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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery #6) by Suzanne Trauth

Killing Time
(A Dodie O’Dell Mystery #6)

Paperback, 218 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Goodreads synopsis: 

With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O'Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim's neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight--not unlike the bat who's recently been spotted in the town park.

But everyone's blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She'd better keep her wits about her, though--or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .


4 Stars 

This is the sixth book in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series by Suzanne Trauth.

The premise: During the production of Dracula put on by the town’s local theater company, a stranger ends up dead in the cemetery from what looks like a stake to the heart. Dodie had been transforming her restaurant to echo the needs of the Dracula production but is sidelined when she realizes she needs to figure out what is really going on in her town.

I thought this was a pretty good read. The mystery was compelling and the setting at Halloween/Thanksgiving time was nice. Always a plus to have a holiday book to cozy up with. The Dracula aspect was very gimmicky but it worked for me.

Dodie sure did take a lot of needless chances with her life in this book. When it ends, she is a pretty banged up restaurant owner. I wish there had been more Bill in this book. The main police presence was a woman on the force who works with Bill. I know this is cliche but I like it when the men come in and rescue the damsel in distress. And Dodie needed that strong shoulder to rest upon more than once during the course of the story.

There is a nice twist at the end but the real culprit didn’t shock me. I was kinda expecting it. Needless to say, that didn’t keep me from completely enjoying myself. A wonderful Halloween read that ends up with a thankful vibe at Thanksgiving. Nice.

If you want to read a good cozy mystery, definitely 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, April 29, 2020

Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries #2) by Kaye George

Deadly Sweet Tooth 
(Vintage Sweets Mysteries #2)

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020 by Lyrical Press

Goodreads synopsis: 
In a darling tourist town like Fredericksburg, Texas, a vintage sweet shop offering delicious old-fashioned favorites is a perfect fit—until someone decides to debut a recipe that’s lusciously lethal… 
With Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets finally—well, almost—turning a profit, Tally Holt is taking one busy Saturday off to host a grand party for her parents, traveling performers who spend most of their time on the road. Tally’s counting on the publicity and free treats to attract new customers. And the event is a sweet success—at least until Fran Abraham, the town’s foul-tempered theater director, drops dead after a bitter confrontation with Tally’s mother.

Murder was definitely not on Tally’s menu, but it’s clear that Fran’s death wasn’t natural. The list of possible culprits includes not just Tally’s mom, but her protective dad too. Relying on Yolanda Bella, her best friend and the proprietor of Bella’s Baskets next door, for help, Tally will need to unwrap the sticky pasts and unsavory presents of everyone from her own parents to her new hires before Fran’s death sours everybody on her fledgling shop….


4 Stars 

This is the second book in the Vintage Sweets mystery series by Kaye George.

The premise: Tally’s parents are always on the road performing. So when they come to town, one of the town’s own, a theater director named Fran, ends up dead. And with the suspect pool so large, Tally’s parents are at the top of the suspect list.

This book has a bit dual perspective but I am not sure that was their initial intention. Tally is the main POV but the basket shop owner, Yolanda had some scenes where she was front and center too. That alone made it a a bit difficult to jump back and forth. I think I would have enjoyed it more if Tally was the only POV character.

Tally doesn’t really follow the cozy rules of the basic mystery. Things around her just seem to happen without her being involved in the actual whodunit plot. I wish she had done some true investigating. I mean, come on, do you not want to dig up dirt on your parents in order to keep them from going to jail? Really? The situation surrounding her parents was pretty much dropped after they fell off the police’s radar. I would want to personally know what was bothering Tally’s mother so much that she had to keep facts from her daughter.

The best part of this was the vintage sweets and they really didn’t stand out as much as I thought they would. Book one did a better job of making the sweet shop shine.

When the real killer was revealed, I didn’t totally understand why they did it. Maybe I need to go back and reread the final section of the book. I still had my mind on all Tally’s parents issues.

The ending of this seemed a little odd too. Tally is running to escape and suddenly the scene shifts and her parents are somewhere else doing their traveling. I was like, wait a minute, why would they skip over that? To me, that would have been the best part to see how it all shook out, watch them get arrested and see what the killer’s motivation was. I have read enough of these to know something was missing from this book. But that doesn’t make it horrible. I just wanted more. I wanted clarity. I wanted the characters to leap off the page and make me want to live there. I didn’t get that from this. This series is still in its infancy so I am holding out hope this will snowball into greatness.

If you want to read a good cozy mystery, definitely 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, April 28, 2020

From Cinderella to Countess (Harlequin Historical) by Annie Burrows

From Cinderella to Countess
(Harlequin Historical)

Paperback, 288 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2020 by Harlequin Historical

Amazon synopsis: 
From Cinderella in the shadows

To countess in the spotlight?

