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Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Book Club Murders (Oakwood Mystery #1) by Leslie Nagel


The Book Club Murders

ebook, 224 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Alibi



Goodreads synopsis: 
In a charming cozy mystery series debut, Leslie Nagel’s irrepressible small-town heroine finds that her fellow mystery book club members may be taking their Agatha Christie a bit too literally—and murder a bit too lightly.

Charley Carpenter has poured heart and soul into her clothing store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. She’ll do anything to make it a success—even join the stuffy Agathas Book Club in order to cultivate customers among Oakwood, Ohio’s wealthy elite.

Although mixing with the most influential women in town has its advantages, Charley finds the endless gossip a high price to pay. But after two women with close ties to the Agathas are brutally murdered, everyone falls under threat—and suspicion. When key evidence indicates that both murders are the work of the same hand, Charley realizes that the killer has arranged each corpse in perfect imitation of crime scenes from the Club’s murder mystery reading list. She uses her membership in the Club to convince Detective Marcus Trenault to use her as an inside informant. Not that he could stop her anyway.

Intelligent, fearless, and every bit as stubborn as Marc is, Charley soon learns the Agathas aren’t the only ones with secrets to protect. Passions explode as she and Marc must race against time to prevent another murder. And if Charley’s not careful, she may find herself becoming the killer’s next plot twist.

***

4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Oakwood Mystery series by Leslie Nagel. I think the name the Agathas Book Club Mystery series would be a more appropriate series title, but that is just me.

This is a schooling on how to plot the perfect murder using your favorite mystery novels. It seems someone in the Agathas Book Club is killing off people tied to their membership. They are cleverly using scenes from the books on the book club’s exclusive list. Detective Marcus (Mark) Ternault is on the case and Charley Carpenter, the owner of the Old Hat Vintage Fashions store and Agathas member is right by his side. These two have an on again, off again type of relationship. But the more Charley sticks her nose into things, the more annoyed Mark gets. He is confused by his growing feelings for Charley and her involvement in the case.

Until the killer’s identity was revealed near the end, I had no clue who it might be. I think I was zoned in more on the relationship between Mark and Charley than following the clues to the mystery.m I enjoyed  how they used the plots in books to set the murder scene. I can’t wait to get to book two in this series and see where everything goes from here. Definitely liking a majority of the players here. Such a fun series. It is one I want to continue to follow.

If you love a good cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

House of Lies (Cat Carlisle, #3) by Terry Lynn Thomas


House of Lies 
(Cat Carlisle, #3)

ebook, 300 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2020 by HQ Digital





Goodreads synopsis: 
From the USA Today bestselling author of THE SILENT WOMAN comes a new Cat Carlisle mystery!

In a time of war, nowhere is safe…
While World War Two rages, Cat Carlisle runs a women’s refuge to protect beaten wives. But when one of the women is found dead in the woods behind the house, Cat’s world shatters.

Was the killer a violent husband seeking revenge? A secret lover? Or is something more dangerous at play? Because Cat and her fiancĂ© Thomas have a secret: they’re hiding a precious golden chalice, keeping it locked safely away from the plundering Nazis until the war is over. But someone wants that treasure, and no one will be safe until they get it…

***

5 Stars

This is the third book in the Cat Carlisle series by Terry Lynn Thomas.

Wow, what an intense and great historical cozy mystery!

This is my first foray into the world of Cat Carlisle. Set in the 1940’s in refuge for suffering women, Cat accepts wayward women into her home.  One such woman has a husband who is a very bad man who figures prominently in the case her boyfriend and officer of the constabulary is working concerning a jeweled chalice.

We are also introduced to Hugh and his wife Margaret. The book starts off with their story and since this was my first venture into this world, I originally thought they were the stars of the show. I discovered later that this was Cat’s book. Hugh has been separated from his partying wife and has just found out she swindled him out of much of his inheritance. Thanks to his mother’s interference, she didn’t get all his money but his mother put him on a stipend that would reign in their spending, During this time there is food rationing and some people are going without a lot of the necessities. This was a interesting side step into the couple’s life and I am not sure it had a ton to do with the mystery of the book. But it did play a slight part giving us a great amount of background.

