Wednesday, December 30, 2015

At the Drop of a Hat


Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Series:  A Hat Shop Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  Cousins Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont’s fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, is visited by a new customer bearing an old hat box. Ariana Jackson is getting married and wants to restore her mother’s bridal hat and veil for the occasion. The elegant item was made by Scarlett and Vivian’s grandmother over thirty years ago, so Viv is delighted to take the job. 
 
When Scarlett goes to Ariana's office to consult about the restoration cost, she finds her outside, standing over her boss’s dead body. Though Ariana claims to know nothing about his demise, the investigation unveils a motive for murder. Now, with the bride-to-be in custody and the wedding on hold, Scarlett and Viv must find the real killer before Ariana's future is boxed up for good.


My Review

I enjoy this series more with each new installment.  At the Drop of a Hat is the third book in this series and is a delightful addition.  I really enjoy character driven series and this one fits the bill nicely.  Wonderful characters and their relationships are typically what draws my attention first and keeps me reading.  This series does not disappoint.  The characters are charming, funny and becoming more developed with each new book.  Scarlett, our main character and narrator has shown considerable growth in the course of the three books and I am delighted that her relationship with Harrison has settled and is not being rushed. I think that Viv is a little more prominent in this book than she has been in the past and I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about her. The cast of secondary characters round out the story nicely. There is plenty of witty dialogue and fun moments in the book that keeps the reader turning pages.  

The story is well written and this author does a wonderful job of providing clues that misdirect the reader.  I have to say that I was a bit surprised by the resolution to the mystery but that is the great think about this author.  She writes in such a way to take the reader down one path and them completely surprises them with the ultimate outcome.  There is also an unexpected surprise at the end of the book which will definitely keep me coming back for the next installment to see what happens.

In summary, this is a wonderfully written story with charming and funny characters that will keep you turning pages until the end and leave you wanting more.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

License to Dill



Author:  Mary Ellen Hughes
Series:  Pickled Preserved Mysteries #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Description:  Piper Lamb knows how to make fruits and vegetables keep for months. Unfortunately, it’s the people around her who are expiring too soon…

After her fiancé left her, Piper came to Cloverdale to rebuild her life and open up her shop, Piper’s Picklings, to sell pickles and preserves. When her ex decides to drop in for a visit—just as things are heating up between her and a local Christmas tree farmer—Piper finds herself in a jam.  But there are other visitors to worry about…

An Italian soccer team is set to play the Cloverdale All-Stars in an exhibition game. Their manager, Raffaele Conti, was a bitter rival of Piper’s dill supplier, local farmer Gerald Standley. After Conti is found dead in Standley’s field, Piper must work to clear Gerald’s name and find out who relished killing Raffaele before the town is soured by another death.


My Review

This is the second installment the Pickled Preserved Mystery series. I found the second book to be just as enjoyable as the first. Set in a small town, I think that the characters are well written, charming, and likable; they are just what you would expect from residents of a small town.  While the book description may lead readers to think the romantic sub-plot may take over the mystery, rest assured this sub-plot was well done and stays in the background.  First and foremost, this is a mystery and that is evident from the beginning of the book.

The story and the mystery are both solid and have a great pace. The author’s storyline kept me engaged and turning the pages. The mystery was well thought out and the author did a very good job of setting up the tension between the victim and some of the suspects from the beginning.  What I liked about this mystery is that while there are plenty of suspects, Piper has to slowly dig through the victim’s history with the townspeople to find those suspects and their motives.  Although I did figure out the identity of the killer about 2/3rds of the way through the book (which almost never happens for me) it did not take away from my enjoyment of the remainder of the book. I was just as interested in see how Piper would put the pieces together and how the mystery would be solved. It had a very climactic ending and I am definitely looking forward to other books in the series. 

