Saturday, December 9, 2017

And Death Goes To....

Author:  Laura Bradford
Series:  A Tobi Tobias Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  December 5, 2017

Description:  It’s an honor just to be nominated. But, let's get real, Tobi wants to win. The St. Louis Advertising Awards are like the Oscars for her field, and Tobi is up for its most prestigious prize, Best Overall Ad Campaign. The competition is always fierce, but this year it’s killer . . .
Despite her high hopes, Tobi isn't exactly shocked when she doesn’t win. But she is shocked when the winner, Deidre Ryan, takes the stage only to plummet to her death as a platform suddenly gives way. After the police discover foul play, Tobi's Grandpa Stu wastes no time in nominating suspects. But was Deidre the intended victim—or was someone else meant to take the fatal fall? Now it’s a race to catch a killer in the spotlight, before another nominee gets the booby prize and Tobi gets trapped in a no-win situation.

My Review

This is the third installment in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one and read it over the course of two days.  This series hits all the buttons I look for in a cozy and is written by the talented Ms. Bradford.

There are so many reasons to love this series and this book but one of the major selling points for me is the characters.  Tobi Tobias is one of those characters that has me engaged from the opening page until I turn the last page and finish the book.  She is well crafted, multi-layered and dimensional.  She is written to feel very real and authentic with some snark and humor that I very much appreciated.  That said, she is not perfect as we see in this installment.  The story is rounded out with a diverse, rich cast of secondary characters that stand on their own.  I liked the emotional growth we saw from Tobi in how she deals with her grandfather dating her nemesis.

The mystery is well plotted and is woven throughout the story.  Ms. Bradford does a nice job of peppering clues throughout while intertwining them with plenty of twists and turns.  The victim was unexpected and her death is a bit shocking.  The killer's identity was a bit of a surprise but once all the clues are revealed it makes sense.

This is a fun series and when I finish one book it is always hard to wait for the next one.  It is a highly entertaining series with great characters and story lines/mysteries that are well plotted and keep the reader engaged and guessing.  If you haven't given this series a try I would encourage you to pick up the first book in the series.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

I voluntarily read an advance reader copy provided to me by Lyrical Underground, the publisher, through Netgalley.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Of Murder and Men

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Series:  A Cat Latimer Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  November 28, 2017

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

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

My Review

The third installment in the Cat Latimer Mystery series is an excellent read and if you are a fan I would highly recommend that you put this one on your to be read pile/list.

I found Ms. Cahoon fairly late, her Tourist Trap Mystery series well under way.  I was approved for an ARC of the first Cat Latimer book and the rest, as we say, is history.  I love the way Ms. Cahoon writes her stories in such a way that as soon as you open the book and read the first few pages, the reader is just drawn into the story.  The location is terrific.  I am a big reader and love any type of series centered around books or rights or any combination thereof.

One of the reasons I continue to be drawn to this genre is that most series are very character focused.  Ms. Cahoon provides us with an excellent cast of characters, let by Cat Latimer.  Cat is the type of person I think we would all like to have as a friend.  She is loyal, smart, independent and comes across the page as genuine.  The secondary cast of characters provide a lot of additional layers and support to the stories.  The author has created a secondary cast that is multi-layered, diverse and very likable.

When I open a Cat Latimer Mystery, one thing I know is that I am going to be entertained my the mystery.  Ms. Cahoon knows how to deliver a well crated mystery that has layers that unfold throughout the story.  As the mystery unfolds, she layers in her clues but surrounds them with twists and turns to distract and keep the reader guessing.  I thought this mystery had a terrific ending and was surprised by the identity of the killer.

All in all, this is a terrific series that continues to get better with each new installment.  It has quickly become a favorite and I look forward to each new book so that I can take a peek into Cat's world to see what new trouble is brewing as she starts a new writers retreat.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Plot Is Murder

Author:  V.M. Burns
Series:  A Mystery Bookshop Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  November 28, 2017

Description:  Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling's charms. When one of Daphne's suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.
But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

My Review

V.M. Burns is a new voice in the cozy mystery genre and this is her debut novel.  Now, many of you who read my reviews know I enjoy reading books set in my home state or that have something to do with books/bookshops/libraries so when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to give it a try.  I was not disappointed.

V.M. Burns, in my opinion, is a wonderful new voice in this genre.  This first book was so creatively crafted.  I loved the book within a book aspect of this story.  She had me hooked on both stories and I kept turning pages to see what happened in each of them.

Sam Washington is one of those cozy characters that I think readers are going to love and gravitate toward.  She is recently widowed and trying to live the dream she and her husband had always envisioned for themselves.  She is sympathetic, compassionate and just starting to find her way out of her grief.  I really liked her and although I had nothing in common with her character I felt connected.  The cast of secondary characters are really diverse and well written.  I loved Sam's Nana Jo and think everyone should have a grandmother just like her.  Nana Jo's friends from the retirement community are really fun, likable and vibrant.  I think they really added to the story with their diverse personalities.  The rest of Sam's family rounds out the story nicely.

The mystery was well crafted.  The victim, Charlie Parker, was not well like so that allowed the author provide the reader with plenty of suspects to choose from.  Because he was killed in her backyard, Sam, along with Nana Jo and the girls decide to uncover the killer's identity so that Sam is not considered a suspect.  I thought the mystery was layered well throughout the story and was pleasantly surprised by the identity of the killer and the way it was revealed.

This book was a genuine pleasure to read.  With the creative plot that involved a story within a story, to the terrific characters and the well crafted mystery, I think V.M. Burns is a wonderful new voice in the cozy mystery genre and I am looking forward to more to come.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through Netgalley.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cremains of the Day

Author: Misty Simon
Series:  A Tallie Graves Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  October 31, 2017

Description:  For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn't have to be around dead bodies. Until . . .
She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie's friend Gina's shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she's receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that's enough to cast a pall over anyone’s day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess—before she finds herself in a grave situation.

My Review

This is the first book I have read by this author and I found it to be very enjoyable. Tallie Graver is a character whose personality just jumps off the page. She is a woman who had money and status but is now rebuilding her life after a divorce. She is doing it on her own terms, which I think readers will like. She is spunky, independent but not foolish. She decides to solve two murders because she is the top suspect and the chief of police holds a grudge because of her actions and attitude during the years she was married. There is a nice cast of secondary characters that include Tallie's best friend Gina, Tallie's parents and Max, who is a potential romantic interest for Tallie down the road.

I thought the mystery was well done. There was a lot of intrigue, gossip, jealousy, twists and turns. I thought the author did a very nice job in weaving the mystery throughout the entire story keeping me engaged and guessing until the very end. I was pleasantly surprised by the the identity of the killer.

Tallie's language in this book is colorful and there is some instances of swearing so if you are sensitive to that type of language you may want to keep that in mind. It wasn't a lot and didn't bother me but I know some readers don't care for it.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley.