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.