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Friday, June 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Death By Coffee by Alex Erickson

by Alex Erickson (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 26th 2015 by Kensington

Goodreads synopsis: When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore cafĂ© in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it "Death by Coffee," after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits
   On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?
   Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…

I knew this book was going to be right up my alley. I love a good mystery and I love coffee.  A no brainer, right? Well, in this case, right-e-o! I just loved this book. I enjoyed getting to know the residents of Pine Hills through the eyes of Krissy Hancock, daughter of a best selling mystery author whose most famous work was called "Death By Coffee." And that is where Krissy and Vicky got the name for their combo bookstore and coffee shop.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly considering this is a murder mystery, one of Krissy's first customers a brash insurance salesman gets knocked off at the beginning of the book. And as per small town protocol, they immediately deemed it an accidental death. But Krissy was sure that it was "murder" and thus began her own investigation.

Some of the scenes between her and the townsfolk were a bit awkward since she only went to interrogate these people and didn't make any bones about wanting to know who they were sleeping with and where they were the time of the victim's demise. I thought there could have been more of a easing into conversations but Krissy just went at them all in attack mode. If I knew her in person, I probably wouldn't want to be around her too much if that was how she interacted with people.

I enjoyed the twists in the plot and the fact that the police chief was trying her hardest to get her son hooked up with Krissy. I hope to get more insight into the town's residents in the next book entitled, "Death By Tea" coming out in December 2015. I look forward to it. Definitely check this series out. It will be just your cup of tea... err... coffee.. lol.

4 Stars.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Contact author, Alex Erickson on Twitter @AEricksonbooks

Monday, June 8, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Bedside Manner by Phoebe Fox

Bedside Manners (The Breakup Doctor #2)
by Phoebe Fox (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, First, 266 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Henery Press

Goodreads synopsis: Brook Ogden has never encountered a broken heart she couldn’t patch together. Her counseling practice as the Breakup Doctor—on call to help you shape up after a breakup—is so busy she’s expanded to offer group sessions. (Turns out there are far more than fifty ways to leave your lover.) Her radio show and advice column have made her a local celebrity, and even her personal life, after some gruesome breakups of her own, is in recovery: Ben Garrett started out as a revenge date against an ex, but has turned into so much more.
    But when sizzling-hot Chip Santana, an old client she once shared a rather unprofessional midnight roll in the sand with, comes back into her life asking for her help, Brook can’t say no. Yet while she’s busy stitching up his relationship troubles, Chip reveals much more than a therapeutic interest in her. 
    In the standoff between her heart and her hormones, Brook’s cool, collected Wise Therapist persona begins to crack like thrown wedding china. She’s yelling at recalcitrant cheating husbands. Offering crazy advice to radio callers. She’s even hugging her clients.
   When the situation goes critical, Brook’s forced into a decision she isn’t ready to make—and the Breakup Doctor has to decide what kind of casualties she’s willing to accept.

In the previous book in the Breakup Doctor series, Brook Lyn Ogden had just begun a relationship with Ben Garrett. So, this book starts off with Brook Lyn focusing on her relationship with Ben. Ben suggests she take on a sort of public speaking role and thus starts a Breakup Doctor support group. It has a rocky start since no one really knows each other and not many wanted to share their relationship exploits in a group setting. Brook spends much of the book working on this endeavor. And when she's not doing her column, radio show or support group, she is trying to take care of Ben's dog, Jake, who is quite a needy canine as well as a big scene stealer. And then there is the case of Sacha and her brother getting together.

Of course, you knew Brook had to do something silly to endanger her relationship with Ben and than is when Chip Santana once again enters the picture. Can you hear the "dum, dum, dum, dum?" What dumb thing will Brooke do because of this dude? You know it's coming. Sort of like a trainwreck. Chip returns from book one. He is the 40-year-old perpetually young-acting bartender who stays up at all hours of the night and has the hots for Brook. He claims he just wants to work with Brook again by setting right old wrongs. Is she really that blind? Apparently, yes.