I thought License to Dill was a charming story with a really good mystery.  I will definitely be returning to Cloverdale for the next installment of the series.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Death Crashes the Party


Author:  Vickie Fee
Series:  Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  December 29, 2015

DescriptionIn the quirky, close-knit town of Dixie, Tennessee, party planner Liv McKay has a knack for throwing Southern-style soirées, from diamonds-and-denim to black tie affairs, and her best friend Di Souther mixes a mean daiquiri. While planning a Moonshine and Magnolias bash for high maintenance clients, Liv inconveniently discovers a corpse in the freezer and turns her attention from fabulous fêtes to finding a murderer. Together, Liv and Di follow a trail of sinister secrets in their sweet little town that leads them from drug smugglers to a Civil War battlefield, and just when they think they're whistling Dixie, Liv and Di will find themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the least likely killer of all. 

My Review 

This book is the first in a new series by author Vicki Fee. I am an avid reader of cozy mysteries so it is nice to have an opportunity to try a new author to the genre. This was a very enjoyable read for me. The story is set in a charming southern town that is filled with great fun characters. For the first book in a series, I thought the characters were well written. They are written to be quirky with wit and humor. I enjoyed the mystery and found the book to have a nice pace. Overall, I enjoyed the book as a whole and at a few parts of the story found myself laughing out loud at some of the characters and their antics. For me, that is a sign that the author has engaged me as a reader. This is definitely a great start to a new series and I will be looking for more by this author in the future.

I was provided an ARC of this book by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

To Brew or Not to Brew


Author:  Joyce Tremel
Series:  A Brewing Trouble Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime

Description:  The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.
Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex-hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn't have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast—before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks.
My Review
This is the first in a series by a new voice in cozy mystery, Joyce Tremel.  I found this to be a very enjoyable first book.  I initially picked up this book because I had heard really good advance buzz, I loved the cover and I liked that this was a new theme in cozy mysteries.  I haven't seen anything set in a brewery and liked that it was a female brewmaster.
The story grabbed me right from the beginning and started out strong.  The story was well written and I found the mystery to be solid.  For as many cozy mysteries as I read, you would think that I would be better at figuring out the identity of the killer.  With this book, I figured out who the culprit was along with Max, our main character.  There were plenty of suspects and a few red herrings thrown in for good measure.  The only criticism is that I thought there was a lull in the story toward the mid part of the book.  However, the author used this as a way to set up the back story for some of the characters that I think will be beneficial for future installments.  By the end of the book, the pace did pick back up leading to a terrific ending.

I found all of the characters to be well written, likable and fully rounded.  There are plenty of secondary characters including Max's family, which includes most of her brothers, along with some other shop owners in the area of the brewery.  There is a budding romance between Max and Jake, her brother's friend and the chef for the brewery.  I liked that the author is taking it slowly and building their relationship.  The two have know each other since they were children so it was realistic for them to take their time when changing the dynamics of that relationship.  The characters and their various relationships, for me, are what drove the book and kept me turning the pages quickly.

In the end, I found this to be a wonderful first book in a new series, by a delightful new voice in cozy mysteries.  The book provides a preview of the second installment in the series and I have to say I can't wait to go back to the brewery and visit with all of the characters again soon.  There are also a few recipes provided at the end of the story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Murder Fir Christmas


Author:  Joyce and Jim Lavene
Series:  A Christmas Tree Valley Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  J. Lavene


Description:  Down the mountain from Sweet Pepper, Tennessee is Christmas Tree Valley, a place filled with hundreds of Christmas tree farms where generations of growers have made people’s lives brighter. Yet even here in this quiet, postcard-perfect corner of the world, darkness and murder can still stalk the night. 

Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle has always had a special gift with wild animals. It was one of the reasons she decided to train with the wildlife agency. She’s spent the last ten years in Alabama working, but her mother needs her home and she’s back despite all the bad parts of her life she hoped to leave behind. 
Her first day home begins with a fire on the island in Sweet Pepper Lake and the death of Harvey Shelton, the wildlife agent she’s supposed to replace. Bonnie manages to rescue dozens of animals from the fire – including a wolf pup that was shot with the same bullet that killed Harvey. 


