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

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

We give this 5 paws up.

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anger seethed through my veins.

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

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

“Actually, business. Rather important business.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And is this business with anyone in particular?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I fought to protect my land.

He fought to steal it.

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

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

“Isn’t involved?”

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

“I highly doubt that.”

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

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

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

I did know, though.

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

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

“I beg your pardon?”

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

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

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

“I know you did.”

“But you can’t prove it.”

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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

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

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

We give it 5 paws up

 

About the Author

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

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

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Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 24, 2017

Synopsis

Between a booming art scene and elaborate Independence Day festivities, July in lakeshore Oriole Point, Michigan, is always a blast. Especially when an explosive murder case crashes the fun . . .

As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving the summer tourist season in Oriole Point. So she gladly agrees to help run the annual road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School’s centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the expansive Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race–despite rumors that the land is cursed . . .

But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It’s a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who’s convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who had gone missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer–before the next ‘blackberry victim’ is ripe for the picking!

Includes Berry Recipes!

Review

The second in the series and just as good as the first book, Dying for Strawberries!

This book takes place on the heels of the first book and this time no one is murdered. Instead, Marlee finds the bones of someone that went missing 20 years ago. Of course it is tied to the town and the event that is getting ready to happen for the art camp that many attend growing up.

What I like about this series – there is food (and recipes!) and while I knew you could do a lot with all sorts of berries, I learned several new ways to enjoy them. The characters are engaging and add depth to the story. Yes there are some wacky characters and some that you love to hate, but they meld well together. The mystery portion – I didn’t guess who was responsible for what happened 20 years ago. You are able to narrow it down based on some clues that are revealed throughout the story, and you might be able to decipher who is responsible, but there isn’t anything that flat out points you to this person. i like this because I don’t want to guess too soon in the book.

There is some romance but I’m thinking Ryan (Marlee’s fiance) isn’t long for this relationship. I thought that in the first book too. There are too many red flags that hopefully Marlee sees them before they tie the knot. There is a potential new love interest and it seems like he might be a better match for Marlee.

Check out this series!  We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted October 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

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Giveaway

The author was kind enough to send me the first two books in this series.  The second is an ARC, but both are signed by Sharon!

Open to US residents only due to shipping costs

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on November 22, 2017

Synopsis

With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.
 
Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan, three years ago. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the twenty-nine-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.

Review

New cozy series that has a berry theme (yum!) and set in Michigan what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing!

I think this series has some great potential! The small town with close knit neighbors, possible love triangle, berries (if there is food I already like it) and intrigue.

Fair warning, the murder doesn’t happen until about 1/3 of the way into the book. I kept waiting for someone to end up dead but was surprised it took that long. But once it did you understand why because the scene needed to be set. Thankfully it was a character I didn’t like so I was glad to see him gone.

Marlee does a lot of pushing and prodding to get to the bottom of the murder because she believes she was the first target and was just lucky that she was fished out of the lake in time. She is on the right path and it is very surprising (to me) who is revealed as the killer because the author does a great job of playing down all of the suspects.

There is a lot of information presented at the beginning of the book and some of it takes time before it is truly explained. This did leave me a little confused until the whole story was revealed.

Then there is the fiance, Ryan. While he sounds nice, things are revealed about him that makes me wonder how long he is going to be the fiance. His attitude and thought process would not have worked with me and he would have been in the dust. Plus if he so allergic to bees, why does he not carry an epi-pen? Seems kinda odd especially considering his career field!

I still enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next book.

We give this 4 paws up.

 

The next book in this series is Blackberry Burial so watch for it in the next few days as I will be giving away the first 2 books in this series!

About the Author

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted October 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, paranormal, Review on November 20, 2017

That Olde White Magick (An Abracadabra Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (November 7, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1516100583
E-Book ASIN: B06X3TLCLH

It’s time to work her crime-solving magic again . . .

Kailyn Wilde enjoys running her shop, Abracadabra, in the quaint New York hamlet of New Camel, where she lives with her six cats. Her family’s been here for centuries, and she’d like to keep up the tradition. But the place may never be the same if a big hotel gets built, so she does her civic duty and attends a town meeting along with her aunt Tilly . . . and Merlin. Yes, that Merlin—though he gets introduced to folks as her “distant English cousin.” The wizard is pretty grumpy about being transported here, but there are things about the modern world he doesn’t mind—like pizza.

