Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Book Fair and Foul (Ashton Corners Book Club) by Erika Chase + Guest Post

Book Fair and Foul by Erika Chase

Published  August 5th 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: Ashton Corners Book Club
Genre: Cozy-Mystery


Summary from Goodreads

The members of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society are all chipping in as Molly Mathews, now owner of the bookstore the Book Nook, prepares the first annual Mystery Book Fair. While gossip circulates about the guest authors, club member Lizzie Turner is unpleasantly surprised to see a certain book publicist make an appearance. It seems Lizzie has a history with Ashley Dixon—a chapter of her life she’d rather leave closed.

But when someone gives Ashley a death sentence, Lizzie becomes the prime suspect in a murder mystery she can’t put down. Now Lizzie and her fellow book buffs have to read between the lines of the publicist’s past and catch the real killer before Lizzie is written off for good.
As Molly Mathews an owner of a local book store prepares for their first annual Mystery Book Fair, Lizzie Turner ends up getting an unpleasant surprise when a book publicist makes a surprise appearance who is no other but the one and only Ashley Dixon - a girl from her college life she rather not remember.

The book fair goes smoothly, besides a few hick ups with ego's and rivalry between the authors until Ashley starts digging her claws into Lizzie and her current beau and it's college all over again. When Lizzie get's an unexpected phone call from Ashley to mend the broken bridges between them after the embarrassing night at the book fair, the last thing Lizzie expects is for Ashley to end up dead. Now she is the prime suspect in the murder case when Lizzie's cell phone ends up at the scene, and it's up to her and the ladies of the bookstore in order to find the real culprit who has framed her.

Great story. I loved all of Lizzie's friends, they had a lot of charm and it was a wonderful support network in her dark time of need. Lizzie herself is an awesome leading lady, she has a lot of heart and enjoyable to follow. I think her and her boyfriend police chief Mark make a cute couple even if in this one the fact that he is a police chief and it puts a bit of tension between them when she is found to be the prime suspect. But I totally give credit to Mark for handling it the way he did, I thought he was wonderful and supportive.

A fun read. I enjoyed the story leading up to the murder and the bit of history and hissy fits between Ashley and Lizzie, kind of build up a little bit of suspense for me as I flipped through the pages eagerly wondering who else would have it out for Ashley.

Guest Post

What’s not to like about a cozy? They’re so…well, cozy. To me that means a traditional mystery, a puzzle, something on the lighter side, without the excess of violence, sex or language – except where appropriate. If I want any of that I can read the newspapers, watch TV news, or even, most of the mystery/crime series that are on TV.

Don’t get me wrong, I do read other types of crime books, I’m an avid newspaper reader and I do watch some psychological police dramas on TV, because they do have their place and there are times when that’s exactly what I want to see or read.

But for the most part, I want my reading time to be spent in a world where friendships are a primary focus, where there’s a hint of romance, and of course, the world is made right by the capture of the bad guys. I want to work through the crime puzzle along with the main character, be he or she an amateur sleuth or professional. I want to get to know these people as friends so that I enjoy spending time with them catching up, in each new book in the series. And, as importantly, I want justice to be carried out.

So it’s natural that I write cozy mysteries. I try to combine all those factors that I enjoy when reading a mystery in my Ashton Corners Book Club series. I belong to a book club, and although the members are very different from my fictional ones, especially the fact that we don’t solve crimes, the friendships and camaraderie are the aspects I’ve brought to the series.

Each character is unique, someone I’d like to know and learn more about, (I am learning more about them as I write each new book) and to this end, each has her or his own story and reason for belonging to the book club. Together, they compliment and contrast, they cajole and console, they are friends and they are my friends.

To me, a cozy setting means community. From the larger community of Ashton Corners, Alabama (totally fictional but somewhat based on a small town located close to me) to the smaller community of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society…this is the heart of a cozy mystery. The puzzle and the unraveling of it are layered on to present a reading experience that hopefully will delight the mystery lover.

I enjoy writing cozies and I enjoy reading them. I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Well Read, Then Dead (A Read 'Em and Eat Mystery #1) by Terrie Farley Moran + Guest Post

Well Read, Then Dead (A Read 'Em and Eat Mystery #1) by Terrie Farley Moran

Published August 5th 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: A Read 'Em and Eat Mystery
Genre: Cozy-Mystery


Summary from Goodreads

First in a new series!

