Saturday, February 27, 2016

To Helvetica and Back


Author:  Paige Shelton
Series:  A Dangerous Type Mystery  #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  Star City is known for its slopes and its powder. But nestled in the valley of this ski resort town is a side street full of shops that specialize in the simple charms of earlier eras. One of those shops is the Rescued Word, where Chester Henry and his adult granddaughter Clare lovingly repair old typewriters and restore old books. Who ever thought their quaint store would hold the key to some modern-day trouble?


When a stranger to town demands they turn over an antique Underwood typewriter they’re repairing for a customer, Clare fears she may need to be rescued. A call to the police scares the man off, but later Clare finds his dead body in the back alley. What about a dusty old typewriter could possibly be worth killing for?

My Review

I am a fan of Paige Shelton books, having read both the Farmers' Market Mystery Series and the Country Cooking School Mystery Series. I was sad to hear those series were ending, so when I found out she was starting a new series, this book automatically went on my to be read list.  And I was not disappointed.  

The writing is what fans have come to expect from this author.  The story is well plotted with a solid mystery that is intriguing.  There are twists and turns and surprises leading up to a satisfying ending to the story.  The book had a good pace that kept the reading continuing along to see what happens next. I like that an old typewriter repair shop is the setting.  That along with the town adds a nostalgic feel to the story.

I also for the most part, liked all of the characters.  Clare is warm and compassionate and I liked that she has such a good relationship with all of her family.  I enjoyed Chester, her grandfather and I think the reader can expect more to come from this character in future stories.  There is a bit of romance brewing between Clare and Seth, the new town geologist but as with her other books, the relationship is introduced slowly and I thought was sweet.  I think I'm going to like Seth.  The only character that I didn't connect with was Clare's best friend Jodie.  I'm not sure why that is but I am looking forward to more stories in this series and hopefully will warm up to  Jodie's character. 

This was a wonderful start to a new series by Paige Shelton with all of the characteristics that fans have come to expect from her.  I think readers who are already fans of this author as well as those new to her will all enjoy this book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bells on Her Toes


Author: Diana J. Febry
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  Wings ePress

Description:  DCI Peter Hatherall is called in to investigate a shooting on the Earl of Ditchburn’s country estate. The Earl’s activities have angered animal rights and environmental groups but subsequent deaths suggest Elmsgrove Racehorse Yard is the target. There is more at stake than a horse race and time is running out for Hatherall to solve the case before the culprit kills again.

My Review

This is the first book I have read by this author and I will definitely be back for more.  I found that I really enjoyed this book which is what I consider a good, old-fashioned English murder mystery. The story is well written and has a plot that progresses at a steady pace picking up toward the end of the book.  The plot, characters and mystery had me engaged throughout the entire book.  The setting, horse training in England, added to my enjoyment of the story.  The mystery itself was strong and the author did a wonderful job of carefully providing clues as to the killer's identity throughout the story.  The story unfolds in a realistic manner and has plenty of suspects along with twists and turns.  The characters are a great part of this story.  The author does a great job of writing characters that have depth and layers.  There is also a great relationship between the two main characters with plenty of tension and great dialogue.  The secondary cast of characters is made up of a wonderful variety of characters that range from the working class (the trainers) to the upper elite of society.  

All in all, I really enjoyed this mystery.  I found it to be well written, with a strong mystery and good pace that picked as the book came to a satisfying conclusion.  The characters are well written with depth and layers.  I will be looking forward to reading more from this author.


I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This in now way affected my review and the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fogged Inn


Author:  Barbara Ross
Series:  Maine Clambake Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  February 23, 2016

Description:  An autumn chill has settled over Busman's Harbor, Maine, but Julia Snowden is warming up the town by offering lobster stew at the local diner. When her landlord discovers a dead body in the walk-in refrigerator, Julia must figure out who ordered up a side of murder.

Nothing's colder than a corpse--especially one stashed inside a sub-zero fridge. The victim spent his last night on earth dining at the restaurant bar, so naturally Julia finds herself at the center of the ensuing investigation. Lost in the November fog, however, is who'd want to kill the unidentified stranger--and why. It might have something to do with a suspicious group of retirees and a decades-old tragedy to which they're all connected. One thing's for sure: Julia's going to make solving this mystery her early bird special.

My Review

This is the fourth installment in the Main Clambake Mystery series and I have to  say that I really enjoyed this book.  I haven't had a chance to read the third book in the series yet and as I was reading this one I was surprised at how much I missed reading this series.  This author has a great descriptive writing style that draws the reader in allowing them to get to know the characters and the town creating a wonderful atmosphere.  The mystery is well thought out and well plotted.  It has plenty of surprise along the way as well as a number of suspects to choose from.  I really like how the characters are developing and the theme of friendship that ran through the story.  Because the murder takes place in the off season, the story centers mainly on Julia and her desire to solve the mystery.  I enjoy her character and find her to be warm, sensitive and realistic.  Because of the way this story was written, I felt that the reader was able to really connect with Julia in a way that perhaps we haven't before because her family members have played more of a part in the story.  I also like the way the author is writing the romance between Chris and Julia.  It is developing at a realistic pace and is not being rushed. 

