Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, Review, women on August 12, 2017

COMFORT PLANS

by

KIMBERLY FISH

  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Date of Publication: May 23, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

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Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.

As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.

Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.

Praise

“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” –Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address

The author knows how to weave a tale and this book is a wonderful mix of romance, history and a splash of mystery.

I truly enjoyed this book because it is set in Texas near San Antonio which is rich in history that we don’t hear about very often. At the end of most chapters there is a letter from Colin to Laki and these letters give us a peek into what life was like for this couple and the trials they were going through.

Colette has had an interesting life that is set out throughout the book – from a divorce at a young age, to her grandfather wanting her to take over the architectural firm, to her own insecurities about what she can and cannot do, or so she thinks.

Enter Beau – a talented builder that has his own take on life..and Colette! Let’s just say there are some fireworks with their chemistry. But as with most books, both Beau and Colette have some baggage they have to deal with so that they can establish a relationship. There are quite a few funny moments as they deal with family and some others…I was definitely chuckling!

Nathan, Colette’s Grandfather, seems to be acting strangely especially when he let’s Colette know that since she won’t run the family company that he is hiring Julian – her ex-husband. This action has Colette wondering about her grandfather’s mental state especially when Julian starts taking the company in directions they probably shouldn’t be going. There is a LOT more to this story but you’ll have to read the book to find out because that would be a huge spoiler. But it does help Colette learn who she wants to be in this life and strengthens ties with her family.

The story that is woven in the pages is engaging and it was hard for me to put the book down.

We give it 5 paws up


Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch. She lives with her family in East Texas.

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8/6 Playlist Reading By Moonlight
8/7 Review Forgotten Winds
8/8 Video Guest Post Missus Gonzo
8/9 Review Hall Ways Blog
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8/12 Review StoreyBook Reviews
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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on July 21, 2017

Killer Party (A Tourist Trap Mystery) 
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Lyrical Underground (July 18, 2017)
Paperback: 188 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1601836366
E-Book ASIN: B01M9EM56U

Synopsis

After a few months of living with her boyfriend Greg, Jill is still getting used to sharing such close quarters, but she’s got no hesitation about joining him for a weekend at South Cove’s most luxurious resort. While Greg and his college pals celebrate their buddy’s upcoming wedding, Jill intends to pamper herself in style. But when the groom is found floating facedown in the pool, Jill must find the killer fast, or she might not have a boyfriend to come home to any more . . .

Review

I’m not sure what it is with mysteries that I have read lately…but I never see the killer coming! (and yes I have said this several times lately!) With this book I’m trying to figure out who was involved and why, however I never figured this one out. The author does a great job of hiding clues (and there are some looking back) and throwing many red herrings in your path.

And of course I love seeing Jill and Greg’s relationship grow now that they have moved in together. There are a few moments where Jill continues to question the relationship, but she is coming along and accepting it more and more.

And it looks like there will be some new residents to South Cove.  Exciting!

We give this book 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.

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July 17 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

July 17 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

July 18 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

July 18 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

July 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

July 19 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

July 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 20 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

July 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

July 22 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW

July 22 – Brooke Blogs  SPOTLIGHT

July 23 – deal sharing aunt – SPOTLIGHT

July 24 – Varietats – REVIEW

July 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 25 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

July 25 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

July 26 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

July 27 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

July 27 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

July 28 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

July 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on July 17, 2017

Engaged in Trouble (An Enchanted Events Mystery Book 1)

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Sweet Pea Productions (March 30, 2017)
Paperback: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998109800
E-Book ASIN: B06XX5VT7J

Synopsis

When a washed-up pop star inherits a wedding planning business, it’s all bouquets and bliss until a bride turns up dead.

Paisley Sutton shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later that star has fizzled out, just like her bank account. When she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s wedding planning business, Paisley leaves the glamour of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking she’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, Paisley’s shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. She’s got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if she wants to sell and rekindle her music career with the profits.

Paisley’s tossed into a world of vows and venues, but her most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to Paisley as the prime murder suspect. And she does not look good in prison orange.

This former pop princess will need the help of her gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and her handsome neighbor, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear her good name. As she and her unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, she discovers the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer Paisley gets to the truth, the more her own life is in danger.

Love is in the air this wedding season, but before Paisley can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” she’s got to unveil a killer. Or find herself the next target.

