Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on October 24, 2016

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Synopsis

Manhattan socialite Isabella “Izzy” Lewis is in desperate need of a fresh start. Ending up on the wrong side of a nasty divorce, jobless, and pretty much homeless, she’s hit rock bottom. So when the father she never knew asks her to visit him in Iowa, she figures she has nothing more to lose—until she arrives at his home and promptly stumbles (literally) over a dead body.

Now her missing father is murder suspect number one, and Izzy’s in the crosshairs of the local sheriff who’s convinced she’s somehow involved. After being reluctantly adopted by a local group of Jessica Fletcher wannabes, Izzy resolves to find her missing father and the killer. A job that proves harder than she thought as she juggles running down clues to the killer’s identity, her hot but suspicious new next door neighbor, keeping the sleuthing senior citizens out of trouble, and above all, going at least one day without being nearly dead in Iowa.

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Review

Iowa can be deadly! This is a good start to a new series about Isabella who heads to Iowa to meet a father she has never known, while escaping from a marriage that is ending. What she doesn’t expect to find is a dead body in her father’s home or that he is missing and presumed that he killed his best friend.

The mystery is finding out who killed Stan and Isabella jumps into that feet first because she wants to clear her father. She has a group of older ladies, called the Q’s, helping her out by snooping and asking questions wherever possible. Isabella (or Izzy as she is sometimes called) manages to put herself in some not so great situations – but it wouldn’t be a cozy if she didn’t.

I didn’t figure out who the murderer was, but the clues were there…I just went down the wrong path!

There are several intriguing twists that I won’t describe because it makes the story more rounded, but you might be able to figure out a few things as you read the book.

And of course there is a love interest with Gabe. He lives next door to her father and at first you think he doesn’t like Izzy, but we are proved wrong later in the book.

We give this 4 paws up

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About the Author

Wendy has a Masters in Social Work and worked in the child welfare field for twelve years before she decided to pursue her dream of writing.

Between teaching college classes, trying to get her morbidly obese cat to slim down, and tempering the will of her five-year-old granddaughter, who’s determined to become a witch when she turns six so she can fly on her broom to see the Eiffel Tower and put hexes on people—not necessarily in that order—somehow Wendy still manages to fit in writing. She spends the remainder of her days inflicting mayhem on her hero and heroine until they beg for mercy.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on October 20, 2016

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Synopsis

A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters… Can treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones unmask a killer ghost?

Filled with the unexpected twists, vivid historical details, and cross-cultural connections Pandian is known for, Michelangelo’s Ghost is the most fast-paced and spellbinding Jaya Jones novel to date.

When Jaya’s old professor dies under eerie circumstances shortly after discovering manuscripts that point to a treasure in Italy’s Park of Monsters, Jaya and her brother pick up the trail. From San Francisco to the heart of Italy, Jaya is haunted by a ghost story inexorably linked to the masterpieces of a long-dead artist and the deeds of a modern-day murderer. Untrustworthy colleagues, disappearing boyfriends, and old enemies—who can Jaya trust when the ghost wails?

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Praise for Gigi Pandian’s Jaya Jones Mysteries

“Charming characters, a hint of romantic conflict, and just the right amount of danger will garner more fans for this cozy series.” – Publishers Weekly on Quicksand

“Pandian’s sprightly prose celebrates the pleasures of Italian painting, food, and landscape. The light touch, swift pace, and verve maintained throughout the novel disguise the deeper thought and scholarship underpinning the story, which like the stage props of a conjurer, make the magic happen.”– Linda Lappin, Author of Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery

Review

In this series I have read the first book and this most recent release, but not read books 2 and 3. While they aren’t necessary to read this book, I do think that it would be helpful because of references to events in those books. There is enough to sort of fill in the holes, but not enough for my personal preference. But then I’m one that likes to read books in order. If there had been a bit more time, I would have read the other two books first.

Anyway, aside from my issues of reading books in order, this was a very good book! The amount of research that had to go into forming the story about this artist (that does exist according to the author’s notes) and then creating a story around it was genius. I know authors do it all the time, but to just imagine the time it takes is mind boggling. I won’t even get into the food descriptions, makes me want to visit Italy very soon.

