safe,” and collapses at her feet, dead.
When Lucy shows the fountain pen to her grandfather, an avid collector and World War II veteran, she’s in for another shock. Not only does Grandpa recognize the Montblanc, he also reveals a secret: he was an Allied spy during the war and the pen is both a message regarding one of his wartime missions and the key to reading a microdot left by the dead man.
On the microdot is a series of ciphers, some decrypted to form names. Could they be the descendants of Grandpa’s fellow spies? When two from the list end up murdered—including the chef at the Hotel Sutton—and Grandpa’s life is put in jeopardy, Lucy’s sure she’s right. And with Lucy’s and Pippa’s names possibly on the list, too, she’s got to uncover the past to protect those in the present.
With a secret Allied mission, old grievances, and traitors hiding behind every corner, Lucy must use her research skills to trace the list’s World War II ancestors and connect the dots to find a killer in their midst—a killer who’s determined to make sure some lineages end once and for all.
How unique is a genealogist in a cozy mystery? And it works! Certainly a unique concept with an apparently strong female protagonist, no skeletons in her family closet!
Lucy Lancaster has been hired by Pippa Sutton, a young woman assuming leadership of her flagship cozy hotel business. Lucy will bring together the extended family to present the genealogical history of the Sutton family concluding with a detailed video presentation including interviews with family members and their memories.
Upon her arrival, however, a man hands her an object as he collapses at her feet with a plea to “keep them safe.” When she recovers the object from the hotel’s dog, a pen, she recognizes it as a very special and valuable antique and notifies her grandfather to have a look at it. Almost immediately, he makes a trip to her location to work with her regarding a highly classified and long buried World War II mission.
Well, nothing is simple and this just got very complex, very quickly.
The location in Austin and the restored hotel itself is very picturesque. There are multiple characters, each with their own agenda and sometimes it seems that only Pippa is genuine. Lucy’s grandfather, George Lancaster, with whom she’s always had a special bond, sits her down to tell her about a spy ring he worked with. First, the two must decipher a code called “pigpen cipher” (apparently a well-known code easily searched on the WWW). There is information on search registries, who can request, how long certain searches remain private, as well as hints on search services.
It is a well-plotted narrative with puzzle pieces gradually being drawn into the picture as they find another name, additional murders (off page), with a pleasing pace. Lucy has a pseudo-romance who disappears in a mini-sub-plot and Lucy’s two best friends (and office colleagues) are introduced.
Most of us have that innate curiosity to figure out how we got here. I’ve worked at it, hitting a wall with my own grandfather (yes–that one, Stanley McShane–quite the enigma), so this is all fascinating stuff to me. I found Lucy just a tad annoying, but loved how she so quickly caught on to nuances and I gradually warmed up to her. The conclusion wrapped up all the ends, though seemed just a bit verbose, the antagonist being apparent fairly early. This was easily read as a standalone and was quite engaging and entertaining.
Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. As a cozy, I expected a recipe or two for those luscious Tex-Mex dishes described. Alas, not to be. Recommended for any who enjoys a good mystery on the lighter side.
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth Publisher: Minotaur Books ISBN: 1250750075 ASIN: B0818PMLHF Print Length: 344 pages Publication Date: To be released July 21, 2020 Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Rosepoint Publishing:Four point Five of Five Stars
The Author: S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.
“… when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda.”
Welcome to Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, the bucolic small town where Brynn MacAlister keeps cows, churns cheeses—and is sharper than the ripest cheddar when it comes to solving mysteries . . . With a foster cow in her corral and a new calf on the way, Brynn MacAlister has a lot on her plate. Especially since her micro-dairy farm is hosting the first annual cheesemakers contest at this year’s summer fair. A relative newcomer, Brynn’s hoping the contest becomes a tradition, bonding her even more strongly to the community. But when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda . . . Some folks say the lead suspect was just defending his underage daughter from a suitor more mature than a vintage provolone, but Brynn isn’t buying it. Especially when another dead body turns up and Brynn’s top cheesemaker falls under suspicion. It’s enough to make a girl bluer than her best Stilton. But not enough to stop Brynn from getting to the bottom of things. What she discovers is the small town harbors some pretty unsavory characters. And the closer Brynn gets to the killer, the deeper she gets into danger . .
Having read Book 1 of the series, I snatched this one up when it became available as an ARC as I really enjoyed the rural farm setting and the animals. In Book 1, protagonist Brynn MacAlister moved to the bucolic Shenandoah Springs property with funds from her grandmother’s passing. Buttermilk Creek Farm includes the main house, guest house, and barns with three resident Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and went into an extended mourning period. Now one of the other cows is pregnant.
Wes stayed to live with her in the guest house after his grandmother died in a fire in an adjacent property and brought with him youthful skills and enthusiasm as well as being media savvy. There is a resident kitty in the main house and Freckles, the dog, was a rescue from one of the main support characters, the local vet, Schuyler. This time Schuyler arrives with a Highland cow, orphaned when his elderly owner passed away. Brynn promises to “foster” the cow until the vet can find a forever home, but you know what will happen with that one.
They are excited about the county fair in which Brynn has organized a cheese competition until an accident on a local farm turns out to be one of murder. The owner’s tractor went all AI on him and it ran over a summer worker. He is the first person of interest but then Wes takes the honor when it appears his gun is involved in a second murder. Now it gets nasty, with Wes being Pakistani, taking on racist overtones. Ransom ware begins to hit after Brynn has a severe accident of her own and the cheese competition turns real blue.
Brynn’s sister, Becky comes to help her after she’s out of the hospital and there is strong support to help with the cows. But what is going on in the community? Small town, southern attitudes harbor sides she hadn’t previously seen and she’s determined to clear Wes even as his father and brother come to his aid as well. She and Becky have a loving, supportive relationship, and Jewel the Highland cow while terribly shy is slowly becoming acclimated.
Sifting through the twists and red herrings, it’s still hard to grapple with who might be behind all the mayhem. Is it all even connected? While they keep negating the role that Chelsea plays as a sixteen-year-old, she certainly isn’t an innocent. And while she presents one major theme, the racist theme falls heavily throughout the narrative.
“There was nothing worse than the disappointment in people who turned out not to be who you thought they were.”
I really enjoy Brynn, the support characters, and the appealing locale. Brynn is compassionate and fiercely loyal. She has an affinity for the animals that is a delight and her passionate approach to artisan cheeses and the farm to table movement is inspiring. My quibble would be the rehashing and overhashing of the major plot points. There is a darker overtone to this well-plotted novel with topical arguments behind the main plot (mostly resolved in conclusion) that I found a bit disturbing. And, of course, there are a number of recipes which have appeal. A strong mystery, engaging characters, and only periodic sagging in pace, recommended as a fun, cozy mystery. Looking forward to Book 3.
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mysteries Publisher: Kensington Books ASIN: B082WRM3L6 Print Length: 290 pages Publication Date: To be released August 25, 2020 Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link(s):
The 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.
Cass Donovan is reminded that you can’t believe everything you hear, especially when it comes from the dead . . .
When stories begin circulating of a centuries-old ghost haunting the Bay Island lighthouse, Cass is caught up in mystical happenings of her own, with countless voices from the beyond all clamoring for her attention with dire warnings. But before she has a chance to learn whether there’s a connection between the rumored ghost and her restless visitors, the lighthouse keeper mysteriously falls to his death, and Cass’s reputation for communing with the dead lands her right in the middle of the police investigation.
Cass knows the victim was no saint, as he made little effort to hide his philandering ways from his wife or anyone else, and often acted out with no thought for the feelings of others. But had he finally gone too far, or were there more menacing motives behind his murder? As Cass begins building a list of suspects, including the man’s supposedly grieving wife and a mysterious new woman in town, she also turns her ear to those otherworldly voices, hoping for a clue. And as she begins to close in on the culprit, she realizes too late that if she’s not careful, she’ll soon be communicating with the dead in person . . .
Cass Donovan uses her psychic abilities to give readings at her Bay Island boardwalk shop she calls Mystical Musings. Although I’ve read one of the author’s novels in the All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery series, this is my first experience with this series. I do enjoy the paranormal aspect always filling me with that Twilight Zone music theme and just a few goosebumps and Cass presents as a great protagonist.
Although she’s always been aware of her intuition, she has comfortably grown with her psychic powers until she witnesses Fred soaring from an upper window in the lighthouse to the rocky shore below. He was a randy character, known for womanizing. It’s disconcerting that when Cass tries to relax and “open” her psychic gate, she is now flooded with voices of the departed all vying for her attention and she’ll get no info from the dear and newly-departed Fred though there are others who think she might have.
