Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on December 14, 2017

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Virginia
Berkley (December 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages

Synopsis

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…

Books-A-Million * Indiebound

Review

You never know who the killer might be in Winter Garden…or what might be on the menu at the Down South Cafe.

I really enjoy these books because it seems like I can never figure out the killer. I might come close now and again. I’m not sure if there are a lot of clues on this one, but there are many possibilities and it comes down to greed. I was quite surprised how the story unfolded at the end!

All the characters interact with each other quite well despite any quirky behavior. Aunt Bess always cracks me up and Homer always has some words of wisdom from his hero of the day. It is amazing how whoever the hero is, there is an appropriate quote to fit the situation.

I am enjoying the relationship between Amy and Ryan. They definitely have chemistry but are taking it slow and enjoying each other’s company.

We give this 5 paws up.

 

About the Author

Gayle&Cooper

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

 

Webpage * Gayle Trent Webpage * Facebook * Twitter * GoodReads

Giveaway

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Posted in 5 paws, Review, suspense on December 11, 2017

Synopsis

A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare

The award-winning author of Anybody’s Daughter is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system. Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice? Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

Review

I did not expect this book to enrage me and pull at my heartstrings at the same time.

This is the 3rd in a series and while reading the first two might help understand a few situations a little better, it is fine to read on its own.

You might have heard of sexting and that many teens do it all the time. This book takes a look at that issue and the case where the state of California is charging those teens as sex offenders and in same cases with a felony. If you stop for a moment and think of the long term effects should a 12-17 year old be charged with a felony of possession of pornography, it can be quite startling. Sure not all kids are angels but imagine a seemingly innocent child taken to the extremes because of how a law is being interpreted.

This story kept me on edge because it was hard to know how this was going to turn out. The various twists and turns of the legal system, the parents of the young woman affected and even the underlying story about Dre and his past was enough to keep me on my toes trying to figure out how it might end. I liked how Jenny and Angela came together to defend Graylin and despite some of Graylin’s actions, I felt bad for the situation in which he was placed by over zealous parents and the DA’s office.

I didn’t want the story to end and appreciated the notes from the author at the end to discuss this topic and how it needs to be discussed with your children, no matter their age. I plan to have a discussion with mine!

We give it 5 paws up!

About the Author

Pamela Samuels Young is an attorney and award-winning author of eight legal thrillers. Her most recent courtroom drama, Abuse of Discretion, tackles a troubling sexting case that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile justice system. Pamela is also the recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction for her thriller Anybody’s Daughter. The former journalist received a bachelor’s degree from USC and earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University and UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of child sex trafficking, online safety, fiction writing, and pursuing your passion.

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Posted in 5 paws, christmas, Giveaway, Historical, Holiday, Review, romance on December 10, 2017

CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS

with stories by

ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY,

LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT, AMY SANDAS

  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 512

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Beating Heart of Christmas

In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.

Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

Praise

“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” Kirkus for Linda Broday

“A great story by a wonderful author.” ― #1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley

“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood

“The perfect read.” RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt

“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” Kirkus for Amy Sandas

 

If you love Cowboys, Christmas and the Wild West – then you need to read this book!

The six authors bring us back to the late 1800’s when the west was wild and life was nothing like what we know today.  But more than just a look into the past – these stories are of love, whether it be lost love, new found love or a love that has endured for decades.  In each story the main characters have some sort of issue to resolve, and each author weaves that tale into a succinct story that leaves us with a happy ending.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because they are all good!  I do think I liked the stories that included a dog a bit more, but that is the dog lover in me.  Animals always have their own personality that adds to the story.

Each story warmed my heart despite the difficulties that the characters faced in the beginning.  There are situations that probably everyone could relate to whether it was family issues, secrets or wanting more from life.

We give this book and all six novellas 5 paws up.  Perfect to read during this holiday season and since each story is about 100 pages, it won’t take long to enjoy each of the novellas.

Rosanne Bittner

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Linda Broday

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Margaret Brownley

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Anna Schmidt

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Amy Sandas

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Leigh Greenwood

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————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

December 1-December 10, 2017

Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

(U.S. Only)


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Check out the other blogs on this tour

12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on December 4, 2017

Of Murder and Men (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (November 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Synopsis

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .

Review

I really love this series and especially that there is an underlying mystery about Cat’s ex-husband that has continued through each of the three books so far. Sadly I think it was concluded in this book but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more that is unraveled going forward.

I love the concept of this book – a writer’s retreat at a small B&B in a small town in Colorado. And with each retreat it seems like someone is being murdered, stumbles across a crime or is involved with it somehow. Crazy, right?! But that seems to make this series even more interesting to me.

This time it involves Shauna’s boyfriend and while most are not fans of Kevin, he seems to make Shauna happy…until he ends up dead and Shauna is a suspect. And there are some interesting twists with those involved with the writer’s retreat and how they play into the crime. Some might seem obvious but others are not.

I hope that the 4th book picks up where this one ends because there is a bit of the story that leaves you hanging and I want to know how a certain scenario plays out for Shauna.

We give this 5 paws up.

About the Author

CahoonUSA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Website * Amazon author page

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

December 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

December 1 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

December 3 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT – unable to post

December 3 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

December 4 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 5 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

December 5 – Deal Sharing Aunt – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 6 – Varietats – REVIEW, GUEST POST

December 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 7 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

December 11 – Book Babble – REVIEW

December 12 – Babs Book bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

December 14 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

December 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on December 1, 2017

Synopsis

Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men.

Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold.

Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

Review

I was in a reading funk until I picked up this book and was pulled into a story of love, loss, adventure and deception.

I have many thoughts about Ava and her character. She is very strong willed, and at times I thought too strong. However, Ava does have a softer side it just isn’t revealed as much because she is a woman in a man’s world in 1899. Because she owns many mines, she has to be tough and aware of what is going on around her and of those that want to take what she has away.  This does not stop her from enjoying women’s couture.

Craig’s character is a bit deceptive – but not in a bad way. He meets Ava and falls for her right away and perhaps he lets her be the alpha in the relationship in the beginning, but i think that is to break through her defenses and learn to love him and what he can bring to their relationship. While many may consider him a “pretty boy”, he offers wisdom and knowledge to the mines and some issues that have appeared.

The relationship between Ava and Craig seems fast, but then who is to say how long it takes to find your soul mate? While they may be lovers it takes longer for them to admit their feelings and talk about their past with each other. The tension between the two made it harder for me to put the book down.

Overall I really loved this book – imagining life in Nevada as a miner, having a woman own so many mines, a lonely past for both Ava and Craig and the desire to make their lives better.

We give this 5 paws up.

Excerpt

Face after face fluttered past my vision until I finally found the oval one I’d been searching for, a familiar one amongst a sea of strangers.

Sitting in the corner just as John had mentioned, Walter McCoy flipped through the pages of the latest issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper glowed with the sunlight, making the parchment appear almost translucent and the black letters jumble together. Dressed in his usual cream-color suit, his sandy blond hair was flecked with silver gray strands that showed his age and matched the salt and pepper color in his handlebar mustache.

My grip tightened on the handbag in my arms so tight my knuckles whitened. Although I desired to cause a scene, doing so would only reflect poorly upon me, not him. Instead, I needed to remain calm and reserved—the picture of sophistication, and yet, still holding the disposition of someone not to underestimate. Reflections of polite behavior I’d learned long ago that would bring me what I wanted faster than raving like a lunatic who would be denigrated to nothing more than a pathetic woman.

“Good afternoon, Mr. McCoy,” I said as I approached him. My stride deliberately calculated with each step.

“Why Miss De La Vega, this is quite the surprise seeing you at the Cliff House, of all places.” Although Water smiled as he peered around yellow parchment, a darkness that clouded through the blue hue of his irises and seemed to deepen his sonorous voice.

Always the man of statute, he spoke and moved slowly, as though he believed this display of eloquence propelled him to a higher social standing above everyone else. In my youth, I thought it did too, but the older I became and the more knowledgeable about the man Walter was, I just found it annoying.

“Are you really so surprised, Mr. McCoy? I mean, we both frequent the place when we are in town, so it’s almost inevitable for us to see one another, isn’t it?”

“I suppose that is so . . . or perhaps, it’s as simple as some of your little messengers around the city informed you of my whereabouts.”

He folded his newspaper, laying it on the table before he fetched his glass of sinfully red wine and took a sip, letting out a satisfied breath.

Anger seethed through my veins.

“At least my spies didn’t follow you around at night while you are going to dinner, or wait around in your hotel lobby for you to leave your room.”

