Posted in Cozy, Florida on November 10, 2010

A few months ago I reviewed the first book in the Sherri Travis series called Margarita Nights by author Phyllis Smallman.  The book showed promise for a new series set in Florida so I decided to check out the next two books in the series, Sex in a Sidecar and A Brewski for the Old Man.  The following synopsis are from the author’s website.

Sex in a Sidecar

Florida has two seasons. The rainy season brings hurricanes, the dry season delivers tourists – both can be nasty.

Sherri Travis is tending bar at the Bath and Tennis Club where two women have been murdered. A rich socialite, who comes in daily for her quota of side-cars, decides to commit suicide by being the next victim,but first she has to decide who the murderer is.

Sherri pours the drinks and listens to the stories, trying to make sense of it all.

A Brewski for the Old Man

The story of the return to Jacaranda of Ray John Leenders, the man who abused Sherri when she was a child. Back in town he’s living with a woman who has a young daughter. Sherri doesn’t want to get involved; it’s none of her business – except, except – she knows the woman and her daughter and it’s impossible to stay uninvolved.

Review:

These two books were a fairly quick and easy read.  It continues the life of Sherri but since she received an insurance settlement from the death of her husband in the first book, she is able to purchase the bar she worked at, Sunset, with another investor, Clay who also happens to be her love interest. 

I know that these are a cozy mysteries but sometimes I wonder how these characters get themselves into so much trouble!  Granted most of the time she isn’t looking for that trouble but manages to find her anyway.

I was surprised that despite everything that has happened in the first two books and how Sherri has managed to solve or help solve these crimes that Detective Styles always seems to think she is involved more than she really is and automatically thinks she had something to do with the death  of John Ray in the third book.  Hasn’t he learned anything yet?  Or is he just looking for an excuse to get close to Sherri?  Granted there is a lot of circumstantial evidence but we all know you can’t make assumptions.

If you enjoyed Margarita Nights you will enjoy these next two installments.  The pace is quick and the cast of characters which follows each book will keep you hopping trying to decide who can or cannot be trusted.

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Posted in Cozy, New York on August 4, 2010

Before Elise Warner started her writing career you could find her on Broadway, working with National Companies and in clubs as an actress, singer and stage manager.  She has even written a play which won Theatre Guinevere’s “Guinny Award”.  After that she started writing for various magazines but this is her first novel.

Scene Stealer features Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired school teacher who is caught up on the case of a kidnapped child, an actor in fact, and feels that she must help the police solve this crime.  She does this putting her self in harms way a time or two, and as expected of a school teacher, a rap or two on the knuckles of some not some helpful characters.

When I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, in fact, I wasn’t even aware that this was the author’s first novel.  The story started off with Augusta noticing a child on the bus and as a former schoolteacher knew that something wasn’t quite right.  The child looked scared and the man he was with was a bit scary himself.  She departs the bus to try and follow the pair to see if she can help the child.  In the back of her mind she recognizes the child but does not realize he is an actor for a local fast food chain until his disappearance is publicized in the media.  Then she realizes what she saw could help find Kevin and bring him back to his mother.  She doesn’t realize the danger that she ends up putting herself in to until it is too late. 

I was beginning to wonder why someone would want to read this book if the kidnapper was going to be revealed so early in the book.  But imagine mysurprise when the obvious wasn’t as obvious as you might think.  It was a nice twist that I wasn’t expecting and pulled me back in to the story wondering how it was going to end.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars and if the author decides to make this a series, I will definitely check out the second installment.

Posted in Cozy, mystery, Washington DC on August 4, 2010

Julie Moffet is a published author and this is her first venture into mystery/suspense and she has the background for this type of novel.  She has a degree in political science and speaks several foreign languages mentioned in this book, so what she writes about she knows and understands.

Lexi Carmichael works for the NSA and is a “Geek Extraordinare” by excelling in math and computer skills.  Lexi is a woman after my own heart with her addiction to chocolate and her favorite stop is Dunkin Donuts.  Helping Lexi out in the book are the Zimmerman twins, Elvis and Xavier, who are even bigger geeks who have taken their computer skills from the NSA to the private sector.  There is also Slash, who no one knows his real name, who works for NSA, the Vatican and who knows what other government body.  The last is Finn, a lawyer and heir apparant to a winery in Ireland.  All of these characters come together to help Basia, Lexi’s best friend, who puts herself in the middle of an international incident simply because of some documents that she translated.