Kailyn was prepared for a heated debate about the hotel, but she wasn’t expecting murder. When Tilly finds the body of a board member outside the schoolhouse, Kailyn doesn’t want any suspicion cast on the wrong person. She plans to crack this case, even if she has to talk to every living soul in town—plus a few departed ones . . .

Review

I think what I like the best about this series so far is Merlin – a sorcerer from the past that somehow ended up in today’s world and seeing how he handles new experiences each day. But all of the characters are interesting and all interact well with each other….even the killer until (s)he is caught red handed! The author does a good job of narrowing down the suspects for the reader, but even then I didn’t suspect the killer until it was revealed.

You don’t have to believe in magick to enjoy these books but I find that aspect intriguing. I’m not sure if I believe in it or not, but I am always open to discovering new things. If nothing else it makes for enjoyable reading.

Since this is the 2nd in the series, I would recommend reading book 1 first. It helps set up some of the back story and the relationship with various characters. You could read this but you might feel a little lost when it comes to the various relationships

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Sharon describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they ever condensed. Then life brought her an unexpected challenge, by the name of breast cancer. After treatment she and her oncologist started a not-for-profit to provide information and peer support to breast cancer patients. With the organization up and running, she returned to her first love – writing. This time around she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. That Olde White Magick is the second book in her Abracadabra Mysteries.

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Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, paranormal, Review, Short Story on November 19, 2017

Synopsis

A short 25 page true story to read waiting for a bus or any other event where you have about 15 minutes.

INCLUDES RECIPE from my evening meal with a British Seventh Daughter.

“The fire sparked loudly, and spit a burning ember onto the rug. It scared my Heinz57 dog (British for not a purebred) and she ran into the next room. Was it a premonition? Just then someone appeared behind the couch. There was just Auntie and me there.

Who was it and why did it visit us?

You might not believe in spirits but this is a true account….believe it, or not. I saw what I saw and so did my dog.

The Seventh Daughter saw nothing. I tell you, friendly ghosts are real.”

Review

This is a short story but quite an interesting one. The author pulls us into a true retelling of an event from years ago that reveals second sight ability just might be real if you want to believe.

I felt like I was sitting there at the table with Jessie and her Aunt as she shared what happened to her as a young child and that evening and the apparition that she saw and who it might be and why he might appear to her.

This is a very short read but very enjoyable and I do hope that she does put more of these stories into print. They are fascinating especially if you are intrigued by the paranormal.

We give it 4 paws up

 

Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance on November 15, 2017

Synopsis

Ever since Emma Pierce read Pride and Prejudice, she’s been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So when it turns out that what her boyfriend Blake wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, only to find her job threatened when her boss brings in a consultant to help her expand the business to the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake’s younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate. But as perfect as Lucas seems, he clearly has his secrets. After all, there’s an angry woman demanding money from him and a little girl who Lucas feels responsible for.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must figure out the truth—and soon—if she wants any hope of writing her own “happily ever after” ending.

Review

I’ve not really read many of the Jane Austen books but know just enough abut them in passing to be dangerous! The title is a little misleading if you think that her books were about finding a husband so you could settle down and become a wife and mother. In reality (as we find out in the book), she is teaching women to speak their minds and be independent, but you really have to dig for that.

But overall this is a romance novel and one that I enjoyed. While you can figure out how it is going to end up, there are a few twists that I didn’t see coming and you are left hanging wondering about a few characters until much later in the book. I liked Emma being torn between two men and trying to figure out who really was best for her in the long term.

