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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review of Double Up by Gretchen Archer


Double Up
by Gretchen Archer (Goodreads Author)

Kindle Edition, 262 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Henery Press


Goodreads synopsis:

On behalf of USA TODAY bestselling author Gretchen Archer and the entire Henery Press crew, welcome aboard flight DOUBLE UP. Fasten your seatbelts for non-stop action as stiff competition blows into town and the resulting turbulence threatens to take down the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Super Secret Spy Davis Way Cole, who lives on the twenty-ninth floor of the hotel with her CEO husband and newborn twins, takes it hard. If the casino goes belly up, she won’t be a stay-at-home mom because she won’t have a home. Not to mention her husband won’t have a job. 

Davis can’t find a way to stop the inevitable end of the Bellissimo life she loves until her ex-ex-mother-in-law shows up, unexpected and definitely uninvited. Davis makes the best of a bad Bea Crawford situation and recruits her for a little corporate espionage work, which would’ve been great, had Bea not turned out to be the world’s worst spy. 

Ever. 

Seatbacks and tray tables in their upright positions as we prepare for a bumpy ride with babies, bankruptcies, besties, and shrimp. (Shrimp?) 

Enjoy your flight. 


***

4 stars

Davis Way starts out the book married to Bradley and fast-forward nine months has twin babies to care for. Needless to say, she is no longer the super casino spy girl and now a full-time mommy.

The first problem that crops up is a new casino is built next door on property previously owned by the Bellissimo. They were told it was supposed to be a football stadium but there was a bit of an illusion since the entire facility was covered until it was revealed and by then it was too late. Davis blames herself for letting the construction get so far. She was distracted by her new family and let her job fall by the wayside. The new casino was built and glitzier than ever. Not to mention, it was taking all the Bellissimo’s business including most of its employees.

Davis was in a bit of a post-baby birthing fog which was finally lifted when her ex-husband’s mother shows up on her doorstep wanting to see her grandbabies. (Even though, technically, she wasn’t related to them at all.) 

The aggravation of  having Bea around knocks some sense into Davis. She is now out of her brain fogged stupor and ready to figure out how to save the Bellissimo from financial ruin.

I have to say that I really love this series world that Gretchen Archer has created. They are filled with a lot of suspense and nail-biting drama. Bea alone can give anyone a major case of stress headaches. Reading one title makes you yearn for more. I will always recommend anything from Gretchen Archer.


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

Review of Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier


Turkey Trot Murder
by Leslie Meier (Goodreads Author)

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Kensington


Goodreads synopsis:

It’s late autumn in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and the last surviving flowers on Lucy Stone’s porch have fallen victim to the first frost of the season. But as the part-time reporter learns, this cold November morning will claim more than potted plants . . .

Besides the annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day, Lucy expects the approaching holiday to be a relatively uneventful one—until she finds beautiful Alison Franklin dead and frozen in Blueberry Pond. No one knows much about Alison, except that she was the daughter of wealthy investor Ed Franklin and struggled quietly with drug addiction. Police blame her death on an accidental overdose, but Lucy can’t understand what terrible forces could lead a privileged woman to watery ruin . . . 

Alison’s funeral service is just as puzzling. Many believe Ed’s young—and very pregnant—new wife, Mireille, divided the family, leaving Alison to wither on the vine. Did Mireille truly adore her stepchild as Ed claims, or did she pit father against daughter for personal gain? 

As a state of unrest descends on Tinker’s Cove, Lucy is thrown into a full-scale investigation. Now, in a race against time, Lucy must beat the killer to the finish line—or she can forget about stuffing and cranberry sauce . . .


***

4 stars

The saying: “You never really know someone until they are gone” seems to resonate with this book. No one really seemed to know the victim well enough to make a reasonable deduction about her character traits or flaws.

The title opens with Alison Franklin going out from her morning run. When she makes the split second decision to run around Blueberry Pond, she has unknowingly sealed her fate. Little did she know there was a lot of drug activity around the pond and this fact makes many people in her life make assumptions as to why she was running there. She is approached by a woman who asks her to save her dog who had apparently fallen beneath the ice. Alison knows the ice is too thin. She doesn’t actually see said dog but she walks out anyway and of course, her fears are confirmed and she falls beneath the ice too. Not sure why this woman didn’t call the police for help but that will all wash out in the end.

Our protagonist, Lucy Stone, reporter for Tinker’s Cove local newspaper, finds the body of Alison and like any good investigator after she calls the police she calls in the story.

After the reports of Alison’s death hits the gossip grapevine, all sorts of theories as to why she died are waffled about. Everyone has a theory, even her father, who pretty much blames everyone not American in town, which is ridiculous. Most of the people he focused on were technically more American than he was.