Now she’s hot on the trail of Harvey’s killer and trying to reintegrate the wolf back into the wild even though he seems to want to stay with her. Yet old memories persist in the small community where she grew up, and the killer now seems to believe that she has what he killed Harvey for. All she has to do is figure out what that is before it’s too late. 

My Review

This is the first in a new series by prolific cozy mystery authors Joyce and Jim Lavene. Anyone who is a fan of this writing duo know that anytime they pick up one of their stories they will not be disappointed.  Murder Fir Christmas is no exception.  This particular book is a little bittersweet for fans of the writing duo since Joyce Lavene passed before it was released.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  If you are a fan of the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Series written under the duo's pen name J.J. Cook, you will find that there are some old friends as well as some new.  Don't worry if you are not familiar with the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series, it will not impact your enjoyment of this book in the least.  As with all of their books, this one grabs the reader’s attention from the very first pages and keeps you engaged until the end.  The characters are excellently written, well developed and full of warmth and heart.  The characters, both old and new, are blended well into this story.

The story has a good pace and moves along nicely without any lulls.  As with all stories by these authors, the mystery is a strong solid mystery that has some twists, turns and a few surprises.  For me the identity of culprit was not obvious.  With the number of cozy mysteries I read you would think I would get better at guessing the identity of the killer before the end of the book.  However, the draw, for me, of a Joyce and Jim Lavene book is that I get so lost in the story, the setting and the characters that it is just as much about the journey the characters take as it is about solving the mystery.  If you are a fan of this writing duo, do not hesitate to read this story.  You will find a terrific first installment to a new series that has plenty of promise. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

On Thin Icing


Author:  Ellie Alexander
Series:  A Bakeshop Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  December 29, 2015

Description: 

 Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the treats are killer good.

It's the dead of winter in the sleepy town of Ashland, which means no tourists-and fewer customers-for Jules Capshaw and her bakery. But when she's asked to cater an off-season retreat for the directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, business starts heating up...until Jules finds a dead body in the freezer.
Someone at the retreat has apparently iced the bartender, a well-known flirt with a legendary temper-that is, before a killer beat him to the punch. Then, from out of nowhere, Jules's own ex-husband shows up at the shop-and soon becomes a suspect. With accusations piling up higher than the snow-and thicker than a chocolate mousse cake-Jules has to think outside the (recipe) box to find the real culprit...and make sure he gets his just desserts.
MY REVIEW
This is the third book in this series and is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Set in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for this series is a bakery.  Jules and her mother run Torte, the small town bakery.  Part of why this series is becoming one of my favorites is the way the author writes her characters and the relationships between them.  The characters are all likable and written so that the reader can relate to them.  Jules has come home after marriage trouble and I feel that the author has written a great story line involving the mother daughter relationship and family ties.  In addition, she also does a great job of developing the relationships between the main character and all the secondary characters.  And, in my opinion, this series has a great cast of secondary characters.  Things are not always easy for Jules as she tries to find her footing but the characters are written with warmth, humor and in a way that the readers can relate.  The atmosphere of the town and the bakery are delightful and add to the pleasure of reading this story.
In this third installment, the author has created a mystery that is isolated to the resort where Jules is catering the annual board meeting for the town's theater board.  The mystery is solid and there are plenty of twists and turns with the introduction of Jules' husband Carlos, who has come to win her back and in the process becomes a suspect.  The plot has a nice pace and I didn't feel as if there were any lulls as the mystery unfolded.  With all of the characters located in one place, there was no shortage of suspects.  I liked how the author laid out the clues to the mystery without being obvious as to the killer's identity.  
All in all, I think is a wonderful series, with great characters that are warm, funny and likable. Each story has had a solid mystery with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged throughout the story.  Add in a culinary cozy theme, set in a great location with wonderful recipes included at the end and the result is a charming series.  I am looking forward to the next installment which is due out mid-2016.
I received and ARC of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Look for this book to be available December 29, 2015.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Driven Series -Box Set


Author:  K. Bromberg
Series:  The Driven Series
Genre:  Romance
Publisher:  JKB Publishing, LLC


Description:  In a world full of willing women, I’m a challenge to the roguish and achingly handsome Colton Donavan. A man used to getting exactly what he wants in all aspects of life. He’s the reckless bad boy constantly skating that razor thin edge toward out of control, on and off of the track. 

