Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: MURDER UNCORKED (Wine Lover's MysterySeries #1) by Michele Scott

About a month ago, I posted a review of MURDER BY THE GLASS, the second in the Wine Lover's Mystery series.  As indicated, I liked it enough to back up to the beginning of the series and find out how Nikki got her job at Malveaux Wineries... so here's MURDER UNCORKED:


Nikki Sands was like every other aspiring actress—waiting tables between jobs. But Nikki had taken serving wines to heart. She knew enough to impress Napa Valley’s golden boy, Derek Malveaux, who offered her a job at his vineyard. And though Nikki may have left her dreams of stardom behind, the world of wine is ripe with intrigue—and the seeds of sleuthing are planted…

Nikki has just set foot on Napa Valley’s rich soil when she realizes her new job may not be as safe as she thought. First off, Derek Malveaux is disconcertingly sexy. Second, his top winemaker is dead in the bushes outside Nikki’s cottage. It doesn’t take a connoisseur of foul play to know something’s taken a terrible turn…


Nikki doesn't exactly like her job as a waitress but the bills need to be paid. She's also not stupid and isn't quite sure Derek Malveaux is being completely honest when he offers her a job and a weekend to try it out at his winery. But bills need to be paid. She didn't count on the dead body or her reactions to Derek. She isn't sure who to trust or not, particularly when it comes to some of Derek's family members.

This first book details not only the murder mystery - it provides some background on the step brother and his partner, the step-mother and others without being tedious. The plot is well-developed with enough, but not too many suspects. Guess I have a few more books to add to the TBR list...

The Wine Lover's Mystery Series



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blog Tour: OLIVER TWISTED (An Ivy Meadows Humorous Mystery Series) by Cindy Brown

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (June 21, 2016)
ISBN-13: 978-1635110418

Orphans. Thieves. Murder. And an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet!

When Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her PI uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield.

But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and—oh yeah—there’s a corpse in her closet.

Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), amateur sleuth books, book club recommendations, humorous murder mysteries, private investigator mystery series.

Books in the Ivy Meadows Humorous Mystery Series:



Ivy and her uncle go undercover to catch thieves. Ivy's an actress so performing Nance in the director's version of Oliver Twist on a ship with everything Dickens themed should be easy. But Ivy's barely got her feet wet and she discovers a dead body in her closet. More annoying is that her uncle is distracted by Bette but her uncle doesn't want to hear suspicions about the lady.  The bigger problem is that the more Ivy finds out the less she trusts anyone, especially after the second body.

Between Ivy's fears, the not-quite Dickens aspects, and Oliver, Brown threads in humor along with the tension of determining if the deaths - either or both - are murder and somehow related to the thefts. The pace of the story is good and the antics of the orphans and Oliver as well as the adult characters make this an enjoyable read.  Although this is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.
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Twitter handle: @friendlybrown
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Book Review: THE SWEET SMELL OF MURDER (A Chocolate Centered Cozy Mystery) by Cindy Bell


Ally Sweet is happy to be returning for a short break to the small town where she grew up. She is planning on using the time off to get over her messy divorce and she is looking forward to spending time with her much-loved grandmother and relaxing making chocolates and anything chocolaty.  

But then… the delivery driver for her grandmother’s chocolate shop is found murdered. The detectives investigating the crime have a prime suspect, Ally’s high school sweetheart, Brent. Ally believes that Brent would never murder anyone, so with the help of her trusted feline friend, Peaches, she tries to uncover the truth.

The search for the killer leads Ally straight into the line of danger. Will she be able find the murderer before she becomes a victim herself?

Triple Chocolate Muffin Recipe Included!


As a chocolate lover (aka chocoholic), I couldn't resist this series. THE SWEET SMELL OF MURDER is the first in the series and introduces Ally Sweet and her grandmother, as well as Ally's high school sweetheart. The small town atmosphere and strong family ties make for a light, albeit idealized, setting for a murder. As with many, the story has some predictability, but it was a fun, quick read with chocolate, romance, and mystery that could be enjoyed by readers from teenagers to seniors. Nothing to offend any age reader. I hope to try out the recipe, but was glad the whole book wasn't filled with them.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Blast: BODY OF THE CRIME by Jennifer Chase

We're so excited to be hosting Jennifer Chase's BODY OF THE CRIME Book Blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

About the Book:

Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Genre: Crime Thriller

Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction.