This book was pretty good. I was able to catch the flow of the text which really speeds up how quickly I can read a book. I appreciate flow in a book. Watching the fallout from Alison’s father’s anger was kind of annoying but expected based on his assumption the Mexican drug runners had a hand in her death. Franklin’s anger and his job as a health inspector has ripple effects when a Mexican family wants to open a new restaurant in town. Franklin makes it his mission to put them out of business even though no one knows for sure if any of them or the Mexican cartel were involved. Having a mysterious killer behind it all made me evaluate everyone as I went along wondering the entire time whodunit and why.

I enjoyed this book and have already purchased a few more titles from the author. I am lucky that my local grocery store has a small offering of cozy mysteries and I pick up a few from time to time. This one was a winner for me. Kept me guessing the entire way though.


I bought this book with my own money.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book Review: Silken Threats by Addison Fox


Silken Threats
by Addison Fox (Goodreads Author)

Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Harlequin (first published January 30th 2015)

Goodreads synopsis:

Everyone has secrets, and some will kill to keep them buried...

It started with a break-in. And though normally wedding dress designer Cassidy Tate could have handled it, having Tucker Buchanan's strong arms, quick wits and great dog as backup was reassuring The former army engineer turned architect was the perfect guy in an emergency--and the fact that he was willing to pick up the pieces was even more appealing.

Because it turned out it wasn't a simple robbery. Someone was after something in the shop Cassidy and her fellow bridal boutique owners shared. Now Tucker didn't want to let Cassidy out of his sight. But was that to protect her--or claim her for his own?


***

3 stars

I have been a big fan of Addison Fox books in the past which is why I chose to read this one. But it didn’t do anything for me this time.  After reading the excellent “House of Steele” series, I felt let down with this. The quality wasn’t the same.

This title didn’t capture me and pull me full force into the world of the drama. This is sad since I really liked the author’s work previously. I just couldn’t get into the flow of the text. And I know that could be all me since I have been under a lot of stress at work and the focusing aspect of my brain wasn’t always in the fullest of effect.

I love a mystery and this had a good one. This story started off with a bang… literally. And the male point of view character was there to assist and begin the story. I personally was more interested in the mystery portion of the story than the romance. So when all the kissy-face stuff started, I was turned off immediately. 

I know you are saying to yourself “why did she pick up a Harlequin book if she didn’t like romance?”I have found in the past that the books in the Romantic Suspense series are much more suspense than romance. I guess I got used to that format and took it for granted.

The basic premise of the book is that a secret held by some old-timers, one of whom owns Cassidy’s building, comes to light and puts Cassidy and her friends in danger. Tucker’s expertise and friends come in handy to assist with solving the mystery before anyone gets killed.

Overall, it was good. Decent. A solid book. I just couldn’t catch the wave of the flow of text and that was probably my own fault. I really enjoyed the mystery and would have liked to see that fleshed out a bit more.

If you love a bit more romance than mystery in a story, then this book is for you. Otherwise definitely check out her House of Steele series. You won’t come away disappointed.


I bought this book with my own money.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Makeup Addiction Renewed


I just recently got back into makeup. The fact was: my skin wasn't looking great and I hadn't focused on any self care in years. I remembered how much better my skin looked when I was washing my face every night and putting on lotion morning and night.

I started that routine nearly a month ago and I can really see a difference in my skin's texture. It looks less creapey and more supple and nourished.

Plus, I am having fun playing with the different eyeshadow palettes i have acquired recently. See photo above from my recent Kohl's haul.

If you are interested in knowing what shadows I have been using you can follow me on Twitter. My handle is Tonispywriter.

I hope you are having tons of fun with your makeup. Sending you many blessings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Makeup Reboot - The Armchair Beauty Sleuth is Revived


Makeup Reboot
Drugstore Makeup Haul from my first blog post in 2013.

It’s so bizarre to stand back and watch the beauty community implode one little dig at a time. Jaclyn Hill and Tati are just a few of the people everyone is talking about right now. It is hard to know who is right and who is wrong and what is truly going on.

I am a novice armchair beauty sleuth and I got into makeup in 2013 at the age of 45. Before that I barely used makeup. I think I had a pink shimmery Cover Girl single shadow. I owned a drugstore blush that I loved but never knew the name of to ever repurchase. And a blue eyeliner that I put in my waterline because that is what you did back then. 

So, to see all the drama going on in the beauty community is a little strange. Hard to believe that these people make so much money just making videos and putting them on YouTube.