The moment Brook finally gets together with Ben sexually, Chip sends her a midnight text and it sort of  sends her relationship with Ben spiraling into oblivion. Then she begins to realize what she is losing... the ADHD dog, Jake, whom she's come to love, Ben, whom she is sure she loves (now after the fact) and Ben's mom, who possesses all the qualities she ever wanted in a mother.

Better get some hanky's ready for this one, folks. You're gonna need them. I did some ugly crying at then end. The book always keeps you guessing what Brook will do and who is going to win her heart in the end. The ending will keep you hoping for another book in the series. And I have it on good authority that book 3 is finished and there is a book 4 in the works. Yay!

4 Stars

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Net Galley. I thank Net Galley, the publisher, Henery Press and the author, Phoebe Fox for allowing me to read this title.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Check out these newly released books by Zanna MacKenzie!

The author Zanna MacKenzie asked me to let you all know about the next two books in her Amber Reed mystery series. I have included all the goodies provided by Zanna. Please check them out. I reviewed book one and really enjoyed it. You should definitely take a look if you like cozy mysteries.
~ Toni

Amber Reed Mystery Book Two

Tagline - “Romantic comedy meets celebrity murder mystery”
Short blurb – A murdered pop star on a remote Scottish island – it’s all in a day’s work for Amber Reed, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency’s newest recruit…

Book Blurb:
When celebrities need a crime solving quickly and discreetly they call in the specialists, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency, otherwise known as the CCIA…
Who would want to murder former pop star Flynn Garrison? 
That’s exactly what Amber Reed, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency’s newest recruit, needs to find out.
She’s desperate to get to grips with her first assignment and prove she’s up to the job but there’s a lot at stake… and it’s not only her new career that’s on the line.
Is mixing business and pleasure ever a good idea? Will her relationship with fellow CCIA agent Charlie survive the challenge of the two of them working together?
And then there’s agent extraordinaire Martha, a man-eating six foot blonde goddess, also assigned to this murder investigation, who clearly has designs on Charlie.
Trying to uncover who killed Flynn and why whisks Amber from glamorous red carpet film premiere, to learning Scottish dancing at a Highland party in a grand country house - and the distinct possibility of becoming the murderer’s next victim.
Can Amber solve the case and still keep her relationship with Charlie on track?

Find the book on Amazon
“Ah, good, you’re back.” Bethan, the woman who owns the B&B, says as we dash into the entrance hall, dripping rain all over the carpet. She’s standing behind the little reception desk and next to her is a stunningly attractive woman in jeans and a close-fitting jumper, a suitcase at her feet.  “I was just talking to Martha here about how you were both down at the beach with the murder victim.”
Strange – does she usually welcome guests by telling them about bodies washing up on the local beach?
“It hasn’t been confirmed as murder,” Charlie says, following me inside, head down as he pulls off his wet coat. “Not officially.”
The beautiful woman steps forward, ignores me and envelopes Charlie in a hug, catching him off guard. “Charlie!” she squeals excitedly.  “It’s ages since we’ve worked together. So good to see you again!”
Did she just say “work together”?
I watch as Charlie hugs her back, meeting my questioning gaze over her shoulder. 
“Martha, what are you doing here?” he asks once she’s eventually disentangled herself from him.
“The agency sent me to help you out with this case.” Martha casts a dismissive look in my direction. “They wanted their best agents working up here. So,” she shrugs her shoulders in a here-I-am way, “they sent me to work with you. I understand this is Amber’s first case and we don’t want her getting all overwhelmed on an important job like this do we?” She giggles and pushes a hand through her long honey-coloured hair.
They’ve sent Miss Beautiful CCIA Agent to work with Charlie. I’ll probably be relegated to fetching her cups of coffee and typing up her paperwork.
“Anyway,” Miss Beautiful continues, “the boss wants a thorough investigation and expects us to be on this godforsaken island for a while so I’m told the guys back at base have arranged a rental cottage for us all to share. If you want to get packed and meet me back down here then I’ll lead the way to our new home. Ten minutes OK?”
Not only do my new employers not trust me to do my job, they send another agent, a very beautiful one with a superior attitude, to work with Charlie and me on this case. 
Oh, and we all get to share a rental cottage together as well.
I was so wrong when I thought this day couldn’t get any worse…

