Posted in excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on May 23, 2017

Title: As the Liquor Flows
Author: Angela Christina Archer
Publisher: Long Valley Press
Genre: Historical Romance (Sweeter/Lower Heat Level)
Pages: 256
Publication Date: March 19, 2016
ISBN: 978-0692660546

Synopsis

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park.

After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging.

Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

Excerpt

“Does it matter if I am doing all right or not?”

“It matters to me.”

Nervous energy itched through my skin.

It mattered to him?

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to stay here,” I said, ignoring his admission. “Any one of those bullets could have hit me by accident and a . . . a young man lost his . . . the three of you murdered him.”

“I never hit him. I never hit any of them. I shot in his direction, but it wasn’t my bullet that killed him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I know. I’m trained to know.”

“Well, I don’t care. All I care about is getting out of here. I’ve to get out of here. I’ve got to get away from Vincent and this house and whatever business that he’s involved in.”

I shoved past him and his arms wrapped around my waist. His shoulders towered over mine with an intense strength, and yet, a concerned passion and honesty that left me gasping for breath, He drew me into him. My heart thumped hard. My body trembled in his arms.

“You know you can’t leave.”

“How am I supposed to just pretend that nothing is wrong?”

“You pretend for Frank’s sake. You pretend to keep him alive and to keep you alive.”

Two truths I already knew, and yet, didn’t want to admit to myself. I wanted Vincent to pay for what he’d done to my family. I wanted him to sit in a prison cell behind iron bars like Frank, whose crime wasn’t even one-tenth as horrific as the crime he committed yesterday. I wanted him to squirm as he sat in a courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced him for murder.

Yet, no matter how much I wanted it, I knew the Kingpin, the boss of bosses, the powerful Vincent Giovanni would never see one ounce of punishment.

“I don’t know how I can,” I whispered.

Without any ounce of hesitation, his hands slid up my neck, cradling my cheeks. His body so close to mine, he pressed into me, weakening my knees. His lips brushed against my forehead for a moment, giving me a soft kiss before they traced down the side of my temple. His hot breath warmed my skin.

I closed my eyes and held my breath.

He jerked away from me, shaking his head as though someone had slapped him.

“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s all right,” I whispered, fighting my disappointment.

Review

When I first agreed to review this book, I thought it was a cozy/mystery. I am going to say not a mystery (and I blame no one but myself for thinking this!) and then as I started reading I thought it was a dystopian book…nope, it is set in the early 1930’s during the depression. It took me awhile to figure this out (and once again no one’s fault but mine as I should have read the synopsis again before starting the book because it clearly gives the time frame!). With all that said, here is what I thought of the book:

Evelyn Ford is a scrappy young woman that is just trying to survive during the depression. She seeks employment at a burlesque theater and steps into a world that is nothing she could ever imagined. You could feel her discomfort being in that theater and putting on a skimpy dress to dance for men…and skimpy in that time frame covers a heck of a lot more than what you would see today. What she doesn’t expect to find in her journey is her true love with Max, and even he turns out to have his own secrets.

There are gangsters involved in this story – because what would prohibition be without hooch smuggling and such?! Evelyn has to summon the strength to stand up to a kingpin and she does a decent job for someone that never has known that world.

Overall this is a very enjoyable story and it took me back to a time that I could only read about or watch in movies. I felt the book was accurate to the time period and what was going on during the depression.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Angela lives on a ranch with her husband, two daughters, and many farm animals. She was born and raised in Nevada, and grew up riding and showing horses from hunter jumper, English equitation, western pleasure, trail, and halter. While she doesn’t show anymore, she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky. In December of 2007, she and her husband moved to Oklahoma.

From a young age, she always wanted to write a novel. However, she never believed she could write anything well enough for a publisher to even consider her. Every time the desire flickered, she shoved the thought from my mind until one morning, in 2009, she awoke with the determination to follow her dream.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 22, 2017

Dumpster Dying: Book 1 in the Big Lake Murder Mysteries

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Creekside Publishing (December 31, 2016)

Synopsis

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.

Excerpt

Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club, blew damp tendrils of sun-bleached hair out of her face as she kicked and dragged three plastic trash bags across the sunbaked asphalt lot behind the clubhouse. A full moon illuminated the area’s lone palm tree under which sat a metal beast waiting for its nightly feeding.