Lady’s companion Eleanor Mitcham longs to escape her unhappy life. The only bright spot is her employer’s nephew, Lord Lavenham, but she’s been told she’s too lowly to speak to him! When he suggests they teach his interfering aunt a lesson by marrying, Eleanor assumes he’s joking, especially given his cynical view of marriage! Perhaps fleeing is her only hope for a fresh start. Why, then, is Lord Lavenham hot on her heels?


4.5 Stars 

This is a book in the Harlequin Historical line by Annie Burrows.

I thought this was a good story and I really enjoyed it but it felt like it took the long way home as far as the plot went. Some of the sections were longer than I wanted them to be. The wrap up near the end where the couple finally got together were rather agonizing moments as we pondered their ultimate fate.

I wish Eleanor had been able to find a way to open her uncle’s eyes to see what it really means to take care of his family. The fact that he was a pastor and was clueless was not lost on me.

The whole sections with the Duchess were indeed odd but interesing. A bit long winded for my taste but nice. I was hoping that when the Duke finally appeared there would be more drama around him. But he was rather strangely silent. I wanted the author to dig into his character more. Maybe there is a future book awaiting him. Seems like a great candidate.

Overall, the story was pleasing. It did tend to go round and round so much it made me dizzy with relief when it was finally over. I think an epilogue would have been a nice touch here so we could see where their relationship would go a bit into the future.

If you want to read a good historical romance, definitely 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.

A Call for Kelp (Seaside Cafe Mystery #4) by Bree Baker

A Call for Kelp

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 295 pages
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by Thomas & Mercer

Amazon synopsis: 
It's sink or swim for Everly with her most bizarre case yet!
Everly Swan is busy as a bee running her beachside iced tea shop, and the small island of Charm, North Carolina is abuzz-Mitzi Calgon, an iconic Hollywood actress, is in town! Everly's great-aunts are making a documentary about beekeeping and Mira has agreed to help. But when the actress turns up dead, reporters and fans swarm the island, muddying the water and disrupting the peaceful lives of the townspeople.
Everly's never been good at minding her own beeswax, so she starts following her own leads and combing through the evidence. Then there's the mystery of Detective Hays-ever since their kiss under the mistletoe, he's been acting distant. And he's annoyingly determined to keep Everly away from the case. But when she receives a cryptic warning to "Bee Careful", Everly realizes that she's gotten herself into a really sticky situation...


4.5 Stars 

This is the fourth book in the Seaside Cafe series by Bree Baker.

The premise:  A Hollywood actress, Mitzi Calgon, who is a friend of Everly’s great aunts, is killed. The woman is in town to save the American Honey Bee and it appears on the surface that it was the bee population that killed her.

Everly owns a tea shop where she makes many speciality teas from scratch daily plus a few foodie items. She has started a blog and it has been successful for her. Recently she has been doing video tutorials which has brought more traffic to her site.

The relationship between Everley and Detective Grady has a been a bit on the tentative side and they really don’t know where they stand after their last kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. I do like these two together and wish more interaction between the two in the future.

The characters in this are really likable and I enjoyed getting to know them as the book went on. The mystery was just so spot on and that little app thingie her friend gave her to vlog her cooking for her YouTube channel was a great tool that had me on the edge of my seat when it came to the forefront of the mystery at the end of the book. What a great gimmick!

I really love this series and it just keeps getting better. The characters are charming and friendly plus the plot is complex enough that it keeps you guessing until the end. This book really gives the reader a great sense of community that I really like. Definite kudos!

If you want to read a good cozy mystery, definitely 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.

Dark Tomorrow (Lisa Tanchik #2) by Reece Hirsch

Dark Tomorrow

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 295 pages
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by Thomas & Mercer

Goodreads synopsis: 
FBI special agent and cybercrime specialist Lisa Tanchik faces a deadly threat in this white-knuckle thriller.

FBI special agent Lisa Tanchik is skilled at handling cyber threats, having recently taken down a Dark Web black market worth billions. But ruthless hacker NatalyaX always seems to be a step ahead.

The government calls on Tanchik’s expertise when an email attachment causes a fatal seizure at US Cyber Command. But before she can get her feet under her, the entire East Coast goes dark. A sinister plan is unfolding before her eyes—and no one knows who’s behind it.

Tanchik plunges into chaos to hunt down the true source of the attacks. Close dealings with shadowy figures both online and off expose her to extraordinary danger as the country teeters on the brink of catastrophe.

A soldier on the front line of a cyberwar, Tanchik must nullify the threat before it deals a death blow to America’s institutions—and puts millions of lives in jeopardy.