As the well-plotted and paced cozy mystery proceeds to unfold, Cass is introduced to Simone Carlson who appears to have the same abilities–and more. She is hoping she can teach her to block all but the specific voice she wants to hear. Obviously, she has more to learn–what a delicious concept! Time and talent.
In the meantime, her two main support characters have her back and about every waking moment. Greatly devoted to Cass is Bee, though every time I saw his name, thought of a woman. Stephanie is a married friend who is aware, as is Bee, of Cass’s psychic abilities. Cass has a puppy, a Leonberger, who has grown into his paws and is still in training lending more than one audible hoot.
As always when I read a book with a coastal setting, I get such nostalgic remembering our visits to the Pacific, camping and free-diving for abalone (the “steak” of the sea–YUM!), and one year visiting lighthouses. (They really are amazing the way they are laid out for the ships at sea.) At any rate, this narrative punched my buttons for setting descriptions, quirky characters, twists and red herrings, talented and independent (mostly) main character, and even a wet dog with fur full of sand–sure to add a chuckle–especially if you’ve ever been there. The conclusion pulls all loose threads together and drops a couple hints of what you might find in Book 6.
I received this digital download from the publisher for the book tour and greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to those who enjoy an entertaining and immersive cozy mystery.
Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.
Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island. She recently relocated to Clermont, Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.
Sometimes all it takes is murder to discover who you truly are.
Grammar school teacher Myrtle Coldron has no patience to spare for Aunt Eve’s Wiccan shenanigans. Myrtle ignores auntie’s frantic plea for help—only to learn she has crashed from the attic to her death. The circumstances are suspicious; murder is on the cards. Riddled with guilt, Myrtle returns to the Witch’s Retreat, Eve’s beloved Bed and Breakfast, to sleuth for the truth.
No such luck.
The sleepy, historic village sheltering the B+B also hides a mystery. Soon enough, Myrtle is besieged by a zany posse of suspects, nightly visitors in the attic, threatening notes—and a zombie primula with a mind of its own.
Somebody is out to get her, and it will take all her skills—including those she doesn’t care for—to keep Myrtle alive.
Myrtle Coldron has to return to Avebury and her aunt’s B&B when she is notified of the former Wiccan’s passing. Her aunt had tried to call for her help, but Myrtle wouldn’t return the call. The local police close the case marking the death accidental but now her death appears to be very suspicious, she feels even worse and vows to learn the truth.
Her aunt’s B&B called the Witch’s Retreat has only a few guests at the moment and she has the aid of Eve Coldron’s housekeepers-pseudo managers to keep things in order. The aunt had taken her in after the tragic death of her parents. Her cousin, Daisy, Eve’s heir apparent, is not the most reliable and Myrtle will stay to help make arrangements and coordinate with the attorney.
Unfortunately, her aunt bequeaths the B&B to Myrtle leaving her cousin only a stipend and a place to live. Strange things begin to happen and begin to escalate. The two male guests seem at odds with each other. Avebury is an interesting setting, ancient (with an aura even we felt when we visited–also a cold, rainy day). The weather coming out of a long winter is still wet, dreary, and cold lending a dismal atmosphere.
The subject of witches, druids, and the mystery of the stones have enjoyed quite a bit of research and lends entertaining threads. The staff (sisters), local residents, and a coordinating officer introduce several support characters. Myrtle is not fully developed, though we know she is an unmarried educator. She undertakes a search to discover her aunt’s artifacts and in the process begins to discover much more about her aunt–and herself–than she ever imagined.
Although well-plotted, the pacing, particularly at the beginning, is rather slow as it establishes the scene, B&B descriptions, and characters. I enjoyed the writing style infused with self-talk and some humorous observations. The author allows the tension to build as additional quirky happenings send Myrtle scrambling to protect herself and reveal the who and why. The climax comes unexpectedly revealing the one you might not have suspected. While there are a couple unexplained threads, the conclusion leaves a couple doors open for a storyline to explore in Book 2.
I was offered the digital download in the hope of a review and feel it’s a good start to a promising series. If you enjoy a magical aspect in your reads or witchy stories, you’ll appreciate this narrative of the discovery of powers.
Print Length: 280 pages Publication Date: July 1, 2020 Source: Direct Author Request Title Link(s): In My Attic (Amazon)
Rosepoint Publishing:Four of Five Stars
The Author: LINA HANSEN has been a freelance travel journalist, teacher, bellydancer, postal clerk and science communication specialist stranded in the space sector. Numbed by factoid technical texts, she set out to write the stories she loves to read– cozy and romantic mysteries with a dollop of humour and a magical twist. After living and working in the UK, Lina, her husband, and their feline companion now share a home in the foothills of Castle Frankenstein. Lina is a double Watty Award Winner, Featured Author, and a Wattpad Star. In My Attic is the first of the Magical Misfits series of mysteries.
With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.
But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .
“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.
“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.
We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.
Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.
Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”
I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.
Fall is closing in, Halloween is upon the town of Etonville and the Etonville Little Theatre has decided on running with Dracula. They have a great new actor who is playing Dracula as if he is one–his wife and the cast party at their old, creepy home part of the mystique. Problem is, someone in a Grim Reaper costume is found in the local cemetery with what appears to be a stake through his heart. This definitely carries the whole Halloween production too far.
Dodie O’Dell is manager of the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore. Because of the season and the scheduled play, they are very busy in the restaurant promoting a theme menu. She definitely has a capable chef in the kitchen and bar and restaurant staff are more friends than employees. But this one strikes too close for comfort and she’ll have to “look into it.” Not the first time she’s taken on sleuthing duties.
Dodie is also engaged to the local police chief, Bill, and while not having reservations about him, is dragging her feet getting into the whole wedding planning thing with BFF Lola. So distracting herself with the current mystery is not too difficult.
In the meantime, we are introduced to the restaurant regulars, the town’s recurring characters, and some description of the area and contiguous small villages.
It’s a cozy mystery. They do tend to begin a bit slow for me. I’m as bad as the next mystery reader waiting anxiously for something to happen. Dodie has a fine way, however, of handling the restaurant while beginning with questions surrounding the details of the victim’s death then zeroing in on the weirdly perceived Dracula actor.
As Dodie begins sifting through clues and building on instinct, the reader is treated with the eccentricities of some of her closest buddies, Edna the police dispatcher who speaks in code–police code–and Penny who enjoys famous quotes, but always gets them wrong.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you live longer.”
Not character-driven really, as Dodie makes steady progress with her investigation and interviews, but the characters really start growing on you. The description of the restaurant setting is easy to imagine and becomes warm and comfortable with the smells of the kitchen wafting into the dining area.
Dodie’s quandary regarding Bill isn’t really hammered out until the conclusion (but then very satisfactorily), and the climax ramps up the excitement considerably with a real surprise you probably didn’t see coming. (Well, okay, I didn’t.) The sixth in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series, this can function fine as a standalone, and is certainly a series with premise and characters you’ll enjoy.
I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to read and review. Recommended cozy mystery.
About The Author: Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her New Year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With her handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.
This one throws the cuteness arrow right off the high side of the scale. First, the premise that Crystal Rainey could cut out on her dead-end office job (oh groan–so been there/done that–but never had the guts to do more) and answer an ad for a wilderness guide. In the Great Northwet?? Are you kidding me? (Do you really want to die?) Bears–okay–so they are hibernating in the winter. But the cold? Bone-chilling, popsicle-fingers, breath-freezing air temps…gulp. Yeah, you have to dress for it and if done right, would be impossible to tell if you’re male or female. No problem! She can certainly tell Conner Oaks just by the confident way he handles that white stuff. (Snow, people.)
Thank heaven Conner knows what he is doing and is quick to see a green-horn when he sees one, but hey, she has potential in her earnestness and willingness to succeed and she’s adorable. But on the first outing, this corporate retreat snowshoe hike to an alpine chalet might present more than one challenge. What about the owner’s death? True, he was a creep of the first order. Still, his body is out there, frozen. And not an accident. She must solve the murder before this whole dream becomes a nightmare. Go back to that job? 9-5? Oh hell no!
The thing about cozy mysteries, however, is that there is so much plausible deniability you’ve come to expect. Swallow your disbelief that a clerical city employee could bluff her way through the interview, and having been hired by a head-hunter frantically trying to fill a vacancy, would prepare her physically for hiking in sub-zero temps loaded with heavy clothing. Or handling snowshoes. Comely Connor is too free to be and too quickly steps up as romantic interest–how was he not married with six kids already? And that the cops’ lack of serious interest in a remote area murder would have allowed an amateur sleuth to interrogate interview suspects or have the wherewithal to research corporate employees is a bit of a stretch.