His lips twitched with my accusations, claims he ignored as he asked. “What brings you to San Francisco, business or pleasure?”

“Actually, business. Rather important business.”

His interest piqued, sparkling in the arch of his brow as though he didn’t expect my answer. “Oh really? I believe that is a first for you, is it not? Aren’t you usually in town to . . . enjoy the pleasures of the city and the men living in it?”

“And why would I not enjoy myself if I am here to see to my bank accounts or take pleasure in some rest and relaxation? Honestly, Walter, you act as though you are jealous of me.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but jealousy isn’t in my nature. It shows weakness, and I am not weak.”

I shrugged my shoulders, hinting to the fact that I also shrugged off his words.

“May I sit for a moment?” I grabbed the back of the chair and slid onto the cushion before he answered my question.

“Well, since you left me no choice, I suppose then it would be my pleasure to enjoy the company of a woman, even if it has to be one such as yourself.”

I laughed. “Oh, Walter, I always have found it amusing that you believe your words can wound me when they don’t.”

His shoulders tensed as his lips curved into a scowl. He grabbed the bottle of wine sitting on the table and filled the empty glass sitting in front of me.

“So what is this important business?” he asked.

“A little of this, a little of that.” I clutched the glass in my fingers and took a sip, toying with his curiosity in order to torture him, even if it was just for a few seconds. Always privy to the gossip, not knowing information bugged him the most in life.

“And is this business with anyone in particular?”

As I cocked my head to the side, my eyes narrowed. “As a matter of fact, it’s you.”

“Me?” He ever so slightly jerked his head. A faint smirk lit his expression and he gulped the rest of the wine in his glass. “Are you finally ready to sell me your land and all your claims, then?”

I placed both of my elbows on the table and clasped my hands together. Tension brewed between us, darkening over the table with an invisible thick haze that I wanted to bathe in. I loved making him squirm inside, believing—even if it was just a moment—that he might finally have what he’d always desired most in life: my land.

“For the rock bottom price you keep offering me? Not a chance in hell.”

“My offers have always been fair market value. It’s not my fault that you have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the net worth of what you own.”

“Fair market value is double what you offered me. Don’t think for one second that I haven’t researched my deeds.”

“I’ve always said the mines are no place for a woman.” Walter poured himself another drink, tapping the top of the bottle against the rim to fend off spilling a single drop. “Rough and rugged, mining requires a strength that the fairer sex just doesn’t possess. You really should consider one of my offers.”

“Ah, yes, the notions that a dainty female shouldn’t own, excavate, or protect a claim.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. “And yet, here I am, one of the richest land owners in the Tonopah basin—even more than yourself.”

“I suppose you are one of the lucky ones, then.”

“Yes, because it’s luck that keeps me in business.”

He rolled his eyes as though my words were nothing more than a preposterous notion. “If you are not here to sell me your land, then what can I do for you today, Ava?”

“You can stop ordering Billy Jack and your men to attack my homestead.”

Accused of a crime, tautness built through Walter’s chest. Words swam in wrinkles of his face, deepening with every slight twitch of his lips or the furrowing of his brow as though he was thinking of different excuses to lie at my feet. Which would he use? Which untruth would speak from his evil lips? Would he create an elaborate story or simply deny it? Given he had done both in the last few years; the chance ran right down the middle.

“I’m afraid that I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said.

I lifted my glass and sipped the wine again, clicking my tongue as I set it back down. I knew the back and forth game about to occur between us, a battle of wits, a battle of landowners.

I fought to protect my land.

He fought to steal it.

“Is that the stance you are going to take, then?” I asked. “That you know nothing of the recent attack on my homestead?”

“Well, when one isn’t involved then usually they know nothing of the events that transpired.”

“Isn’t involved?”

“That is what I said, isn’t it?” He paused for a moment as if to exaggerate his defense. “Billy Jack and his men haven’t worked for me in over two years. I have no more control over that man than you do. What he does is his own business. I know nothing of his actions, nor do I order him to do my bidding anymore.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“You know, one shouldn’t hold onto resentment and anger when it comes to the past.”

“I don’t hold concern over what happened all those years ago anymore, and I haven’t for a long time.”

The smirk on his lips told me that a rebuttal sat on his tongue, and yet, he didn’t utter a word. Ah yes, another method of denial—silence—as if to say how dare I come at him with this. Did I not know who he was? Did I not know what he was capable of?