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—turbulent and deadly.

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?
Body of the Crime is available at Amazon.

Book Excerpt:

THE DENSE PINE AND OAK trees made a semi-circle pattern in the forest. Dried leaves blew in the breeze, swirled around like unique pieces of confetti, cascading downward, and finally resting on the ground.
The isolated location seemed serene and picturesque, which lent to the stark contrast of the woman’s dead body.
Her long brown hair hung straight and spilled down over her shoulders and slender body. Each strand appeared to have been carefully washed and combed precisely in place. The unknown woman wore a light blue button-down sweater that remained in an orderly fashion with every button fastened, and it was pulled down to cover her belly. Her arms gently placed over her chest, each finger laced next to the other. Tucked carefully underneath her hands was a stem with a pale pink flower that looked like a daisy, now wilted. The victim’s fingernails scrubbed clean, and her hands lacked any jewelry or identifying marks.
Upon a quick glance, it seemed that she was merely daydreaming. Looking closely, her fixed dull eyes gave the undeniable lifeless gaze. The relaxed expression on her face seemed almost contrived and had a peculiar quality to it—even a ghostly facade.
From the waist up, the woman looked like she had taken a nap after a morning of running errands or after coming home from a luncheon with friends. The woman was in a carefully posed position that told the story of an organized killer who was in complete control, but that was where the structured behavior of the murderer abruptly stopped.
In a disturbing contrast, the horrifying viciousness of what was left of the bottom half of the body was the aftermath of a long, torturous assault from someone completely out of control. It suggested a perpetrator who lacked any impulse control and mental stability. 

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist.  She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the multiple award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master's degree in criminology.  These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. 
She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

Visit Jennifer Chase’s website.

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.
Media Contact: Dorothy Thompson Pump Up Your Book P.O. Box 643 Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336 Email:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Blog Tour: TEA CUPS AND CARNAGE (A Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon

Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Lyrical Underground (June 7, 2016)


The kettle’s about to boil over . . .

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there’s nothing cozy about murder . . .

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi’s sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi’s name—without getting herself in hot water.

Jill has her hands full between her Aunt, a missing deposit, a festival, library event, and her business. Enough to keep her busy, but when someone is killed, she can't help but try to figure who did it and how it relates to Kathi, the ex-pageant queen. Greg tries to discourage her and the local seer of sorts tells her not to make any decisions about relationships. There's a wild motorcyclist giving motor clubs a bad name and the cranky antique dealer, and somehow Jill knows these are all connected.

There are subplots and many relationships, with twists and turns, some leading to dead ends. Characters are well developed and I hope there is more story on Toby, Sasha and Nick. Those who like a bit of romance with their mystery will not be disappointed.  Although part of a series, this can be read as a stand alone. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU (A Lauren Beck Crime Novel) by Donna Huston Murray

Lauren Beck’s friends, phone, home, credit and credibility are gone, severed with surgical precision by an enemy intent on framing her for murder. Is it one of the insureds she was hired to investigate? The fellow employee she upstaged? Does the daughter of her landlady and dear friend, Corinne Wilder, hate her even more than she thought? Whoever targeted her should beware. A former cop and cancer survivor knows how to fight for her life.


Lauren Beck is trying to get her life back after being told she is cancer free when her friend, the person who supported her through her fight for cancer doesn't make it. That's bad enough but Corrine's daughter receives a call that accuses Lauren of killing her mother and police officers Lauren worked with before the cancer are now investigating the death and Lauren as the prime suspect.

Lauren just keeps fighting, but there has to be some mastermind behind the events that follow as her credit is affected, her bank account wiped out, and she has nowhere to turn. Fighting for survival before keeps her going despite odds against her. 

The plot is well-developed with twists, turns, and complex paths that Lauren investigates. I look forward to reading more in this crime series. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Post by FRANKIE BOW, author of the Cursed Canoe...

Today it's my pleasure to have Frankie Bow, author of THE CURSED CANOE andother books, as my guest.

Let’s talk about campus murder mysteries.

I love reading them and writing them. What is it about academia that makes it such a compelling setting for murder? I have some ideas.