Crystal is an engaging character with whom it’s easy to follow in her innate fresh naiveté that she has turned into a bulldog. Connor is just who he represents himself to be. Let’s see where these two go in Book 2, which I have on good authority will happen. In the meantime, if you are looking for a cozy with a whole different backdrop, winter mountain activities and engaging characters, Erdahl has captured that with an entertaining book you’ll keep reading just for the sweet factor alone. And it’s a fun and fast mystery.
Genre: Cozy Mysteries Publisher: ML Erdahl ASIN: B07ZZLNP72 Print Length: 274 pages Listening Length: 7 hrs 31 mins. Narrator: Amy Langdon Publication Date: November 5, 2019 Source: Free offer direct from the author (Thank you!) Title Link: Winter Takes All
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Award-winning author ML Erdahllives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily. Follow the author on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra potion shop, feels some dread anticipating her ten-year high school reunion at the new hotel in New Camel—but it turns out even worse than she feared. Running into her very first boyfriend is pleasant enough. Chatting with Ashley—who still can’t let go of a tragedy that happened on prom night—is a bit more uncomfortable. But the worst part comes when one of Kailyn’s oldest friends is found dead in the ladies’ room.
Soon this upstate New York town is in an uproar. And with some help from time-traveling wizard Merlin—who has adopted an unusual and alluring creature as his familiar—it’s up to Kailyn to identify the alumnus most likely to commit murder . . .
What’s better in these dark times than a good cozy mystery that is fun from beginning to end with great characters that turns humor up several notches? I didn’t discover this series until I read Book 4 but found each to function fine as a standalone. Still, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed in the others.
Book 5 has protagonist Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra Potion Shop nervous about attending her ten-year class reunion. She has Aunt Tilly to assure her that she will be fine and she is…right up until she runs across Ashley still obviously mourning the death of her intended in an apparent accident on prom night followed by the discovery of another of her classmates newly deceased in the ladies room.
In the meantime, Aunt Tilly is still trying to provide a home for their long distant relative Merlin, who accidentally time-traveled into their lives. Now the wizard can’t seem to figure his way back and has decided he must have a familiar and decides on a marmot. Merlin has apparently lost some of his magick as his spells seem to go awry fairly often.
Kailyn is still in witchy apprenticeship and needs to get with the program, as any untried magickal talents she possesses will go dormant after the age of 30. Her spells need some work as well. She has leveled with Travis, her sweetheart, about her skills and as he is a news anchor seems to keep an open mind about the whole thing, having witnessed some remarkable happenings.
Kailyn is great at ferreting out clues, interviewing those associated with the recently deceased and realizes the motive and tie to the ten-year-old accident that was never explored sufficiently to rest the case. Between calming Tilly and Merlin and interviewing suspects, she tends to her shop creating the proper potions, makeup and creams, then adds her spells that give her products “something extra” they can’t get elsewhere.
It’s character-driven while never losing sight of the mystery, infusing humor often, mad-cap situations with a wizard from several previous centuries ago, and her own familiar (an aging kitty) as well as five other cats (mercy!).
As a side note: I guess ground hogs are also known as marmots as well as “whistlepigs” although in the northwestern states are also known as rock chucks (or wood chucks). I can remember, however, dodging little rodents crossing the road not much larger than adult mice (baby marmots?) when riding my motorcycle, and trying very hard NOT to hit one of the little things–but ground hog size they were not (thank heaven)–and was told they were whistlepigs. So ???
This is such an engaging series and wonderful to lose yourself, even temporarily, into the wonderful world of magick with characters easy to invest in. I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and fully appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended as a well-plotted, fast-paced and fun cozy mystery. Get your own copy, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.
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Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.
Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program’s coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
Once the organization was running smoothly and didn’t require as much of her time, she returned to her first love – writing. During this second stage of her career, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.
Yes! This cozy mystery kicks off the first of my Reading Ireland Month reviews for 2020.
In a remote—and superstitious—village in County Cork, Ireland, Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan must solve a murder where the prime suspects are fairies . . .
Family is everything to Siobhán: her five siblings; her dear departed mother for whom the family business, Naomi’s Bistro, is named; and now her fiancé, Macdara Flannery. So precious is her engagement that Siobhán wants to keep it just between the two of them for a little longer.
But Macdara is her family, which is why when his cousin Jane frantically calls for his help, Siobhán is at his side as the two garda rush from Kilbane to the rural village where Jane and her mother have recently moved. Unfortunately, tragedy awaits them. They find Jane, who is blind, outside the cottage, in a state. Inside, Aunt Ellen lies on her bed in a fancy red dress, no longer breathing. A pillow on the floor and a nearby teacup suggest the mode of death to their trained eyes: the woman has been poisoned and smothered. Someone wanted to make sure she was dead. But who?
Devout believers in Irish folklore, the villagers insist the cottage is cursed—built on a fairy path. It turns out Ellen Delaney was not the first to die mysteriously in this cottage. Although the townsfolk blame malevolent fairies, Siobhán and Macdara must follow the path of a murderer all too human—but just as evil . . .
Totally on accident, I swear, but Book 4 in the Irish Village Mystery series, Murder in an Irish Pub, kicked off my Reading Ireland Month last year as well. I really do enjoy this series, the total immersion into Irish culture, lore, unpronounceable names…and the mysteries are interesting too!
Book 5 has the reader thoroughly enthralled with all things fairies–the little people themselves, fairy rings, fairy trees (Hawthorne tree), and all the lore, fables, tales, and ballyhoo that goes with those unique legends in the Emerald Isle.
Siobhán O’Sullivan is now Garda O’Sullivan, engaged to fellow Garda Macdara Flannery (Dara). Siobhán (shi-vawn) has been a major caregiver for her younger siblings since they were orphaned, now known as the O’Sullivan Six. She and her siblings have managed Naomi’s Bistro since the death of their parents, Siobhán arriving early each morning to bake the cafe’s signature brown bread. Looking forward to some private time with Dara, however, is interrupted when he informs her plans have changed as he got an urgent call from his cousin Jane in Ballysiogdun regarding his aunt. Jane is blind and although an adult was living with her mother. She arrived home from being out of town and quickly realizes her mother is deceased. But it doesn’t “look” natural. Unfortunately, as their district is in Kilbane (County Cork), they can’t officially work the case.
Having no shortage of people who actively disliked his aunt Ellen, it appears the local garda want to zero in on Jane being the most obvious–she can’t, and won’t produce evidence of her whereabouts for time in question. Ellen was extremely abrasive though and they begin to discover some of the reasons she was estranged from Dara’s mother. In this tiny but quaint, quintessential Irish village, the superstitions run rampant. It’s not the first time this cottage has been the location of mysterious deaths–all attributed to it’s being in a fairy path between two fairy rings. So much shared folklore here, fascinating history dating centuries, and attributable supernatural events.
I love the short chapters that allow you to burn through the pages, easily getting in just ONE more chapter before you have to start dinner. The author has a beautiful writing style invoking unusual descriptions (“…shards of sunlight…”) and an easy swing into the next tidbit or clue that naturally leads to the next revelation. Garda O’Sullivan is a pitbull who latches on and won’t let go and she’s smart. It may not be her district, but she eases into the investigation, gradually penetrating guarded secrets.
There is enough here to delight most cozy readers: a great mystery, a touch of romance, family relationships, intelligent dialogue. The well-plotted storyline eases into a conclusion that neatly satisfies the loose threads. While I suspected the perp (and was correct), there was more to the ending than I expected and, in the meantime, provided a delightful literary romp.
I received this digital ebook download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A series I look forward to giving me the Irish experience albeit vicariously. Highly recommended.
Genre: International Mystery and Crime Publisher: Kensington Books
Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars
The Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.
After a relatively calm and cozy holiday season, neither Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, nor her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are surprised when their new year gets off to a rocky start. A woman’s body has been found in a squalid motel. Her driver’s license shows that Dawn Purvis was in her late thirties and lived in Weaverville, California—and the only connection between that town and Alpine is their gold-mining and logging origins. When they discover that Dawn’s room reservation was open-ended, Emma, Milo, and the ever-inquisitive Advocate receptionist, Alison Lindahl, are more than mildly curious. And never mind that the youthful Alison is a bit distracted by the new county extension agent’s virile good looks. She can still sleuth while she stalks her newest crush.