I did know, though.

It was he, who didn’t know what I was capable of doing.

“Is there anything else I can do for you today, Ava?” he finally asked. Indifference breathed through the tone of every word.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m rather busy and, quite frankly, I do not wish to waste any more of my time speaking with you if you are only going to accuse me of actions I know nothing about.”

“I know you calculated the attack on my homestead.”

He slightly shook his head. “As I told you before, I didn’t.”

“I know you did.”

“But you can’t prove it.”

I rose to my feet and yanked dozens of red satchels from my handbag, dangling them in my fingers for a few minutes before I tossed them on the table. A few of them fell open and coins rolled from the material, dropping to the floor with a few clangs.

Walter scrutinized the bags, but didn’t move an inch. A detail he hadn’t seen coming. A detail that pinned him to the crime. Evidence he couldn’t refute and that condemned him as though he was there that day.

“I’m sorry to inform you that you lost all of your men in the attack,” I continued. “I know you ordered the attack on my homestead.”

I stepped forward until I stood next to him. I leaned down, my face inches from his, and my hot breath whispered against his skin.

“And if you plan another one, I promise that I’ll gun you down myself.”

About the Author

Growing up in Nevada, reading was always a pastime that took second place to trail riding and showing horses. When she did find the time in her youth to curl up with a book, she found enjoyment in the Saddle Club Series, the Sweet Valley High series, and the classics of Anne of Green Gables, The Box Car Children, and Little House on the Prairie. Although, writing always piqued her curiosity, it wasn’t until September 2009 that she worked up the courage to put her passion to paper and started her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Angela spends her days from dawn to dusk as a stay at home, homeschooling mom. She also works in her garden and takes care of her many farm animals, as well as loves to bake and cook from scratch. She doesn’t show horses anymore, but she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky, as well as enjoys teaching her daughters how to ride their horses, Sunny and Cowboy.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 26, 2017

Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Self Published (October 29, 2017)
Paperback: 300 pages

Synopsis

With the Summer Sea Carnival visiting the enchanted island of Bijou Mer, Imogen jumps at the chance to help run the royal bakery booth. It’ll get her out of the palace and allow her to continue avoiding her feelings for a certain engaged prince.

Imogen’s plans to lay low are shattered when the world-famous necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found dead, sawed in half on the dark magician’s table and Imogen’s friend Rhonda is caught red-handed. With incriminating evidence piling up against Rhonda, Zerna’s rival, Imogen promises to help clear her name by finding the real murderer.

But between running the booth, encouraging Maple as she struggles to lead as head baker, and taking spell lessons from the friendly strong man, Imogen’s got her hands full. And it’s no easier getting information from the evasive dark magician or Madame Zerna’s secretive assistant. Even Rhonda’s hiding something.

With the Night of the Dead fast approaching, and Rhonda headed for a maximum security witch prison, Imogen races to unearth the real killer in time to save her friend. But in a mysterious carnival where nothing’s as it seems, will Imogen have the magical powers to keep from being on the chopping block herself?

Review

This series really caught my attention with the first book – Seashells, Spells & Caramels. The series is a cross between our world and a magical world.

Imogen is a fascinating character because I try and imagine myself in her shoes – never knowing that I had magical powers and how to learn how to harness those powers and use them properly. Plus being in a land that has normal human tourists but is filled with various magical people and beings. But Imogen takes it all in stride.

With this book, not everyone/everything is as it seems. There were some things that I figured out but how they were revealed was intriguing. I can’t spill too much otherwise it will give away some of the ending!

I do wonder if Imogen and Hank (Prince Harry) might get together at some point. Yes he is engaged to someone else BUT there is such a connection. Is it because they are both swallows or is there more to the chemistry they have together?

This is a fun series – it might be because I don’t read a lot of magical/paranormal type books, but I think it is also the light feel to the story and it is not intense like some books might come across.

We give it 5 paws up

 

About the Author

A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh.

In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

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Giveaway

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Guest Post, Monday, mystery, Review on November 6, 2017

A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages

Synopsis

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

Review

If it is possible to gain weight by reading a book then this might be the book that could make it happen! The restaurant is a French bistro and the food is inspired by the French so you know it has to be good. The descriptions had my mouth watering and imaging the dishes being served.