Engaged in Trouble is the first book in the long-awaited Enchanted Events cozy mystery series by award-winning author Jenny B. Jones. If you like laugh-out-loud adventures, small-town romance, unforgettable, sassy characters, and a mystery to keep you guessing, then you’ll love this new page-turning series.

Review

I really enjoyed the first book in this new series! It made me laugh a lot and I can only imagine what future books will hold.

A washed up singer comes home to run a wedding business she has inherited…nothing could go wrong with that and it should be a walk in the park. That is until Paisley walks into the shop and realizes this is going to be a tough 8 weeks until she can sell the business to the guy running the shop. But barely a week into working at the business (stipulation of the will), a bride ends of dead and of course Paisley is the prime suspect. Thankfully she has her former CIA Grandmother to help her figure out who the real killer is before Paisley ends up in jail.

I have to say I think Grandma really makes the book – she is funny with her spy mentality and what she is willing to do (or has done in the past) to take care of a situation. If you don’t laugh out loud at her antics…well then I don’t know what to say because it is funny!

There is a bit of romance in the book between Paisley and Beau. He is a childhood friend and they shared their first kiss together. But neither wants to be in a relationship – but the chemistry is pulling them together so it will be hard to not give in to it all.

And of course there is the mystery. I did sort of figure out who was involved but not until close to the end and not really sure why. There are some clues to guide you to the character but you will have to be a super sleuth to decipher the clues.

We give it 5 paws up

About the Author

Award-winning, best-selling author Jenny B. Jones writes romance, cozies, and YA with sass and Southern charm. Since she has very little free time, Jenny believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as eating ice cream, watching puppy videos, and reading celebrity gossip. She lives in the beautiful state of Arkansas and has worked in public education for half of forever.  She loves bluegrass, a good laugh, and strong tea. She adores hearing from readers.

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July 10 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 10 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

July 11 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 11 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

July 12 – Bubble Bath Books – REVIEW

July 12 – Readsalot – GUEST POST

July 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 13 – Bookworm Mom –  REVIEW, GUEST POST

July 14 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

July 14 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

July 15 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

July 16 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

July 18 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 18 – Carole’s Book Corner – GUEST POST

July 19 – The Montana Bookaholic  – REVIEW, GUEST POST

July 19 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 20 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – REVIEW

July 21 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

July 23 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW, GUEST POST

Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, Review, Romantic Comedy on June 17, 2017

Romantic Comedy
Self Published
Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
ASIN: B06XTSHJHB

Synopsis

I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

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Review

This author has a way of taking a serious topic (body shaming) and making it where many could relate to the main character (Evie/Everly) and perhaps even understand why the character feels like she does.

I really enjoyed this book and chuckled through most of it. The book was a fast read (to me!) and I hated putting it down to go do other things (like cook dinner). I could identify with Everly but to be honest she wasn’t that overweight. In the notes afterwards the author shares she was about 5’4″ and from comments the character made about wanting to lose 50 lbs and weigh 110 we know she was around 160. That really isn’t that bad but it comes down to that topic that almost all women deal with – feeling inadequate about our bodies thanks to the media and the pressures it puts on us to be thin. But despite the fact that she wasn’t that overweight, she still had a body image/self esteem issue.

There is romance in this book too – the ex- Josh that started her journey at the gym; Gabe, her personal trainer who is also a “player”; and finally Carter, a geek but a famous one and rich to boot. As her interactions with the different men ensued I knew who I was rooting for..just call me Team Carter.

Besides the men there is a team of supportive women friends – Blaze who is her best friend and holds Everly the most accountable. Everyone needs a Blaze in their life! Lily, a co-worker that is supportive in many ways especially when it comes to work and how that job plays out. Then there is the group of ladies from Zumba who are a hoot and a half.

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was some of the language. There is a disclaimer that there was bad language, I just think some of it could have been cut out and not affected the moment in the story. Also, Charise (one of the friends from Zumba) called everyone bitches. It was funny the first few times but then it got old fast for me.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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June 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 13 – Bookworm Cafe  – GUEST POST

June 14 – Back Porchervations -REVIEW

June 14 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

June 16 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 17 –   StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 17 –   Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 5 paws, cooking, Giveaway, Review, Texas on May 31, 2017

BREAKFAST IN TEXAS

by

Terry Thompson-Anderson

  Genre: Cookbook / Southwest Cuisine

Publisher: The University of Texas Press

Date of Publication: April 18, 2017

Number of Pages: 312

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Texans love the morning meal, whether it’s bacon and eggs (often eaten in a breakfast taco) or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink. And with Texas’s rich regional and cultural diversity, an amazing variety of dishes graces the state’s breakfast and brunch tables. The first Texas cookbook dedicated exclusively to the morning meal, Breakfast in Texas gathers nearly one hundred recipes that range from perfectly prepared classics to the breakfast foods of our regional cuisines (Southern, Mexican, German, Czech, Indian, and Asian among them) to stand-out dishes from the state’s established and rising chefs and restaurants.

