Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: MULLED TO DEATH (A Colorado Wine Mystery #3) by Kate Lansing

Synopsis

A Valentine's Day getaway is on the rocks when a young winemaker discovers a body at an alpine resort in this delightful cozy mystery. 

When Parker Valentine decides to take a weekend getaway with her boyfriend Reid, a ski trip seems like the perfect choice. Between hitting the slopes and persuading the resort's wine director to sell her mulled wine, Parker is eager to mix business with pleasure. But her plans are muddled when she finds the resort owner's body on a treacherous portion of ski trail near the resort. 

As a result, not only is Parker's romantic weekend thrown into chaos, but now that the owner has died, her business deal is due for a frosty reception, and her life might be in danger as well. After a series of unfortunate mishaps befall Parker, she realizes that whoever killed the resort owner might want to tie up loose ends. Parker's going to need all of the investigative skills at her disposal to catch a killer before they put her on ice.


Review 

As Parker tries to salvage her pitch for the resort to try her new mulled wine and remember how to ski, she finds herself the only witness to a shadow in the trees exactly where Akira was killed.  There are multiple suspects and with "accidents," Reid supports her efforts to find out who is behind the murder and a threat to her. An extra layer of tension, her brother, Liam, is not so supportive and, is very vocal in trying to stop her efforts to solve the murder. 

The story is well-written and the pace is steady, with enough tension to keep me reading one more chapter, multiple times. The core characters are well-developed and Parker is smart and likable, as are Reid and Sage. The rest of the characters (suspects) develop over the course of the study with some first impressions proved wrong. 

This is the first in the Colorado Wine Mysteries I've read and it can easily be read as a standalone. I always suggest readers start with the first in the series, though, and I've added the first two to my very long TBR list. This is a new release with a special bonus of wine pairings and recipes at the end.

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


About Kate Lansing

Kate Lansing is an award-winning short-story author. Her work has appeared in the Brave New Girls anthology and the Crossing Colfax anthology. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple.




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

NEW RELEASE: KEEPSAKES, KARMA & MURDER (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #7) by Christa Nardi

Synopsis

The perfect first date. Good food, a romantic setting, good vibes. Until a woman screams and a shot is fired. 

As a trauma counselor, Stacie Maroni, doesn’t hesitate to barge through the fray. Nor does her date, Detective O'Hare. With the case falling outside his jurisdiction, O’Hare and Stacie should simply be witnesses. Emphasis on should. As contradictory information emerges, things get complicated and Stacie’s involved whether she likes it or not. Good thing O’Hare has her back.

AMAZON  - On sale for 99cents!
  
Read an excerpt:

From Chapter 1

The security system pinged and Jasper, my Maltese, alerted me I had company as I put the finishing touches on my makeup. Brush in hand, I greeted O’Hare – Michael – at the door. Getting used to calling him “Michael” would take some time. 

“Come on in. I just need to take care of Jasper…” I rambled and he put a finger on my lips. 

“Relax. You look beautiful.” He removed his finger and replaced it with his lips for a light kiss. “Let’s take care of Jasper and then get some food. I’m starving.” “You look nice, too.” 

At six foot, with brown hair and gray eyes, all muscle, O’Hare, or O’Hunk as my good friend Trina called him, easily turned heads. In the three years or so I’d known him, he’d always looked haggard, in need of a haircut, and always with the same sports coat. Not tonight. 

Jasper jumped around and we let him out. While we waited, O’Hare rubbed my shoulders and I shivered. Jasper fed and everything locked up, we left. He’d told me we were eating at an upscale restaurant in Reston, Sutherland’s Gourmet Palate. 

In the car, he asked, “How are things at Foster’s Insurance Group? I haven’t been there in a while.” 

Foster’s is where I work as an HR specialist. “I guess that’s a good thing, right? It means I haven’t been involved in any murders.” 

He laughed. “That is the positive side of it. The downside is I didn’t have any excuse to stop by and drive Rosie crazy.” Rosie is my admin, an older woman with a bubbly personality and not so much impulse control. She has the hots for O’Hare even though she is much older than him and should know better. 

“Yeah, I think she missed your visits as much as I did.” He reached over and squeezed my hand. I asked, “How about you? You’re always busy, aren’t you?” I recalled at one point thinking he must work twelve-hour days. 

“Always busy. Not always a murder, sometimes missing persons, burglary… the full range of criminal activities. And, as you are aware, crimes involving the privileged come with extra pressure to make things right faster. Most of the time, I love my job, though. It keeps me on my toes.” 

“That’s important. I don’t think I’ve ever asked you – what do you do for fun?”

 “When I have time, I like to hike, maybe go fishing or camping, get away from the day-to-day stuff. I like to dance and hang out with friends. You?” 

“Dancing, friends, skiing, yoga. Walking and hiking.” I chuckled. “I’m afraid my idea of camping is a hotel or cabin with running water, O’Hare.” 

He laughed. “No problem. I know of places in the mountains with fully equipped cabins. We may have to look into that. Uh, Stacie, I picked this restaurant for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a nice place. Also, with it in Reston and not Beckman Springs, I’m less likely to run into people I’ve met on the job. And the food is good. Only I don’t think they have rocky road ice cream or pizza on the menu. What else do you eat?” 

This was a standard joke among my friends and I punched his arm. “I eat most foods, though I never got into the fancy sauces and I’m definitely not a great cook. I ate there once on business with Lionel Smythe, Chief Rizzo, and Austin Beasley. No worries.” Lionel, Rizzo and Beasley were on the foundation board to help victims of domestic violence with me and others. 