“Here you go, big boy,” she said. She let go of the bags and, with one hand, lifted the dumpster’s lid on the side closest to her. The usual stench of rotting garbage assaulted her nostrils. She ignored the smell and tried to heave the bag into the container, but it tumbled back out. She shoved back the lid on the other side, and mentally crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t have to hop in there and stomp around on that stuff to make room like she did the other night.

By the glow of the security light she spotted a white object lying at the far end of the dumpster, a cowboy hat, a very special cowboy hat, a Silver Belly, expensive and worn by very few men. She’d encountered just such a man earlier in the evening. The circumstances of their meeting were not pleasant.

What the hell was that doing here, she wondered? Emily leaned in as far as she could. Her feet left the ground, and she teetered on the rim of the dumpster. She struggled to reach the hat, tugged at it and almost went head first into the bin, head first onto the man’s face hidden beneath the hat.

Ugh! She fell back and dropped the metal lid, the clang reverberating off the side of the building in the still night. She covered her mouth with her hand, and leaned against the dumpster. That can’t be. I didn’t see that, did I?

She turned, opened the lid once more, gingerly pushed a garbage bag to one side and peered in for another look. She remembered him from earlier in the evening when he had grabbed her blouse and tried to pull her across the bar. He had worn a brilliant white cowboy shirt with roses appliquéd on the front yoke. Now the shirt front was as dark as the blood-red flowers.

She gulped hard to hold back the bile working its way up from her stomach and looked around the lot. It was empty. She needed help.

She ran for the door of the clubhouse. The knob wouldn’t turn.

Oh, damn. I did it again, left the door on auto lock. Now I can’t get back in. She felt in her pocket for her cell phone, then remembered she had left it along with her keys lying on the bar counter. But she had hidden a spare car key in the wheel well. I’ll have to drive for help, and the sooner the better.

She gripped the steering wheel with sweaty hands and hunched over it, the tension in her neck sending shooting pains up the back of her head. As she turned out of the country club grounds and punched the accelerator, she saw the flashing lights of a police car heading toward her. She sat back in the seat and dropped her shoulders. Oh, good. Help was on its way.

As the cruiser’s lights caught hers, its driver slammed to a halt and did a controlled skid blocking her lane. She stood on her brake, and stopped the car, then jumped out and ran toward the police vehicle. Tears of relief poured down her face and onto her chin.

Two officers with drawn guns greeted her.

“Stop right there, on the ground, hands out,” said the officer who had been driving.

“But officer, there’s a man there. I think he’s dead.”

“On the ground, on the ground.” His voice chilled the hot, still night.

Emily raised her shaking hands and dropped on rubbery knees. This can’t be happening.

The other member of the duo placed his knee in her back, cuffed her, pulled her to her feet, and searched her.

“Why are you doing this to me? I was trying to help. The man back there, someone killed him, I think,” Emily said. The officer walked her to the police car.

“We know all about that. Got a call a few minutes ago, and we’re responding. Now we’d like to find out what you know about it.”

She began to hiccup, her usual reaction when she was frightened. “Me? (hic) Me? I found him (hic) when I took out the garbage. I would have called it in, but I locked myself out of the bar, and I left my cell phone inside.” Her explanation sounded lame even to her ears.

“Sure you weren’t running?” asked Officer Handcuffs.

They shoved her into the back seat and headed toward the clubhouse.

“Sure I was running. I was trying to get help.”

“Looks like you’re the one who needs it,” said the driver. The other officer turned in his seat and looked at her. There was hardness in his eyes that she knew he reserved for the guilty.

“My car. It’s in the middle of the road,” hiccupped Emily. She twisted her head around to look out of the back window. If anything happened to that car, she wouldn’t be able to afford another, and her insurance rates would go sky high. There was little point in telling the officers her financial concerns. They were after a criminal, and they thought they’d found her.

At the clubhouse, the driver shone his high-powered flashlight into the dumpster, confirming their report.

“Shot in the chest. Gotta be dead. Lotta blood.”

She tried to shut out her memory of the body, but the officer’s words brought it back to her in IMAX and Technicolor. It was just the reminder she needed to experience the gory scene yet again.

Review

What an intriguing town in this mystery. I live in Texas and so usually think of the wild west being here and a bit further west, not in a sleepy little town in Florida with alligators.

I liked most of the characters and they played well off one another and really rounded out the story. Emily and Clara have a unique friendship that works for them and their family members really include each other as well. There are of course busy bodies in the town that you think are on your side…until they aren’t. Watch out!