Terry Thompson-Anderson organizes the book into sections that cover breakfast and brunch libations (with and without alcohol); simple, classic, and fancy egg presentations; pancakes, French toast, and waffles; meat lover’s dishes; seafood and shellfish; vegan dishes and sides; and pastries. The recipes reference locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and Thompson-Anderson provides enjoyable notes about the chefs who created them or the cultural history they represent. She also offers an expert primer on cooking eggs, featuring an encounter with Julia Child, as well as a selection of theme brunches (the boozy brunch, the make-ahead brunch, New Year’s Day brunch, Mother’s Day brunch with seasonal ingredients, teenage daughter’s post-slumber party breakfast, and more). Sandy Wilson’s color photographs of many of the dishes and the chefs and restaurants who serve them provide a lovely visual counterpoint to the appetizing text.

Purchase the book here from UT Press

Praise

**A James Beard Cookbook Award Finalist**

“Bring a Texas-sized appetite to the table for Breakfast in Texas! A combination of home-style cooking and favorite dishes from restaurants across the great state, Breakfast in Texas is packed with recipes for simple to spectacular egg dishes, creative cocktails, meat lovers’ feasts, and pancakes and pastries, as well as vegan breakfast and brunch ideas. Beautiful photographs, mouth-watering recipes, and great menu and party ideas make this a must-have for your cookbook shelf.” – Virginia Willis, chef and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author

“I thoroughly enjoyed Terry Thompson-Anderson’s latest cookbook, Breakfast in Texas. I’m sure many of these recipes are going to become signature dishes for my family, as well as my loyal restaurant customers. Relish every story; enjoy every bite. This cookbook is Texas at the breakfast table.” -Monica Pope, chef and author of Eat Where Your Food Lives

“Terry Thompson-Anderson’s epic breakfast book spans the cultures of Texas, as well as its regions. With recipes that run from simple to more elaborate, and range from libations to pastries, there’s something for everyone. Plus, Breakfast in Texas is a good read, with all sorts of fascinating information about Texas and its rich and colorful history.” -Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company and author of The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide

 

Is it possible to gain 10 lbs just reading a cookbook?

I do love a good cookbook and this one just tipped the scales for me! Not only is it breakfast/brunch recipes – they are from restaurants in Texas. How much better can it get?!

I enjoyed reading about all of the different chefs, restaurants, and recipes that are throughout the book. The photos (and recipes) had me drooling and wanting to pull up a chair and have a delicious meal or two (or three or four).  I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but have earmarked a few to try very soon.

But this book contains more than food recipes, it also includes beverages to imbibe while enjoying the food and also the stories behind how many of the dishes came to be and more information about the creators (aka Chefs). There is even a section on how to prepare eggs – because that truly can be an art form even for the best cook out there.

Because this is Texas we can’t overlook the Mexican influence that spices up all of our dishes – from beverages to breakfast tacos. Or the Cajun influence that is reflected in Brennan’s dishes (Houston restaurant). So if these flavors call to you, then those are the recipes you’ll want to try first.

But before you think that everything is for the carnivores out there – there is actually a section on vegan/vegetarian options and a couple of restaurants were highlighted. (although they missed out on a good restaurant – The Spiral Diner in Fort Worth).

Overall an excellent cookbook that serves up history with the recipes – a great combination.  We give it 5 paws up.

Terry Thompson-Anderson is the author of nine previous cookbooks, including Texas on the Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State, which was a finalist for the 2015 James Beard Book Award for American Cooking.

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6/5 Review Bibliotica
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6/8 Sneak Peek Forgotten Winds
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6/10 Review Books and Broomsticks
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6/12 Author Interview CGB Blog Tours
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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 15, 2017

The Final Vow (A Living History Museum Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2017)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745923
E-Book ASIN: B01LWKJTY7

Synopsis

Summer weddings in Barton Farm’s picturesque church are standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge. At least they were until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, orders Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.

Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene.

When Kelsey finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.

Review

Twists and turns I didn’t expect while trying to figure out who the killer was and why it was Vianna that had to die.

So that is my “tag line” for this cozy mystery that took me through a few different emotions because I felt for Kelsey having to deal with her ex getting remarried where she works to someone that is a spoiled person and expects everything to be done her way. Kelsey put up with a lot and on top of that has to figure out who killed Vianna and why. I honestly never suspected the character that killed her but the “why” made sense. Kelsey also has walls up after her marriage to the ex and it makes it harder for her to move on with other relationships – hopefully she and Chase can work things out.

I do enjoy this series – the writing keeps me hooked, the historical side and even the humor.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

Amanda Flower, a two-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling  author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

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May 8 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

May 8 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

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May 10 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

May 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 11 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 11 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW

May 12 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 14 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

May 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

May 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 16 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW

May 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

May 17 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

May 18 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

May 18 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

May 19 – My Journey Back– REVIEW

May 20 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

May 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 8, 2017

Magick & Mayhem (An Abracadabra Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground (May 2, 2017)
ASIN: B01JWDZSQQ

Synopsis

What’s in a murderer’s bag of tricks?

Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .

As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!

Review

Paranormal/witch/magic type books are usually hit or miss with me but this one was a hit! I loved the characters especially Merlin – yes that Merlin. He someone gets to modern time and is like a kid in a candy store sopping up the advances that have been made since his time. I think he really made the story and sometimes stole the spotlight. That isn’t to say the rest of the characters aren’t good because they do round out the cast and help make the story.

When it comes to the mystery portion – whoa what a shocker when the killer was revealed. While this person is something of a suspect, when you find out why the local attorney is killed you won’t be surprised at why he was killed. Can’t say too much because you need to read the book and see if you can figure out who and why.

There is a lot of misdirection and red herrings to keep the story hopping and interesting. A series I plan to keep my eye on.

We give this 5 paws up

About the Author

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

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check out the other blogs on this tour

May 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

May 1 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

May 2 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

May 2 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 3 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – INTERVIEW

May 3 – Bubble Bath Books – REVIEW

May 4 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

May 4 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 5 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 5 – The Broke Book Bank – REVIEW

May 6 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 7 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

May 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 8 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

May 9 –  A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

May 10 – Book Babble – REVIEW

May 10 – Varietats – REVIEW

May 11 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW

May 11 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

May 13 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 13 – Deal Sharing Aunt – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Movie, mystery, Review on May 5, 2017

For a long time I have wanted the Hallmark channel, but more importantly, the Hallmark Movie & Mystery channel.  Thanks to a deal I struck with the cable company I started receiving these channels in March…and that was the downfall of my reading!  I have heard of various cozy books that have been made into movies and once I had this channel the TiVo was set up to record all of them.  This made for great binge watching weekends!

The first series I decided to watch was The Garage Sale Mysteries by author Suzi Weinert.  These movies star Lori Loughlin as Jennifor Shannon, owner of an antique type store that frequents garage sales and estate sales for bargains….never expecting she would stumble across a murder (or two).  With her eye for detail she is able to help the police solve the crime but not without putting herself in a little danger along the way.

There are 7 movies out as of this date and I am hoping there might be more to come!  (I can’t believe there were 7, didn’t seem like I watched THAT many!)

Photo from Hallmark Movie & Mystery Channel website

Garage Sale Mystery

Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) can always find a diamond in the rough – when it comes to garage sales, that is! Whether it’s a new antique to sell at her consignment shop, an Atari game for her son or a piece of furniture for her handy husband Jason (Rick Ravanello) to refurbish, she has made a career out of her treasure hunting prowess. But, when a string of burglaries hits her town, Jennifer must use her keen eye for detail and her natural problem solving instincts to help her piece together the clues and catch the criminal, before it’s to late!

Working with Detective Adam Iverson (Andrew Dunbar), Jennifer puts together a theory that the perpetrators of the burglaries are fellow garage sale regulars. The case escalates to dangerous levels when Jennifer discovers the dead body of her friend. And, even though the vicitms husband, Ben Douglas (Cameron Bancroft), finds nothing missing in their house, and the police label the death as accidental, Jennifer suspects that the death may be related to the burglaries.