Nestled in the barrier islands of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers Beach is home to Mary “Sassy” Cabot and Bridget Mayfield—owners of the bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat. But when they’re not dishing about books or serving up scones, Sassy and Bridgy are keeping tabs on hard-boiled murder.

Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.

No one is more distraught than Augusta, and Sassy wants to help any way she can. But Augusta doesn’t have time for sympathy. She wants Delia’s killer found—and she’s not taking no for an answer. Now Sassy is on the case, and she’d better act fast before there’s any more trouble in paradise.

Includes a buttermilk pie recipe!

Sassy Cabot and Bridget Mayfield are two best friends who are also the owners of a bookstore cafe called Read 'Em and Eat. Things are going great for the two till their head chef has an accident, breaks his leg and is out for surgery. Out comes Bridget's aunt, a characters on her own Ophie who takes over the kitchen and basically makes it her own.

Read 'Em and Eat has an interesting set of clientele, including two cousins Augusta and Delia. When Delia is found dead and murdered, Sassy has offered up to do anything she can in order to help Augusta in this time of grief and getting the funeral ready. But Augusta wants to find the murderer and it looks like she is pressing Sassy to do it.

Interesting start to a new series. I liked the characters, there were some good ones and other's made me cringe a little. Like Jocelyn, the pastor's wife. I thought her actions and words towards Sassy was uncalled for and honestly a really strange behavior for a pastor's wife.

I liked Skully the best and his hobby of creating  pieces using sea shells. Makes me want to pull out a bunch of sea shells I got from Florida 3 years ago and create something myself heh.

There are a couple of potential love interests for Sassy in the new series. One of them is a new comer, Frank Anthony. Everything is done subtle, so it be interesting to see how it all plays out.

What took a bit of a turn for me was the small lack of emotion. I for some reason had a hard time finding Sassy's reaction to Delia's death a little weird I guess, or maybe I'm just weird but it didn't work for me. Anyway, excited about this new series, would love to see how it keeps going!

Guest Post

If you were to step into the pages Well Read, Then Dead, Sassy Cabot or Bridgy Mayfield are likely to welcome you with a conversation that goes something like this…
Welcome to the Read ’Em and Eat, your friendly neighborhood bookstore and café. Come in, sit down. That sound you hear? Why that’s the Gulf of Mexico lapping against the sugar-fine white sand of the immaculate beach that lines the entire west coast of our island, Estero Island, here in Fort Myers Beach.
Here’s a nice cold glass of sweet tea for you while you decide on a snack. We have Miss Marple Scones and Robert Frost Apple and Blueberry Tartlets. Aunt Ophie’s Buttermilk Pie is the special for today. Oh, you noticed the books? Sure, browse all you want. Interested in anything particular? We’re happy to order. If you like to talk about what you’ve read, here’s a list of our book clubs and what they are reading this month. They meet right here in that corner. Pretty isn’t it?
The Potluck Book Club? Oh, that’s a fun group. The books are food related, and we always serve free samples of the food associated with the book.”
The Read ’Em and Eat is where Island residents and tourists enjoy the relaxed and comfy atmosphere while eating a Swiss Family Robinson Cheeseburger or looking for the perfect beach book for an afternoon lounging in the sand. Nothing could spoil the peace and tranquility. Nothing, that is, except murder.
You can take a leisurely visit to southwest Florida and enjoy the Read ’Em and Eat, the quirky folks who stop by, and perhaps help catch a murderer. All you have to do is read Well Read, Then Dead.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: If Catfish Had Nine Lives (Gram’s Country Cooking School Mystery #4) by Paige Shelton + Guest Post

If Catfish Had Nine Lives (Gram’s Country Cooking School Mystery #4) by Paige Shelton

Published  August 5th 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: Gram's Country Cooking School Mystery
Genre: Cozy-Mystery
Heat Rating: Kissing


Summary from Goodreads

Betts Winston has inherited more than her cooking skills from her grandmother—she can also see and talk to ghosts of people that once roamed the streets of Broken Rope, Missouri, in the days of the Old West…

With Gram’s Country Cooking School on spring break, Betts and Gram are taking part in this year’s cowboy poetry convention, offering lessons on frying catfish over an open campfire. But when a staged gunfight ends in real death and her brother Teddy becomes a prime suspect, Betts may be the one to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

After her ghostly guardian Jerome appears to watch her back and a spectral Pony Express rider gallops into town with some unfinished business, Broken Rope starts to seem more like a cowboy ghost convention. With trouble on both sides of this mortal coil, it’s up to Betts to clear her brother, put the spirits to rest, and make sure the true killer doesn’t become the one who got away.

