Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fatality by Firelight

Author:  Cahoon
Series:  A Cat Latimer Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Expected Publication Date:  February 28, 2017

Description:  To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill.

My Reveiw

I initially discovered this author when I was gifted a copy of the first book in this series to read.  So when the opportunity came around to return to Aspen Hills to catch up with Cat, Seth and the rest of the characters I couldn't wait to start this book.

I loved this book.  Once I started, I didn't want to stop. I was engaged in the story from the first page. Ms. Cahoon writing style is so fluid and descriptive that I feel like I am right there at the writer's retreat.  All of the original cast is back for this book along with a new crop of writers attending the retreat. As much as Cat wants things to run smoothly for this second retreat, one of her writers is at the center of another unexplained death.

For the second book in a series, I think these characters are some of the most well written in a cozy mystery series.  They feel real to me with depth and dimension.  I think Cat is a terrific protagonist.  She is level headed and doesn't go out of her way to get in trouble when she is investigating.  At the same time, she doesn't shy away from looking into a matter because her Uncle Pete tells her to stay away from it.  The cast is nicely rounded out with Cat's best friend Shauna, Uncle Pete and Seth.  I think the romance between Seth and Cat is progressing at just the right pace.  The author is not throwing them back together but allowing them to get to know each other again and deal with the issue of Cat's deceased ex-husband that is sometimes between them.

This installment has a well crafted mystery full of intrigue that kept me turning the pages.  There were plenty of twists and turns surrounding the identity of the killer and there is the secondary mystery plot that runs through the background of the book involving the death of Cat's ex-husband.  The mystery was wrapped up in a very climatic manner and in a very satisfying manner.  I am definitely looking forward to more in this series.

So, if you want a story that is well crafted and hits on all the elements of a terrific cozy mystery- well plotted mystery, intrigue, twists & turns, a great cast of characters and a story that just makes you want to keep on reading - then you won't be disappointed with Fatality by Firelight.  I certainly wasn't.  

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book that was provided by the publisher through Netgalley.  This did not influence my opinion and the thoughts expressed are my own.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Scheduled to Death

Author:  Mary Feliz
Series:  A Maggie McDonald Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:   January 17, 2017

Description:  Professional organizer Maggie McDonald has a knack for cleaning up other people’s messes. So when the fiancée of her latest client turns up dead, it’s up to her to sort through the untidy list of suspects and identify the real killer. 

Maggie McDonald is hoping to raise the profile of her new Orchard View organizing business via her first high-profile client. Professor Lincoln Sinclair may be up for a Nobel Prize, but he’s hopeless when it comes to organizing anything other than his thoughts. For an academic, he’s also amassed more than his share of enemies. When Sinclair’s fiancée is found dead on the floor of his home laboratory—electrocuted in a puddle of water—Maggie takes on the added task of finding the woman’s murderer. To do so, she’ll have to outmaneuver the suspicious, obnoxious police investigator she’s nicknamed “Detective Awful” before a shadowy figure can check off the first item on their personal to-do list—Kill Maggie McDonald.

My Review

This is the second installment of the Maggie McDonald Mystery series and it was not a bad read. Maggie is a professional organizer and while on the job she and her client, along with Maggie's friend Tess, discover the body of the client's fiance. Once again Maggie is drawn into a murder mystery to solve. I thought this second book had a good flow. The mystery carried throughout the story and I didn't feel like there was a lull or the mystery took a backseat to other things in the story.  

Maggie and her family are all personable and the fact that she is married with children adds to her likability. Maggie also finds herself in some situations during the course of this mystery that will have the reader wondering what happens next. There are returning characters along with some new ones. There were plenty of suspects throughout the story but as the story progressed I thought the identity of the killer became clear. I figured out the culprit about 3/4 of the way through the book.  That said, for reasons I just can't pinpoint, I don't seem to be able to really connect with the characters in this series.

In sum, this was not a bad read. It has a mystery that carried through the book and a story line that included  themes of friendship, compassion, loss and some grief. If you enjoyed the first book in the series I think you most likely enjoy this one as well.  Without being able to connect to the characters, I'm not sure that I will be continuing with the series.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through Netgalley. This did not influence my opinion and the thoughts expressed are my own.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Prose and Cons

Author:  Amanda Flower
Series:  A Magical Bookshop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Published:  December 2016

Description:  October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe in the shop’s back garden to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.
Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead during the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore.

My Review

I am a huge fan of this author so whenever there is a new book I almost always pre-order so that I definitely have the book on release day.  This was no exception.  I fell in love with the first book and was excited to read Prose and Cons.  I got a bit behind due to the holidays but once I cracked this book open I didn't want to put it down.  That is what I love about Amanda Flowers - she has the ability to craft a story with characters, plots and mysteries that draw the reader into the story and allow them to lose themselves in the journey.  And isn't that why we pick up a book in the first place?  This series includes everything a reader of this genre expects and in my opinion is cozy mystery writing at its best.