Jaya and Lane are in a secret romance (and is she in love with her friend Sanjay too?) and even her brother has a new woman in his life. Now there are things I guessed about Ava (or halfway guessed, I was wrong on part of it) and I wonder if we will see more of her in future books. Time will tell. The mystery has several twists and turns and there is a moment at the end that I thought “oh no” but things will be turned around very soon. Academia is a tough business.

Enjoyable book, definitely check this series out.  We give it 4 paws up.

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About the Author

gigi-pandianUSA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine. Her fiction has been awarded the Lefty Award and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

– Signed copies of the first 3 books in the series
– 6 book-themed recipe cards from the locations where each book is set (Italy, Scotland, India, France, and the US)
– $20 gift certificate to the winner’s favorite bookstore

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, Review, romance on October 3, 2016

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Title: FAIRLY SAFE
Author: Deborah Ann Davis
Publisher: D&D Universe
Pages: 356
Genre: New Adult

Synopsis

When Mistaken Identity collides with Secret Identity, who wins?

JACOB HAS COME A LONG WAY FOR AN ORPHANED FOSTER KID. He has a mentor, a great job, and has finally fallen in love. Granted, she mistook him for a stalker when they met, but every relationship has its little problems. Unfortunately, for the past few years, as the object of his affection pops in and out of his life, she has refused to share any personal info, like where she’s from, or her real name. Regardless, Jacob is ready to take their relationship to the next level. Now, if only he can locate her so he can tell her.

CASEY’S FAMILY IS IN THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM. Safety has to be their only priority. Their cover has been blown before, so Casey knows at any given time they could be forced to disappear again. Obviously, a shy young man with hopeful eyes cannot possibly be added to the mix. You cannot build a relationship like that. Now, if only she can stop thinking about him.

JACOB’S AND CASEY’S WORLDS UNEXPECTEDLY COLLIDE when Jacob inadvertently helps hide her family. Exposed to their 24-7 vigilance, Jacob realizes he must come up with a plan to keep them out of harm’s way, because this time if Casey disappears, she will be taking with her Jacob’s heart, and his hopes of finally having a family of his own.

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Excerpt

Wipeout!

Jacob Kent stepped out of his car as he scanned the fair on the other side of the parking lot, his heart pounding. As with many country fairs, the parking lot was no more than an abused pasture. This one was about the size of two football fields. Fair employees decked in bright yellow directed the early trickle of cars to their temporary berths. Jacob ignored them, choosing instead a parking spot near the exit. Anticipating the possible need for a quick getaway outweighed a pimply teen’s futile attempts to redirect him.

He regarded the rides twirling and spinning above and around the strolling families. Despite the morning sun, the lights flashed merrily, beckoning to all. At 11 a.m. it wasn’t crowded, but he knew that would soon change. Locking his car, he slowly picked his way through the beaten grass, combing all directions for a clue the girls were there. As the unmistakable sound of carnival music floated toward him on the warm summer breeze, he reviewed his plan.

First, he would walk through the fair to familiarize himself with the layout they had printed out. Then he would adjust their escape route to where he parked the car. After assessing the grounds, he would plant himself somewhere along the concourse, and watch the crowd. That’s how he had always found Casey in the past, and that’s how he was going to find her again.

A voice came over the loudspeaker, momentarily dimming the carnival noise. “Would the owner of a red ford truck, license plate AIP537, please return to your vehicle? Your lights are on.”

Jacob tensed. Was that some kind of clue? He looked over the parking lot. No, he could see the lights of the red truck from here. He smiled ruefully to himself.

Get a grip, Kent, he thought as he watched a portly balding man march exasperatedly toward the truck.

He sighed. Intellectually, he had to acknowledge they might have pieced together a bunch of randomly forgotten items into a fantastical story, but emotionally, he couldn’t help but believe the items served an ultimate purpose. If The Herd was here, he was going to find them. He also knew if he wasn’t careful, he could spend the entire day jumping at shadows and following dead ends.