The mystery started with a death of one of the girl’s at Cat’s woman’s refuge. They learn this woman was taking advantage of Cat’s kindness and using her. This story took the long way home so to speak. We learn all sorts of things about these people. The setting and cast is amazing, I loved the entire atmosphere.

I hope there are more books after this one but it almost felt like an ending of sorts.

If you love a good historic cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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.

Hostile Pursuit (Hard Core Justice #1) by Juno Russian - Harlequin Intrigue


Hostile Pursuit

ebook, 256 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2020 by Harlequin Intrigue




Goodreads synopsis: 
When ruthless killers target them,even a safe house isn’t safe.

Only twenty-four hours remain until marshal Nick McKenna’s informant, Lori Carpenter, will testify against a powerful drug cartel. Nick has kept her safe for an entire year, but now all hell is breaking loose. With a team of cold-blooded assassins closing in, the by-the-book lawman decides to go rogue. He’ll risk his life for duty…and put it all on the line for his irresistible witness.


***

4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Hard Core Justice series by Juno Rushdan.

This was a pretty intense book. It begins when Lori Carpenter is hours away from testifying against Vargas, a man who is the head of a drug cartel. Vargas has hired assassins to stop Lori from ever getting to the courthouse. Her witness protection is Nick McKenna. He has spent nearly a year protecting Lori. But there is a mole in the witness protection program and every move they make to protect her, the bad guys always find them.

The second POV of this book is that of the killer, Belladonna. As the book wears on we are gifted with a bit of insight about her and her own struggles. We feel compassion for her and that is unusual in a book like this. I would certainly like to see her crop up in other books in a similar position.

This book was quite thrilling and ran at a break neck pace that really kept you interested and invested in discovering who was behind it all. The identity of the mole was pretty surprising and shocking. And the scenes with the McKenna family were some of my favorites.

I definitely want to read more from this author. I truly enjoyed this roller coaster ride.

If you love a good romantic suspense, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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, February 25, 2020

The House of Memory (Pluto's Snitch #2) by Carolyn Haines


The House of Memory

Kindle Edition, 318 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Thomas & Mercer



Goodreads synopsis: 
Raissa James not only sees the dead but she’s caught the ears of the living—especially now that she’s solved her first case. Word of Pluto’s Snitch, her private-investigation agency specializing in the occult, has spread far and wide. It’s even come to the notice of Zelda Fitzgerald, the nation’s most celebrated flapper. And Zelda’s in need of its services.

Along with Reginald Proctor, her partner in detection, Raissa travels to Montgomery, Alabama, where Zelda’s friend Camilla has suddenly become prone to violent fits and delusions. Has Camilla gone mad…or has she been possessed?

Raissa and Reginald soon discover that Camilla’s not the only young lady in the area to fall victim to something unnatural. Now it’s up to the Snitches to follow the clues and save Camilla, locked away behind the walls of the formidable Bryce Hospital asylum. But the key to her rescue might not lie among the living at all. Because Raissa knows that the dead have their secrets, too.


***

5 Stars

This is the second book in the Pluto’s Snitch series by Carolyn Haines.

I am not sure why I have never heard of this series before. It is an amazing piece of work. I just love the whole concept of the spooky, paranormal-ish series set in the 1920’s flapper age.

Raissa James and her cohort Reginald Proctor are called in to assist the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda. Her friend, Camilla is soon to be married but when she went to the new estate her soon to be husband bought for her, she turned unexpectedly violent and tried to kill him. Now she has been put into an asylum to have part of her brain cut out to make her more docile. Zelda wants to help her friend and has called in Raissa and Reginald to figure out what is really going on.

I think I like the setting almost as much as I did the whole mystery of it all. The setting almost becomes its own entity here and I am enthralled with this new to me series. I plan on doing a marathon as soon as I can compile all the rest of the books in the series.

Loved this so much! You think you know who is involved and then there is a twist at the end that blows your theories out of the water. So good! I hope more people discover this stellar series!