Guest Post 

IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES and the Pony Express
By Paige Shelton

I never intend to take on a lot of research, however, when my cooking school mystery series transformed into a haunted cooking school mystery series – haunted by a changing cast of ghosts from the Old West – I knew research was in my future. And, surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about cowboys and criminals, old-fashioned business practices, Lizzie Borden (I based one of my character’s stories on hers), and, most recently, the Pony Express. The main ghost in IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES, the fourth book of the series, is the ghost of a Pony Express rider. It seems some letters Joe carried never did get delivered, and the contemporary and living characters of Betts and Gram are tasked to do something about that, even if the end result is worrisome and unknown.
I became completely fascinated by the history of the Pony Express. From the details about the mochilas – the satchels that were placed over the saddles and carried the mail – to the types of men, young and wiry, who were hired to ride the horses at breakneck speeds over unreliable countryside. Speaking of the horses, they were amazing animals, chosen specifically for their speed and intelligence.

The Pony Express was created in 1860 to transport mail across the Western United States in a timelier manner than was previously available. The route began in a stable in St. Joseph, Missouri, and ended in Sacramento, California.
There were stops, stations, every ten miles or so, where the horses and riders could be switched out. For those ten mile stretches, the horses ran like the wind. The stations were small structures that offered simple shelter. There was nothing fancy about them. When I realized that some of the stations had been reproduced at their original locations and that there was one somewhat close to where I live in Utah I knew I had to explore.
The trip to what turned out to be the middle of nowhere was a memorable experience. My husband and I were in a car on a sometimes paved road, and the journey was challenging and primitive. I could only imagine what the riders and horses had gone through, how they had to push themselves over uncivilized terrain and through sometimes wicked weather just to get to the next station, just to get their cargo one more step closer to where it needed to be. When we were at the station we looked around at the faraway mountains and the never ending open space in all directions. There were no cars back then, no cell phones, no AAA to help with breakdowns. These people, from the creators of the Pony Express all the way to the stable men who cared for the horses and the riders, were brave adventurers who not only saw a task that needed to be done but were able to see past what must have been enormous challenges and obstacles to accomplish it. They were made of some strong stuff, inside and out. I admire them all much more than I could have ever predicted.
The advent of the telegraph and the continuing growth of the railroad brought a quick end to the Pony Express in October of 1861, only eighteen months after the first horse and rider left St. Joseph. Though the adventure had been real, when all was said and done the business had not fared well financially. However, the bit of history the Pony Express gave us is invaluable.
IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES was not only interesting to write but turned out to be eye-opening too. As it progressed I became honored to bring a small part of the history of the Pony Express to its pages. It would be impossible to do true justice to the many individuals who were part that amazing time, but it is my hope that my readers enjoy the ride as much as I did. 

Oh my goodness, I really adored this book. I don't really know where to start with my review. It's been such a long time since I wrote a review, mostly due to health reasons but it was nice to finally kick back, relax and finish a book or two. Something that I haven't been able to do in a while. If Catfish Had Nine Lives helped me get back slowly into the swing of things. It had mystery, ghosts, enjoyable characters, with a western type of feel to it.

Betts Winston has a gift. Like her grams, she can see and talk to ghosts and when the night sets it, even actually touch them. So when one of her ghostly guardian's appears at the same time as one of the skit actor Norman dies, Jerome seems to think he was sent there because Betts is the one in trouble. Meanwhile, Bett's brother Teddy ends up in his own line of trouble, and a woman comes asking about her family history when gram's ghost Joe makes his presence known.

I loved this. The book was really hard to put down. I enjoyed how there was the murder mystery, but there was also other mysteries among it. Like Betts and gram's trying to help the two ghosts solve the reason they are both there, so they can fore fill whatever it is they were sent there to do.It takes us back on a disappearance mystery that happened around a time of Pony Express and what may have happened to one of the riders.

The characters were enjoyable, the plot was really fun. Paige Shelton really knows how to weave a story that hooks you in and keeps you on the line until the very last splash.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: Cookies and Scream (A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #5) by Virginia Lowell

Cookies and Scream (A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #5) by Virginia Lowell

Published July 1st 2014 by Berkley
Paperback304 pages
Series: A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery
Genre: Cozy-Mystery


Summary from Goodreads

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But when a stunning antique cookie cutter collection leads to murder, things get a bit too hot to handle…

You know when you sometimes read a book with a specific theme that you wouldn't really paid mind to other time and then you find yourself hopping on over to the internet just to google your curiosity? Well that's what this book did to me.