Clashing agendas. Professors want to enlighten the world with their teaching and their research. Like Christa’s psychologist sleuth Sheridan Hensley, they focus on searching out the truth. Administrators, on the other hand, need to keep the dollars flowing in, and the legislators and trustees off their backs. This may require some skillful editing of the truth:

“Our position is, yes, Mister Yamada, your wonderful idea for a Golf Course Management major is going through, and before you know it, we’ll be putting out graduates who are ready and willing to work at your resort. And also, no, Senator Kamoku, of course we’re not considering offering a major in golf as a taxpayer-subsidized sop to our most powerful trustee. The very idea.” (From The Invasive Species)

Different worldviews. Naturally, everyone on campus agrees on striving for “excellence.” It’s in the University Strategic Plan, after all.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the same definition of “excellence.”

“Dr. Rodge,” as he tells his students to call him, doesn’t give midterms or final exams, assigns no homework, and gives A's to everyone who signs up for his Human Potential class. I can’t force Rodge to “maintain academic standards worthy of our university” (Hanson’s words) or “teach a real college class and knock off that feel-good bull****” (Hanson’s contemporary, Dr. Larry Schneider). As long as Rodge shows up when he’s supposed to and stays out of trouble with the students, there’s not much else I can do. Especially not when the Student Retention Office keeps nominating him for the campus-wide teaching award every year. (From The Cursed Canoe)

Imbalance of power. Students may feel powerless, but to the administration, they are customers.

So true... and now let's talk about THE CURSED CANOE:

2nd Book in Series
Cozy Mystery
Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press (February 23, 2016)


Professor Molly Barda investigates a mysterious paddling accident, and realizes it isn’t just business majors who cheat to get what they want. Whether it’s moving up in the college rankings, getting a seat in the big canoe race, or just looking out for themselves, some people will do whatever it takes-including murder.

About the Author, Frankie Bow

Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.

In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: LIKELY SUSPECTS (Alexis Parker Book 1) by G. K. Parks


Leaving the Office of International Operations seemed like a great way to avoid bureaucratic hassles, red-tape, and murderous psychopaths. Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way they should.

Meet Alexis Parker, former OIO operative, currently trying to make a name for herself in the private sector. With a limited job history, the state of the economy, and her own internal struggle concerning her competence as an investigator, Alex is forced to take the only job she is offered.

Enter eccentric, playboy, CEO James Martin. Martin Technologies is a multi-million dollar corporation that James Martin has nurtured from the ground up with his workaholic tendencies. But now that Mr. Martin's life is being threatened, what's a guy to do besides hire an attractive, feisty, former federal agent to be his new security consultant and personal bodyguard.

As Alex attempts to navigate the minefield of potential suspects, she gradually begins to uncover an underlying conspiracy that has been brewing at Martin Technologies for almost half a decade. Anyone could be involved, making all of Martin's closest friends, acquaintances, and employees possible suspects. What starts out as a single death threat quickly morphs into a plot to overtake his entire company. Once the pieces start to fall into place, things begin to explode, both literally and figuratively for Alex, as the physical danger looms ever more menacingly overhead. This outwardly simple case quickly becomes something neither Alex nor Martin ever imagined as the situation continues to escalate rapidly out of control. It will take all of Alex's training and instincts to be able to track down the criminal mastermind and stop the assassination plot before it's too late.

Likely Suspects is the first full-length novel in the Alexis Parker series. It's a witty page-turner, containing sharp dialogue, three-dimensional characters, and nonstop action that will keep readers intrigued until the very end.


When Alex takes the job with Martin Industries, she does so with reluctance but with a sense that her previous colleague must think something is going on and the threats are not just part of James Martin's eccentricity. Alex does her job and she's good at her job, but Martin is not always the most cooperative of clients. As the story unfolds, Martin's idea of having Alex appear to be his latest fling rather than a security consultant doesn't sit too well with Alex.  Then there's his older secretary who warns her off, the other executive who hits on her, and the increasing severity of the threats. 

As promised in the synopsis, the story moves quickly and the pace escalates to match the level of danger to Martin and Alex. Although Martin initially comes off as egocentric as well as eccentric, his personality gains depth and by story end, I liked the man. The character of Alex is well-developed as well. I especially liked Marcal although he is a minor character but important. If you like suspense with romance, then as the body count rises, you will like this book. This is NOT a "clean read" and if you are offended by profanity you will not like this book.   

For me, the major downside is that there are at least 9 in this series, not to mention 3 prequel novellas! My ever growing TBR list is groaning!

Prequel Novellas (Available as boxed set as OUTCOMES AND PERSPECTIVES before Alexis leaves the agency and goes solo)


Books in the Alexis Parker Series