Like that little commotion over by the edge of the fair. To his over-active imagination, that game of tag could look like a child trying to escape from the evil clutches of—

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, WIPEOUT!” sang out over the loudspeaker.

His head jerked up. As the pounding drums from the familiar song drowned out the carnival music, all doubt was erased. The loudspeaker was sending out a warning. His eyes darted back toward the commotion he had noticed. That was no game of tag. That was a child trying to escape a man in hot pursuit. Jacob couldn’t be positive at this distance, but it sure looked like Robin.

With his heart in his throat, he broke into a run, zigzagging between cars, trying to intercept the fleeing child as it headed toward the side of the parking lot. In this surreal moment, the same song they had used for obstacle course training was being piped out like background music to a scene in a movie. But this scene was real, where a real menace was gaining. Caught in his own nightmare, Jacob was watching Robin run for her life, and he was not close enough to help.

As the predator and prey crossed the area between the fair and the parking lot, the longer legs of the adult closed the gap between them, but once they reached the cars, the advantage became hers. Robin’s small size and training put some distance between them as she dodged around vehicles. However, her constant change of direction made it difficult for Jacob to maintain a course of interception.

Watching Robin’s progress, Jacob realized she was trying to head back toward the fair. Silently applauding Robin’s decision to get closer to other people who could help her, Jacob altered his course accordingly.

So did Robin’s pursuer.

Suddenly, her stalker eliminated the space between them by clambering up and over two pickup trucks, and landing an arm’s length away. Skidding, Robin veered around another vehicle with the man on her tail. As Jacob frantically tried to reach her, a brunette Sam suddenly popped out from behind a car and neatly took the man out with one magnificent sweep of a skateboard to the head.

Where did she come from? A stunned Jacob skidded to a stop, gasping for breath, his chest burning.

With a quick high-five, the sisters raced back to the fair. Jacob tried in vain to get their attention, but he hadn’t quite recovered enough breath to formulate sounds louder than gasps. He shook his head as he tried to calm the burning in his lungs. He was a wreck, but they were able to run off.

And I was going to save them? He weakly chuckled. What was I thinking?

Sobering, he trotted over to the man who was staggering to his feet. With rage marshalling all of his strength, Jacob drew back and smashed his fist into the man’s face. The unexpected pain in his fist was nothing compared to the satisfaction of watching Robin’s former threat drop like an anchor.

Shaking the pain out of his hand, Jacob aimed a vindictive kick at the ribs of his girls’ attacker. Any qualms he might ordinarily have about hitting a man when he’s down were nonexistent when it came to someone threatening his family.

Satisfied the man was no longer a danger, he took off in the direction he had seen his girls disappear, trying to calm the fear rising in his chest. He doubted this man had come alone. The girls probably knew that, too, and would be hiding. How was he going to find them before their pursuers did?

The light glinting off the speaker perched atop a telephone pole caught his eye. Jacob skidded to a stop and stared at it. Of course. When Robin had been trying to escape, that speaker had been blasting out WipeOut, but now he only heard carnival music. With a grin, Jacob decided it was time to stop believing in coincidences. Someone at the fair must be helping them. If he found that person, he’d be able to find the fugitives.

Review

I loved the premise of this book – that at a kissing booth, if you kiss on your birthday you will be married by Christmas. The characters were diverse and it added different twists to the story. There were bits of humor throughout, and a little bit of mystery/suspense at different times, but it didn’t stay a mystery for very long. Man of the characters are keeping secrets which causes a lot of confusion for many of the characters, but it is all resolved in the end. There are many sweet moments too.

This is the 2nd in a series, so I’m not 100% sure what was in the first book and how it ties to this one (if at all other than the kissing booth).

I did receive a copy of this book so these comments are based on what I received, and not sure if it is a final copy or not. There were a few times where I felt like the story was disjointed and I felt lost or that the story didn’t flow well in a few spots. I didn’t quite get William Hatch’s age/marriage/timeline. I know the prologue is about him, and then the next chapter starts and says 60 years later, but I thought while reading that William said he had 60 years with his wife. Considering they met at 6 and 11, not sure if that part is right…because then I started questioning his age too. There is a part where they switch from Cassie to Casey for the female lead, and while it makes sense a bit later on, it seemed like all of a sudden her name changed with no explanation. Now I might have missed it, but it seemed weird to me.