I watched a lot of these videos in 2013 and 2014. This in turn caused me to go out and buy loads of makeup. This was makeup I knew I would never need, but it was cool to have it even if I was the only one who knew I had purchased it.

Naked 1 & Naked 2 palettes, Urban Decay Vice 2 palette, Stila “In The Light Eye” palette, Nude-tude by The Balm were just a few I dropped quite a bit of change on. Even with all these shiny new things, l lost my interest in making up my face in late 2014 and returned to my usual no makeup look. And all these products I had accumulated in a year and a half (most of which were barely used) just sat in my collection. 

In the end, I find that I am a basic drugstore makeup kind of gal. I love Maybellene, Cover Girl, Loreal, Almay, Rimmel among others. Many of my favorite staples are in these brands. I guess I really just needed to branch out and see what was there before I could appreciate what I already had.

JAMbeauty89’s Jessica Braun said recently that she was watching a decluttering video and the gal had one well loved makeup palette, one lipstick and one blush. She found that astounding since she has drawers and drawers full of makeup and continues to get more each day via PR packages from makeup companies.

I am already overwhelmed by what I currently have in my collection. I can’t imagine being a beauty guru and having all that to deal with too.

I am going to start going through my collection and weeding out the old outdated stuff and creating what Andrea Matillano calls an everyday makeup drawer. And from using things on a daily basis, I will decide what really works for me and what doesn’t.

Here are the products I have been using this week:

Saturday: Maybelline Lemonade Craze palette

Sunday: Maybelline: Burgundy Bar palette

Monday: Rimmel London Glam Eyes Trio in Orion & Wet N Wild Trio in I’m Feeling Retro

Tuesday: Loreal Treasured Bronze quad with a transition color from Avon’s True Color quad in Mocha Latte

Wednesday: Almay’s Intense I-Color Liquid Shadow for hazel eyes.

I am just easing myself into the makeup thing. I have only been doing my eyeshadow right now. Maybe later I will delve into foundation and such. Wish me luck on my journey.

Hope you’re having a great makeup day today without any controversy.








Monday, September 10, 2018

Book Review: Confessions of a Red Herring by Dana Dratch


Confessions of a Red Herring
by Dana Dratch (Goodreads Author)
Mass Market Paperback, 431 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation



Goodreads synopsis:

As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news.
Now she’s the headline.

Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency's double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.

Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.

Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story, and unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.

What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list.
And Alex is on it.


***

5 stars

I haven’t given a five star rating in a long time. This book was that great. I could really connect with the main character who used to work for a newspaper since I still do work for a daily newspaper. (And I do have a weakness for British chaps too.)

All the situations that happened to Alex had me involved in a plethora of emotions ranging  from fear to awe. It all seemed so plausible to happen in real life that I had to set the book down for a bit to find my bearings. This writer is that good.

She was gas-lighted and forced to work a horrible job just to get the evidence she needed to prove who had really done in her PR boss. There were a lot of characters introduced which is logical since this is book one in a series. And I think the author handled that well. 

I felt bad for her brother who had almost as many ups and downs as she did during the duration of the book. I look to see him and grandma make more appearances in future offerings from this author.

Since book one was so amazing, I kind of wonder what is up for book two. I hope it is just as awesome.

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check this one out.


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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Diva Cooks up a Storm by Krista Davis


The Diva Cooks up a Storm (A Domestic Diva Mystery #11)
by Krista Davis (Goodreads Author)
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Kensington


Goodreads synopsis:

When a trendy, underground dinner club leaves some guests six-feet-under the table, entertaining professional and amateur sleuth Sophie Winston hopes she has all the right ingredients to put a murderer on ice in New York Timesbestselling author Krista Davis's new Domestic Diva mystery . . .

Domestic diva Sophie Winston can whip up an elaborate event in her sleep, but as the hippest hostess she rarely gets to enjoy the full guest treatment. Which is why her best friend Nina Reid Norwood loops her in to the latest culinary craze: a pop-up gourmet dinner party. The celebrity chef, the epicurean menu, and the high-profile attendees are all a surprise, turning the decadent dining experience into the hottest ticket in Old Town. But Sophie's just pleased as punch that she finally has an opportunity to join her fellow foodies in some fun.

The posh party proves to be a recipe for disaster when Hollis Haberman sours spirits by bringing his own hot new dish--his young trophy wife. With Hollis's son and ex-wife in attendance, there may be more heat at the table than in the kitchen. But by aperitifs, Sophie discovers Hollis swallowing his last bits of air, and she must scramble to stop a killer before the swanky supper becomes anyone else's last meal.

Includes delicious recipes and entertaining tips!