The mystery was well written as I was very surprised near the end when the mastermind behind everything was revealed. I don’t think I was too surprised just because the character was annoying, but I didn’t think they could be involved in everything. There is more than 1 person involved and you know some of them through the story, but not all.

There is a hint of a love story between Emily and Detective Lewis, but that will have to come in future books since Emily is still getting over the death of her life partner.

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Blog

Giveaway

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check out the other blogs on this tour

May 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW – Book 1, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 15 – My Journey Back My Reading Journeys –  REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW*

May 16 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW

May 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW – Both Books

May 19 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Bookworm Café –  GUEST POST

May 20 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – Book 1

May 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW – Both Books *

May 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Both Books, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 –StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 1

May 22 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW – Both Books

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW – Both Books*

May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 2

May 24 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW – Book 1

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW – Both Books

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW –  Both Books*

May 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW – Book 2

May 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 1, GUEST POST*

May 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 2*

May 28 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, romance on May 21, 2017

Synopsis

From author Sarah Hegger comes an exciting new series set in small-town Utah, where secrets don’t keep for long—and love turns up in the most unexpected places.

For Pippa Turner there’s only one place to go when her life self-destructs on national TV—home to Ghost Falls, and her heavily perfumed, overly dramatic, but supremely loving grandmother, Philomene. If anyone will understand how Pippa’s hit makeover show was sabotaged by her vengeful ex, it’s Phi. But she’s not the only one who’s happy to see her—and Pippa can’t help but wonder if Matt Evans, her gorgeous high-school crush turned Phi’s contractor, is game for a steamy close-up…

Matt owes his whole career to Phi and her constant demands to embellish the gothically ridiculous house he built for her. Getting to see red-headed, red-hot Pippa is a bonus, especially now that she’s no longer the troublesome teenager he remembers. He’s willing to stay behind the scenes while she gives her own life a much-needed makeover, but not forever. As far as he’s concerned, their connection is too electric to ignore. And the chance to build something lasting between them—before she can high-tail it back to Hollywood—is going to the top of his to-do list.

Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iBooks

Excerpt

“Aren’t you—?”

“No.” Not anymore she wasn’t. Pippa snatched her boarding pass from the check-in attendant and tugged her baseball cap lower over her eyes. Couldn’t Kim Kardashian help a girl out and release another sex tape or something? Anything to get Pippa away from the social media lynch mob. She kept her head down until she found her gate, and chose the seat farthest away from the other passengers waiting to board the flight to Salt Lake City. Latest copy of Vogue blocking her face, she flipped through the glossy pages.

Peeping over the top of her magazine she slammed straight into the narrowed gaze of a woman three rows over. Shit! Pippa dropped the woman’s gaze and went back to Vivienne Westwood bucking the trend.

Across the airport lounge the woman’s glare beamed into the top of her head like those laser tracking things you saw in spy movies. Pippa buckled under the burn and slouched lower into her seat.

Look at that, Fendi was doing fabulous separates this season. And really, Ralph Lauren, that’s your idea of a plus-size model? Stuff like this made her job so much harder.

Her former job.

Losing her show still clawed at her. Losing? Like she’d left the damn thing at Starbucks as she picked up her morning latte. More like her jackass ex with zero conscience had knocked it out of her hand. Framed, stitched up, wrongfully accused—judged, found guilty, and sentenced to a plethora of public loathing wiping out all the years spent building her career. Burning sense of injustice aside, she was stuck in this thing until it went away.

Angry Woman lurked in her peripheral vision. As sweat slid down her sides, Pippa tucked her elbows in tight and risked another glance.

Under an iron-gray row of rigidly permed bangs, the woman’s mouth puckered up.

Back to Vogue. The knot in her stomach twisted tighter, and she checked her cap. What the hell? A baseball cap and shades always worked for other celebrities. Why not her?

Angry Woman squared her shoulders and huffed.

This could go one of two ways. Either Angry Woman would come over and give her a piece of her mind on behalf of women everywhere, or she’d confine her anger to vicious staring and muttering. Maybe some head shaking. Please don’t let her be a crusader for women. Please, please, please. After two weeks of glares, stares and condemnation, Pippa had gotten the message:

Pippa St. Amor, the woman America loves to hate.

