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Sunday, January 31, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Murder on Wheels by Lynn Cahoon

Murder on Wheels 
(Tourist Trap Mystery #6)
By Lynn Cahoon

4.5 Stars

Like I said in my last Tourist Trap mystery review, this is a world that tickles the ivories of my reader's soul. You just can't go wrong with this series. 

There were a lot of interesting secondary stories going on in this book. Not everything is hunky-dory between main character, Jill Gardner and her BFF Amy. They have strained their relationship due to a disagreement about a new water conservation regulation. Then Jill ends up in the middle of her Aunt's love life in which the Aunt is juggling two different men. Then Toby, her Barista Babe ends up breaking up with his girlfriend and crashes in his new man pad which used to be Jill's shed out back. Then Amy's boyfriend, Justin has a new found passion for geo caching and sucks the crew into a few hikes. I mean, this book is totally jam-packed with things going on. And the funny thing is, it doesn't feel that way at all. It just feels like a normal day in South Cove. 

Oh, of course, there is the little issue of the murder in a food truck Jill wanted to buy back in book five. I like how book five led us to book six so smoothly. In the previous book Dustin Austin, local bike shop owner, had scored the sale of the food truck, dumped Sadie, stole her recipes then went back to his wife. The climax of that situation ends up in book six as the main thrust of the story. 

I mean, can you say awesome planning on Cahoon's part? I am so impressed. 

Jill Gardner does a better job in this book of hiding her sleuthing by focusing on a case she thinks is unrelated to the murder.  But like we all know, Jill can't stay out of trouble for long. I probably should have given this book five stars since I can't find anything I don't like about it. 

If you love a good mystery, please check this series out. It is definitely a winner!

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

BOOK REVIEW: Killer Run by Lynn Cahoon

Killer Run
(Tourist Trap Mystery #5)
By Lynn Cahoon

4.5 Stars

I have to say right off the bat that I think I want to live in this world! I seriously look forward to every Tourist Trap Mystery. It is so fun to follow the action. 

The only thing I don't like is when it's over.

 I have effectively been sucked into South Cove. Just call me one of the locals. 

Lynn Cahoon takes the time to develop and grow her characters in each and every book she writes. Jill is not the same person she was in book one.  I like that about Cahoon's writing. Her character building does not detract from her mystery building. It is a cohesive melding of both that makes this such an awesome book.  

Killer Run focuses on a 5k race that many of the businesses in South Cove are sponsoring. It is a fundraiser for the local preservation society. When the dead body of the events promotion expert is found in the ditch of the race route, Jill and company are scrambling to keep the murder quiet until the race is over. 

Of course, Jill Gardner, armchair sleuth is on the case, much to her detective boyfriend's dismay. When she is not trying to solve South Cove's most recent murder, she owns and runs Coffee, Books and More, the local coffee bar and bookstore and the center of most of the action. 

The character interaction really makes this book. I have no idea how Cahoon crams so much into such a short book. I enjoy how all the secondary characters either help or hinder Jill's super secret investigation. Of course, the investigation is never as secret as Jill thinks it is. 

My only niggle is that I wish the victim would have been developed a bit more. Sandra is barely introduced before she is dead. But I guess that just makes the mystery a bit more mysterious. 

I don't want to give anything away but you just have to delve into this series for yourself. It will not disappoint. Get sucked into the mysteries of South Cove!

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

BOOK REVIEW: Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier

Candy Corn Murder
(Lucy Stone Mystery #22)
By Leslie Meier

3 Stars

This is the first book I have read in the series. Based on that, I think this book could have used a bit more of a character recap. Who is Lucy? Who are the important players? Why is she always involved in the mystery? I know that I personally would have enjoyed knowing these things up front.  But maybe faithful readers have had enough recap and this factor is just a reflection of that. 

I am the type of mystery reader that likes the actual murder to happen within the first two or three chapters. The murder in this novel happened at coincidently 50% through according to my Amazon kindle device. I figured at 20% I must have missed the murder and went back to the beginning and reread back to the point where I had stopped.