So, with her treasure hunting skills and problem solving instincts, Jennifer finds and pieces together clues to the burglaries and her friend’s death. But as she gets closer to the truth, Jennifer learns that crime solving can be far more dangerous than any garage sale! Can she uncover the “Garage Sale Mystery” before it’s too late, or will her investigation create problems that not even Jennifer can solve.

If you click on the links it will take you to Hallmark’s Movie & Mystery website and you can see previews of each movie.

Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters

Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) has a gift for finding rare treasures hidden in garage sales that she can resell at her consignment store, Rags to Riches. But her keen eye for finding valuables also gets her involved in the criminal investigations that happen at the very second-hand sales she frequents. When Jennifer’s friend and self-storage facility owner Martin (Michael Kopsa) turns up murdered just hours after auctioning off an abandoned storage unit full of unique items to Jennifer, she is immediately pulled on the case as a key eyewitness. Working with Detective Lynwood (Kevin O’Grady), Jennifer helps single out a disgruntled customer as the prime suspect, while she and her business partner, Danielle (Sarah Strange), sift through boxes from the auction. As her husband Jason (Steve Bacic) worries about her safety, Jennifer starts to get over her head when there is a break-in at her store and a run-in with Martin’s angry wife. Then, Jennifer and Danielle discover their new merchandise contains the sparkly evidence they needed all along to nail the surprising real culprit. They must race to save a life and put their own on the line. Will they succeed before times runs out?

Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room

Jennifer Shannon uses her sharp eye when finding rare garage sale treasures to resell at the consignment store she owns with business partner, Dani. When her friend dies trying to disprove rumors that a multi-million dollar home she is trying to sell has a deadly curse, Jennifer puts these intuitive skills to the test. Though a police investigation led by Detective Lynwood finds no evidence of foul play – even on the webcam footage from the night of the death – Jennifer has an ominous feeling that her friend has been murdered. Putting her keen instincts to work, Jennifer researches the history of deaths that all occurred in the room where her friend died, and examines a few key suspects with motives to murder. Jennifer’s husband Jason worries about her safety, but supports her efforts as she continues to investigate. As Jennifer uncovers clues that bring her closer to the truth, she also puts her own life in danger.

Garage Sale Mystery: The Wedding Dress

Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) has made a career of finding rare garage sale treasures to resell at the consignment store she owns with her business partner, Dani (Sarah Strange). When she finds a wedding dress that was worn on the day a groom went missing, Jennifer uses her knack for solving puzzles to investigate this unsolved cold case. After meeting the dress’s original owner, Helen (Cheryl Ladd), and finding traces of blood on the dress, Jennifer digs deeper into the decades-old mystery with the help of Detective Lynwood (Kevin O’Grady), and the support of her husband, Jason (Steve Bacic). With every clue that Jennifer uncovers, she gets closer to either finding the long-missing groom, or uncovering a wedding day murder.

Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Jennifer Shannon has an eye for antiques and a mind for solving mysteries. Her old friend from college, Sandra, has an antiques store that is closing. An ecstatic Jennifer gets first pick on all the goodies. She expects to find a few exquisite pieces for her store, “Rags to Riches,” but she doesn’t expect to find a dead body. To make matters worse, Sandra is arrested for murder. Jennifer has no choice but to get involved and find the real killer to prove her friend’s innocence. This won’t be an easy case to crack, because cleverly planted clues all point to Sandra.

Garage Sale Mystery: The Novel Murders

Jennifer Shannon (Loughlin) is a garage sale shopping expert whose sharp observation skills allow her to uncover valuable antiques, as well as help her local police department investigate crimes and solve mysteries. When an impoverished man enters Rags to Riches – a consignment shop where Jennifer sells the gems she’s found at garage sales – and asks to have an item home-delivered, Jennifer agrees. Upon her arrival at his run-down apartment, Jennifer finds the man murdered. As the police survey the crime scene, Jennifer cannot help but think there is something familiar about the details of the killing – and soon realizes that the victim’s cold- blooded demise is a re-enactment of a murder in a classic mystery novel.

Garage Sale Mystery: Art of Murder

Jennifer Shannon is a garage sale shopping expert whose sharp observation skills allow her to uncover valuable antiques, as well as help her local police department investigate crimes. While arranging a charity garage sale event, Jennifer finds a body in the attic of a local residence. While working to crack the case, Jennifer offers support to her loving husband, Jason, whose upcoming birthday has sparked a mid-life crisis. As Jennifer prepares to buy him the perfect gift, she receives an urgent voicemail from Tina, pleading for her immediate assistance. When she responds, the garage sale-expert-turned-sleuth finds herself standing face-to-face with a killer.