Overall I enjoyed the book and will have to check out the first one and the next one which we got a sneak peek at the end of the book.

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About the Author

deborah-ann-davisDEBORAH ANN DAVIS has been writing since she was assigned to keep a Journal in her 5th grade English class. She began to look around for writing inspiration. Lo and behold, she found her world was full of funny stories just waiting to be told. As she grew older, occasionally she could manipulate one into some school assignment, but it never occurred to her to pursue writing, not even when she discovered her flare for telling stories at college parties.

After a string of college majors, she realized she could have a captive audience EVERY DAY in the public school system. As it turns out, teenagers love to laugh, and what could be more entertaining than Biology, Earth Science, and Environmental Science? Then there’s the added bonus that once kids know you like to laugh, they want to make you laugh.

Go figure.

In addition to Writing, she is also an Educational Speaker and a Certified Personal Trainer. She taught for 25+ years, although somewhere in the middle of all that educating, she stepped out of teaching for 6 years to do the Mommy Thing, and run the office for their family construction company.

Even though they had followed separate paths, Deborah reunited with, and married her childhood sweetheart, twelve years after their first kiss.  Together they coached their daughter’s AAU Basketball Team, which swept States two years in a row. (Yay!) Then, for several years their daughter and their money went to college.

They currently reside on a lovely lake in Connecticut. She enjoys dabbling with living a sustainable life, writing novels for her Love of Fairs series, dancing, playing outside, and laughing really hard every day. She promotes increasing the amount of movement throughout your day via Wiggle Writer posts on Merry Meddling.

Remember, you can do anything if you set your mind to it— including becoming an author at any age— but it’s way more fun if you are grinning back when the Universe smiles down on you.

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Literary, Review on September 30, 2016

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I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE

by Susan Mary Malone

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: White Bird Publications

Date of Publication: September 15, 2016

Number of Pages: 340

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synopsis

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Paula Anne Fairbanks understands all about the unexamined life. And she likes hers that way—until her world gets ripped smooth apart.

Running from reality, Paula falls under the mythological yarns being spun on Diana Maclean’s porch. Surely Paula’s own choices aren’t to blame for the summer of insanity she spends under the spells of Diana…who is, after all, known as the White Witch of Sociable, Texas.

I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE, a modern allegory, waltzes atop the line between the creative and the crazy, the sacred and the maligned. Through myths it weaves together the multi-layers of personal Self with that of the collective whole. And finally, Paula Anne and the townsfolk learn the simplest of truths: that the fire’s ashes produce wisdom and courage, just as the stories say.

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PRAISE FOR I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE

“Malone’s voice is one of the most charming I’ve read.  It brings the story and her characters to life.  I feel like I grew up with Paula right over the hill from the lively little town of Sociable, Texas.”  –New York Times bestselling author M. Leighton

“Susan Mary Malone pens well-crafted characters that are so vivid you can picture them in an award winning movie or television series.” –New York Times bestselling author Mary Honey B Morrison

“. . . a magical story about love ripped apart, a life examined, and then healed.  To be read slowly, to savor as one would a tall cool glass of lemonade, on a hot afternoon, watching the world become new.”  –Ginnie Siena Bivona, author of Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party, made into a Hallmark TV film, Bound by a Secret

Review
This book will twirl you around while whispering secrets of life, love, loss and the future. After all, life is a dance that is always changing. It is up to you to catch the rhythm.

I’m not even sure where to start on my thoughts of this book! The book centers around Paula Anne Fairbanks – a not quite 30 year old woman that got pregnant in high school (or soon after) and has spent her days raising her son while her husband, Marty, was on the rodeo circuit. He was injured and moved home but their life was never really the same. Or perhaps it was but neither wanted to admit that what they had wasn’t what they really wanted from life. It seems that Paula was having a mid life crisis early, or perhaps it was avoidance of life by seeking out good times, flirting with other men and perhaps wishing her life was different. But she and Marty seemed to have an unspoken understanding and would do their own thing and neither would complain about what each other was doing. This was working well until Paula Anne comes in to find her husband in bed with her best friend. I did see that one coming and that was even before a clue was dropped!