This was a highly enjoyable read and I will definitely be going back to see what I missed with book three.  It was nice to be reminded again how much I enjoy this series and this author.  Also, there are plenty of delicious sounding recipes that sound perfect to try during these winter months.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review and the thoughts expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Axel



Author:  Harper Sloan
Series:  Corps Security #1
Genre:  Contemporary Adult Romance
Publisher:  Self Published by Author

Description:  Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch. 

Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved. 

For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband. 

When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door. 

Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated. 

How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces?


My Review

While this book is not a new release, the author, Harper Sloan is new to me.  I stumbled across this book by accident based upon a tweet in my twitter feed.  I had been looking for something different from what I had been reading so I thought I would give it a chance.  I was actually surprised that I read this book in one day (in between loads of laundry). The author does advise the reader that there is mature sexual content, potentially offensive language and scenes of domestic violence in this story.

This is the author's debut novel and for a debut and a first in a series I thought it was pretty well written.  The story had a good pace without really any lulls and there were plenty of steamy, hot scenes throughout the story for good measure.  The characters in the story were fairly well developed for a debut and first in a series.  The topic is one that could be emotional for some readers as the main character, Izzy is a domestic abuse survivor.  While some may not agree with how she handled her baggage, as with real life, every person deals with their circumstances in their own way and time.  Both Izzy and Axel have a pasts and there are plenty of twists and turns as Axel and Corps Security help Izzy work through getting her soon to be ex-husband to sign the divorces papers.  Yes, Axel is a somewhat stereotypical overbearing Alpha Male that has become so popular recently, but what I like about this story was the emotions expressed by both characters as they come to grips with the past and how others threw their life off the path they had planned for themselves.  The secondary characters were interesting are written to set up their own stories which follow.  One of my main criticisms is that I thought the author could have written Axel so that he could express his emotions, frustrations and desires with better communication.  I was a little turned off by the use of so much foul language.   So be warned if you are offended by the repeated use of the *f* word, this book is not for you.

All in all, I found it to be a good afternoon read that provided me with a distraction from the current genre I was reading.  The author did peak my interest enough that I will likely check out the other stories in this series (thanks to my local library) as I am interested in seeing what happens to a few of the Corps securities men.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Shards of Murder


Author:  Cheryl Hollon
Series:  Webb Glass Shop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  February 23, 2016

Description:  When a glass-making competition turns deadly, glass shop owner Savannah Webb must search for a window into a criminal's mind…

As the new proprietor of Webb's Glass Shop, Savannah has been appointed to fill her late father's shoes as a judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival, held in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With her innovative glass works, the clear winner is Megan Loyola, a student of Savannah's former mentor. 

But when Megan doesn't show up to accept her $25,000 award, rumors start flying. And when Savannah discovers the woman's dead body on festival grounds, the police immediately suspect her of murder. To keep from appearing before a judge herself, Savannah sorts through the broken pieces of glass scattered around the victim for clues as to who took this killer competition too far.


My Review

This is the second installment in the Webb Glass Shop Mystery series and I found this one to be just as enjoyable as the first book.  This is a well plotted mystery that keeps the reader engaged throughout the story.  The author has a smooth writing style and has put together a solid mystery with plenty of suspects to choose from.  The mystery was well plotted and I thought it has a nice even pace.  I enjoyed how the author weaves in educating the reader about glass making as the mystery unfolds. I found that those parts of the book seemed to just flow right in with the rest of the story.  The characters are also well written and the developing nicely.  I found Savannah to be likable, smart and independent.  The secondary characters are becoming nicely developed as well.  I like how each character has their own special role to play in solving this mystery, especially Rooney.  

I find this to be a very enjoyable series with well plotted mysteries and wonderful, likable characters.  The theme for this cozy is interesting and I enjoy the education about glass making that is weaved into the story.  I will definitely be back for the third installment due out this summer.

I received an ARC from the publisher thought Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to provide an honest review and the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Naked


Author:  Gina Gordon
Series:  Body & Soul #1
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Loveswept

Description:  Violet Walker has been hiding. Withdrawn after a terrible car accident, she is worried about going back to her high-pressure job, where she’s expected to project confidence and sleek refinement. Allowing herself a distraction, she’s been watching her sexy neighbor work on his house. But when the shirtless, grinning hunk catches her in the act, Violet is struck by the unmistakable jolt of physical chemistry, a sensation that’s both thrilling and terrifying.
 
Noah Young is used to moving from one construction job to another, never laying a firm foundation. The same goes for the women in his life—until Violet changes all that. His beautiful voyeur embraces his rough edges and shows him a hint of real love. But even Noah can tell that she’s holding back, hiding her body and her heart from what they both truly want. If only he could get a little help convincing Violet to see herself as he sees her: perfect in every way.