Forever Mine
Amber Reed Mystery Book Three
By Zanna Mackenzie
 “Romantic comedy meets celebrity cozy mystery”

Book Blurb:
When celebrities need a crime solving quickly and discreetly they call in the experts – the CCIA, otherwise known as the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency…

Stalkers, shootings and sexy special agents.
All part of being famous, right?
Well, they are for Oscar-winning actress Amelia Kingston when she starts getting deeply disturbing and threatening notes left by a stalker – in her bedroom!
When her boyfriend Ty is shot she calls in the CCIA. The agency sends its newest recruit Amber and her sexy special agent partner Charlie undercover to Amelia’s luxury mountain chalet to track down the person terrorising her.
But circumstances force the agency to pull Charlie off the case, meaning Amber has a new crime fighting partner to try and catch the stalker with – and he’s trouble with a capital T!  He throws Amber’s life into chaos, making her question herself and her abilities as well as her relationship with Charlie.
When events in Los Angeles involving Charlie are splashed across newspapers around the globe Amber’s world comes crashing down.
But before she can even attempt to sort herself out she has to team up with her rogue co-worker and solve this case. Can the two of them manage to pull together and stop the stalker before anyone else gets shot?
Check out this new cozy mystery series with oodles of fun, romance and smart, sassy special agents from the CCIA.

Universal buy link for Forever Mine:

 “Who’d want to be famous?” 
Charlie and I are hovering in the airport’s baggage reclaim area, hoping our luggage has managed to find its way to France too.  
“Before I got this job I thought being a star was all glamourous living, oodles of money in the bank and being worshipped by all your adoring fans.”
The baggage carousel emits several loud clunks closely followed by a high pitched screeching noise before slowly starting up.
 “But now,” I continue, lowering my voice, “I know being famous makes you a target for all the stalkers, murderers and crazies out there. One minute Amelia Kingston is receiving her Oscar for best actress in the blockbuster movie Forever Mine. The next she’s well, you know....”
Beside me Charlie nods and grabs his battered holdall from the baggage carousel. Then we have to wait for what seems like an eternity before my bright purple suitcase puts in an appearance too. 
“Still not got the hang of this travelling light business have you?” he says hauling my own case from the conveyor belt.
“We’re staying in a luxury mountain chalet in the French Alps. Who knows what outfits I might need? I can’t pack light for this,” I retort whilst feeling a tad guilty about just how much I have crammed into my case. I had to sit on it to force the lid closed.
He shakes his head. “We’re working, Amber.”
“Yes, but we’re working undercover and the other guests will be glam celebrities wearing designer outfits so I’ll need to have some half-decent clothes with me. I can’t just turn up for dinner every night in jeans and a sweater.”
“Why not? I am,” he replies as we head for the exit, Charlie tugging my suitcase behind him. 
Outside the wind is bitingly cold and almost blows me off my feet as we exit the airport terminal and head for the car hire offices. We left behind a warm spring day in the UK but here it feels more like February than May. I pull on a jacket. 
See, that’s another reason why I needed to pack quite so much. The weather in the mountains is notoriously fickle. A girl needs to be prepared for sun, snow and rain where we’re going.
This is my second case as a support officer for the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency (otherwise known as the CCIA) and I’m still nervous about the whole catch-a-killer side of my work. OK, it’s mainly for the fully trained CCIA agents to do that side of the job whilst I provide, as my job title suggests, support on the case. 
I do have a tendency to get a little bit carried away sometimes though and find myself in, shall we say, tricky circumstances. Like on my first case when I ended up in a cave on a deserted beach with a murderer who had a knife at my throat. 
Anyway, technically, it’s the agents who are the guys with the special ‘clearance’ to do all sorts of things (sometimes against the law) to solve a case and get murderers put behind bars. Charlie even carries a gun. Which, to be honest, freaks me out just a little. 

Author bio:
Zanna Mackenzie lives on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read. 
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Find out more about Zanna at:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Designed to Death by Christina Freeburn

by Christina Freeburn (Goodreads Author)

Paperback, First, 288 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Henery Press (first published September 6th 2013)

Goodreads synopsis: Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud of glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral. 
   As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell—or worse, a funeral.
   Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! DESIGNED TO DEATH is the second book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery series. Be sure to check out the first crafty mystery, CROPPED TO DEATH. Bonus: includes scrapbooking tips.