Colton crashes into my life like a tornado: sapping my control, testing my vulnerabilities beyond their limits, and unintentionally penetrating the protective wall around my healing heart. Tearing apart the world I rebuilt so carefully with structure, predictability, and discipline. 

I can’t give him what he wants and he can’t give me what I need. But after a glimpse beneath his refined exterior into the dark secrets of his damaged soul, can I bring myself to walk away? 

Our sexual chemistry is undeniable. Our individual need for complete control is irrefutable. But when our worlds collide, is the chemistry enough to bring us together or will our untold secrets and battle of wills force us apart? 


My Review

Let me start by saying that while this series is not brand new, it was recommended to by some members of a group I belong to on Facebook because I had read and enjoyed the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day.  I had not read anything by this author and the group members thought I would enjoy this series just as much.  Boy were they right.  I'm not sure where to start because this series was a roller-coaster ride of emotions.  This is a well written series that draws you right in from the very beginning.  The author writes with such emotions that you instantly connect with the characters Rylee and Colton.  And what characters they are.  Both are emotionally scarred by their past.  K. Bromberg gives the reader such an incredibly well written emotion packed series that it is hard to forget that the first book in this series, Driven, was her debut novel.  The characters are flawed, complex, and feel deeply.  The story is tight and so well crafted that you just want to continue reading to find out what happens to these two people.  Ms. Bromberg rounds out the cast with a great group of secondary characters that are all calling out for their own turn in the spot light (some of which already have their own stories).  I was very impressed with this debut by K. Bromberg.  This is one of those series that will stay with you after you have finished the last page.  In fact, this series will be on my keeper shelf and I can imagine that I will be re-reading this in the future.  It should be noted that this series contains mature sexual content so if you are offended by such content this is not the series for you.

 If you are looking for a story that has emotion, romance, great characters and plenty of hot steamy scenes then look no further.  This is one of the best series that I have read in this genre in a long time and I will be reading the other books in the series that are already available as well as looking forward to those to be written in the future. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hiss and Tell


Author:  Claire Donally
Series:  Sunny and Shadow Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley (Prime Crime Mystery)

Description:  Political heiress Priscilla Kingsbury is about to marry Carson de Kruk, son of business mogul Augustus de Kruk, at the Kingsburys’ waterfront compound. For reporter Sunny Coolidge, an assignment from the Harbor Courier to cover the event is like catnip.
 
But when Sunny photographs men pulling the body of a dead woman out of the water, the Kingsburys’ private security isn’t happy. They claim the woman’s death was an accident, but the story seems fishy. Now, with a little help from her police officer boyfriend and her cunning cat Shadow, Sunny is determined to get the scoop on a killer.


My Review

This is the fourth installment in this series and I found it to be just as enjoyable as the previous three books.  The characters are developing nicely.  Each of the main characters (Mike, Sunny and Will) have depth and with each story the reader begins to feel like they know most of the main characters and those character that appear only in this story have dimension as well.  While not a cat person myself, I find that I enjoy the character of Shadow and his contributions to solving whatever mystery the characters seem to be faced with solving.  I find myself chuckling at his antics and attitude in this book.  I also think the author is doing a nice job with the pace of the budding romance between Will and Sunny.  It feels like it is progressing realistically and does not feel like it is being rushed.

The mystery in this story was a good solid mystery.  It had plenty of twists and turns along with an element of the unexpected.  As for suspects, there was no shortage in this mystery.  The author did an excellent job of crafting the plot so that the culprit is not obvious in the beginning of the story with the reader left to find out how he/she is caught.  With this mystery, it was not easy to figure out the culprit with the evidence that was presented during the story.  In fact, I was surprised at the identity of the killer, which I did not figure out, and the reason that the killer committed the crime.  The author did a good job of wrapping up all lose ends and any unresolved questions by the end of the story.

