Category Archives: Reviews

Review of books

My Musing ~ 19 Souls by J.D. Allen

19 Souls by J.D. Allen is the first book in the NEW “Sin City Investigation” private investigator series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, coming February 8, 2018

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie’s brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel’s real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the “perfect life” for the only man she’s ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he’s driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.

This fast-paced, action packed drama grabbed my attention immediately, quickly becoming a page turner as I could not put this book down until the last page was read. From the start, the narrative was gripping descriptive as the voices of Jim, the private investigator and Sophie, the serial killer was heard, giving me a better perspective on their personalities. The premise was suspensefully intoxicating keeping me in tuned to all that was happening. The author took me on a captivating ride as I didn’t know what Sophie would do next and it was Jim’s response that had me rooting for him to overcome his misstep. Where the drama holds me is in the psychological game that Sophie believably plays and the determination of Jim to make it right. Overall, a good rocking thriller that is rivetingly dangerous.

Buy Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

My Musing ~ What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix

What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix is the first NEW book in the “Willa Pennington” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, coming January 8, 2018

Favors are for suckers, especially when they lead you straight to a dead body

Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she’d be safe.

But she couldn’t have been more wrong, because Willa’s real problem is that she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And people really don’t like that.

Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has netted her a dead body, a missing person, and an old friend who just may be a very bad guy. If whoever is trying to kill her would lay off she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.

What starts out as a simple request turns into something precarious and Willa who is struggling with her own self-being, is caught up in multiple intensifying situations, that had me enraptured as I followed her story in this riveting debut novel.

The author did a great job in creating a flawed, gutsy, stubborn, pain in the butt protagonist and a narrative to support said heroine, that kept pulling me in deeper and deeper into this action-packed and suspenseful tale with each page turned. There were some tense moments that gave me pause, but once again, the author pulled it off with great aplomb.

Headstrong, you betcha. Personable, yes. Professional, yes. And yet, Willa continues to thwart those in command as her search for a killer puts her in the crosshairs of a much larger case which could jeopardize others. I enjoyed this tightly woven, multi-plot drama that had my adrenaline pumping and at the same time embracing the dynamics of Willa, her friends and family.

This book is a great beginning to what I hope will be a long-running series and I look forward to the next exploits with Willa and her friends.

Pre-Order Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

My Musing ~ The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page is the 24th book in the “Faith Fairchild” mystery series. Publisher: William Morrow, coming December 5, 2017

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.

For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.

Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”

Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.

Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as “Murder by Death” and “Deathtrap.”

I’m intrigued by the premise of this book. The pacing and comfortable tone was on par with how this story was told. In a expertly defined whodunit, we ponder who is doing what to whom as multiple secondary characters are dead instead of the person who wants Faith to solve his upcoming murder. A very mystifying plot that keeps me looking deeper into what is going on. Then there is another subplot involving her best friend’s family, that had me watching every incident to see how it would play out and my suspicion was justified. The author has a way with the narrative that had me immersed in the play-by play activities as every action and reaction moved the story forward. I enjoyed all that I read and that surprising twist at the end, bravo as I did not see that one coming. Great job, Katherine. This is one of the best book in this endearing series and I look forward to more adventures with Faith and her friends.

Buy Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

My Musing ~ A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes is the first book in the NEW “Keepsake Cove” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, November 2017

Callie Reed pays a long overdue visit to her aunt, Melodie, at her fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, which is home to a bevy of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of the music box shop she owns. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being ruled accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she in the shop in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

I love visiting small quaint town and Keepsake Cove is one where we find Callie Reed mourning the loss of her aunt. What appears to be an accident turns into something sinister when the pieces starts falling in place and it’s up to Callie to bring a killer to justice.

I liked the pacing and the comfortable tone of this book which made it easy to follow and kept me entrenched in all that was happening. The narrative was visually descriptive putting me in the middle of all the action. The suspect list was plentiful, and the author gave just enough clues to keep me intrigued in all that was possible, but it was that perfectly timed clue that gave me the “aha” moment and I enjoyed watching it all play out with this wonderful cast of characters as the killer’s identity was revealed. A terrific first book in the series and I can’t wait to read more about Callie and her friends and that small quaint town of Keepsake Cove.

My Musing ~ Cremains Of The Day by Misty Simon

Cremains Of The Day by Misty Simon is the first book in the NEW “Tallie Graver” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, October 2017

There’s no reverse on the hearse . . .

For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn’t have to be around dead bodies. Until . . .

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie’s friend Gina’s shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she’s receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that’s enough to cast a pall over anyone’s day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess—before she finds herself in a grave situation.

This was a fun book to read. Tallie has downsided her status by cleaning houses and working for her father when she finds her employer dead. In trying to clear her name, Tallie begins an investigation with the help of a long ago friend and in the process, her name is attached to another dead body. What’s a girl to do?

The premise of this book was intriguing and I liked how the author set this up with this murder and mayhem. The mystery was nicely done with with a killer hiding in plain sight, but it was the clues dropped throughout that made kept my interest growing as I had to know how this was going to end. There were a few twists and turns that set things in motion for Tallie to figure out who was behind the murders. I enjoyed meeting Tallie’s family and friends and the interaction between was engagingly entertaining, especially those with Max. This is a welcome edition to the cozy genre and I can’t wait for more adventures with Tallie and her friends.