***

4 stars

This is my first “Dva” book and I thought it was GREAT! I did not have any trouble figuring out who was who and that is amazing considering this is book #11! I have had so many books fail at this one aspect of writing.

Sophie is an event planner and somewhat of a notorious snoop in town. So, when a man she knows tells her he thinks he is being poisoned. She is on the case. Not soon enough as it turned out since the man was murdered the very next day.

The cast list of possible suspects is pretty large. And  he is not the only person to die suspiciously in the recent past. I like that there are so many suspects and the guessing of whodunit was not a breeze at all. I had no clue through most of the book who I thought might have been the killer. Kudos to Ms. Davis for excellent plotting. The writing flowed well and I didn’t feel anything was left out as the book ended. No loose ends here.

I would have liked to see a bit more of her friends and possible love interests. Since this is the first book for me, I wasn’t completely clear on those dynamics. But just excellent all around.

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely pick this one up. I will be checking out the rest of the series ASAP!

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: A Magical Match (A Witchcraft Mystery #9) by Juliet Blackwell


A Magical Match (A Witchcraft Mystery #9)
by Juliet Blackwell (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Berkley Books


Goodreads synopsis:
Witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory faces her most difficult mystery to date with a case of mistaken identity that hits close to home...

Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fiancé, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him.

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.


***

2 stars

The was murder most difficult for me. Couldn’t get into it. Nothing flowed. I assume that I had to read the previous 8 books to make anything make any sense to me. 

Not a fan. Won’t pick up this author again.


I bought this book with my own money.

BOOK REVIEW: Pine Lake by Amanda Stevens


Pine Lake
by Amanda Stevens (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Harlequin Intrigue



Goodreads synopsis:
SLEEPWALKING WITH DANGER The murder of security expert Jack King's girlfriend has haunted him for fifteen years. Returning to Pine Lake, Texas, where the townsfolk still consider him suspect, might not be the smartest move, but a killer seems to be holding up a mirror to his past. The same witness to this new murder was also present the night Jack's girlfriend dieds...but both times, she was sound asleep...Sleepwalking has gotten Olive Belmont into some sticky situations. Being the witness to both murders may have put her on the killer's list. Even so, she doesn't think the killer is Jack and is willing to help him. But will putting his past to rest ease her mind or leave her with even greater nightmares?


***

4 stars

Jack pretty much gets duped into coming back to his hometown to get closure on an old murder he had originally been charged with. And you know how small towns are… they still think he is guilty even though he was not charged with the murder in the end.

I found a few of the situations a little “out there” in the “ hard to believe” category but the story was good, the characters were interesting and the whodunit kept me entertained for most of the book.

Definitely check this one out.


I bought this book with my own money.

BOOK REVIEW: Off the Grid Christmas by Mary Ellen Porter


Off the Grid Christmas
by Mary Ellen Porter (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Love Inspired Suspense




Goodreads synopsis:
When computer expert Arden DeMarco hacks secret files and discovers evidence of treason, a price is put on her head. What started as a mission to help a friend is now a fight for her life with assassins and the FBI tracking her down. There's no time to get distracted by her brother's best friend, Kane Walker, but the security expert promised Arden's family he'd bring her safely home for the holidays. Instead they're dodging bullets—and fighting their growing feelings—while Arden races to break the encryption and find out what's hidden in the files she stole. But as they're hunted by armed henchmen determined to make sure those secrets are never uncovered, keeping Arden safe is the only Christmas gift that matters…


***

4 stars

Arden has the FBI after her. And she is stubborn. She won’t let anyone help her. The only reason Kane gets a foot in the door is that he is in the right place at the right time to assist her.

She has the proof that could put some people away for a long time. So, needless to say, they don’t want her telling on them.

A lot of running around going on in this one. I did do my fair share of  skimming but the book was good, solid. Definitely worth the read. Check it out.


I bought this book with my own money.

BOOK REVIEW: Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman


Death by Didgeridoo (Jamie Quinn Mystery #1)
by Barbara Venkataraman (Goodreads Author)
Kindle Edition, 111 pages
Published (first published November 22nd 2013)



Goodreads synopsis:
Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit


***

3 stars

I finished this book in April and hadn’t gotten around to putting in a review until now. And frankly, I cannot remember anything that happened. I even read the other reviews and nothing was ringing a bell for me. I feel bad for the author that it wasn’t memorable for me. But then again, maybe it says more about me than it does about her.

I rarely give three stars so there must have been something lacking here.

BUT …It is a free book in her series so don’t let my review stop you from checking it out. 


Book one in the series was FREE on Amazon Kindle.