This is a solid series and I feel with the way this author crafts her stories, each entry could almost be a stand-alone.  Even if you haven't read any of the previous books in the series, you will not be lost if you pick up this book.  I will definitely be back for the fifth installment due out next year to check on Sunny and Shadow and see what new mystery needs solving.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fudging the Books


Author:  Daryl Wood Gerber (a/k/a Avery Ames)
Series:  A Cookbook Nook Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley


Description:  Pirate Week is sweeping through Crystal Cove and keeping Jenna Hart and her bookstore, the Cookbook Nook, plenty busy. But she’s not too swamped to also host the local Chocolate Cookbook Club’s meeting—especially because the guest of honor is her friend, candy maker and cookbook author Coco Chastain.

Jenna whips up a delicious event amidst the rowdy festivities, but the mood is soon broken by robberies, simmering tempers, and a dead body—Coco’s editor, Alison. The suspects turn out to be more plentiful than a pot full of gold doubloons, so to prove Coco isn't responsible for the dastardly deed, Jenna will have to stir up some clues and figure out who’s the real sticky-fingered killer.


My Review

This is the fourth installment in this series and I have to say that each one just seems to get better.  Daryl Wood Gerber is a wonderful cozy mystery author and this book is a wonderful read. The town is full of quirky wonderful characters that always make each mystery fun. Over the course of the series, the reader has been able to see the characters grow and develop.  As a reader, character growth and development is part of what continues to draw me back to a series. The small town setting also lends charm to this book and the series.  I mean Pirate Week alone was enough to catch my interest, but throw in chocolate and who could resist picking up this book.  The pace was good (I finished over the course of three nights) and had a strong, solid mystery. There were plenty of suspects to choose from and enough twists, turns and red herrings to keep the reader guessing. In the end, I was surprised and did not know the real killer until it was revealed. 

This is a wonderful series full of charm, wit, humor, warmth, and family. The author writes solid mysteries that have plenty to twists and turns and there is a little romance thrown as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and look forward to more books in the future.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Berried Secrets


Author:  Peg Cochran
Series:  Cranberry Cover Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  When Monica Albertson comes to Cranberry Cove—a charming town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan—to help her half-brother Jeff on his cranberry farm, the last thing she expects to harvest is a dead body.

It seems that Sam Culbert, who ran the farm while Jeff was deployed overseas, had some juicy secrets that soon prove fatal, and Jeff is ripe for the picking as a prime suspect. Forming an uneasy alliance with her high-maintenance stepmother, Monica has her hands full trying to save the farm while searching for a killer. Culbert made plenty of enemies in the quaint small town…but which one was desperate enough to kill?

My Review

I enjoyed the Gourmet De-Lite series by this author so when I saw that she had a new series I thought I would give it a shot. Another draw was that this book was set in a fictional town in my home State of Michigan. I found this be a wonderful first installment in this series. I was drawn in from the beginning by the charming town, the unique setting (a cranberry farm) and a cast of wonderful characters. As with other stories set in small towns, there is a great cast of secondary characters. In this book, the main characters were well developed allowing the reader to be drawn into the story by feeling as if they already know them.   However, the author did a wonderful job of leaving room for each of the characters to grow and develop in future installments.   There is more to learn about each of the main characters and I am looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for each of them.
 
The main character, her brother and her step-mother were all likable and people that a reader could relate to. The mystery was strong with plenty of twists, turns and suspects. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the identity of the killer, who was someone that I did not expect. I always enjoy reading mysteries that keep me on my toes and guessing at the culprit until the end.  I enjoy when the author incorporates the theme of the book by including recipes.  There are some cranberry recipes at the end of the book that sound delicious and with the holidays approaching there are one or two that I think I might try. 

I felt that the author delivered a great first in a series. This book has it all - a good pace, great characters and a strong mystery. I am really looking forward to future books in this series and they will automatically go on the TBR list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen



Author:  Vicki Delany
Series:  A Year Round Christmas Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list.