My Review


This is the first book I have read by this author and I found it to be an enjoyable read.  Violet is in hiding after suffering from surviving a car accident and suffering injuries that she perceives as life changing.  Violet meets Noah and begins what she thinks will be a 4 week affair that will distract her from her problems.  I like the relationship that developed between Noah and Violet.  We get to see that each one of them has been hurt in their past and both have some issues with their self esteem.  The secondary cast of characters are just as prominent as the main characters, and Noah's best friend, Harper stands out from them all.  She is strong, independent, and confident in who she is despite not being what society would see as conventional.  She plays an important part in getting Violet on the road to healing and her character has a great message throughout the story that everyone is beautiful and that we can all begin to accept and like ourselves if we look beyond societies perceptions and ideals and see the real us.  I thought this was probably the main theme throughout the book.  There are plenty of hot scenes, for those who are looking for that type of read.  The one drawback I had was that eventually, despite the acceptance of her family and friends, Violet's insecurities began to wear on me by mid-way through the book.  But all in all, I found this to be a pretty well written story with likable characters and a great message about self-esteem.  I think there are more stories to tell about the secondary characters and would be willing to see where the author goes with their stories.



I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

One Foot in the Grove


Author:  Kelly Lane
Series:  Olive Oil Grove Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  In the sweet Southern town of Abundance, Georgia, home of the Knox family’s olive farm, gossip isn’t the only thing that can kill you...

After leaving a man at the altar for the second time in her life, Eva Knox decides to head home to her family’s plantation to regroup and soak in some Southern charm. But hiding from her woes is a slipperier proposition than Eva imagined. For one thing, most people in town still haven’t forgiven her for leaving local boy Buck Tanner at the altar and hightailing it up north eighteen years ago. For another, a death on her family’s farm soon makes her the lead suspect in a murder case—and the sheriff investigating is none other than Eva’s old flame Buck.

With the police putting the squeeze on her, it’s up to Eva and her sisters, Pep and Daphne, to figure out who could have possibly left a dead body in their olive grove. And they’ll have to catch the greasy killer quickly—because it looks like Eva has been picked as the murderer’s next victim.

My Review

This was a terrific debut for Ms. Lane. I read this book over the course of two days. I probably would have finished sooner but real life got in the way (sleep, work, etc.). I found this to be a very enjoyable read.

The plot was well crafted with a fast pace with an intriguing mystery that keeps the reader engaged and turning pages until the very end.   There are plenty of twists, turns and suspects peppered throughout this book to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of the culprit.  I had several suspects and continually changed my mind.  In the end, I was wrong with all of my guesses, which if you have ready any of my reviews you will know is par for the case with me.

The book is set in small town Georgia so you can expect a lot of southern charm both from the town and the characters. There is a lot to like about the cast of characters. The main character, Eva and her sisters are great. They are witty, independent, and each sister has her own unique personality. The oldest sister is a full on southern belle with all the charm you would come to expect for this type of character. The cast of secondary characters are just as wonderful. I thought all of the characters were well rounded and right on course for the first book in as series. I am definitely looking forward to more installments in this series.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Murder in an Irish Village


Author:  Carlene O'Connor
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  February 23, 2016

Description:  In the small village of Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland, Natalie's Bistro has always been a warm and welcoming spot to visit with neighbors, enjoy some brown bread and tea, and get the local gossip. Nowadays twenty-two-year-old Siobhán O'Sullivan runs the family bistro named for her mother, along with her five siblings, after the death of their parents in a car crash almost a year ago. 

It's been a rough year for the O'Sullivans, but it's about to get rougher. One morning, as they're opening the bistro, they discover a man seated at a table, dressed in a suit as if for his own funeral, a pair of hot pink barber scissors protruding from his chest. 

With the local garda suspecting the O'Sullivans, and their business in danger of being shunned--murder tends to spoil the appetite--it's up to feisty redheaded Siobhán to solve the crime and save her beloved brood.

My Review

One of my goals this year is to expand the variety of cozy mysteries that I read.  When I was given an opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of a story about Irish siblings set in Ireland, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to work on that goal.  Murder in an Irish Village is the debut of Carlene O'Connor, who is not only new to the cozy mystery genre but this is also her debut novel.

This was an enjoyable read.  It was well written and had an authentic feel to the setting.  The author did a wonderful job with her descriptions allowing the reader the for a picture of this quaint village as they read the story.  The Irish/Gaelic dialogue peppered throughout the story also help with the authentic feel.  I felt that the story was a little slow to start and get o the murder, but once that happened the pace was steady from that point forward.  The mystery was well written and had plenty of twists and turns.  There were plenty of suspects to choose from, a whole town in fact and I was surprised by the identity of the killer.

I thought the characters were also well written.  Siobhan, the main character of the six O'Sullivan siblings, was pretty well developed.  She is independent, smart, loving and struggled with the change in her role from older sister to guardian.  The secondary characters provided color and charm to the story.  I liked that the reader got to know each of the siblings as they were at the forefront of the story throughout the entire book.  

I am not sure if this is a stand alone or going to somehow be a series, but I found it to be an enjoyable read with a solid mystery, an authentic, quaint setting, and well written characters. I will be looking out for future stories written by Carlene O'Connor.

I was provided a copy of this book by Kensington, the publisher, through Netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.