Review

What happens when a fallen TV star is kicked off her own show? She slinks back home to a small town where most everyone knows everyone especially her Diva Grandmother.

Pippa has a lot to deal with after she is unjustly kicked off her TV show and despite being wronged by her ex, she can’t get anyone to help back her that she isn’t the witch that was portrayed on television. So she goes back to lick her wounds and of course stays with her Diva grandmother since they are two peas in a pod. There is the run in with Matt, the man of her dreams back in high school…and let’s say they make up for lost time pretty quickly.

This story is more than meets the eye. Pippa has to dig deep to figure out what is important to her…is it her career or will the family she left 17 years ago entice her to stay and reconnect with them. Or what about Matt? He obviously fulfills her sexual needs, but can he fill the rest of her wants and desires in a man? There is a little bit of a mystery when Phi (the Diva grandmother) finds several of her treasures missing. These items are very dear to her as they hold some strong memories. What happened to them might just surprise you….and you won’t find out until near the end of the book.

Overall the story was really enjoyable and well written. My biggest complaint – wayyyyy too many f* bombs in this book. At least half (or more) of them really were not needed and they did not add anything to the story. So if you do not like to read that word, don’t pick up this book. If you can overlook them or don’t mind them, then you will enjoy this book.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 EPIC Award for Historical Romance.

She is represented my Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

 

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Giveaway

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $150 Gift Card to Ulta + the Pippa’s Favorites Bundle (Planner, Pen and Pouch) and a book, two more winners will receive a $100 and $50 Ulta Beauty Gift Card as well as a book each and 5 winners will get a copy of Positively Pippa!

Gift cards and Bundle are only open to US Residents only, international entrants are eligible to win a Positively Pippa e-book. 


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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.

Website * Pen Name Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest

 

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

May 8 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

May 8 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

May 9 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

May 9 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

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.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

Giveaway

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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 4 paws, Historical, Review, romance on May 2, 2017

Synopsis

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?

Review

For me historical romance novels can be hit or miss, but The Vicar’s Daughter was a definite hit! Times were so different then and it is always interesting to see how the author handles the different aspects of gentry in that time period.

Not only is this a peek into life in this time, there is a lesson about pride and willfulness and that sometimes life isn’t what you expect it to be and there is so much more. I couldn’t blame Cassie for wanting to be presented in society, but her family’s custom was that each daughter had to have a match in order of birth for the next daughter to be presented….and poor Cassie has been waiting for 3 seasons on her sister Lenora who is afraid of her own shadow! But as the book progressed I learned that it was partially the fault of the parents and family for sheltering her, pretty much like we see a lot in today’s society.

Evan is caught between two sisters. Thinking that Lenora has another side to her when it is really Cassie’s words that strikes a chord in his heart. On top of that he is not used to being a part of the gentry and society and it is a whole new world for him. Evan isn’t familiar with customs and such and finds himself in a few predicaments.

I enjoyed being swept away to another time and imagining what it would have been like to live then with more stringent rules. I also like the interactions of the family with each other and others in their church family.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Kilpack, Josi-1Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney award for Mystery/Suspense in 207 and Wedding Cake, book twelve in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series won in 2014. Josi was also the Best of State winner in Fiction for 2012. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, children and super-cute – but not very friendly – cat.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Newsletter

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on May 1, 2017

Bed and Breakfast and Murder (Fiona Fleming Cozy Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Patti Larsen Books (January 28, 2017)
Print Length: 189 pages
ASIN: B01N6W3JKN

Synopsis

A Poo Poo Kind of Morning

I tried not to look down the mouth of hell staring back at me from inside the glaringly pristine outer ceramic shell of the white throne, my throat catching, stomach doing half flips and a rather impressive rollover routine that would have gotten at least a 9.5 even from the Russian judges. Instead, I forced myself to smile and swallow and remind myself the elbow length yellow rubber gloves grasping the handle of the standard issue plunger were all that stood between me and Pooageddon.

Suck it up, Fee. Big girl panties and adulting and all that.

“At what point,” I waved the dripping plunger, wincing as droplets of yuck flew, “did I think owning a bed and breakfast was going to be glamorous and romantic?”

Fiona Fleming hasn’t lived in Reading, Vermont in over a decade, her escape from small town living leading her to New York City and a life of adventure. An adventure that has left her with no career, an ex who cheated on her and zero plans for the future. Her grandmother’s death grants her a new chance–inheriting Petunia’s, Iris Fleming’s bed and breakfast, seems like the ideal fresh start. But when Fee finds out ownership of the property Iris willed her might be in question, she’s drawn into the seedy underbelly of the cutest town in America after being singled out as the main suspect in a murder.