This affair seemed to have woken Paula Anne up from her life that was on auto-pilot. However, she can’t seem to make heads or tails of what she wants or how she should proceed. I imagine that it was a lot to take in after catching your husband cheating on you, and from all that we could infer from the book, it was probably a blessing in disguise. It just takes her awhile to realize that fact. Luckily she has the help of Diana, Lola and even Sleepy to guide her and make her face life. Even her mother, Bonita, reveals some tidbits that are wise in their own way.

The book reveals a lot of truths about Paula Anne, her mother and father, Diana (the proclaimed town witch) and even Marty and Melinda. Along with these characters, there is the small town of Sociable Texas that is destined to implode due to a feud – not unlike that of the Hatfield and the McCoy families of TN. And of course being a small town of around 200 or so, everyone is intertwined with each other and no one seems to truly mind.

Overall, the story is engaging and if nothing else, it reminds us to remember to enjoy life while you have it to enjoy. Whether that is dancing, telling stories or finding your true self. But it isn’t always easy and you might have to deal with crazies before you figure out where you are supposed to be in life.

We give this 4 paws up.

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about the author

susan-maloneTexas native Susan Mary Malone has published two novels, co-authored four nonfiction books, and written many short stories. Her happiness is fiction, wine, and Labrador Retrievers, the latter of which she raises, trains, and shows. Literature is her love. In addition to writing, she edits; fifty-plus Malone-edited books have sold to traditional publishers, and one of them was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film (while another is in production, set to be released in 2015). Her stories revolve around the passions and purpose, the myths and meaning of women’s lives. Which often involves wine. She does, however, try to keep the Labradors out of that.

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September 26 – October 5, 2016

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, fiction, Review, women on September 29, 2016

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Title: The Things We Said Today – A Bennett Sisters Novel
Author: Lise McClendon
Publisher: Thalia Press
Pages: 274
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Synopsis

Five sisters, all lawyers, well-trained in the art of demanding what’s necessary.It’s enough to drive a wedding planner to tears. Then add in a European venue, a Scottish hunting lodge, and a reluctant bride, and things get dicey. Can the middle sister, Merle, rally the troops, deal with the in-laws, and stop a powerful storm from ruining everything? Merle has powers of persuasion, especially when it comes to her French beau, Pascal, but in Scotland she has no clue how to corral her out-of-control sisters who are hellbent on wringing every bit of drama from a bad situation.

Annie Bennett is getting married…. At the ripe old age of 55. She’s turned down a few proposals over the years and stayed true to her motto: Stay single, stay happy. When she met handsome Scot Callum Logan she had no intentions beyond her own personal Highland fling. Then it happened: she fell in love. Annie’s doubts about marrying a much-younger man continue to plague her. Callum wants to get married in the bluebells of his native Highlands. But does Annie want to get married at all?

Join the Bennett Sisters in their third rollicking novel, after Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress, in another summer adventure with romance, intrigue, men in kilts, plus wine and whisky, as they navigate the treacherous waters of middle-age, self-discovery, and understanding your fears.

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Excerpt

The Scottish landscape sped by the window in flashes of greens, ruby reds, and golds as Merle Bennett sat curled into the train seat, holding Pascal’s warm hand. All the planning, coordinating, and anxiety of the last few months evaporated as they passed fields of sheep, horses grazing on emerald pastures, trees aglow with new finery, and tiny villages squatting low along roadsides.

As a pessimist Merle never thought it could all come together, even with her prodigious check-lists. But there is one important reason to be a pessimist. As one you are subject to pleasant surprises, and Merle was experiencing one now. Things had come together. Stasia, the hyper-organized sister, had wielded her mighty binder full of maps, weather charts, and suitcase-packing diagrams. Merle provided lists of clothing required for each day of the week. Annie, the eldest and the bride, had floated along on everyone else’s plans. The younger sisters were blissfully ignorant of all lists, treating the whole thing as a big adventure. And it was, Merle supposed, if you looked beyond the machinations to make it all happen.