My Musing ~ Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson

Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson is the third book in the “Greenhouse” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, coming November 14, 2017

Smell the crisp pines and baking cranberries as you sip your hot apple cider. It may be the season, but the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly.

Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. So much so that she braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs. And then she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road.

But this woman is no stranger to Winsome. It’s Becca Fox. A love chemist (you read that right). She’s headed to her aunt’s house to sell her love potions at holiday events. Or so Becca thinks. Her sneaky aunt only invited Becca home to reunite her with her estranged father. It sounds noble and kind-hearted, until the man ends up dead.

Megan soon finds herself in the middle. She realizes Becca’s not the only one getting iced over. Megan’s own aunt, the famous mystery author, is dragged into the drama. Her novels implicate her and she’s in trouble.

Now it’s personal. Our Megan must follow a cryptic trail of literary clues, all while sifting through the victim’s sordid past. She gets closer to the truth as the murderer gets closer to her. How’s that for a ho ho ho? Don’t let your fresh apple crisp burn in the oven because you’re lost in this holiday homicide.

Masterly written, I found myself consumed by all that was happening from the simple pick-up of a stranded motorist to the arrival of a dysfunctional family that played a hearty part in this engaging tale of murder, mayhem and the intriguing involvement of Megan’s aunt.

I love a book that immediately pulls you in and this one does the job with visually descriptive narrative that gives just enough to whet your appetite to continue reading. The pacing was on par with how well this multi-plot story was being told, quickly becoming a page turner as I had to know who was doing what to whom. The author did a great job in staging this lighthearted drama with a list of suspects who have a strong motive and it was fun narrowing down the list until there was only one person left standing. But it was the one chapter that had my heart soaring with emotions as I visually watched the scene transcend across time as the two characters took their moment. Boasting a superb cast of characters, great dialogue and a feel-good atmosphere, this was the best book in this delightfully endearing series.

Buy Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Double Deck The Hall by Gretchen Archer

Double Deck The Hall by Gretchen Archer is the second book in the “Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper” Short Story series. Publisher: Henery Press, November 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. The trees are trimmed, the halls are decked, and Davis Way Cole’s grandmother is there to play in the Winter Wonderland Senior Slot Tournament.

This year’s theme: The Nice List. All is merry and bright until Granny Dee meets an elf who belongs on the naughty list.

Maybe even the downright nasty list.

With nothing more than a lifetime of memories, the sounds of the season, and what she can find in the pockets of her Rudolph jogging suit, can Granny Dee save Bianca Sanders from the rotten elf, and in the process, save Christmas?

Granny Dee may try to save Christmas, but trust me, of all the characters in this non-stop page-turner, Granny Dee steals the show.

What happens when you put Bianca, Granny and an elf in the same room. Why you get an amusing tale that will delight Davis Way fans. When a situation needs to be diffused, call on Granny as she’ll get the job done. This was nice short story with Granny taking center stage in this fast-pace and easy read that kept me entertained from beginning to end. Now we know where Davis gets her smarts and ingenuity. Thanks to the author for this terrific caper.

My Musing ~ 16 Millimeters by Larissa Reinhart

16 Millimeters by Larissa Reinhart is the second book in the “Maizie Albright Star Detective” humorous mystery series. Publisher: Past Perfect Press, October 2017

In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. A sleuthing background starring in a TV show– Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective–does not cut the real life mustard. It doesn’t even buy her lunch, let alone extra condiments. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, is not a willing teacher. He’d rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job and handle the security solution-ing himself. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. First, win Nash’s trust. Second, his heart.

That Maize is one fun character. Babysitting; a dead body or two; amusing antics; and a fast-paced read is wrapped up in a multi-plot mystery that I could not put down until the last page was read. With visually descriptive narrative, humorous quips, witty repartee and a quirky cast of characters, this was a such a fun book to read and I enjoyed watching Maize tackle the situations that she found herself in. The mystery was nicely done and when I thought I had a handle on the person responsible, the author strategically placed twists and turns that had me going in another direction, all to enhance the telling of this tale. From Nash, to her job, to her mother, Maize proves her determination to succeed in her chosen aspiration and it’s a fun ride watching her and I especially like the sparks between her and Nash. This was an engagingly entertaining book and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Maize, Nash and the rest of the gang.

My Musing ~ The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society by Ellery Adams is the first book in the NEW “Secret, Book & Scone Society” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming October 31, 2017

From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book . . .

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over . . .

This is another fine book by Ellery Adams. Taking place in Miracle Springs, North Carolina, the visually descriptive narrative immediately pulled me in as I had to know happens next. The plot dictated the coming together of the main characters whose secret created a bond when it was needed to spurn them into action upon learning of a man’s death. The author cast a spell on this reader with a mesmerizing tome where vulnerability is accepted and draws strength from camaraderie, like no other. The pacing and comfortable tone synchronized on an even keel with how effortless this story took hold of my being. The mystery kept me intrigued as the story moved forward and the author did a great job in setting the stage for the motive and the revelation of the killer’s identity, which had me shouting Bravo, well done. This is a wonderful book and I can’t wait to see where we go next with this group of friends.

Buy Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.