Amazon * Kobo * B & NiTunes * Google Play

Review

I always love reading new cozy series to see if they can match the mark left by so many authors before them. This series has a good mix of humor and mystery all rolled into one. There is even a little bit of potential romance brewing that I expect will be explored in future books.

The mystery itself – who killed Pete – was a total shocker when the killer was revealed. I catch myself saying this a lot when it is someone totally unexpected – but I did not see that reveal coming! The details fit and explain a lot but I don’t think there were any clues to point me in the direction of this character. I suspected other people, and while they were guilty of other things, murder was not one of them.

I think this series is going to be a hoot and look forward to reading more about Fee and this cozy little town in Vermont.  We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Patti Larsen is an award-winning author with a passion for the voices in her head. Now with over 80 titles in happy publication, she lives on the East coast with her patient husband and multitude of pets.

Webpage * And my NEW blog 😀 Magic, Mayhem and Murder * FacebookTwitterAmazonGoodReads

Giveaway

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check out the other blogs on this tour

April 24 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

April 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

April 26 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

April 27 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

April 27 – My Reading Journeys  – SPOTLIGHT

April 28 – Books,Dreams,Life – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

April 30 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 1 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

May 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 2 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 3 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 4 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

May 5 – My Journey Back –  REVIEW

May 6 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 7 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on April 22, 2017

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of Release: 13 April 2017
Number in Series: 1
Publisher: Beaverstone Press
Number of Pages: 352

Synopsis

Movies. Muffins. Murder.

Maggie Doyle moved to Ireland to escape her cheating ex and crumbling career in the San Francisco PD. When the most hated woman on Whisper Island is poisoned at her aunt’s Movie Theater Café, Maggie and her rock-hard muffins are hurled into the investigation.

With the help of her UFO-enthusiast friend, a nun, and a feral puppy, Maggie is determined to clear her aunt’s name. Can she catch the murderer before they strike again? Or will her terrible baking skills burn down the café first?

Cozy, quirky, and fun, this tongue-in-cheek mystery is a delicious introduction to the Movie Club Mysteries Series. Grab a cocktail and join Maggie as she takes her detective skills across the pond in Dial P For Poison.

Review

I enjoy a good mystery and this one is set on a small island in Ireland and is a place I wouldn’t mind visiting especially because the cafe is a refurbished theater – the kind you see in movies from the 50’s or you might see in a small town. It is a creative way to refurbish an abandoned movie theater!

Maggie spent summers on Whisper Island with her aunt Noreen, so she has ties to the community and some of the residents. She is here to figure out what she wants to do with her life and Aunt Noreen has kindly offered her a place to stay. Of course Maggie is supposed to fill in at her aunt’s cafe but here is the catch, she doesn’t know how to cook and gets a 1 day crash course. It makes for some amusing scenes but at least the residents take some pity on her.

Of course it wouldn’t be a mystery without someone dying and in this case it is Sandra – probably the most despised woman in town between her attitude and writing a blind gossip column that while doesn’t name specific people, it is a small community and most can be figured out. Once I learned more about Sandra and her actions, it is no surprise she ended up dead. I won’t spill the details but trust me that you won’t like her much either. I was totally surprised at who the murderer was because it was never someone on my radar. I had different people in mind until they were cleared and then I had no real idea who to suspect.

This book/series has a lot of potential between the humor and potential romance between Maggie and the new detective from the main island. And Maggie’s UFO/Alien chasing friend adds a quirky twist to the town. And of course who knows what is going to happen next.

We give this book 4 paws up!

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Zara Keane grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and spent her summers in a small town similar to the fictional Smuggler’s Cove, the setting of her new cozy mystery series.

She currently lives in Switzerland with her family. When she’s not writing or wrestling small people, she drinks far too much coffee, and tries – with occasional success – to resist the siren call of Swiss chocolate.

WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Facebook Reader GroupGoodreads

 

Giveaways

There are two giveaways on this tour.

I was lucky enough to be chosen to giveaway a Kindle copy of Dial P for Poison

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on the image or on the link below to enter the other giveaway 

Zara Keane’s Movie Club Mysteries Launch Giveaway

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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

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

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