But that’s not all the news that’s unfit to print. There’s something strange about the older couple who have moved into the cabin down the road that was once owned by a murder victim. The elderly wife seems anti-social. There’s got to be a reason, which Emma, Milo, and Alison intend to find out—even if it puts them in deadly danger.’
Newlywed Emma and her local sheriff hubby, Milo Dodge are in their 50s, settling down to married life.
Emma has succumbed to the stereotypical housewife persona, albeit somewhat 1950s style, and seems to have become comfortable with their unusual lifestyle. As sheriff, he is often called out and spends long hours on the job; she as owner and editor of the local weekly Alpine Advocate operates on a thin budget with a few employees who handle different aspects of the news. Vida, a long time employee who handles the House and Home section along with the Scene notes she is ready for retirement, forcing a slight reshuffling of staff. Mitch handles reporting assignments.
Milo is called out to the apparent murder of a woman at the motel on the fringe of town and sets off the investigation leading to some red herrings which will definitely throw you off track in this cold, heavily snow-laden mountain community. As editor of the local newspaper, of course, it’s in her interest to get the news. Support characters and their lives provide ample distraction.
More character-driven than cozy, with the backstories presented in the novel, this one would still work well as a standalone. I received the digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and appreciate the opportunity to read.
Sign up for your chance to win one of three (3) Digital Copy (Kindle or Nook) – Bitter Alpine: An Emma Lord Mystery (Emma Lord Returns) by Mary Daheim in this Rafflecopter giveaway
About The Author:
Mary Daheim is the author of the Alpine mystery series. A Seattle native with a degree in communication from the University of Washington, she realized at an early age that getting a book published might elude her for years, so she began her writing career working on daily newspapers. The mother of three daughters, she lives in a century-old house in her hometown.
What a fun, fast, and delightful read and I am so excited today to provide reviews for you at my blog stop for Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
In this delightful new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries, Athena Spencer comes back home to work with her crazy big Greek family at their garden center. But she never expected a return to her roots would mean protecting her family from murder . . .
After her divorce, Athena has returned to coastal Michigan to work in her family’s garden center and raise her son, while also caring for a mischievous wild raccoon and fending off her family’s annoying talent for nagging. Working alone at the garden center one night, Athena is startled by a handsome stranger who claims to be the rightful owner of a valuable statue her grandfather purchased at a recent estate sale.
But she has even bigger problems on her plate. The powerful Talbot family from whom her pappoús bought the statue is threatening to raze the shops on Greene Street’s “Little Greece” to make way for a condo. The recent death of the family’s patriarch already seemed suspicious, but now it’s clear that a murderer is in their midst. Athena will have to live up to her warrior goddess namesake to protect her family from a killer and save their community from ruin . . .
What a delightful romp into the outrageous tumult of a strongly knit family tightly bound by their Greek enclave in this touristy coastal village of Sequoia, Michigan. Divorcee Athena Spencer has returned home with her son to the welcoming arms of her parents who own Spencer’s Garden Center in the heart of “Little Greece.”
To save a little of her sanity, Athena (Thenie) has created a blog she calls “It’s All Greek to Me” by Goddess Anon in which she vents some of her frustration from time to time. Tidbits of comedy. The rest of the family has no idea she is writing it and they love to read and comment.
She is writing on her blog one night at the garden center after it’s closed when she confronts an intruder–not Oscar the raccoon–it’s Case Donnelly and he’s come to claim the statue that her grandfather had purchased in an auction from the local money mogul Talbot Sr. Receipt and all. All legal, fair and square.
The Talbots (senior and junior) want to raze Little Greece to build a condo, but senior changes his mind. The problem is, he died in a suspicious accident about the same time as his signed document disappeared. It’s not long before an additional death occurs, but caught on home security video is Case Connelly.
This is an amusing and immersive start to a new series. Momma is the epitome of a matchmaker and Athena also contends with her three sisters, aunts and uncles, the food, customs, and the language (which she steadfastly refused to learn). Strongly character-driven while hatching red herrings, twists, and some amazingly bizarre scenarios. She and Case (now Dimitri) are full-on trying to keep him out of jail while getting to the bottom of the whodunit.
Well, of course, we know whodunit, but not all the reasons why or how. Enter more absurd characters. (Sometimes I almost expected to hear a laugh-track.) When Athena makes another remarkably dumb decision that then forces her to just dig in deeper, she still manages to make the best of it.
So, can they expose the real perp, save Little Greece, and manage to keep their beloved, but very valuable, statue? I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative right through the conclusion and the climax definitely heated up pretty good. (I love a good damsel in distress scene.)
We received this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Light, fun, hoot of an entertaining read and I’m looking forward to the second in the series. Highly recommended.
A Greek statue and a mysterious stranger poking around grabbed my imagination. This book does not disappoint. Add in a bit of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and you get a flavor of this quick read. My being a romantic certainly added to the enjoyment of this romp.
Protagonist Athena is a young woman who has tried to escape the bonds of her family. Not an easy task when your family is Greek and they are very possessive of each other. As the plot develops you begin to realize that being in a large Greek family has some serious pitfalls.
A number of nosy siblings salt and pepper the plot with aggravating interference. The locale is a small coastal town and the antagonist is a super spoiled rich brat who cannot wait to get his hands on the family fortune. The small Greek enclave is being threatened with possible total destruction and the loss of their community and livelihood. People wind up in the morgue and the police have jumped to conclusions without really following the evidence.
I enjoyed the repartee between the heroine and her motivator. Kate Collins adds a bit of sexual tension in her novels and I cannot wonder if this is a mirror of her life. Beyond that, I really enjoy her writing and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for happy escapism. 5 stars CE Willliams
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Kate Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mystery series. After publishing numerous historical romances, Kate penned the long-running mystery series, three books of which were made into Hallmark movies starring Brooke Shields. An Indiana native, Kate graduated from Purdue University with a master’s degree in education. When not growing roots at her computer, Kate loves to garden. Other passions include yoga, reading, spending time with family and friends, sampling great wines and fine dark chocolate, and enjoying every moment of life. Kate lives in Northwest Indiana and Key West, Florida. Visit her online at KateCollinsBooks.com.
It’s been a banner year for some great books and I’ve tried hard to discern those books between a 4.5 level and a subjective but totally awesome (what I consider a) five-star novel. While any book four stars or more are recommend worthy, I am going for those I feel the wider audience would truly enjoy. And many are so close that it is extremely difficult to narrow the list down to only those books that stand out.
The range of genres covers biographies and autobiographies and fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical and suspense, thrillers in audiobooks, print, and digital formats. I noted an average of three five star reviews a month totaling forty-two books for the year between 4.5 and 5 stars.
These are the twelve (because I can’t seem to get it down to ten) amazing books that stood out for me in no particular order along with the link to my review.
Fractured Truth* by Susan Furlong – This author writes about “the Travellers” in this country as if she was one. Ex-Marine and her cadaver dog. He’s awesome, she’s badass.
The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey – I loved this historical fiction account of the WWII girls who went overseas as “donut dollies.”
The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – Multiple award winner, best-selling author, book ONE in his new espionage series.
Buried Deep by T R Ragan – Intense thriller, #4 in the Jessie Cole series by this best-selling author.
Decanted Truths* by Melanie Forde – A Waterford decanter is bestowed to the family by the boy who immigrated to America in the bowels of the ship.
The Plain of Jars by N Lombardi Jr – Intrigue, conspiracy, military history, emotional turmoil and redemption from a Viet Nam conflict survivor. (Reviewed by the CE.)
The Image Seeker* by Amanda Hughes – Best-selling author does some deep-diving research immersing you in pre-WWII America.
Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – Psychological thriller by another best-selling author. Get your “Psycho” shower scene on…
Trials and Tribulations* by Jean Grainger – Best-selling author this one of 20th Century Irish Romance, the Robinswood series.
Rescued* by David Rosenfelt – Complex legal thriller – snarky audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner. The Andy Carpenter series is special as an audiobook!
The Dog I Loved* Susan Wilson – A tale of PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, friendship, and the love of a canine.
No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll – Special Agent Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, search the ruins for life.
* Represents a second book by the same author in the same year.
Because I’ve found so many in a series in which I’ve become invested, I’m going to be listing those later with the intention of linking those already read along with a pledge to read the rest in the series. Yes, I’m hooked on more than one series (haven’t done that since Nancy Drew), so this could end up being problematic, but I will also continue to seek new authors.