The story flows along quite well and the cast of characters seems to be well fleshed out and adds depth and dimension to the mystery plot. I think my favorite character might be Jo, she is a force to be reckoned with as Mimi’s manager and all around go to woman. She is a woman with a plan and doesn’t stop to question what might go wrong.

The mystery itself has multiple layers and many moving parts. There were many people to suspect for various reasons and the how and why that was revealed at the end was a surprise (to me at least).

I think this is going to be a great new series and especially since there are many recipes at the end of the book for us to try.

We give it 5 paws up.

Recipe

Traveling Meal

Madeleine cookies

For A Deadly Éclair, I wanted to include a cookie recipe that was simple to make yet pretty. I think cookies are always a bestseller at any party, don’t you?

I was reading up on French classics, and Madeleine cookies came to mind. They are cakelike cookies that are baked in special molds. I found my mold at William Sonoma—12 to a tin. The mold gives the cookie a delicate shell shape.

Now, according to one “account” (we know not all accounts are true), Louis XV named the cookie Madeleine to honor his father-in-law’s cook Madeleine Paulmier. He first tasted them in Lorraine in 1755 and introduced them to court, and they became the rage. True or not true? Do you care?

They are a perfect ending to a perfectly French meal.

FYI, this is our last stop on the traveling meal. Indulge yourselves! I’ve provided a regular and a gluten-free recipe. It’s also in the book! You have an exclusive first-look.

Last but not least, what is cardamom? I discovered that is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. It has a strong, pungent flavor.  A substitute for cardamom is equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg.

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the glaze:

  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Directions

Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter; set aside.

Make the batter:

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt; set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees, setting the rack in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together sugar and eggs. Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Add the butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. If necessary, use moistened fingers to press the batter into the mold.
  • Bake until cookies have puffed and the edges are golden, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the madeleine pan to a wire rack; let the cookies cool slightly. Unmold the cookies onto a rack, and let cool completely.

Make the orange glaze:

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and orange zest and juice until the glaze is smooth and thick. Using a small pastry brush, paint the ridged side of each cookie with the glaze. Let set 15 minutes.

Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.

 

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Gluten-free Version

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sweet rice flour (or a gluten-free blend you enjoy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

For the glaze:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Directions

Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter; set aside.

Make the batter:

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk gluten-free flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and xanthan gum; set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees, setting the rack in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together sugar and eggs. Gently fold in the gluten-free flour mixture until combined. Add the butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. If necessary, use moistened fingers to press the batter into the mold.
  • Bake until cookies have puffed and the edges are golden, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the madeleine pan to a wire rack; let the cookies cool slightly. Unmold the cookies onto a rack, and let cool completely.

Make the orange glaze:

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and orange zest and juice until the glaze is smooth and thick. Using a small pastry brush, paint the ridged side of each cookie with the glaze. Let set 15 minutes.

Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Facebook Giveaway

From Daryl:

I’m offering a book giveaway (winner’s choice of 1 from my published paperbacks) every day of this traveling feast. To enter today, tell me what is your favorite cookie?

BY THE WAY, don’t miss out on the French Bistro-themed BOX I’m giving away on my Facebook Author page.

About the Author

DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mystery series featuring a cookbook store owner who is an avid reader and admitted foodie, set on the coast of California. As AVERY AAMES, she pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series featuring a cheese shop owner amateur sleuth, set in the fictional town of Providence, Ohio. Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: Days of Secrets and Girl On the Run. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more.

Find Daryl here: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

Find Avery here: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

 

Tour Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs for the recipes featured there

November 1 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews

November 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

November 3 – Brooke Blogs

November 4 – A Holland Reads

November 5 – Jane Reads

November 6 – StoreyBook Reviews

November 7 – Back Porchervations

Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 4, 2017

Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Self Published
Release Date – October 29, 2017
286 Pages

Synopsis

Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.

When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.

With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

Review

I really enjoyed this first book in a new series. It is whimsical and intriguing at the same time. Plus it didn’t hurt that it was a easy and fast read. I didn’t want to put it down at night!

I can’t imagine going through life being adopted but not feeling really connected to anyone. That is the position Imogen is in…and then she meets some interesting people that convince her to enter a baking contest. Doesn’t matter that she has never heard of the country, she creates a delectable dessert and manages to win a spot. Of course it is one issue after another before she actually reaches where she needs to be for the contest. I don’t want to spoil anything so am not sharing too many details there. In a way it is like Imogen’s life is a mess but this could be a fresh start.