My Review

This book is the first installment in the Year Round Christmas Mystery series by Vicki Delany.  I have not previously read anything by this author, who also writes under the name Eva Gates, but I can tell you it will not be the last.  I loved this book.  While it is a holiday themed book, I think it can be read any time of the year and it would not lose its charm.

I was drawn into this book from the very first pages with the authors description of the town and the Christmas parade.  The characters were all well written and I found them to be quirky and fun.  I really liked both Merry and her best friend Vicky.  They both had spunk and I enjoy that in my cozy mystery characters regardless of their age.  The author spins a great tale with wonderful descriptions that engage the reader and allow them to know and love both the characters and the town.  I especially liked how Merry's St. Bernard puppy became one of the characters and I am looking forward to her adventures in raising Mattie. The  mystery is a strong, solid mystery with plenty of twists and turns.  I was surprised to find out the killer's identity at the end and the reason for the mischief in the town following the murder.  I found this story to have a good pace and didn't feel like there were any lulls in the story line.  For me, the sign of a good series, is when I am engaged with the characters and either like them or can relate, and the mystery is solid and not readily apparent at the beginning of the story.  

Vicki Delany delivers a wonderful first installment to this series and  I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Rudolph New York.  I can't wait for the next book to see what happens next.  In fact, this series has been added to my list of automatic buys when an new installment is released.  And while I am waiting for the next book, the author's Lighthouse Library Mystery series, written as Eva Gates, has been bumped up on my TBR pile.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Denial (Careless Whispers #1)


Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Series:  Careless Whispers #1
Genre:  Romance
Publisher:  Gallery 
Publication Date:  November 24, 2015

Description:  The New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the explosively sexy Inside Out and the Secret Life of Amy Bensen series will seduce you with this sultry tale of possession and ecstasy, wild fantasies and dangerous secrets—first in the racy and suspenseful Careless Whispers series.

Ella awakes alone in Italy, no longer sure of who she is. One thing is certain: a gorgeous man has claimed her as his own. He’s tall, dark, and sexy, the kind of rich, powerful man who makes a girl long to be possessed. And possess her he does, whispering wicked promises in her ear, indulging her deepest desires, stealing her trust—and her cautious heart. Soon, though, she discovers that nothing is as it seems. The truth will shatter her world, but it will also set her free…if it doesn't destroy her first.


My Review

This is the first installment in Lisa Renee Jones' Careless Whispers series. While this is a spin-off of the Inside Out Series, you don't have to have read that series to enjoy this one. This is the first book that I have read by this author. She had been recommend to me in the past but I just haven't gotten around to reading anything by her yet. After reading Denial, I understand why she has such a loyal following.   Please keep in mind that this book does contain mature sexual content with light elements of BDSM, so it may not be for everyone.

Denial is a well written fast paced novel that is full of intrigue, mystery, suspense, secrets, lies, romance and passion. The author draws you in from the very first page where Ella opens her eyes and sees Kayden, until the last page where she confronts Kayden about her past. Throughout the book the author does a wonderful job of keeping the reader engaged with the many twists and turns that this book has to offer. The reader remains engaged because with each new twist or turn there are new questions and you have no choice but to keep reading in hopes of finding answers to those questions. Make no mistake, this is the first installment in what I assume will be a trilogy so it does end in a cliffhanger.  However, for me, it was a good cliffhanger and it will keep me coming back for book two.

I received an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yarned and Dangerous


Author:  Sadie Hartwell
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  #1 Tangled Web Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  November 24, 2015

Description:  Josie Blair left Dorset Falls twelve years ago in hopes of making it big in New York City. But after earning an overpriced master’s degree and getting fired by a temperamental designer, she finds herself heading back to her hometown. Her great-uncle was injured in a car accident, and newly unemployed Josie is the only person available to take care of him. Uncle Eb’s wife didn’t survive the crash, so Josie is also tasked with selling the contents of her Aunt Cora’s yarn shop. But the needling ladies of the Charity Knitters Association pose a far bigger challenge than a shop full of scattered skeins…

Miss Marple Knits is one of the few businesses still open in the dreary downtown. Josie can’t imagine how it stayed open for so long, yet something about the cozy, resilient little shop appeals to her. But when one of the town’s most persnickety knitters turns up dead in a pile of cashmere yarn, Josie realizes there’s something truly twisted lurking beneath the town’s decaying façade.