Which ones have you read? Did I turn you on to a new author? I’d love your comments!
Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!
With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.
A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.
The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.
When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.
Protagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.
Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.
Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”
However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.
I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.
Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five of Five Stars
The Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com
Well, perhaps not literally, but seems an unusual number of reviews lately have either used a doggy protagonist or figured prominently in the storyline. October seems to have started it with four, Dogs Don’t Lie, Tracking Game, Here Comes Santa Paws, and Rescued.
And November? November went whole dog again (well, almost) with five and for the most part, I loved them all. Two got my coveted five stars. And while some were more anthropomorphic than others, they all presented excellent POVs that you’d swear were directly interpreted.
Since we seem to be in dog-loving mode lately, thought if you missed one of these, you might like to check it out. (Links to my reviews in the titles below.)
The series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.
Beautifully well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a #mustread for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.
Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with a discovered journal of the remote area she is overseeing. All the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. Gripping and emotive, the book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive.
a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a perspective from Cody as he observes his human. (I wouldn’t exactly term him a master–handler would be more appropriate.)
You might be a kitty person or a horse lover and a few of these novels included those animals as well as foxes (the latter). We do love our animals, don’t we? They present an endless fascination. Dogs posited most often as service dogs–those stout-hearted, intelligent, well-trained animals who use their native sensitivities for human benefit.
Have to read any of the above? Did you agree with my assessment? Want equal time with your favorite feline? Tell me about it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are–have a super Thursday!
Enjoy this K-9 service dog, police procedural, cozy animal mystery series.
Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.
AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?
AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?
I was introduced to this author and series last year when I was lucky enough to receive The Long Paw of the Law (see my review here). Fort Worth Texas officer, Megan Luz is back with her K-9 service dog, Brigit. Her favorite guy, Seth, also has a service dog, a yellow Lab named Blast. Seth is a bomb squad technician and firefighter.
Once again, the story is told in multiple POVs, one being protagonist Megan, along with Brigit, and the antagonist, dubbed The Poacher, whose elevator never reaches the top floor. There are a number of great support characters, along with Derek, the “Big Dick” Mackey (“The donkey wasn’t the only jackass here.”), and Detective Bustamente. There is a little romance, the (male) Lab adores Brigit, and the romance between Seth and Megan doesn’t over-power the well-plotted mystery.
In this series entry, a number of valuable rings go missing about the same time as a pair of Hyacinth macaws go missing from the zoo. It is nearing Christmas and the mall is full, people in a rush and Megan isn’t sure that the ring owners haven’t just misplaced them. But the birds? No way could the regular zoo staff have allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a member of the antelope family similarly goes missing. And then it just gets worse.
In the meantime, the reader is treated to a wealth of information regarding laws of hunting in Texas, game ranches and animal poachers, as well as ex-con recidivism rates depending on available prison rehab classes. I love the chapters devoted to Brigit and her take on humans, as well as the little hints of reading dog body language. (In 2015, law enforcement officers in Texas began receiving training in canine encounters, reducing the number of unnecessary canine deaths.) And always, the author’s sense of humor shines through, often injecting thought-provoking LOL moments.
In regard to using online tutorials to learn welding: “I’d used online tutorials myself. But despite watching three makeup lessons, I’d yet to master the smoky eye.”
The narrative grabs your attention immediately and keeps a fairly steady pace with the exception of explanatory bits noted above. Megan is working hard to test for detective grade and in the meantime the series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.
I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy K-9 associated books, police procedurals, suspense, and sweet and easy pseudo cozy. Looking forward to Book 9!
Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks ISBN: 1250197376 ASIN: B07P9LPNHB Print Length: 365 pages Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
[Rosepoint Publishing:4.5 of Five Stars
The Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals on multiple occasions. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series.
Diane’s books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award.
Try a sample of Diane’s work, along with works by other cozy mystery authors, by checking out “Cozy Case Files” for free on Amazon Kindle.
I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Fever Cabinet by Frankie Bow on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries)
9th in Series
Hawaiian Heritage Press (August 20, 2019)
(November 20, 2019, all formats)
Print Length: 209 pages
An abandoned hospital, an antique contrivance, and a very modern murder . . .
All Professor Molly wanted to do was teach literature. Instead she’s just been named chair of her department at Mahina State University, and her department has been relocated to a run-down former asylum. She’s buried in paperwork and her dean has assigned her to mentor the department’s new “star”, the prickly Fiona Spencer.
Fiona Spencer had her own reasons for relocating from Oxford to join the faculty at remote Mahina State University. She is willing to put up with the broken air conditioning and constant construction noise in the College of Commerce building (formerly the Territorial Inebriates’ Asylum). She can even tolerate her annoying department head, Molly Barda. But when she finds a body in her office, clamped into an antique medical device, it’s all a bit much. Especially when she becomes a murder suspect.
Now Fiona and Molly have to work together to find a solution. And the answer won’t be found in the back of the textbook.
I requested Book 9 as an introduction to the Professor Molly Mysteries which is sited in Hawaii at a small college undergoing construction while wrestling with financial constraints. Indeed, as department head of Mahina State University, Molly has been deemed the person to make sure their new star professor from Oxford University, Dr. Fiona Spencer, is happy. Pretty hard to accomplish as the good doctor quickly discovers a small college strangled in short funds and her office moved to a run-down former asylum with construction debris around her.
Written in first person, the protagonist Molly switches POV with Fiona while Fiona’s current state of marriage is briefly outlined in disturbing terms. She relocated to Hawaii to be with her husband, Elliott, but things don’t go quite as she’d planned.
Elliott is Head Master at a boys academy and not everyone at that school is thrilled with him.
The chapters switch between POV’s where there is some overlap picking up where the other left off. But the narrative does begin rather slowly while introducing support characters and developing background information. I loved the location of Mahina and the fragrant descriptive flavor of the islands, along with occasional pidgin adding authenticity. Professor Molly is balancing academic life with her baby and home life.
“Only a baby could make complete self-centeredness look so adorable.”
She is not a barn-burning sleuth out to interview every possible suspect after a body is found in a Victorian fever cabinet in the construction debris of Fiona’s office.
I enjoyed the author’s humorous writing style, invoking numerous satirical analogies. The setting of a struggling university is atmospheric with the classic political turmoil and contradicting rules and regs. The character of Fiona’s mother, Harriet Holmes was fantastic, loved her, even if I disagreed with her choice of bike. (Note to Ms. Bow–bikers ride off–not drive.)
This well-plotted mystery comes to an easy conclusion with the author wrapping up all possible loose threads and no big surprises under the circumstances. I received the digital download from the author and publisher for the blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those readers who enjoy a leisurely but entertaining pace in their cozy mysteries.
Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Winner’s Choice, either print or digital of A Professor Molly Mystery (print open to U.S. only) of this Rafflecopter giveaway
Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.
“The angels’ share was the amount of alcohol or spirits lost to evaporation…anything that aged in barrels or casks.”
Ellen Crosby pours up another corking mystery with The Angels’ Share, an intriguing blend of secret societies, Prohibition bootleg wine, and potentially scandalous documents hidden by the Founding Fathers, all of which yield a vintage murder.
When Lucie Montgomery attends a Thanksgiving weekend party for friends and neighbors at Hawthorne Castle, an honest-to-goodness castle owned by the Avery family, the last great newspaper dynasty in America and owner of the Washington Tribune, she doesn’t expect the festive occasion to end in death.
During the party, Prescott Avery, the 95-year old family patriarch, invites Lucie to his fabulous wine cellar where he offers to pay any price for a cache of 200-year-old Madeira that her great-great-uncle, a Prohibition bootlegger, discovered hidden in the US Capitol in the 1920s. Lucie knows nothing about the valuable wine, believing her late father, a notorious gambler and spendthrift, probably sold or drank it. By the end of the party Lucie and her fiancé, winemaker Quinn Santori, discover Prescott’s body lying in his wine cellar. Is one of the guests a murderer?
As Lucie searches for the lost Madeira, which she believes links Prescott’s death to a cryptic letter her father owned, she learns about Prescott’s affiliation with the Freemasons. More investigating hints at a mysterious vault supposedly containing documents hidden by the Founding Fathers and a possible tie to William Shakespeare. If Lucie finds the long-lost documents, the explosive revelations could change history. But will she uncover a three hundred-year-old secret before a determined killer finds her?
Yes, thrilled that I was given a download for The Angels’ s Share as I’d come late to the party (again) getting in at Book 9, Harvest of Secrets last November. (See that review here.) It was my first introduction to the wine country of Virginia. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the wine country of Napa, California, but this series has given me a burning desire to beat a hasty exit from Indiana to experience that special area around Jamestown. Mercy, the history!
Interest was hooked immediately and, although a series, can work well as a standalone. So easy to become engaged with the characters, the locale, and the description of the wine. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery and fiancé Quinn Santori go back to the plush wine cellar to retrieve the cell phone left after a private discussion with Prescott Avery. There they discover the 95-year old patriarch and owner of Hawthorne Castle dead. His death is not the result of age or a fall, however, and the discussion she and Prescott held in private quickly sends her on a quest for three-hundred-year-old Madeira, possibly hidden in her own winery.
The Madeira though is only the top layer of the complex well-drawn plot, delving into the history of the area and the local Freemasons including their connection with the Founding Fathers. Lucie begins to notice the subtle hints of Shakespearean phrase referenced to centuries old documents and artifacts. In order to find the precious wine, she’ll have to correctly interpret the materials left in her father’s secret safety deposit box.
Concentrating on the mystery of the documents, the reader is immersed in fascinating and detailed early American history of the Jamestown triangle. I love the way the author ties ancient mythology to her stories, and indeed, this entry to the series had a great deal more to do with the history mystery than that of the winery getting ready for Christmas.
So much intriguing information, aways a lot going on, the storyline never slows and keeps the reader flipping pages, each one leaving another lesson or plot point in one of the layers. It is an immersive book you don’t want to put down and delivers the implied promise of the cover. Perhaps Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know.
I‘m looking forward to visiting again soon and heartily recommend this entry in the well-developed series to anyone who enjoys a high-speed romp into one of our country’s most beautiful and history-laden areas. I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher (thank you, Minotaur!!) and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.
Print Length: 362 pages Publication Date: Happy Publication DayNovember 5, 2019 Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link: The Angels’ Share
The Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries and two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. In 2019, Minotaur Books will publish THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the 10th wine country mystery. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, Twitter at @ellencrosby & Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor.
One book, two opinions. Do they agree or disagree? The CE and I weigh in on a new cozy mystery.
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.
It 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
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.
Kallie’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.
ASIN: B07XJTNPPC Print Length: 191 pages Publication Date: September 30, 2019 Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link: Dogs Don’t Lie
Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 Stars of Five Stars
The 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.
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.
Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.
While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
Haunted House Ghost is the fifth in the Braxton Campus Mysteries and my second with this author. Although a series, bringing back protagonist Kellan Ayrwick and his main support characters, each in the series can easily work as a standalone as each storyline is unique.
Kellan has earned the reputation as “The Unlikely Death Locator” as he seemingly has the unhappy timing for the discovery of a murder victim. April and Connor figure prominently again as the local detectives, with April becoming a romantic interest. Kellan has a large family unit, most notably Saraphina Danby, better known as Nana D, as well as daughter Emma. Kellan enjoyed a recent stint as a Hollywood director and now back home functions as a college professor.
This entry to the series has Kellan finishing renovation of his purchase of an old Victorian, the Grey House, which has been standing empty for the better part of fifty years. Any new occupant left quickly due to the possible paranormal activity in the house now said to be haunted and it isn’t long before Kellan begins to experience disturbing and unexplained occurrences as well.
Also occurring at the same time, the implosion of the old wing at the library in the process of being replaced by new and modern accommodations. It is there that Kellan discovers a human skeleton.
Now, as you might expect from this author, things begin to get complicated. The town is in the process of celebrating Halloween with all manner of planned activities and excitement, lending the perfect autumnal feel to the narrative while multi-layers begin to complicate an already complex and well-plotted storyline.
Twists, red herrings, characters in and out of suspicion as Kellan attempts to herd his youngsters, plan his lessons and provide his lectures, and ferret out leads of persons to interrogate (that is, interview) in his quest to find the answers to multiple questions. You can guess, but you probably won’t be right. This is a more serious mystery than a cozy. I’m on the fence with April being a romantic interest and this particular novel ended in a huge (and I mean HUGE), cliffhanger. Oh man, another cliffhanger… (But I happen to know Book 6 is in the works.)
I was given this digital download by the author and publisher for this blog review stop and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. You’ll appreciate the intelligent and complex storyline.
Sign up for your chance to win one (1) print copy of the Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney (US only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway.
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery)
2nd in Series
Severn House Publishers (September 1, 2019)
Hardcover: 208 pages
Digital ASIN: B07TXLVLPP
Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.
Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?
Another new author and series for me, this one a “literary” caterer Tish Tarragon, owner of Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering. The author may be having a little fun with us, naming his protagonist tarragon, but we get it, and it’s not the first of the humorous little zingers you’ll encounter. Tish has a helper who performs the bakery type chores, while her good buddy and old friend, the local weatherman, Julian (Jules) Jefferson Davis loves to help with bartending type duties.
Tish has been hired by a local senior community to cater their luncheon for the annual garden club awards. She is met by the club’s president, Jim Ainsley, and on a tour of the facilities and the gardens discovers the body of Sloane Shackleford bludgeoned to death in his award-winning garden. Shackleford owns a Bichon Frise named Biscuit, which is, of course, the reason I was attracted to the cover.
In southern style cozy fashion, we are introduced to the many residents and their support roles and it doesn’t take long before they are clamoring for her to investigate. It seems she’s in the position to do so–receiving gossip and real information with little prodding from the residents. Most are empathetic and all have their stories, some eighty years worth, while Tish is wrestling with her English Secret Garden theme menu, decorating the center patio, coordinating with Sheriff Clemson Reade, fostering the Bichon, taking in her devastated best friend Mary Jo and her two children after her husband divulges he’s in love with his twenty-something assistant and balancing her relationship with lawyer Schuyler Thompson.
With a few turn of phrases, I wondered several times if I was reading an English author (and I guess now that’s true), although the story takes place in Virginia. There were some humorous observations, comments, and the dialogue is generally on the lighter side as the venue could have gotten a bit heavy given the community and the murder. Included were a number of punny analogies, “Doesn’t he realize he’s about as welcome as a porcupine in a nudist colony?”
I couldn’t really get into the character of Tish, who was oblivious to a second romantic interest or her investigative style, but did enjoy the mystery, admitting I couldn’t figure out the perp, then got gob-smacked with the confession and the big reveal. While there was virtually no one who liked the man and many who might have done the deed, I definitely could not pick out the one who did, although I was a little sad at the turn it presented.
I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy in which you can’t guess whodunnit. If you could, and did, write me–okay?
Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway
Author of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, Amy Patricia Meade is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.
After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent. When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.
Good Morning Thursday People! I’m pretty excited about the review line up I have for the rest of the month and thought I’d share. If we’re looking at Fall and being inside more, that generally gives us the opportunity for more reading. Titles are links to Amazon. Covers are links to Goodreads. Here are a few lovely suggestions:
When Peta goes missing, a two-decade-old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.
I’ve read both book 9 from A Bakeshop Mystery and A Pint of No Return from the Sloan Krause Mystery Series #2, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the latter. This one from the same series. I’m so there.
Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.
It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.
Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.
Okay, I confess: I requested this book solely on the picture of the Bichon Frise on the cover. (Looks so like my Frosty girl.)
Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.
I’m a sucker for an adorable book cover–this qualifies.
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 . . .
This is a story of the use and misuse of the internet.
Angela is a bored, middle-aged spinster approached on the internet by an ex schoolfriend Kevin.
Concerned that her boring existence will not hold his interest, she weaves a fabric of lies, becoming more and more obsessed with her fantasy life.
But Kevin too is not who he claims to be, and the relationship between the two of them leads to death and destruction.
YAY! I won this beautiful print copy in an international Giveaway from Kerry at Chat About Books (thank you again!). Review scheduled Friday, October 3.
See one here you’d like to add to your TBR as well? This will start my Short Stack series, as I’ll have another for October. In the meantime, if you can resist these covers I’d be surprised! Let me know if you’ve read one of these and what you thought. I always appreciate collaboration and corroboration!
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone . . .
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and—if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts—lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end . . .
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands—the Blair girls’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block?
Includes quick and easy recipes!
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.
I am delighted today to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for A Genuine Fix (An Allie Cobb Mystery) by J C Kenney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.