I would give this book 3 1/2 stars.  The book was good but some parts seemed a little longer than necessary.  Plus I would get confused between the two guys named Al-something and who was the Saudi prince and who was the terrorist.  That aside, I enjoyed the storyline and Lexi’s interactions with the twins, Slash and Finn.  For someone who is supposedly “plain” (the character’s words) she has 3 men that are attracted to her so perhaps she did inherit some of her mother’s beauty.  Lexi also gets a taste of what it is like to be a field agent since she decides to do some things her own way, which was probably a good move because the situation could have ended differently had she not involved herself because of Basia.

I believe this book is to become a series and if it is, I will definitely give the 2nd book a chance because it could turn into an interesting series.

Posted in Chicago, Cozy on July 26, 2010

Liar, Liar is the first novel for a trio of sisters – Julianne, Kristen and Kari Larsen.

Cat DeLuca, along with her beagle Inga, owns and runs the Pants on Fire Detective Agency…and yes, the name is all that it implies.  She won’t find a long lost relative but she is the one to call if you think your hubby (or wife) is cheating on you.  Cat also has an overpowering family where all of the men are cops (dad, brother Rocco, cousins, etc) and they want her to give up her job and work as a dispatcher.  Then there is mom who is your typical Catholic Italian in Chicago who thinks her daughter is going straight to hell for her career choice.

Everything is going well with her agency until Rita Polansky hires her to follow her “husband” Chance and find out the scoop on what he is going.  Little does she know that she is going to end up in the hospital after being hit by a For Lease sign from an exploding building which also has everyone convinced she has lost her mind when no one else can see Chance except for her.  This throws her into a series of events that she cannot control with out a little help from Uncle Joey (and yes, Uncle Joey will “fix” things for you) and Tino who owns the deli but has other talents up his sleeve.

I read this book almost in one sitting.  It reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, they are both strong female characters, have overbearing Italian mothers and always seem to find themselves in a bit of danger but luckily have friends and family to help bail them out.

If you like to laugh you will love this book….like I said, I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it at work (just don’t tell my boss!).  You won’t be disappointed.

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Posted in Cozy on March 10, 2010

Cleo Coyle is the pen name for Alice Alfonsi, who writes with her husband, Marc Cerasini.   They write a cozy series called the Coffeehouse mysteries.  While I’m not a coffee addict like some, the descriptions of the various drinks, types of coffee and methods makes me want to take up drinking coffee!  But a tea drinker I will remain.

The books (in order)

  • On What Grounds (2003)
  • Through the Grinder (2004)
  • Latte Trouble (2005)
  • Murder Most Frothy (2006)
  • Decaffineated Corpse (2007)
  • French Pressed (2008)
  • Espresso Shot (2009, hardback 2008)
  • Holiday Grind (2009)

The books feature Claire Cosi who is the manager of the coffee shop, her ex-husband Matteo and daughter Joy.  There is also detective Quinn who is the new love interest for Claire and who she meets helping to solve a crime in the first novel.  And we can’t forget Madame, Claire’s ex-mother-in-law that gets involved with helping to solve the crimes…plus has a large closet with vintage clothing that Claire utilizes when she needs a cover and the appropriate clothing.

This is an enjoyable series with characters that are fun and quirky.  If you read the series, be sure to read in order to keep the personal line straight!

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Posted in Cozy, mystery on September 22, 2009

I know I know….I am wayyyy behind in posting a review or something book related. Work doesn’t play nice with us and internet access anymore.

I have been reading a lot lately and will try to get to those soon but wanted to highlight an author that I have enjoyed reading lately. Victoria Laurie writes cozies and has two series out that I have read (am reading).

The first is the Psychic Eye series featuring Abby Cooper and her mini dachshund Eggy. Abby is a psychic and manages to find herself in many situations that she could have avoided if she had just listened to her spirit guides. Of course then we wouldn’t have this series of books to read if she did that!

I’m on the 4th book in the series, Killer Insight, and currently there are 7 in the series.

In the 3rd book, A Vision of Murder, she introduces M.J. Holliday which spun off another series called The Ghost Hunter mystery series and yes, M.J. is a ghost hunter.

On top of that, Victoria is a psychic herself, so what better way to write a book than about something you know.

If you are looking for a cozy series to start, check out either one of these series by Victoria Laurie and you won’t be disappointed!