My Review

This is the first in a new series by Author Sadie Hartwell and the first that I have read by this author. I found this book to be a quick read for me. That is not a reflection on the length of the book but rather the fact that the story was well written with a pace that moved along nicely. In addition, for the first book in a series, I found the characters to be fairly well developed. The main character is likable and I could relate to the position she found herself to be in - doing something because she couldn't say no to her mother. The characters coupled with the writing and the twists in this book made kept me reading to see what happened next in the story. This is a great start to a new series and I will be looking for future books by this author.  For those readers who are crafty, and I confess I am not, there are knitting patterns included.

I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Death Before Decaf



Author:  Caroline Fardig
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Random House Publishing - Alibi
Publication Date:  November 17, 2015



Description:  After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.

The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.


My Review

This is my first introduction to Caroline Fardig but it will not be the last book written by her that I read.  Death Before Decaf is the first in a new series and offers a promising start.  I found the book to be well written, with an engaging story line and a lot of fun and interesting characters.  The story does being slowly but builds as the book progresses.  I love all of the characters and the author does a nice job of interjecting a good dose of humor along with some witty dialogue between the characters that had me laughing out loud as I read the book. 

I am looking forward to more books in the series as I found this to be well written, with a good pace and fun characters that were written well for a first book.   I will be looking forward to visiting this characters again to see what Ms. Fardig has in store next.


I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Writing All Wrongs


Author:  Ellery Adams
Series:  Books by the Bay Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  After Olivia and Chief Rawlings enjoy a brief honeymoon on Palmetto Island, they’re joined by the rest of the Bayside Book Writers for the Coastal Carolina Crime Festival. The festival’s highlight is Silas Black, celebrity screenwriter and television producer, who is currently working on a popular television show in North Carolina.
 
As the festival gets under way, a trickster seems to be bringing famous local ghost stories to life. But when the body of a woman close to Black is found on the beach, Olivia and her friends must deduce who on the island could resort to murder—before the sands of time run out for someone else.


My Review

Ellery Adams is another one of those authors whose books I automatically purchase when a new one is published.  She is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors because she always delivers a great read.  Writing All Wrongs continues that tradition and does not disappoint. 

This is the 7th book in the series and Ms. Adams has taken us on a journey with the Bayside Mystery Writers club that has allowed her readers to watch all of the characters grow through out the series.  We have seen Olivia, the main character, go from someone with a painful past that caused her to close herself off to people, to becoming a sister/aunt, a friend, a mentor to some of the members of the writers club, and most recently a wife. There is a depth to the characters that allows the reader to become invested in their story and their lives.  We want them to succeed in their endeavors.  With each new story, Ms. Adams is able to write a strong new mystery with plenty of twists, turns and some red herrings that keeps the reader guessing as to the identity of the killer.  That does not change with this new installment.  This was a solid mystery and I for one change my mind more than once about the killer's identity.  In addition, Ms. Adams also uses the setting of North Carolina and the Outer Banks region as almost a secondary characters.  This back drop lends charm to the overall story and combined with all the other strengths of this series, it keeps the readers coming back to see what happens next.

As I said in the beginning, a new book by Ellery Adams is an automatic buy for me.  If you haven't tried one of her stories, now would be a good time to start.  Pick-up a the first book in any of her series and you will become a fan.  If you are already a fan, make sure to pick up a copy of Writing All Wrongs.  Let make sure that we get many more stories about Olivia and the Bayside Mystery Writers from Ms. Adams.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Florist Grump


Author:  Kate Collins
Series:  Flower Shop Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley/NAL

Description:  Life in Bloom  Stopping to smell the roses should be a must for flower shop owner Abby Knight, but stress has turned her into a major grump. While their house is under construction, Abby and her new husband, Marco, are living with her parents, who are driving her nuts. Not to mention that everyone has babies on the brain, with her cousin Jillian’s bundle of joy popping up in every conversation, and Marco’s mother dropping hints that she expects a new sprout from Abby and her son—as soon as possible!