A Genuine Fix (An Allie Cobb Mystery) Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series Lyrical Underground (July 16, 2019) Paperback: 194 pages ISBN-10: 1516108604 ISBN-13: 978-1516108602 Digital ASIN: B07KDWV2RX
Murder takes a page out of a killer’s playbook when literary agent Allie Cobb becomes her Indiana town’s number-one bestselling suspect …
Running the family literary business while preparing for her best friend’s wedding, chairing a park planning committee, and getting her rescue cat to bond with her boyfriend’s golden retriever doesn’t leave Allie Cobb much time for crime-solving. But when the guy who stood her up the night of her high school senior prom is killed and dumped in a pile of mulch, Allie’s suddenly the prime suspect.
It’s insulting enough that gambler, drunk, and all-around lowlife Georgie Alonso was found on the site of the memorial park honoring Allie’s deceased father. Now she’s fighting to clear her name and hold off a rush to judgment. But politics, decades-old secrets, and a slew of high-profile suspects make dangerous bedfellows as the eve of the park’s grand opening draws nearer. She’ll have to nab a killer soon, before her storybook life gets a bad ending …
J.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.
I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Murder in Tranquility Park (A Ferrara Family Mystery-Book 2) by J D Griffo on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
Alberta Scaglione and her twentysomething granddaughter, Jinx, love to spend time—and solve crime—together . . .
Ever since Alberta Scaglione inherited her spinster aunt’s Cape Cod cottage, she’s been enjoying the good life in Tranquility, New Jersey, with her black cat, Lola. But since things are mostly quiet in this town, she finds other things to do—like joining Jinx for morning jogs in Tranquility Park. She has to do something to stay healthy, as long as it doesn’t involve Jinx’s healthful tofu sausages and gluten-free pasta. But when they stumble across a treehouse hidden in the trees, and a dead body underneath it, they take a detour into solving a murder. Now the Ferrara ladies will have to exercise extreme caution to avoid a permanent decline in their health . . .
Includes Italian recipes from Alberta’s kitchen!
Cozy mystery with a slightly different premise in that it is not one female protagonist but a family combining skills from the 65-year-old grandmother, Alberta, to 25-year-old granddaughter Jinx. In between are a sister (ex-nun Helen) and sister-in-law (Joyce). Vinny, now police chief for whom Alberta babysat and Nola, Zinx’s roomy are also featured a second time. Yes, she is a recent transplant, which delightfully has put her in close proximity to family members in Tranquility, New Jersey. Jinx is working on becoming an investigative reporter for the local newspaper and has a boyfriend, Freddy.
Jinx has convinced Alberta that she needs some exercise to keep those old bones running smoothly and she and Gram begin by jogging very early in the morning only to discover a huge tree house neither had previously noticed in the small town park. On their way back they run to the tree house to further check it out and discover the body of well-known life-long occupant, Jonas.
The characters are very well developed (could function as a standalone) and each exhibit a whole host of personalities, from sweet and naive to biting but all work to create a well-paced narrative. Alberta is hardcore Sicilian Catholic and each chapter heading is infused with hints of the new chapter in beautiful Italian. Alberta is brought up old-school Victorian and is somewhat shocked from time to time with her sister’s and granddaughter’s view of sexuality invoking a smattering of easy religious thought. Dialogue often bordering on humorous with some innuendo is enough to be fun and keep things light, sometimes peppered with “Holy Marcello Mastroianni”–or enter your own Italian movie star…).
Lots of twists, turns, red herrings, but really you have your suspicions early on and it’s a matter of just enjoying how the author lays out the investigation, the role the sisters play, and mastering the shouting match when they all get together which brings to mind “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
It’s a fun, fast character-driven cozy mystery where the mystery is not forgotten and the family value theme recurs often. I had a small problem with the conclusion when Alberta and Jinx went off to confront their number one perp without back-up who at this point is a double murderer. A couple of last twists into the climax you didn’t see coming, so you can’t guess it all (and pushing disbelief with a gas pipe in a furnace room–uh, no…just, no).
I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Easy to push right through this one and look for another. Recommended for cozy mystery fans looking for a slightly different, but very pleasant character.
Sign up for your chance to win one of (3) Sets – Print Copies – Murder on Memory Lake and Murder in Tranquility Park (U.S. Only) Rafflecopter giveaway
Italian by birth, Jersey by upbringing, J. D. Griffo is an award-winning playwright and author who has written ten novels, over twenty plays, and a handful of screenplays that have yet to see the light of day.
Griffo studied Journalism and Marketing at New York University, graduating magna cum laude many, many years ago, as well as Creative Writing at the New School and Gotham Writer’s Workshop.
And the J. D. stands for the author’s mother – Jean Dolores – who absolutely loved to read and tell stories.
I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for One Feta in the Grave (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery) by Tina Kashian on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.Scroll down to enter for your chance to win the Giveaway!
As summer comes to an end in her Jersey Shore town, Lucy Berberian continues to manage her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. The Kebab Kitchen also has a food tent at this year’s beach festival. But now a local businessman is under the boardwalk—dead by the sea …
With a sand castle contest and live music, Ocean Crest bids a bittersweet farewell to tourist season. Summer will return next year … but Archie Kincaid won’t. The full-of-himself store owner has been fatally shot, soon after a screaming match with Lucy’s best friend. Katie’s far from the only suspect, though, since Archie had some bitter rivals—as well as some relationships no one knew about. It’s up to Lucy to look into some seedy characters and solve the case before the wrong person gets skewered …
Lucy Berberian, a successful Philadelphia attorney, has returned to Ocean Crest, New Jersey, to claim a managerial position with her family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen. Ocean Crest is gearing up for the annual beach festival which features beach-front tents of shore and water-related clothes, equipment, toys, gifts, and a sand sculpture contest. Lucy has organized the food and wine event involving her family’s restaurant, which features the specialty plates by their head chef, Azad Zakarian, an early boyfriend. Lucy’s best childhood buddy Katie is helping with judging duties and quickly confronts a problem with Archie Kincaid, owner of one of the gift shops, when he allows his nephew to enter the competition against the rules.
When Lucy takes a break with a walk on the beach, she discovers Archie’s body under the boardwalk. Archie was fairly new to the New Jersey shore village but not very well liked and had managed to alienate a number of neighboring merchants. Detective Clemmons, with whom Lucy has had previous run-ins, is on the investigation and not pleased to see that Lucy has discovered (yet another) body. Because Katie was observed in a second altercation with Archie, suspicions immediately begin with her. Officer Bill Watson, Katie’s hubby, cannot be on the case which might involve his wife and privately requests that Lucy keep her eyes and ears open to any clues that might help with the investigation. As it turns out, Archie had created more enemies than she’d initially realized.
Lucy has gotten reacquainted with Michael, who also has a small enterprise on the boardwalk renting bicycles and periodically invites her out for a ride on his Harley. Descriptions of the delights of the motorcycle rides definitely had my attention, as I could SOOO relate, although I rode my own, and also a top-rated bike, a Beemer. Dang, gave me such wonderful memories as I relived the thrill of twisting the throttle and feeling that power, smelling the countryside, and enjoying the freedom!
Okay–well, back to the book!All those names of Greek dishes had me mystified, fascinated, and interested in a taste session, as I do enjoy Mediterranean cuisine. Although this was the third in the series, I feel it could function as a standalone. The well-plotted book takes a while to look at each clue and then rehashes it and each one leading up to that point. I found Michael engaging, but didn’t get into the triangle thing with him, Lucy and Azad. (She definitely had the hots for Azad. I found him annoying.) Sub-characters I enjoyed were Katie (very down to earth), the gypsy, and the kitty, who, whether stray or not, knew how to survive just fine. The mystery itself took a back seat to the culture and the food, and the ease into the antagonist was not wholly unexpected and made the most sense.
I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review for this book tour. Recommended for those who enjoy an easy, clean cozy mystery.
Don’t miss your chance to sign up for this Giveaway of (4) Winner’s Choice – Print or Digital Copy of One Feta in the Grave (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery) by Tina Kashian (Print U.S. Only) by clicking on the Rafflecopter giveaway link.
Tina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sand castles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.
After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. The Kebab Kitchen Cozy Mystery series launches with Hummus and Homicide, followed by Stabbed in the Baklava and One Feta in the Grave by Kensington Books. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit www.tinakashian.com and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.
Life at the house on Winter Street is abuzz with preparations for Aunt Ibby’s 45th high school reunion, and Lee Barrett is happy to pitch in, tracking down addresses and licking envelopes. But as a field reporter for Salem’s WICH-TV, her priority is to be on top of the town’s latest news before anyone else.