Annie’s wedding was in five days. Merle was crazy about Callum Logan, as he made her sister happy. That was easy to see. But it would be stretching it to say that she thought six months ago that this wedding would happen. Moving entire families across the Atlantic Ocean, coordinating flights, getting passports for some, renewals for others, hotel rooms, rental cars, all that plus the actual wedding planning. Not to mention trying to make everyone happy. It was a nightmare to Merle. In the end she only had to coordinate herself and Pascal. And that, as it turned out, was easy.

He had his head back, eyes shut, black curl drooping on his forehead. The sway of trains made most people sleepy but Merle rode one almost every day. She rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. Almost everything about Pascal was easy, she thought, and that made her twitchy. Life in general didn’t fit that pattern. There were compromises and disappointments, failures and chaos. People left you, grew up, moved away, died. There was so much room for loneliness and disaster.

Life was irritatingly random. So she made her lists, trying to control what she could and cross the rest off.

They slowed to a stop in a small town. The station was bright, cheerful, with splashes of blue paint. Sunshine poured through glass panels in the roof. Everything she’d heard about Scotland seemed wrong. It was beautiful, peaceful, full of spring flowers, blue skies, and happy faces.

She made a quick promise to herself to smile all week. Her son Tristan wouldn’t be here to remind her. A glance at Pascal might do the trick. It shouldn’t be that hard. She was happy for Annie, who despite years of protestations and bohemian ways, was actually getting hitched.

It was amazing. It was romantic. And it felt inevitable the way the best things do, as if life had finally given up throwing obstacles in your path and wrapped its warm arms around you and whispered those happy words you’d been longing to hear.

This is your moment. Go live it.

Review

This is the third in the series, but it can be read without reading the first two books. You may learn more about the sisters and their situations, but I don’t feel like I really missed much not having read the books.

This book is listed as women’s fiction, but there is a little bit of mystery/suspense wrapped up in this story.

There are 5 sisters and this book revolves around Annie, who is 55 and marrying a man that is 14 years younger than her. She has some serious reservations about marriage and whether it is really for her. Callum is her fiance and he has a few secrets of his own that nearly derail their relationship. And there is his very overbearing mother.

But the whole book is not just about them…there is a journey involved for Merle and her boyfriend Pascal; Francie; Elsie; and even Stasia. Each minor character adds to the overall flow of the story.

Overall the story was enjoyable and since it was set in Scotland, the picture that was painted made me feel like I was there. There is a good blend of characters that play off each other well to round out the story.

We give this book 4 paws up.
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About the Author

lise-mcclendonLise McClendon writes fiction in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old.

Lise McClendon also writes as Rory Tate.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on September 26, 2016

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Murder in G Major

A Gethsemane Brown Mystery

by

Alexia Gordon

Genre: Cozy Mystery / Suspense / Paranormal

Publisher: Henery Press

Date of Publication: September 13, 2016

Number of Pages: 268

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synopsis

Stranded in Ireland after losing both a gig and her luggage, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown hopes to win her way back to the States by accepting a challenge: turn rowdy school boys into a champion orchestra. She’s offered lodging in a beautiful cliffside cottage once owned by her favorite composer. The catch? The composer’s ghost. He can’t rest in peace until he’s cleared of false charges of murder-suicide. Desperate after a quarter-century, he begs Gethsemane for help. A growing friendship with the charming ghost spurs Gethsemane to investigate. Her snooping provokes a long-dormant killer and she soon finds herself on the wrong sort of top ten hit list. Will Gethsemane uncover the truth as she races to prevent a murderous encore or will she star in her own farewell performance?