Cookies and Scream is a 5th book in the A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery. I haven't read the previous installments in this series but had no problem just jumping into Olivia Greyson's life and picking up the pieces along the way. Olivia owns a cookie store called The Gingerbread House (how cute is that name?) along with her best friend Maddie, who is also her sidekick and helps her around the kitchen. When they get offered to sell a stunning prized antique cookie cutter collection, they get more then they bargained for when it's owned turned up dead. Now they jump head first into trying to prove that Greta was actually murdered, as they dig into her old life and world filled with mysteries, glamor and some painful past.

Fun story. I enjoyed all the buildup that the author did before the murder. Seriously, it took like over 100 pages before the murder and the story was well done leading up to it and the aftermath as well. I liked Olivia and Maddie, they make a great due. Where Olivia lacks, Maddie picks it up. A bit more open, spunky and a quick thinker.

The cookie cutters was the thing that had me browsing the internet with curiosity. I didn't know how many different antique cookie cutters there can be out there and how some very rare ones have been sold for a lot of money. It was fascinating the thing that interests some people and collectors. I love finding stuff like this that I wouldn't have otherwise if I haven't had read the book.

Lowell is great at storytelling and she has build a world of very enjoyable characters. especially with such a fun duo of Olivia and Maddie. I enjoyed following them around as they stumbled through trying to crack the secrets and what really happened to Greta that night.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Ill-Gotten Panes (A Stained Glass Mystery) by Jennifer McAndrews

Ill-Gotten Panes (A Stained Glass Mystery) by Jennifer McAndrews

Published July 1st 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: A Stained Glass Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Summary from Goodreads


Stained-glass aficionado Georgia Kelly packed up her city life for the quiet of small town Wenwood, New York. But the sleepy village’s peace is about to get shattered—by murder…

After a banking scandal loses Georgia her job and fiancé, she decides that a change of scenery will help piece her life back together. But escaping to her grandfather’s house in the old-fashioned, brick-making Hudson River hamlet of Wenwood, New York, turns out to be less relaxing than she expects. Not only is the close-knit community on edge about their beloved brickworks being turned into a marina to draw in tourists, one of those most opposed to the project winds up dead—cracked over the head with a famous Wenwood brick.

Georgia wouldn’t be broken up over the news except for the fact that the main suspect is the deceased’s biggest adversary—her grandfather. Now, to remove the stain from her grandy’s record, Georgia will have to figure out who in town was willing to kill to keep the renovation project alive, before someone else is permanently cut out of the picture…
After a bad work scandal, Georgia not only loses her job but also her fiancé and friends along with it. With a need to put the pieces of her life back together, she goes to one place that her own mother keeps coming back to regroup - her grandfather's house. Georgia isn't even back in town for a few days when already she is stepping on some people's toes. To make matter's worse, her grandfather's enemy turns up dead soon after and her grandfather ends up the prime suspect in his murder. Unable to sit back and watch as the police work on accusing her Grandy, Georgia takes it into her own hands to snoop around town and get to the bottom of this murder before her Grandy ends up in handcuffs.

Great start to a new series, I really enjoyed it. Georgia is a new sleuth and she doesn't have it all together and I like that. She is back in small town trying to kind of find her next path in life and while she is doing that, she is taking a break in her grandfathers house. She uses stained glass art as a way to kind of relax, and when an Antique store owner presents her with a fixer up, Georgia is more then glad to undertake the task. It also starts a quick friendship between her and Carrie (the Antique store owner). I don't know much about Stained Glass art, but I found reading about it fascinating, and all the things Georgia had to do with the glass and how you can cut it into different shapes.

Besides that, I loved how the author uses humor scattered through the book and the wit accompanied it. The storyline was well told and fun to follow as Georgia stumbles through small town life and some 'politics' in order to find who was the real murderer. I also loved the fact that this story features a grandfather instead of typical grandma, it made it exciting and just as fun with the roles reversed.

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Review: When Day Breaks (KGI #9) by Maya Banks

When Day Breaks (KGI #9) by Maya Banks

Published  June 24th 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: KGI #9
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense

Heat Rating: Sizzling


Mature Content Advisory, must be 18+ for strong sexual content and language

Summary from Goodreads


The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…

Eden is said to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her face has graced countless magazines and her body has sold millions of dollars of clothing. But her fame and beauty has earned her more than she ever imagined. Evil is stalking her, determined to extinguish the ethereal beauty forever.