The only thing I didn’t like was trying to figure out what CMO meant – Chief Marketing Officer. Usually authors will not shorten to the abbreviation until they have at least spelled it out once and I don’t recall seeing it spelled out.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Julie Wright started her first book when she was fifteen. She’s written over a dozen books since then, is a Whitney Award winner, and feels she’s finally getting the hang of this writing gig. She enjoys speaking to writing groups, youth groups, and schools. She loves reading, eating writing, hiking, playing on the beach with her kids, and snuggling with her husband to watch movies. Julie’s favorite thing to do is watch her husband make dinner. She hates mayonnaise, but has a healthy respect for ice cream.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on November 13, 2017

Canal Days Calamity (A Dog Days Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages

Synopsis

Cameron Cripps-Hayman is taken aback when she stumbles upon another murdered neighbor, this time behind her sister’s shop, Dog Diggity. The timing couldn’t be worse, as there’s only a week left before the store’s grand opening during Canal Days, the biggest festival of the year.

When the police arrest her handyman, Cameron knows they’ve got the wrong suspect, so the Metamora Action Agency sets their sights on cracking the case. With one solved murder under their belts, how hard could a second be?

With a flood warning and a murderer on the loose threatening the start of Canal Days, can Cameron and her crew save the town’s annual dog and pony show from being canceled?

Review

I remember reading the first book and thinking this was going to be a good series…and I was right! The second book was a little better than the first (in my opinion), the characters a little more fleshed out and a continuing story line with Cam, her husband Ben, her sister Monica, her stepdaughter Mia and a few other wacky characters.

Part of what I like about this book are all the dogs…but in this particular book there is Mike the Duck that steals the spotlight. I think he is trying to become a part of the pack!

There is murder, romance and even some fortune telling! And let’s not forget the dog treat recipes at the end of the book. I must try these sometime for my dog, I know she would love them.

I also really liked that after the mystery was solved there was quite a bit more that happened in relation to Canal Days and the town. Sometimes books stop soon after the mystery is solved but this one tied up some loose ends.

We give it 4 paws up.

jamie-blairAbout the Author

Jamie Blair (Ohio) is the award-winning author of young adult and romance books, including Leap of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and Lost to Me.

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Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on the tour

 

November 8 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

November 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – Mythical Books – GUEST POST

November 11 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

November 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 12 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 13 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

November 17 – Books a Plenty Book Review – REVIEW

November 18 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

November 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 19 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Valerie’s Musings – INTERVIEW

November 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

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Comments Off on Review & #Giveaway – Canal Days Calamity by Jamie M. Blair @JamieMBlair #cozy #MysteryMonday
Posted in 4 paws, Review, Romantic Comedy, women on November 7, 2017

Synopsis

Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

Review

What do you do when you don’t want your parents involved in your personal life? You take a pretend boyfriend home for the holidays….because we all know that is going to work, right? Wrong! Even worse? It might be your childhood crush dating the woman who has proposed swapping boyfriends.

I’m not sure that I would have ever thought to do something like this, but then I don’t have the family situations that Sidney and Robyn have that they think that swapping boyfriends is a good idea. The funny thing is that maybe this was a good idea and perhaps neither was dating the right person.

I identified with both Sidney and Robyn. Sidney for her controlling manner and hiding her feelings and protecting her heart. And Robyn, for her crazy creative side with a heart of gold. Then there are the guys – Perry (Robyn’s boyfriend) who is a wannabe actor but not serious about anything in life; and Will, Sidney’s boyfriend but Robyn’s childhood crush and is that crush dead or will it come back while spending several days together? You will find out when you read the book!

This story made me laugh, shake my head and even get a little misty at the end. It was a great culmination of everything that I like to see in a book. This author writes some great romantic comedies and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related e-mails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling write chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single status. Meredith is also the co-founder of Bookbuzz, a live author/reader event held annually. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Amazon

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

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

Synopsis

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

We give it 5 paws up.

Recipe

Traveling Meal

Madeleine cookies

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

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

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

They are a perfect ending to a perfectly French meal.

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

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

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

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

For the glaze:

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

Directions

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

Make the batter:

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

Make the orange glaze:

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

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

 

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Gluten-free Version

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

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

For the glaze:

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

Directions

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

Make the batter:

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

Make the orange glaze:

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

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

Facebook Giveaway

From Daryl:

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

 

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Check out the other blogs for the recipes featured there

November 1 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews

November 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

November 3 – Brooke Blogs

November 4 – A Holland Reads

November 5 – Jane Reads

November 6 – StoreyBook Reviews

November 7 – Back Porchervations