4.25 Stars 

This is the second book in the Lisa Tanchik series by Reece Hirsch.

The premise:  Lisa is an FBI special agent and she is after a Russian sleeper agent who know an uncomfortable amount of intel about her. She is a threat to national security after power grids go down in the dead of winter. She must be stopped.

This story takes place in the midst of a national crisis where different utilities are targeted by the Russians. The book centers around Lisa Tanchik as she tracks this sleeper agent with the help of a Russian colleague. 

This book can be read as a standalone but it is a part of a bigger series. It is easy to see how this character can be expanded into more novels apart from this one. She just works. Her attitude is right and it draws us into the drama. This lady is tough with a mind of her own. She is no nonsense and brave. Strangely enough the Russian sleeper agent shares many of these qualities too which makes them a good pairing to go against each other. In the end, you feel sorry for this jaded woman and cheer her on as she stumbles toward an eventual victory.

This is definitely a series I want to continue with. I am totally intrigued!

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.

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Of Literature and Lattes

Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by Thomas Nelson (first published May 2020)

Goodreads synopsis: 
Katherine Reay returns to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.


4.25 Stars 

The premise:  Two people destined to meet come together in a small town each with their own baggage they need to work through before finding their happily ever after.

Alyssa is broke and has no job or job prospects after her employer was fingered for doing inappropriate things with the medical information of their clients. Alyssa is good with numbers and making them talk and make sense. When she moves back home to Northern Illinois, she gets to work helping her friends and their businesses. But she has a little issue with her Mom and having a real conversation that doesn’t end up in an argument.

Jeremy, however, moves to Winsome to be with his young daughter after a breakup with his wife which came before the book began. He wants to set up roots here for them both but his ex isn’t making it easy for him. He just wants a great family life and a business that can keep him in enough money to make it month to month.

This book is tough at times. It speaks of the difficulty of friendships and family and how it isn’t always a piece of cake. Alyssa and her mother don’t see eye to eye. Jeremy and his friend Ryan are at odds with his new coffee shop business. Trust is hard to come by in this book and communication  is even harder. 

This book is about how the family you choose may not only be bound by blood but by heart. This isn’t really a romance or a mystery. It is more like life lived out with all its messy parts and unhappiness and successes. It speaks of family, community and how that is what can really heal your soul.

Not sure if this is a standalone since it was left on a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. Great read. Definitely want to know more.

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.

Death by Auction (Abby McCree Mystery #3) by Alexis Morgan

Death by Auction

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Goodreads synopsis: 
Not only did Abby McCree inherit her aunt's house in Snowberry Creek, Washington, she inherited a handsome tenant and a whole lot of trouble . . .

It's hard to say no to Tripp Blackston. That's how Abby found herself on yet another committee, organizing a bachelors' auction to raise money for Tripp's veterans group. The former Special Forces soldier is mortified when Abby enlists him to be one of the prizes, but she has a covert plan to bid on him herself. Before she can, she's foiled by a sniper bid from a gorgeous stranger, who turns out to be Tripp's ex-wife, Valerie.

Still reeling from the shock that Tripp was married and wondering what his ex is suddenly doing in town, Abby goes looking to pay the auction's emcee, radio personality Bryce Cadigan. She finds him in the parking lot, dead in his car. Valerie appears to be the last one to have seen Bryce alive, so she's the cops' best bid for suspect. When she asks Tripp for help--and lodgings--it's Abby's turn to block by inviting Val to stay with her. But did she just open her home to a murderer?


4 Stars 

This is the third book in the Abby McCree mystery series by Alexis Morgan.

Basic premise:  Abby sets up a Bachelor Auction at the request of her friend, Tripp. The master of ceremonies is not such s nice guy and he ends up dead in the parking lot right after the event and Abby finds his body.

Abby McCree is a complex character. She has taken over a large house after the death of her Aunt Sybil who was pretty notorious in her day. Her Aunt had a tenant named Tripp and a large Mastiff named Zeke. These two were pretty much forced upon her in the beginning (book one). Now Abby is starting to have feelings for Tripp and wants to bid for him at the Bachelor Auction. But Tripp’s ex-wife, Val, shows up and offers a whopping $5,000 bid for the luxury of dancing with him at the event. When Abby is looking later to give Brandon, the master of ceremonies, his check, she sees Valerie and the MC have heated words and go outside to talk. Not long later Brandon is found dead by Abby still in his car from a fast acting poison.