Swanson or “Swanny” as his teammates call him is always up for the next mission. He came back from Afghanistan wounded and scarred. Hardly the kind of man who even belongs in the same room with Eden. And yet there’s something about the quiet beauty that stirs his blood and makes him dream of the impossible. Because Beauty loving the Beast only happens in fairy tales and KGI doesn’t deal in fairy tales. Ever.

Let me get this straight out now. I enjoy Maya Banks KGI series before and have had a few in the series that I really liked. This one, wasn't my favorite, unfortunately. It wasn't all bad. I did enjoy quiet a bit of it, but the storyline just did not work for me at all.

What I did enjoy...
  • Swanny. I love broken hero's. I love hero's period, and Swanny is the hero in this story. He came back from Afghanistan scarred and wounded after a mission that went horribly wrong and he was captured and tortured. Now Swanny doesn't find himself attractive and hides the scare that occupies much of one side of his face. He also still has a bit of demons, because he remembers the incident quiet well as it also happened to one of his friends who was with him. Now Swanny doesn't believe that he has a shot at love, which at first made me just want to cuddle him and tell him it would be okay. After all, his a hero with battle scar and that could be very sexy on a man.
  • The action, when it happened. Which unfortunately did feel a little scars. A lot of the book focused on the attraction between Swanny and Eden. But when it did take off and stuff was happening, I did find that I was enjoying it quiet a bit more.
  • Skyler. A female KGI that totally kicked ass, enough said here - she was awesome and I loved the brother sister relationship she had with Swanny.
What not so much....

  • There was a bit of an insta-love between Swanny and Eden. He already had a thing for her thinking she was one of the most gorgeous women seeing her pictures in magazines (Eden is a model) so when she singles him out right away out of all the big hunky KGI men in the room, Swanny is floored that she is giving him all the attention.
  • Thought it was endearing at first that Swanny was cautious about Eden seeing the scarred side of him, afraid that he would drive her away. His insecurity was cute at first, and made me want to hug him and call him silly for thinking that something like that would turn us women off. Unfortunately it got old after the fifth time it happened and it kept happening, even up until they fell into bed together.
  • I was surprised at what Eden revealed to Swanny before she jumped into bed with him. With the way she was putting herself out there, it was kind of like lame......really? moment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: Some Enchanted Éclair (A Magical Bakery Mystery #4) by Bailey Cates + Giveaway

Some Enchanted Éclair (A Magical Bakery Mystery #4) by Bailey Cates

Published July 1st 2014 by Signet
Paperback, 336 pages
Series: A Magical Bakery Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Summary from Goodreads


When Hollywood invades Savannah’s historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot, and her witches’ coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie’s firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie’s “fixer” fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy.

But when someone fixes the fixer—permanently—and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects…before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor…
Oh what an enchanting treat this book really was!!

Katie Lightfoot is a magical baker, who is also a part of a witches' coven called the Spellbook Club. They live in a Savannah's historical district and Katie happens to own the best bakery in town. So when Hollywood comes to town, Katie is asked to prepare lunch for the the actors and crew. Little did Katie expect was to stumble into another murder, and surely not one where one of her bakeries very own knifes was used.

Oh I adored this book. It really was cozy. I liked the mystery twisted with a bit of magic, and I love how the paranormal was done it this. Light without being over the top. Really felt almost kind of believable. Add warm batch of characters to it and delicious baked goods, and you got yourself a lighthearted adventure worth getting lost in.

Katie is also a lightwitch and is drawn to murder scenes, something that her boyfriend Declan is a bit worried about - until he of course finds out his own little family trait he wasn't aware of. Now as Katie tries to find who is behind the murder, she also struggles with finding out how to sort of distance herself away from this trouble. Unsure why of all people, she was picked to solve these murders. Magic, mystery, seance and ghosts kept the book entertaining and unbelievably hard to put down.

I really enjoyed the characters of Savannah and Katie's batch of friends. I did have a hard time with the Hollywood star Althea who for some random reason just randomly decided not to like Katie and cause her and her shop a bit of trouble along the way.

Overall a really fun read, well written, well put together, with characters that stay with you long after. Including Mungo :) Katie's dog familiar.

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