If you love a good cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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, February 24, 2020

Special Gifts by Anne Stuart


Special Gifts

Kindle Edition, 214 pages
Published August 28th 2019 (first published January 1st 1990)




Goodreads synopsis: 
A dangerous man . . .

The man who’d broken into Elizabeth Hardy’s Colorado house was no lost ski bum. Her inexplicable and intuitive powers, those unwanted gifts, were always vague, but she knew that much. Sam Oliver was tall, dark, and deadly—a liar and a trickster, and she’d finally found a man she couldn’t ignore.
Off limits . . .
She didn’t look like a fraud and a liar, and after years in Army Intelligence Col. Sam Oliver should know. Instead Elizabeth Hardy was a pale, vulnerable-looking waif, though he didn’t buy her innocent act. He’d always made it a rule to keep his hands off his targets. Some rules were made to be broken.
Unanswered questions . . .
With a young housewife missing and presumed dead, there were no simple answers to any number of questions. Why did the missing woman look exactly like the also-missing daughter of the secretary of state? Why did Elizabeth want to trust him, why did Sam suddenly want to believe in psychics? For God’s sake, why couldn’t they resist each other?
And the biggest question of all: would they survive to find out what was going on between them? Or was all hell about to break loose?


***

4.5 Stars

This book was first published under the Silhouette line back in 1990. I am assuming it is being re-released with a new cover.

This story certainly didn’t get rusty with age. 

Elizabeth Hardy works with a local investigator to uncover insights into unsolved cases. She has a sort of psychic gift that assists her. Intuitive flashes and key details come forth to her but not without a price. Her health suffers after every psychic encounter.

Sam Oliver comes in after one of Elizabeth’s intuitive insights brings forth the code name of a government’s covert group which has now been taken over by terrorists. Elizabeth’s missing person case and the one Sam is working on overlap. Apparently, the missing girl looks very similar to the President’s daughter and she is also on the missing list.

Sam was not a likable guy most of the time during this story. I am not certain had I been in Elizabeth’s shoes, I would have chosen the same path she did.

This is a bit of a hate to love story with a happy ending which I always like. Good stuff.

If you love a good romantic suspense mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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.

Altered to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #6) by Christina Freeburn


Altered to Death

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published November 28th 2017 by Henery Press



Goodreads synopsis: 
Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

***

4.5 Stars

This is the sixth and last book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series by Christina Freeburn. 

In this book Faith has been hired by the city council to create a town historical scrapbook. While in the midst of finding fodder for her pages, a skeleton is found on the grounds of the founding family’s estate and this discovery uncovers a whole can of worms. Even Steve, Faith’s ex-boyfriend, gets in on the act. 

I didn’t quite understand why Steve quit his previous job. I got the impression during the book that he was a bit shady in his business and he hadn’t previously in other books displayed this tendency. I thought since he and Faith were still friends he would be more open about what was going on.

I enjoyed getting to see more townspeople in this installment. The mystery was compelling and I was laughing as Faith got stuck on the root mere feet from where her soon to be groom was standing. Funny stuff.

At the end of the book five, Ted proposed to Faith, and I am sort of annoyed that whole scene took place off camera, so to speak. I would have loved to see the proposal in the pages of the book. I think we, the fans, deserved to see that precious moment since it was one of the milestone things that happened in the series.

I am totally going to miss this series since this crafting type mystery is one of my favorite genres in the cozy mystery realm.

Great series start. Loving this scrapbooking/crafting cozy atmosphere.

If you love a good cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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.

Cropped to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #1) by Christina Freeburn


Cropped to Death

Paperback, First, 290 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Henery Press (first published November 16th 2012)



Goodreads synopsis: 
Former US Army JAG specialist, Faith Hunter, returns to her West Virginia home to work in her grandmothers' scrapbooking store determined to lead an unassuming life after her adventure abroad turned disaster. But her quiet life unravels when her friend is charged with murder – and Faith inadvertently supplied the evidence.

So Faith decides to cut through the scrap and piece together what really happened. With a sexy prosecutor, a determined homicide detective, a handful of sticky suspects and a crop contest gone bad, Faith quickly realizes if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next one cropped.