When the local police dredge up a vintage sports car containing human remains, Lee is thrilled to be the first reporter on the scene. Once she learns the car is connected to the cold case her boyfriend Pete happens to be working on, her powers of investigation are quickly alerted. But it’s her Aunt Ibby’s emotional reaction to Lee’s TV report that puts her on the case. With the help of O’Ryan, her psychic feline sidekick, she’ll have to unravel a tangled past of secrets and promises to stop a killer from making history again . . . Continue reading “Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview”
Niagara region booksellers Violet Waverly and Grandma Daisy sleuth the slaying of a sommelier whose book signing turned into her sayonara.
January means ice wine season in the Niagara Falls region, but the festivities leave Charming Books owner Violet Waverly cold, still reeling from a past heartbreak. A past heartbreak who will be present at the annual midnight grape-harvest festival, and no magic in the world or incantation powerful enough could get Violet to attend. But Grandma Daisy, an omniscient force all on her own, informs Violet that she’s already arranged for the mystical Charming Books to host celebrity sommelier Belinda Perkins’s book signing at the party. Little do either Waverly women know, the ice wine festival will turn colder still when Violet finds Belinda in the middle of the frozen vineyard—with a grape harvest knife protruding from her chest.
Belinda grew up in Cascade Springs, but she left town years ago after a huge falling-out with her three sisters. One of those sisters, Violet’s high school friend Lacey Dupont, attends the book signing in the hope of making amends with her sister, but Belinda and Lacey end up disrupting the signing with a very public shouting match and Lacey quickly becomes the prime suspect in the sommelier’s murder.
Violet is sure Lacey is innocent, and to keep her friend out of prison, Violet asks for guidance from her magical bookshop. The shop’s ethereal essence points her to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but what have the four March sisters to do with the four Perkins sisters? If she can’t figure it out, Violet, herself, may turn as cold as ice. Violet, Grandma Daisy, Emerson the tuxedo cat, and resident crow Faulkner are back on the case in Murders and Metaphors, USA Today bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting third Magical Bookshop mystery. Continue reading “Murders and Metaphors by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview”
Manhattan fashionista Kelly Quinn thought she’d left her upstate New York town far behind . . . until the Seventh Avenue expat returns home to revamp her grandmother’s
consignment shop into an upscale boutique—and unwittingly sets a trend for murder . . .
After her rising career as a Manhattan buyer is derailed, Kelly has mixed feelings about relocating back to Lucky Cove, in spite of her big plans for the soon-to-be-renamed Curated by Kelly Resale Boutique. What’s left of her luck starts running out when a customer puts on a black lace dress that triggers visions of someone being murdered. As if the haunted “Murder Dress” isn’t enough to kill business, the psychic’s doppelganger cousin has just been found bludgeoned to death.
Was Maxine LeMoyne the real target or was it a case of mistaken murder? With some creepy pre-Halloween bargain hunters walking the night and Kelly suddenly a person of interest, a second murder rocks the close-knit town. Now Kelly could be the one who ends up talking to dead people when she’s stalked by a killer determined to take her out in high style . . .
Ah, I love actually getting in on Book 1 of a new series and one that promises a hint of paranormal with the cozy, girly stuff, even better. Kelly Quinn has been drummed out of her high-fashion, up and coming position in New York in humiliating circumstances about the time her grandmother passes away and leaves her the decades old and established resale/consignment shop in Lucky Cove.
True to cozy standards, Kelly fled her small town trials and tribulations for the bright lights and excitement of the fashion world only to find herself back home living above Granny’s shop, re-establishing all her previous contacts and relatives. She’s had devastating experiences that left her guilt ridden which she’ll now have to confront and finally come to terms with.
The twenty-six-year-old protagonist tries to bring some of that New York sophistication to her granny’s shop with a general do-over, creating a higher-level boutique experience catering to a younger crowd. She’s studied colors, arrangements, retail and now must concentrate on bringing an aging, dusty inventory current. The problem is that during an initial three-day event, the town psychic tries on a black lace dress that gives her the vision of a murder. And as it normally does in a small town. Word gets around. Especially after Kelly discovers the body of the psychic’s sister. This can’t be good for business!
There are a number of support characters to get to know in Book 1, not all of whom are well-fleshed, but exhibit engaging personalities, including Liv, Kelly’s bestie. Then there is Pepper, her grandmother’s contemporary, best friend, and co-worker who resists even the slightest change to the shop in which she’d worked so many years. Her uncle and aunt perform duties close to antagonists while twists and turns abound as Kelly is yanked first on one trail then another to discover the truth behind the “murder dress” and then proceeds to defend her own culpability in any crime. She has inherited a cat and confronts a cousin that is more hinder than help.
Kelly is ready to run away again, but fights the notion, and gets everyone’s opinion whether she should stay and battle it out or run. She is alternately at a loss while brain-storming new promotion ideas for the boutique. In the meantime, we are given the down-low on designer labels, accessories, and fashion trends. Prada would be proud! There are unanswered questions here–backstory on the estrangement of Kelly with her sister being one. The series has lots of room to grow and it’s fun to start at the beginning and see where this one will take you.
I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley for the book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.
Debra Sennefelder and is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.DebraSennefelder.com
Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!
The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .
Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.
Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .
Yes! A cozy with a NYC literary agent as the protagonist, groomed as a solid book lover promoter by her beloved father! Her father, a literary agent and her mentor with a large contingent of strong clients, has passed away without Allie Cobb being able to return to Rushing Creek, Indiana prior to his passing. She is overwhelmed with emotion, fighting guilt at not being home in time, and nauseated at the thought of facing her siblings and mother who was in attendance those last painful months.
But he’d left her a powerful legacy, that love of books. Books, authors, their editors and agents. And it’s an intricate network of people with whom Allie must now work to help shut down her father’s agency, as she’d promised her mother. She is heartbroken, and the story begins with strong emotions, planting a sentimental tie between the characters who one by one gently intrude in the grieving process as they are fleshed. Her best friend, Sloane Winchester, lends her shoulder to cry on, but before Allie can get through the funeral for her own father, Sloane’s father is found–murdered.
First, you have to understand that it’s a small town in Indiana. A very small town. Anyone from a small town knows that everyone knows everyone and their business. The Police Chief happens to be her sister’s ex. Growing up, she was never terribly close to her older sister, Rachel, who now has twin boys and the boy’s father appeared to be a bully. Allie, however, has several things going for her. First, she has made a name for herself in the literary world of New York, can stand on her own, and she “short persons syndrome.” Oh, and also, she enjoys the fine art of kickboxing. Her sister’s ex doesn’t scare her. But she has promised Sloane she would help to solve her father’s murder and in for a penny, in for a pound. (Sorry, old clichés are a no-no, I’m aware of that, but couldn’t help myself.)
Whether this is a female protagonist that exhibits aggressive tendencies due to being crafted by a male author, or it’s a subtle expression of her implied New York background and stature, this little lady is no shrinking violet when facing the suspects on her list. She is an in your face, “did you kill Thornwell” kind of gal. She is purposeful and methodical as she works through the possible suspects and there are a few twists and red herrings, leaving no down time. Working with a Police Chief who is slightly beyond his element is pushing disbelief, but is explained plausibly. Then she goes back to her mother’s home and dissolves into her grief and doubt and leans heavily on Ursi, her kitty, for moral support. Both Ursula and Sammy, Brent’s golden retriever, add a welcoming and lightening animal contribution to the well-plotted storyline.
Loved the author’s characterization of the mid-west rural Indiana location and the people preparing for the “fall leaf peeping” festival, the chocolate shop, the winery. Allie feels that tug, the nostalgia for the community feeling (something she was missing in New York), and Brent, the shy guy in the library installing a genealogy center. The question is tearing at her, New York is waiting, but…
I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read this debut from the author and the first in his series. It’s a thoroughly engaging beginning and I can’t wait to see where he takes these characters. Book 2 in the series, A Genuine Fix, is due to release on July, 2019. Recommended as a unique and enjoyable cozy platform, easy escapist fun.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars
J.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.
I am so delighted today to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for Steamed Open by Barbara Ross on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. If you haven’t had the chance to read a Maine Clambake Mystery, now is your chance! Can you taste it?
Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?
Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good.
Enter the Giveaway for your chance to win one of three (3) Print Copies of Steamed Open (A Maine Clambake Mystery) by Barbara Ross in this Rafflecopter giveaway
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is co-editor/co-publisher of Level Best Books, which produces anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. She writes at her home overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. Readers can visit her website at MaineClambakeMysteries.com.
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