Some of the flashbacks seemed awkward and oddly placed in the book. I think maybe a prologue with a an overarching flashback would have been enough for me or maybe someone from the past who could have related the info about Tom's past. I hate to say this but those flashbacks seemed a bit of the lazy way out. 

Also the Pennysaver blurbs at the beginnings of chapters seemed to err on the side of only the happy positive facts and none of the hard hitting news.  How about a little objectivity? Town news is town news. 

I am usually a lot more impressed with Kensington Publishing titles. I believe I will choose another book in this series since some series truly need to be read in chronological order. I am not saying this book was horrible. It wasn't. It's decent. The mystery was complete and red herrings placed appropriately. I guess it just lacked a bit of flair and personality. All in all it was just okay for me. I don't give too many 3 stars. 

The one thing I didn't understand was the title of the book. Yes, there was a candy corn bottle in the book but it had nothing to do with the murder. I think a more appropriate title would have been something pumpkin related considering the murder disrupted the Pumpkin Festival. 

Like I said, I will definitely give another book in this series a try since nearly every Kensington book I have read has been awesome. 

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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson

A Muddied Murder
(A Greenhouse Mystery #1)
By Wendy Tyson

4 Stars

It took me a few minutes to get into this book but as it went along these characters grew on me slowly like a seedling sprouting out of the ground. Each and every page matured the story to a more beautiful whole. As the characters developed and settled into my mind, I realized how you just need to give a new series a chance to impress you. And impress me, it did. 

Megan Sawyer did what many seem to be doing these days. She chucked her big city lawyer job for a life that was simpler, joyful and working closer to the earth. It takes a lot of courage to make such a drastic change in life and this makes Megan a great role model.  I enjoyed learning about organic gardening and came to appreciate people's passion for it. 

When it came to the murder and some people's attitudes, I have to admit, it gave me stress. I think that shows just how well-rounded the characters are. No cardboard people in sight. 

I think the murder could have been solved earlier if Megan's grandmother had been more open with her. But family, hey, you sometimes just have to deal with their quirks and deeply held beliefs. 

I enjoyed the ride while reading this novel and had a few marathon sessions just to find out what the heck was really going on. I look forward to any new mysteries surrounding these characters. Take a bite out of this mystery. It is well worth it and will satisfy. 

I did have one question, though. Why was the series called Greenhouse Mystery? Seems to me it was more of a farm than a greenhouse. I liked how Denver kept referring to Megan as a "gentleman farmer."

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Model Undercover: London by Carina Axelsson

Model Undercover: London (Model Under Cover series #3)
by Carina Axelsson (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Goodreads synopsis: From designer to detective
Posing as a model gets Axelle the kinds of connections that make her the fashion elite's go-to detective. Her newest case? The attack on famous fashion photographer Gavin Tempest that's left him in the hospital. The police may have ruled it a mugging, but Gavin's sister has special intel for Axelle that points to something more sinister...and when clues start pointing to people in high places, things get dicey for Axelle. Because fashion isn't the only thing that's killer in this case...


4 Stars

Nancy Drew has nothing on Axelle. This mystery is complex and twisting like the cobblestone roads in London. Just when you think you know where it's all going, you take a left turn or hit a dead end. Axelle is a model running the cat walk. It is every girl's dream... it's just not Axelle's dream. She longs to be a detective. So she delves into mysteries that only a model could solve. No other person would be allowed among the beautiful people. Axelle strikes a pose and gets the job done.

This is the third book in the Model Undercover series. And I enjoyed this one as much as the first two. The mystery had me stumped. I wish I could have seen the photographs because Axelle had a much bigger head start than the reader did. I think this series would make a big splash on television. I hope to see it there some day.

I enjoyed the play between the rockstar, Josh and Sebastian. I seriously began to think Axelle might want to take a chance on Josh. They play cat and mouse during most of the book but Sebastian is always by her side, his Watson to her Holmes. 

I loved the backdrop of London and found it cool to see how they get back and forth a city of such size. Axelle never disappoints and I look forward to her next mystery which I believe is set in Milan.

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

BOOK REVIEW: Shards of Murder by Cheryl Hollon

by Cheryl Hollon (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 23rd 2016 by Kensington

Goodreads synopsis: 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…


4 Stars

I have to say, Cheryl Hollon really knows the stained glass business. It is interesting to read about all the complexities that go on in a glass shop, besides murder, I mean. The mysteries that Hollon weaves are as stunning as glass creation that would win best of show. I am hooked on this intriguing series.

While Savannah Webb is judging the Spinnaker Arts Festival Art Show, she meets an interesting couple of artists that she tries to choose between. When the girl she awards best of show is found dead, Savannah and her "posse" set forth on a mission to solve the murder and take Savannah out of the cross hairs of the police.

The twists and turns this mystery takes and how full-blooded the characters are just make this a breeze to read, a definite jewel among the clear glass. You should check this out if you love crafting, mysteries or just want to up your Goodreads goal. This one goes by quickly and is greatly satisfying.

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

BOOK REVIEW: Death by Tea by Alex Erickson

by Alex Erickson (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Kensington
Goodreads synopsis: Mystery lovers have descended on Pine Hills for this year’s book club competition, to be held at Krissy Hancock’s bookstore cafĂ©. But the killer in their midst seems determined to outwit all the armchair sleuths—and send Krissy to the remainder bin forever.
   Just before two dueling book clubs are set to square off at Death by Coffee, one of the competitors turns up dead—bludgeoned with the silver teapot that was to serve as the prize. Suspicion immediately falls on Krissy, who was seen skulking around town in dark clothes on the night of the murder.
   To clear her name and find the real killer, Krissy turns to an old flame, Officer Paul Dalton. But even Paul can’t ignore the trail of evidence that seems to point in her direction. And with Krissy’s personal nemesis, Officer John Buchannan, working overtime to pin the murder on her, it will take an amazing feat of detective work to close the book for good on an elusive killer. 


5 Stars

Death seems to follow Krissy Hancock around. In book one of this series, the murder happened inside the bookstore/cafe called Death by Coffee. And in this second offering by Alex Erickson the dead body is also found in the bookstore. Dueling bookclubs compete for the coveted silver teapot and in this quest for glory someone ends up dead.

Erikson weaves a very interesting mystery that takes our lead character down a few dead ends while having the police give her the third-degree even though they figure she is completely innocent since she had only met the dead man the day before. 

Sometimes you open your eyes and you think, "What? That's crazy." And then I remember that a whole lot in this world is crazy and that isn't unthinkable to have the police treat her in such a way. The man that she is most interested in, Officer Paul, son of the police chief, keeps his distance while a creepy officer is riffling through her underware drawer and threatens to throw her in jail at every turn. It is up to Krissy to solve the murder and clear herself and her reputation from the bloody stains of murder.

This book was great. I truly enjoyed all the twists and turns it took. I look forward to the next book in this author's arsenal. If you see the name Alex Erickson in a bookstore ile, definitely pick it up.

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

Trust No One
by Jayne Ann Krentz (Goodreads Author)
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Putnam Adult

Goodreads synopsis: It's no coincidence when Grace Elland finds a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. The bottle is a terrifying—and deliberate—reminder of the horrors of her past.
   Grace retreats to her hometown to regroup and tries to put everything she's learned about positive thinking into practice—a process that is seriously challenged on the world's worst blind date.
   Awkward doesn't begin to describe her evening with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright. She has nothing in common with a man who lives to make money, but the intense ex-Marine does have some skills that Grace can use—and he's the perfect man to help her when it becomes clear she is being stalked.


5 Stars

It's been a long time since I've read a book as good as this one. It kept my attention on all levels. It fed my need for a cozy mystery. It tickled my romantic funny bone and it was long enough that I knew the mystery would be complex enough to keep me interested for the long haul.

Grace hasn't kept a job as long as she had with motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. When she discovers his dead body, she isn't sure what the future will hold for her. All she knows for sure is that she needs a new job and she is one of the main suspects of the murder.

She meets Julius Arkwright on a blind date and enlists the bored financial planner to help her plan her own new future as well as try to solve the murder of her dead employer.

If you find this book in the least bit intriguing, then definitely pick it up. You will not be disappointed.

I bought this book with my own money.