In book 2 of the Faith Hunter 'Scrap This' mystery series, Faith finds herself in  hot water when one of their own, Belinda, is named Life Artist Diva and no long later is found murdered at the backdoor of the scrapbook business owned by her two grandmothers.

Faith assures Ted, the detective in the town of Eden, that she will not get involved in the investigation this time, but Faith cannot keep her word and keeps searching for clues. When Belinda's cousin Darlene starts bashing the magazine who made Belinda the Life Artist Diva on the internet, a scandal erupts that places Faith square in the middle of the action.

The fire sizzles between both Faith and sometimes love interest Steve Harris and then between Faith and her favorite detective, Ted. I have not put my vote in for who will win Faith's heart but I do have my ideas... and they may not be the same as Faith's. :)

The antics between Darlene and Faith sometimes got a bit out of hand and Faith used questionable commonsense more than once. I would have thought Faith would have learned her lessons about things like that in book one, but I guess you need a little questionable behavior to keep all the books in the future stable on two wheels in the plot department. (That probably made no sense to anyone but me and I'm okay with that.)

I look forward to future books and I think this one definitely deserves you to check it out. If you like crafting, scrapbooking and washi tape, then this mystery is definitely up your creative alley

4 stars.

I bought this book with my own money.

Monday, June 1, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox

The Breakup Doctor (The Breakup Doctor #1)
by Phoebe Fox (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 310 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Henery Press (first published June 6th 2014)

Goodreads synopsis: Call Brook Ogden a matchmaker-in-reverse. Let others bring people together; Brook, licensed mental health counselor, picks up the pieces after things come apart. When her own therapy practice collapses, she maintains perfect control: landing on her feet with a weekly advice-to-the-lovelorn column and a successful consulting service as the Breakup Doctor: on call to help you shape up after you breakup.
   But when her own relationship suddenly crumbles, Brook finds herself engaging in almost every bad-breakup behavior she preaches against. And worse, she starts a rebound relationship with the most inappropriate of men: a dangerously sexy bartender with anger-management issues—who also happens to be a former patient.
    As her increasingly out-of-control behavior lands her at rock-bottom, Brook realizes you can’t always handle a messy breakup neatly—and that sometimes you can’t pull yourself together until you let yourself fall apart.

Brook Lyn has her own practice along with two other friends. Then one day she comes to work and her office is being demolished with all her records and client files inside. I thought that was an awful way to get a first glimpse into Brook's life. Why would people she worked with for years and had a so called good relationship with not allow her to take all her files to a new business if the other two had decided to give up their own practices. It made me question the type of person Brook was and the type of people her partners were. Did she deserve this pain they were inflicting on her? Hum. I wondered.

Then her best friend, Sacha, gets her a gig with a local newspaper to write a column. Sacha has had a string of ex boy friends a mile long which gave Brook a lot of practice in that department. She becomes an instant success as the Breakup Doctor but when she breaks up with her own boyfriend, her life spirals out of control. She breaks every Breakup Doctor rule in the book and then some.

I was a bit disappointed that the man she meets at the ER didn't figure more prominently in the book, but I guess I can't have everything I want. 

I was nearly to the end of the book before I realized that a murder hadn't occurred which was unusual in a Henery Press book. Henery Press is all about the cozy mystery. Maybe the Breakup doc can stumble over a dead body in a future book. That would be da bomb.

This was probably one of the first books I'd read in awhile that didn't contain a murder at the beginning. I enjoyed Brook Lyn's relationship with her best friend Sacha and how knowing her helped her come to some life changing conclusions. I hated Kendall and rooted for Ben. Hope to see more of Brook Lyn in the future. I mean, she did just finish renovating her office. Great book. Good flow.

Anyway, it was a great book. I recommend it to anyone who likes romance and who likes to shout at books when characters do dumb things. This is one you will definitely want to check out.

4 Stars

I purchased this book with  my own money.