***

4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series by Christina Freeburn.

I am not sure how I missed reading this book. I think I must have started the series at book two and have been jumping around ever since. I can never manage reading a series in order. It was nice to see how it all started. Wow, Ted was a bigger jerk in this one than he was in book five. I didn’t think that would be possible. I liked getting so much backstory here. It answered a lot of my questions about Faith and Ted’s past.

Faith gets stuck trying to solve the mystery of why her best friend is suddenly accused of murder and some cropped photographic evidence falls into her hands right at the beginning. She spent most of the book asking herself why she hadn’t taken out the trash the previous night. Detective Ted Roget is new to town and has something to prove to himself and to his new community. He needs to solve this case and make a better name for himself.

It was nice to see imperfect people in imperfect circumstances. Faith was trying to get away from her past and so was Ted. It was really like watching a live soap opera and you never knew what might crop up next. A love triangle was started in this book that would have consequences throughout the series.

Great series start. Loving this scrapbooking/crafting cozy atmosphere.


If you love a good cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 

Masked to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #5) by Christina Freeburn


Masked to Death

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2019 by Harlequin Romantic Suspense



Goodreads synopsis: 
A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising toward Davy Jones’ Locker

***

4.5 Stars

This is the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series by Christina Freeburn.

I have to admit I was not the biggest fan of Ted Roget during this book. That is unusual for me since I have a detective book boyfriend in nearly ever cozy mystery series I read. I had been jumping around in this series and did not read it in the correct order. Sometimes reading in order can make a big difference when understanding romantic dynamics.

Basic premise: Faith went on a cruise with Ted under the guise of meeting his family but what she found almost seemed to pull the couple apart forever. Ted’s young daughter hated her. She tried during the entire cruise to get her parents back together and thus thwarted Faith’s attempts to find alone time with Ted at every turn. I loved that Ted’s dad, John, ended up on the cruise as well and elicited Faith’s help in his own case involving a jewel theft ring. 

I was surprised at how much trouble Faith found herself in while on a cruise ship. I guess you never need to stray far when a mystery wants you to solve it. I am totally enjoying this series and I fear that after book six this story might be over and that makes me sad. I am totally digging this series and would love for it to continue.

If you love a good cozy mystery, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. 


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.

Colton on the Run (Coltons of Roaring Springs #9) by Anna J. Stewart


Colton on the Run

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2019 by Harlequin Romantic Suspense





Goodreads synopsis: 
A mysterious woman… And a killer on the lose
When he finds a half-dead woman stranded in his barn, rancher Leo Slattery feels his blood run cold. Though she can't remember who she is, she insists someone is trying to kill her. Leo brings her into his home and helps her heal. As they begin to solve the mystery of Jane Doe’s identity, a would-be killer works to eliminate her—forever.

***

4.5 Stars

This is the ninth book in the Coltons of Roaring Springs by Anna J. Stewart.

If you have been following this series at all, you know that Skye being missing was a plot point in a number of other books. This book shows you what happened to Skye and why they thought her kidnapped by the Avalanche Killer.

Skye Colton has been kidnapped and stashed in a shed on a property on the outskirts of Roaring Springs, Colorado. She has no memory of who she is or how she even came to be in the predicament she found herself in. Once she escaped her confines and broke the shed window, she escaped from the property and ran as if her life depended on it. She could trust no one. But when she came onto the property of new rancher Leo Slattery, she found shelter in his barn. The next morning Leo discovered the distraught woman and took her into the shelter of his home.

This book took a bit to unwind since Skye was so freaked out by her situation. Leo was overly patient and I am sure not many men would have given Skye so much time to get her head back on straight. He refers to Skye as Jane through much of the book so be aware.

It was great to finally get a glimpse into what happened to Skye. I am glad it was such an involved story and gave Skye a whole new outlook on her life once she remembered who  she really was.

Still loving everything Colton. Bring on more!

I am reading this series as part of the Read More Paperbacks Challenge to myself.


If you love a good romantic suspense book, you have to check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.