Review

I really enjoyed all of the movies, some more than others, but all were enjoyable.  I have never read this series so I don’t know how much the movies might differ from the books.  I thought the actors chosen to play each character were very believable and likable (unless they were then the villain then of course we don’t like them!).  I was amazed at what I learned about how to look at different items at sales and who knows what sort of treasure that you could find just waiting around the corner.

Each movie drew me in to the case and also the personal lives of the characters.  What they dealt with from friends, family and work situations and how it impacted those around them.

I’m not sure that there is an order to watch these but I think  you have to start with the first one to get a bit of background and their personal stories develop with each subsequent movie.

We give it 5 paws up!

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on April 8, 2017

Silence of the Jams (A Down South Café Mystery) 
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Berkley (April 4, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1101990803
E-Book ASIN: B01IAUG44C

Synopsis

In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect… 

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * Indiebound * Kobo

Review

This small town is intriguing and the townsfolk are people I would want as my neighbors! Well except the killers!

This second book is very delightful and of course I love that it is centered around a cafe…which means food! Thankfully the author gives us some recipes at the end and I will be trying out a few of them.

The mystery was well written and while I figured out the killer it wasn’t really from any clues, but just a gut instinct. This character just seemed to be up to something shady, and I was right!

There is also another character that turned out to be a surprise and one of the good ones. You wouldn’t think that from how this character is portrayed. I can’t say too much, don’t want to give away any secrets or plot twists.

I even like that the romance continues between Ryan and Amy. It seems rather sweet. And her cousin Jackie even has something going with a long time friend. I also like that the author throws in a drug addicted mother and the agony a family probably goes through dealing with that addiction.

Overall a delightful book and series, definitely check it out if you haven’t yet.  We give it 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

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April 3 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 3 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 3 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

April 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW

April 4 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 5 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

April 6 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 6 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

April 6 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

April 7 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW

April 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

April 8 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

April 9 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 10 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

April 10 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

April 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

April 11 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

April 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

April 12 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

April 12 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 12 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

April 13 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – REVIEW

April 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

April 14 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

April 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

April 15 – deal sharing aunt – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

April 16 – Varietats – REVIEW

April 16 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

Posted in 5 paws, Christian, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, romance on March 31, 2017

A STOLEN HEART

Cimarron Creek Trilogy #1

by

AMANDA CABOT

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Revell / Baker Publishing Group

Date of Publication: March, 2017

Number of Pages: 352

 Scroll down for Giveaway!

“Endearing characters, a tender love story, and intriguing mystery all work together to make Amanda Cabot’s A Stolen Heart a compelling and enjoyable read.”—Margaret Brownley, author of Left at the Altar

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot takes readers back in time to the 1880s Texas Hill Country in her new historical romance novel, A Stolen Heart. This is the first book in a brand-new series packed with tension, mystery, and a tender love story that readers won’t soon forget.

Cimarron Creek seemed like an idyllic Texas town. But as soon as former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford stepped onto its dusty streets, she noticed a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her.

That won’t get Lydia down, though. She looks forward to the day when she reunites with her fiancé—until she discovers her fiancé has disappeared without a trace and has left behind a pregnant wife. The handsome Cimarron Creek sheriff urges Lydia to trust him, but she is having a hard time trusting anyone in a town where secrets and suspense prevail.

Cabot weaves an elegant tale of pure love amidst heartache. With an absorbing plot and engaging characters, A Stolen Heart is a springtime showstopper fit for every historical romance reader.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Baker Retail * ChristianBook.com

A Would-Be Candy Maker

Do you have a sweet tooth?  I certainly do.  My siblings still laugh at the fact that I once declared that a meal wasn’t a meal unless it included dessert.  Fortunately for me, I grew up in a home where dessert ended almost every meal.  Breakfast doesn’t count, does it?  It was also a family where everything – and I mean everything – was homemade.  We had wonderful cakes, pies, cookies, and puddings for dessert.  The one thing we didn’t have was candy.  Candy came from a store and was for special occasions, namely Christmas and Easter.

As you can imagine, the fact that candy was rare made me long for it all the more.  And since my mother had taught me to make cookies, cakes, and pies, I decided that the next culinary challenge would be candy.  How difficult could it be?  Mother smiled when I announced that I wanted to make fudge.  “It’s not as easy as you think,” she told me, undoubtedly hoping to discourage me.  She didn’t, and I persisted in begging to make candy.  “Later,” she said.