This book is easy to follow and the mystery whodunit part was well done. But I don’t completely understand the dynamic between Abby and Tripp. I can’t decide if they like each other or just tolerate each other. It would be nice to have a second male love interest available in town to shake things up a bit. I wonder how old Chief Gage is Tripp is still in college and taking classes but that does not necessarily mean he is young. So it is difficult to ferret out an age here. Maybe a secondary character romance would be nice. Abby seems like a singular person who doesn’t really have a lot of interaction with people. Even though she organized this bachelor event, the sense of real community is missing. I wonder why Abby’s quilt guild isn’t mentioned  more. I think they were more of a presence in book one.

The ex wife was brought in as a foil to Abby and her true intention and details about her were left till the bitter end and it made it harder to guess who was and wasn’t a suspect. I wish Abby had been a bit more nosey. I think we need something added to shake up this series. It is a good read. I enjoyed it but it felt a little on the bland side. I do, however, look forward to reading the other books in this series.

If you are looking for 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.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Descended from Shadows (Book of Sindal #1) by D.G. Swank, Alessandra Thomas

Descended from Shadows

Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Sixpence Publishing

Goodreads synopsis: 
For centuries, Phoebe Whelan’s family of witches and mages has guarded the Book of Sindal, a tome filled with spells so evil it could destroy the world. After their parents’ death six years ago, it’s up to Phoebe and her older and younger sisters—Rowan and Celeste—to guard the book with their magic and their supernaturally fortified land. But Celeste’s expression magic is wild and untamed, and without their mother’s calming influence, Celeste is slowly going mad.

When the book—and Celeste—go missing, the Valarian Small Council believes Celeste stole the deadly book of spells. When they assign Captain Brandon Cassidy, the head of the Magical Protective Force and Phoebe’s former high school crush, to look for book, and things get a whole lot more complicated

Soon it becomes apparent a dark force has taken the book, which will only open with the blood of all three Whelans. The Dark Set has the strongest sister, now it needs the blood of the other two. Brandon’s mission quickly changes to include her protection, but Phoebe’s goal has remained the same—find the book and her sister, prove Celeste’s innocence, and let nothing get in her way, including her reawakened feelings for the man at her side.


5 Stars 

This is the first book in the Book of Sindal series by DG Swank.

Basic premise:  Three girls are responsible for the caring of an evil magical tome. They each have their part in conjuring the protection. Celeste has been acting odd lately and when she goes to do her part of the ritual, she disappears and the sisters cannot connection to her via their special bond.

This is the first book in the series so they had a lot of world world building to do. I thought it was all super interesting. The magical elements are a great add on but the story itself is just spot on. This book featured Phoebe Whelan and we get to know a lot more about her power and her connection to a young mage who is now on the Protection Force, Brandon Cassidy. The book pretty much sticks with these two. But there are times when we get glimpses into the story of the other two sisters.

Totally enjoyed this. Definitely finishing the series. I bought this via my Kindle and the book was a reasonable price for such a great series.

If you are looking for a good magical mystery, definitely check this one out.

Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse (Marygene Brown Mystery #2) by Kate Young

Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2020 by Kensington

Goodreads synopsis: 
On Georgia’s picturesque Peach Cove Island, a killer is serving up a two-for-one special . . .

After their mama's passing, Marygene Brown returned to Peach Cove Island to help her sister Jena Lynn run the family diner, renowned for its homemade peach desserts. But Mama is never too far away—her sassy spirit haunts the island, and more specifically Marygene. Lately Mama has been warning her that the dead will seek her out to solve their murders, an idea Marygene is far from peachy keen on.

But that prophecy appears to be coming true when she goes skinny-dipping off the island and swims right into a woman's charred corpse floating in the waves. And when Marygene and her brother Sam come upon a second burned body in a wine cellar at an event they're catering, it appears they have a double homicide on their hands. It soon turns out the victims have more in common than their charred remains, and Marygene will need to double down to find a killer who has no aversion to playing with fire. Good thing Mama has her back . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!


4.5 Stars 

This is the second book in the Marygene Brown mystery series by Kate Young.

Basic premise: Marygene gets caught skinny dipping by one of her  more senior neighbors and runs smack dab into a burned dead body. Then later when she has recovered some and is working on catering a shindig, she finds another body in the basement of the house … which is also a crispy corpse!

I really enjoyed this book. It has the ghost of Marygene’s mother running around giving her clues here and there. Plus she decides to call it quits with her police officer boyfriend who is not only slacking on the job but getting it on with another gal. A new officer to town, Javier starts out as a foil for Marygene but very quickly grows on us and we know that there will be more of a relationship in future books.

Marygene really deals with a lot in this book. She has finally gotten everything how she wanted it. Then her relationship went to crap, her house got burned down with the perfect kitchen she had always dreamed of.

This is the first book I have read in this series and I do plan to read further on. The mystery was just so spot on that I really have to read book one next! This is a great series to follow for sure!

If you are looking for 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.