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PRAISE FOR MURDER IN G MAJOR

“Gordon strikes a harmonious chord in this enchanting spellbinder of a mystery.” —Susan M. Boyer, USA Today Bestselling Author of Lowcountry Book Club

 “Just when you think you’ve seen everything, here comes Gethsemane Brown, baton in one hand, bourbon in the other. Stranded in an Irish village where she know no one (but they all know her), she’s got just six weeks to turn a rabblesome orchestra into award-winners and solve a decades-old murder to boot. And only a grumpy ghost to help her. There’s charm to spare in this highly original debut.”  — Multi-award-winning author, Catriona McPherson

 “Gordon has composed a masterful and magical debut. . .Murder in G Major captivated me from the first page to the last, transporting me to the windswept cliffs of Ireland.”  — Gigi Pandian, USA Today bestselling author of Michelangelo’s Ghost

 “Alexia Gordon’s debut is delightful: an Irish village full of characters and secrets, whiskey and music – and a ghost! Gethsemene Brown is a fast-thinking, fast-talking dynamic sleuth (with a great wardrobe) who is more than a match for the unraveling murders and coverups, aided by her various –handsome – allies and her irascible ghost. Can’t wait to see what she uncovers next!” —J. Suzanne Frank, AKA Chloe Green, author of the Dallas O’Connor mysteries

Review

Music, murder and ghosts….a trifecta for me! And I didn’t even mention that it is set in a small town in Ireland. While I haven’t been to Ireland, perhaps one day and I can imagine this little town (small enough to ride a bike everywhere, or so it seems).

The characters are diverse and sometimes downright comical. I can imagine Gethsemane’s horror at being able to see a ghost and converse with him. I don’t think she expected that at all, but the upside is that he was an amazing composer that she admired.

Gethsemane is a strong woman in her own right and despite being an American in Ireland, she pushes local police to really figure out what happened 25 years ago to Eamon and Orla. She also has to gain the respect of teenage boys and bring them together for a competition for orchestras. That is no small feat in itself as she has 6 weeks to pull that off.

The mystery turns into more than just who killed Eamon and Orla, more people die as Gethsemane pokes into the 25 year old mystery. I won’t say that I figured it out entirely, I had my suspicions but had to wait for the author to reveal the motive to truly understand.

The book does leave you hanging a little bit (can’t say too much without giving it away) so I will have to read the next book to find out if the situation is resolved or not.

We give this book 4 paws up

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about the author

alexia-gordonA writer since childhood, I won my first (okay, so far, only) writing prize, a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, in the 6th grade. I continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. My medical career established, I returned to writing fiction.

Raised in the southeast and schooled in the northeast, I migrated to the southwest after a three-year stint in Alaska reminded me how much I needed sunlight and warm weather. I completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas then moved to El Paso, Texas where I currently practice medicine. If pushed, I will admit Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. I enjoy classical music, art, travel, embroidery, and a good ghost story.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Writers’ League of Texas. I am represented by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC and published by Henery Press.

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Posted in 4 paws, mystery, Review on September 22, 2016

stripped-bare

Synopsis

Kate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late.

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Review

I had read some other reviews of this book and wondered if I was going to like the storyline…so glad I decided to not listen to the reviews and judge for myself. the book was enjoyable and there were some twists and turns when tracking down the killer….I was shocked but probably shouldn’t have been because the killer usually turns out to be a person you least suspect.

Now when it comes to the relationship between Ted and Kate – how could everyone in town know he was cheating on her and not say anything to Kate? Of course, from the hints we are given into their lives, it isn’t too surprising that he cheated.

As it is with pretty much all small towns, everyone knows everyone else’s business and it is hard to keep anything a secret. But that is to Kate’s benefit as she tries to figure out who killed Eldon and why Ted is trying to take the blame. Her family is a bit dysfunctional too, but that isn’t always a bad thing because despite everything they do stick together.

We give this book 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Shannon Baker is the author of the Nora Abbott mystery series from Midnight Ink. A fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. Shannon is an itinerant writer, which is a nice way of saying she’s confused. She never knows what time zone she’s in, Timbuck-Three, Nebraska, Denver, or Tucson. Nora Abbott has picked up that location schizophrenia and travels from Flagstaff in Tainted Mountain, to Boulder in Broken Trust and then to Moab in Tattered Legacy. Shannon is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 Writer of the Year.

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Review, women on August 31, 2016

from the sideline

Title: FROM THE SIDELINE
Series:  The Wake-Up Series
Series Number: 2
Edition: First
Pages: 266
Author: Amy Avanzino

Synopsis

After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory.

Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win?

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Review

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book…for the first 10-11 chapters I wanted to reach in and slap Autumn and tell her that she is the reason her son is the way he is and to stop coddling him! That is what is wrong with a lot of parents/kids today.

But around chapter 12, something happened to turn the story around. Something happened in Autumn’s life to make her realize that perhaps letting her son live a little would be a good thing and that maybe letting him experience whatever happens in Little League Football will rewarding in the long run. Yes he is 10, but that is not too early for him to start learning that life can be hard and it is what you make of it.

Now granted, Autumn had a tough life growing up and perhaps this is why she appeared to smother Zachary, she didn’t want him to have the life that she had and anything would be better.

Autumn grows a lot as a person in this book and even finds her backbone. I love a scene where she is defending herself to her friends and takes shots at their parenting skills. I think everyone learned something that day! Zachary even grows up some (as much as a 10 year old should at that age) and learns a few hard lessons himself.

Having this book as a part of the “wake up call” series is very apropos. I think a few people received a wake up call in this book!

We give this 4 paws up!

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About the Author

amy avanzinoAmy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington.  She is a former advertising executive, who has spent the last several years writing, while doing extensive hands-on research for her WAKE-UP series.  She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards.

Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California, with her husband and four children.

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Posted in 4 paws, England, Review, romance on August 30, 2016

a summer romance

Synopsis

‘Milly settles into her new job but does her boss, Ashley Wilmot-Fox, have secrets that he is hiding in Briar Lodge? Will he be able to help Milly fight the ghosts from her past? Will Billy’s blundering romance last, and will Rafe’s secret affair be exposed? As the villagers prepare for their summer fete they have no idea what will be revealed on that day. ‘

Funny, Compassionate and Sizzling Sexy, A Summer Romance is a page-turning summer read.

A Summer Romance is the sequel to A Village Romance and is the third book in the Little Perran series by Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect. The first book was ‘A Christmas Romance’

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Review

After reading A Village Romance, I was afraid to pick this book up and read it. However, I’m not sure if the author found her groove or what because it was much better and very enjoyable. There is a little drama/mystery, some romance, betrayal and some humor.

I like how the townspeople of Little Perran come together in times of crisis. It makes me want to live there – other than having to deal with Stella who is quite the gossip and bitter as well. And while the town may seem idyllic, not everyone is perfect and they all have their own demons to battle.

While the characters may not be deep, they do have some complexity to them and all of them round out the story well.

We give this 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.

She has studied literature and creative writing and has a blog on her web page.

Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on August 19, 2016

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TERROR IN TAFFETA

Terror in Taffeta: A Mystery
Cozy Mystery
Minotaur Books (March 22, 2016)
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250072566
E-Book ASIN: B014PELGRW

Synopsis

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement, a definite wedding “don’t.” Kelsey soon discovers that the girl hasn’t just fainted–she’s dead.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, the demanding mother of the bride insists that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well-connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, a rekindled romance, and late-night death threats in this smart, funny cozy mystery debut.

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Review

I chose to read this book because of the location, San Miguel, because I have a friend that owns a house there. And of course because it is a cozy!

So we have a couple that decides to get married in Mexico and one of the bridesmaids ends of dead right after the ceremony on the altar at the church. The bride’s mother (who is VERY pushy and not very likeable) seems to think it is the wedding planner’s job to solve the crime. Why, I’m not quite sure, but like I said, Mrs. Abernathy is not a very likeable character, comes across very entitled (as you might expect from someone that has money).

But solving the murder isn’t really the only surprise – mystery fiances, blackmail, drug smuggling and a few other surprises are in store for you if you read this book. There really isn’t a romance because Kelsey and Evan, while they like each other, they live too far apart to really have a relationship.

The only thing that I was disappointed in was the lack of description of the town and the sites. There are some that are mentioned, but I thought maybe there would have been more. It doesn’t taint my thoughts on the book overall, just a minor something I noticed.

Overall we give it 4 paws up!

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About the Author

Marla CooperAs a freelance writer, MARLA COOPER has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

 

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