Later came when my Girl Scout troop leader invited us to her home to make fudge.  I was ecstatic.  At last I’d uncover the mystery of creating delicious confections.  Somehow, I was appointed Stirrer-in-Chief.  After an hour – or was it a week? – of stirring the chocolate, sugar, and milk until it reached the soft boil stage, I decided that no matter how delicious the final product was, it wasn’t worth the effort.  Mother’s smile broadened when I recounted my experience.  Although she said nothing, I suspect she was saying, “Just what I expected.”

A year or so later, when I’d forgotten how tedious it was to stir candy until it reached exactly the right temperature, I decided to make penuche.  Once again, there was a lot of stirring involved.  That was bad enough, but I might have persisted if the results had been exceptional.  They were not.  This time I’d learned my lesson and was done with candy making.

My youngest sister, however, took up the candy baton er … spoon.  One evening she persuaded my boyfriend to help her make what had been advertised as “foolproof two-flavor fudge.”  The picture she’d torn out of a magazine showed a piece of chocolate fudge topped with a butterscotch layer.  Easy, or so the recipe claimed.

The two of them remained in the kitchen for far longer than it should have taken to make such an easy dish.  To this day, neither of them will admit to knowing what happened, but while the chocolate layer was a success, the butterscotch one remained the consistency of soup – not exactly what they had had in mind and definitely not like the picture.  As a last resort, they placed it in the freezer.  That did accomplish the goal of changing the consistency, and for a few minutes, the candy bore a faint resemblance to the picture.  Then, of course, it melted.

“I’ll never again make candy,” my sister wailed.  And she hasn’t.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t resist the recipe that came with my first microwave oven.  It couldn’t have been easier.  Simply place a few ingredients in a bowl, microwave for a couple minutes, stir, then refrigerate.  And, unlike the two-flavor fudge that had been my sister’s nemesis, this recipe truly was foolproof.  It might not be “real” fudge, but it was quick and easy.  I could almost convince myself that I was a candy maker.  Almost.

The reality is that I’ll never be a candy maker, but I am an author, and that means I can create characters who have powers I do not.  That’s why I gave Lydia, the heroine of A Stolen Heart, a candy store.  She may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but she can – and does – create perfect candy.  Lucky Lydia!

Amanda Cabot

I thought this was going to just be a clean historical romance, which it was, but there was also a mystery in the little Texas town of Cimarron Creek.

When I read books like this one and the setting is a sleepy little town, I imagine myself living there and enjoying life at a slower pace then what I live in now. No the town isn’t perfect, there are petty crimes and more, but the thought of everyone knowing each other and the sense of community that is often missing in today’s world calls to me.

Lydia is spunky and while she may have come to town for one reason, she does manage to find her place despite being an outsider. I enjoyed watching her find her place by opening a confectionery store, and how everyone in town seemed to gravitate towards the candies. I do wish the author had provided recipes at the end!

Travis has his own issues with his father and his father’s attitude towards Northerners, like Lydia. But luckily he doesn’t let that hold him back from realizing that maybe finding a special woman isn’t such a bad thing.

The story has some humorous moments and some nail biting moments especially near the end as the story reveals who the culprit is behind everything. There is maybe a clue or two left along the way, but I didn’t put it all together and I was almost right in suspecting the right person. Close but no cigar.

I look forward to reading the next book which is Catherine’s story.

We give this 5 paws up!

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of At Bluebonnet Lake, In Firefly Valley, and On Lone Star Trail, as well as the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

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Giveaway

 GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Book + Puzzle + 2lb Retro Candy Box

1ST RUNNER-UP: Book + $20 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

2ND RUNNER-UP: Book + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
(US ONLY)
March 21 – April 4, 2017

 

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3/21 Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
3/22 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
3/23 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
3/24 Review Reading By Moonlight
3/25 Scrapbook Page Syd Savvy
3/26 promo Kara The Redhead
3/27 Review Margie’s Must Reads
3/28 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
3/29 Author Interview The Page Unbound
3/30 Review My Book Fix Blog
3/31 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
4/1 Review CGB Blog Tours
4/2 promo A Novel Reality
4/3 Character Interview It’s a Jenn World
4/4 Review Missus Gonzo

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