Posted in Cozy, Eileen Davidson, mystery, soap opera on July 12, 2009

Author: Eileen Davidson

978-0451228253
Published by Obsidian, a division of Penguin Group

From the back of the book:
Alexis Peterson’s days are flled with scheming, backstabbing, adultery and murder. She is a soap opera star after all. But a new role has her feeling like she’s in the horror business.

Tabloids and fans are stunned when Alexis Peterson leaves her popular show for another soap, but she’s too busy preparing to be a presenter at the Daytime Emmy Awards to even notice. When her copresenter loses his life before presenting a winner, Alex realizes she has another murder mystery on her hands.


Working behind the scenes to find out how her costar could have met such an end, Alex invites handsome Detective Frank Jakes – a man she can’t stop imagining having a real love scene with – back into her life. But first Alex must focus on finding the killer before she sees another one of Hollywood’s brightest stars burn out.


My thoughts:
They always say you should write about what you know and Eileen Davidson has done just that. As an actress who has had roles on The Young and the Restless and Days of our Lives, she definitely has an in to the soap opera world and is able to use that knowledge to her benefit. She even mentions some well known soap actresses in the book although she has changed the names of the various shows but the titles aren’t too far off!


This is the second in a series and while this book could stand on its own, it would be best to read “Death in Daytime” before this one because there are many references to the murder that occurred in that book. I did feel a little lost at times not having read “Death in Daytime” but not too much! Plus the storyline between Alex and Jakes started in the first book and continues to develop in this installment.


Alex is like many of the main characters in other cozies, she gets involved in helping to solve a murder even though she has another career field. But somehow she manages to stumble across the murderer but not without putting herself in danger.


With all that said, I really enjoyed this book. While I don’t watch soaps anymore, I used to watch Days of our Lives and remember Eileen Davidson on the show. Reading this book was like going back to those days and a behind the scenes look at what goes on the set of a soap. The book is fast paced and has short chapters (some are only 4 pages!) which made it quick reading for me but would easily give me a place to stop. There is a nice cliff hanger at the end that leads you wondering what will happen in the next book (no title or date as of yet).

If you like cozies, check out this book. I’ll even make it easy for you, the publisher has given me 2 copies to give away. So leave a comment with contact info and I will draw two names on Monday, July 20th.

Posted in Colorado, Cozy, real estate on March 11, 2009

Author – Maggie Sefton
Published – 2005
This may be the only book in this series since the author seems to be focusing on a knitting cozy series. My husband is a real estate broker so I was interested to see how this book would compare to what I see him do on a daily basis.

Kate Doyle is a relatively new real estate agent (they call her a broker but that may be a Colorado term because it doesn’t mean the same thing in Texas) after getting a divorce 3 years prior and needing a new career. One of her friends is getting a divorce (and it doesn’t look like it will be pretty) and she is helping them sell the house. She comes back for some sigatures from the husband and finds him dead in his home office. Not what she was expecting. The most logical suspect is the wife, Amanda, but that is Kate’s friend and she knows that Amanda couldn’t kill her husband. So she sets off to figure out who did it and why.

Let’s just say that I didn’t figure it out until the end when the clues were all put together.

Overall it was a decent book and I could see the interpersonal relationships developing, but I probably wouldn’t look for a 2nd book by this author. But maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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Posted in Cozy, Pets on January 2, 2008

I stumbled across this series from a friend and managed to find a few of the books at Half Price Books and the rest I ordered from Amazon.com. The series should be read as follows:

Sit, Stay, Slay
Nothing to Fear but Ferrets
Fine-Feathered Death
Meow is for Murder
The Fright of the Iguana

You could read them out of order but then you will be really confused with the personal storyline that continues from book to book, so take my advice and read them in order!

The first book starts out with Kendra Ballentyne, a lawyer that has had her license suspended and into bankruptcy, renting out her home in California and living in the garage apartment. She is hunting for something to do to earn some money and her good friend, Darryl who is the owner of Doggy Indulgence, suggests that she try pet sitting for some of his clients. Desperate for money she does it and finds that she has a knack for this and really enjoys this life…until someone is murdered and Kendra is accused since the victim is a former client at her law firm. Along the way Kendra meets a love interest (Jeff), finds she has a knack for mediation and solves the murder much to the dismay of the lead Detective, Ned Noralles.

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