Imogen is definitely going through a discovery place in her life and ending up at the Water Kingdom is just a small part of it. There are mythical creatures and people that add character, so if you like paranormal you will probably enjoy this book. Imogen learns a lot about herself but not too much…I am hoping that perhaps her parents are from this Kingdom/world and she will find out more in upcoming books.

We give it 5 paws up!

Recipe

Erin was kind enough to share one of the recipes from the book with me to share with you!  These look delicious and I need to try them soon.

About the Author

A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh.

In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

October 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 29 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

October 29 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – INTERVIEW

October 30 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

October 31 – Readsalot – RECIPE, SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 31 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

November 1 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

November 1 – Celebrating Authors – SPOTLIGHT

November 2 –  The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

November 2 –  Varietats – REVIEW

November 2 –  Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

November 3 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW

November 3 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – RECIPE

November 3 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, RECIPE

November 4 – A Holland Reads – RECIPE, SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 5 paws, Anthology, Cozy, Giveaway, Review on October 28, 2017

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas
Cozy Mysteries
Self Published
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Print Length: 675 pages
ASIN: B074TVL3HG

Synopsis

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series—a total of over 800 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.

Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin—Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe.

Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston—Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes?

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint—Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?

What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs—Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating.

The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice.

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven— When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?

Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen—Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one.

A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy—When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime?

The Color of Fear. A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter—Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family…and on Keisha.

Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin—Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment iat a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them?

Some explicit language in a few of the stories.

Review

I decided to read a few of the stories by authors that were new to me.  I think one of them I had read one of their short stories in the other Sleuthing Women, but not the full series.  I read Frosted, Honeymoons Can Be Murder, What the Widow Knew and Smoked Meat.

All were great shorter stories (some shorter than others!) and I was led around all the characters until the killer was revealed and it was usually someone I didn’t suspect!  All authors are ones that I plan to check out whenever I can whittle down my TBR pile.  I think they all have something great to offer and I can’t wait to read the other stories.

We give this 5 paws up.

 

About Lois Winston

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website * Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog * Twitter * Pinterest * Newsletter signup

 

 

Giveaway

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on October 23, 2017

Synopsis

When radio reporter Carol Childs is called to a crime scene in the Hollywood Hills at five thirty in the morning, she’s convinced it must be a publicity stunt to promote a new movie. That is, until she sees the body hanging from the center of the Hollywood sign. The police are quick to rule it a suicide, but something doesn’t add up for Carol. Particularly after a mysterious caller named Mustang Sally confesses to the murder on the air and threatens to kill again.

With the help of an incorrigible PI, her best friend, and a kooky psychic, Carol is drawn into the world of contract killers and women scorned. As she races to find the real killer, she finds herself faced with a decision that will challenge everything she thought she knew.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), amateur sleuth mysteries, book club recommendations, suspense, noir.

Books in the Carol Childs Mystery Series:

SHADOW OF DOUBT (#1)
BEYOND A DOUBT (#2)
WITHOUT A DOUBT (#3)
ROOM FOR DOUBT (#4)

Review

I have a few favorite series and this is one of them. I am not sure what it is about the characters or the setting, but I always find the books intriguing and they even leave me on the edge of my seat at times.

Carol always manages to find herself in the thick of events, probably because she is a radio journalist and I don’t see how she could avoid those news stories. I do feel like she puts herself in harms way too often and feels it is necessary to omit pertinent details to others that might be involved in the situation.

This book does deal with abuse and how a vigilante group chooses to handle those men found guilty (but not by a court) and dealing with them in their own way. I think many would say that by the time a court would step in help the abused woman it is too late. This group takes it out of the court’s hands and inflicts their own brand of justice.

There is a new character in this book, Chase. He is a local PI that Carol is working with on this case. There is definitely some chemistry between the two and I suspect he will be around a lot more and perhaps a romance will bud between the two.

We give this 5 paws up.

About This Author

nancy silvermanNancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in news and talk radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. But it wasn’t until 2001 after she retired from news and copywriting that she was able to sit down and write fiction fulltime. Much of what Silverman writes about today she admits is pulled from events that were reported on from inside some of Los Angeles’ busiest newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes. Today Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bruce and two standard poodles.

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