But things get even thornier after a flashy former banker pushes up daisies. With a beloved window washer the prime suspect in the murder, other New Chapel shop owners rally around Abby and Marco to prove his innocence. With Abby’s energy wilting, she has to be on high alert—or she and Marco may not live to see their new home.


My Review

Well, where to start? This is one of my absolute favorite series and whenever a new book comes out it is automatically on my buy and TBR list. That is because Kate Collins never disappoints. This is the 17th installment in the series and she keeps finding new mysteries for Abby and her now husband Marco to solve. This is a well written story that has a great pace. Kate Collins writes wonderful characters that have wit, warmth, humor, and are written with emotion. All of the characters in this series are authentic and likable. You would think that with this being the 17th book in the series that the characters would be fully developed, but in this story Kate Collins finds a way to show us another side of Abby. This time it is a look at the parent/child relationship and how it can be viewed differently by each party and as a result sometimes become strained. In addition, we also get to see Abby's mom, Mo, grow in her artistic endeavors in a way that is a bit unexpected, at least to me, but very appropriate. The reader is also treated to the back story of one of the secondary characters, Jingles, the window washer. The mystery was engaging and there were plenty of times when I changed my mind about who I thought the killer would turn out to be.

If you are not already a fan of Kate Collins and this series, I would encourage you to pick up one of her books because I can promise you that you will become a fan. I read it over the course of two evenings, and I have to admit went to work tired one morning because I read too far into the evening. If you are already a huge fan, like me, make sure you pick up a copy of this book because you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Yappy Hour


Author:  Diana Orgain
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  November 3, 2015
Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

Description:  With side-splitting humor, an irresistible cast of characters-both human and canine-and an intimate small town setting, Yappy Hour is sure to delight fans of Rita Mae Brown and Diane Kelly. Every Friday night in the idyllic seaside town of Pacific Cove, CA, the Roundup Crew, a group of dog-loving friends, meet at a neighborhood wine bar for Yappy Hour. When Rachel, the owner, mysteriously leaves town and asks her sister, Maggie (who is neither pet friendly nor business savvy), to run the bar in her absence, things get complicated fast. Maggie arrives to open up and finds a body sprawled on the floor, and even worse, an incriminating letter with Rachel's name on it nearby. On impulse, she hides the letter from the hunky detective, Officer Brad Brooks, who's dispatched to the scene.


When Rachel is declared the top suspect by the police, Maggie decides to investigate on her own. She reopens the bar and gets to know the members of the Roundup Crew, including chief organizer Yolanda, who never goes anywhere without her signature strappy stilettos or her Yorkie Beepo. Maggie juggles searching for clues, trying to locate Rachel, and serving up Doggie Daiquiris, Muttguaritas and homemade Arf D'Oeuvres-until another body turns up. The Roundup Crew must step in and save the bar, and it seems the only way to do that will be to solve the mystery and turn Maggie into a dog-lover in this charming, light-hearted cozy.


My Review

This is the first in a new cozy mystery series and the first book that I have read by this author. The cover and the title are what first caught my interest so I decided to take a chance. I was not disappointed. Ms. Orgain has crafted a solid first installment with this series that is well written. The book is filled with plenty of wonderful and humorous characters of both the human and canine variety. What I found to be a nice twist on this type of themed cozy is that Maggie, our main character, is not really a dog person. The story is well written and has a nice pace, which did not feel rushed. The characters are well developed for a first in a series and there is enough going on in this book to keep the reader engaged. I found this to be a charming and enjoyable story and will be on the lookout for future installments in this series.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The title is set to be released on November 3, 2015.