The characters in this book are all fully dimensional, fun, witty and engaging.  They keep the reader turning pages to see what happens next.  I love the character of Violet.  She is genuine and real, which comes through in every line this author writes.  Violet is once again unfortunate enough to be involved in another murder investigation.  This time, her sense of duty calls her  to clear the name of her friend Sadie after a fellow member of the Red Inkers is killed.  The characters from the first book all make a return appearance and we get to meet a new face - Fenimore - who will play a key role in Violet's journey.  There is a touch of romance for Violet as well.  I just hope the author resolves who will win her affections in the next book or so.  I'm not a big fan of the love triangle, but I have to admit I am having a hard time choosing.

The mystery is well plotted and in typical style Ms. Flowers providers her readers with plenty of twists, turns and surprises.  She always crafts the mystery (at least in my opinion) with a magician like slight of hand.  Just when my attention is directed at one character that I like for the killer, she slips by another clue that has me going in another direction.  I did not guess the identity of the killer until it was revealed in a rather climatic manner. To top it off, I even felt a little sympathetic for the killer.  

If you want a well written story full of great characters and a mystery that will keep you guessing I strongly suggest you pick up a book by this author. You will be transported to another place and spend several hours being highly entertained. I can not wait for the next book in this series. It will be another automatic pre-order.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Death in Advertising

Author:  Laura Bradford
Series:  A Tobi Tobias Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  February 7, 2017
Format:  eBook

Description:  Sometimes when opportunity knocks, the door you open leads to a closet. That’s certainly the case for Tobi, whose weekends spent cleaning cages in her best friend’s pet shop may soon be over. She’s just landed her first big break—Zander Closet Company needs a catchy campaign slogan ASAP, and Tobi thinks she’s got the right hook to knock ’em dead: “When we’re done, even your skeletons will have a place.”
But when a real dead body topples out of a showcase closet, she’s about to discover there is such a thing as bad publicity. To save her fledgling business and not get killed by the competition, Tobi takes on a new pet project: solving the murder. But with a stressed-out parrot as the only witness to the crime, Tobi will really have to wing it to put the cagey killer behind bars.

My Review

Laura Bradford is a terrific cozy mystery author, so who wouldn't be excited to see that she has another new series debuting.  Death in Advertising is a wonderful first book in a new series that will draw the reader in from the opening pages and keep them engaged until the very end.  It is fun, fast paced with great characters and a solid mystery.  This book is everything fans expect from Ms. Bradford and more.

Readers are drawn into the story right from the start with Tobi Tobias, the protagonist.  She is smart, fun and witty which allows this author to weave in some humorous dialogue and fun scenes (car dancing to Bruce Springsteen - enought said). There is an equally wonderful secondary cast of characters that rounds out this story nicely, including Sam, JoAnna, Grandpa Stu and a couple of African Grey Parrots. 

The mystery is solid with plenty of twists and turns.  Ms. Bradford is good at misdirecting the reader.  I did not know or guess the identity of the killer until it was revealed.  It has the perfect pace that will keep readers engaged and turning pages to see "whodunit" as well as to see how the killer is ultimately revealed.  Throw in a hint of romance for Tobi and this book has everything that a reader wants from a cozy mystery and quite frankly what Ms. Bradford continues to deliver to her fans.  This book grabbed me within the first few pages and held my attention until the very end. Bravo Ms. Bradford.....I will be back for more. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book, provided by the publisher through Netgalley.  This did not influence my opinion and the thoughts expressed are my own.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Fatal Romance

Author:  June Shaw
Series:  A Twin Sisters Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  January 24, 2017  
Format:  eBook

Description:  Twin sister divorcees Sunny Taylor and Eve Vaughn have had their fill of both heartaches and headaches. So when they settle down in the small Louisiana town of Sugar Ledge and open a remodeling and repair company, they think they’ve finally found some peace—even though Eve is still open for romance while Sunny considers her own heart out-of-business.

Then their newest customer ends up face-down in a pond, and his widow is found dead soon after. Unfortunately, Sunny was witnessed having an unpleasant moment with the distraught woman, and suspicion falls on the twins. And when an attempt is made on Eve’s life, they find themselves pulled into a murder mystery neither knows how to navigate.
With a town of prying eyes on them, and an unknown culprit out to stop them, Sunny and Eve will have to depend on each other like never before if they’re going to clip a killer in the bud.

My Review

A Fatal Romance is a promising start to a new cozy mystery series by author June Shaw. This was the first book I have read by this author and I found it to be enjoyable. The story centers around Sunny and Eve, identical twin sisters who have very different personalities. The characters are quirky, likable and fairly well developed for the first book in a series. The girls mother lives in a nursing facility and has a fun, quirky group of friends that round out the cast nicely. I liked that while the women were identical twins that they had their own personalities and histories. Sunny suffered a tragedy when she was a child that results in her signing Christmas songs when she is frightened or in certain circumstances.

The mystery was pretty solid and there were plenty of twists and turns with respect to the identity of the killer. I figured out the culprit along with Sunny and Eve, which was a nice surprise because I usually don't know the identity of the killer until it is revealed to the author. The story had a nice pace that flowed without any lulls, at least in my opinion.

I think this book represents a good start to this new series and I like that it has quirky, non-traditional cozy characters. I will be back to see what this author has in store for the twins in the next book in the series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. This did not influence my opinion and the thoughts expressed are my own.