He smiled and I sneered. “Besides, I always have rocky road ice cream at home.”

“Do you eat it with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry on top?” He pulled into the parking lot as he asked the question. Parked, he looked to me for an answer. 

“Not usually, but that sounds sinful.” His eyes twinkled at my response. 

Inside we were seated and the service was good. Once again, I experienced “sticker shock” at the prices. I ordered one of the less expensive entrees, knowing I wouldn’t finish it all. We had some wine, and ate, continuing our conversation and getting to know each other outside the context of a murder.

“How’s your father doing?” 

I smiled. “He seems more mellow since he married Deanna. She keeps him grounded. On the other hand, he must still have access to the police blotter. He calls every time there is a murder in Beckman Springs or anywhere nearby to be sure I’m not involved in it.” 

He laughed. “Thankfully, we don’t have that many in the suburbs. If you lived in a big city, that would be a different story. If I remember, you have a brother. Military, right?” 

“Good memory. Yes, Vince is career military and deployed right now. Not sure when we’ll see him again. Even when he’s got time off, he usually goes into hiding. It was good he managed to make their wedding last January. What about you?” 

“Always wanted to do police work, started out on the streets, and worked my way up. My parents constantly berated me over my obsession with my job. They still live in Maryland along with my two sisters, both younger and married with kids.” 

“Do you see them often?” 

“Weddings, births, anniversaries, and the occasional funeral. The holidays are iffy due to the job. I usually make Thanksgiving or Christmas and pop in for a brief visit for other special occasions.” 

Our conversation halted when a woman screamed. “Stay here.” O’Hare took off in the direction of the scream. A few minutes later, a shot rang out and chaos ensued. While people ducked under tables or ran for the front doors, I pushed through to find O’Hare. As I approached the hallway in back, I heard a man yell, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot.”

Excerpt from Keepsakes, Karma & Murder by Christa Nardi  Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.


About Christa Nardi

Christa Nardi is an avid reader with her love of mysteries beginning with Nancy Drew and other teen mysteries. She’s shifted to more contemporary mystery and crime authors over time, along with cozy and traditional mysteries. She especially enjoys cozy mysteries with less gore and no graphic violence. Christa supports animal rescue and other efforts to help others. She has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories to mystery series. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel and playing with her dogs and granddaughters.

You can reach me:
Twitter
   

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Blog Tour Spotlight: HOLIDAY FAKE OUT


Holiday Fake-out: 22 Fake Holiday Dates to Heat Up the Season by Heather Graham, Carmen Falcone, Victoria Pinder, Christine Glover, Ann Omasta, K.L. Brady, Michele De Winton, Kristin Wallace, Rossie Cortes, EmKay Conner, Jodi Linton, Melanie Rose Clarke, Lyz Kelley, Marcia King-Gamble, Brynn North, Cindy Redding, Kathleen Lawless, Laurel Greer, Dee J Holmes, Emma Lee Jayne, Cara Carnes, Kat Baxter, Kara Kendrick

About Holiday Fake-Out

 

Need a date for the holidays? We've got you covered with 22 fake holidates to heat up your season!

Travel from small towns to cosmopolitan cities, snow covered mountains to gorgeous mansions. You'll meet sexy billionaires, brainy tech gods, buff journalists, sinfully cocky athletes, and sizzling hot chefs. They're naughty and nice (and everything in between) and they're enough to fulfill any romantic fantasies.   

These 22 swoon-worthy heroes are ready to be your *fake* plus-one at holiday events, from Christmas weddings to Chanukah and Kwanzaa celebrations. Each starts out as a charade, and though they might lie to family, friends, or co-workers, they won't be able to fool themselves when a very real romance develops. 

Escape into addictive tales of second chances, sweet new beginnings, secret crushes, friends to lovers, love triangles, and forbidden rendezvous. Throw in a mix of suspense, laughs, passion, and temptation, and your holidays are set.

PreOrder HOLIDAY FAKEOUT now to get the season started. The tingles, butterflies, and swoons brought on by these sweet and scorching stories will have you wondering which book boyfriend you should bring home for the holidays.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Book Review: MURDER ON POINTE (A Fionna Quinn Mystery) by C.S. McDonald

Synopsis 

Fiona can't wait to attend the performance of Coppelia at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. Her old friend, Silja Ramsay, is dancing the principal role. They have dinner after the show, but when they return Pittsburgh Ballet Theater is down one dancer! Ballerina, Alexis Cartwright, has been found dead in the dressing room. Is this murder a result of hot tempers among the cast members? Or is it a random act of violence? Will there be more murders? Homicide Detective, Nathan Landry, isn't taking any chances. After finding out Fiona has a strong background in ballet he recruits her to go undercover among the cast of Coppelia. Can Fiona help catch a killer, or will she be the next victim? 

Review 

What starts as time with her friend Silja triggers memories of their ballet lessons, the ballet master, David, who is still involved, and his wife, who due to an accident can no longer perform. There is tension and conflict with at least one ballerina not pleased to be cast as Coppelia, the doll, with minimal dancing.

Then one of the star performers is killed and Silja is assaulted. 
Detective Landry, along with Silja and David convince Fiona to play the part and be Landry's eyes and ears on the stage. The postponement of the production gives her lots of time for sleuthing and practice. 

The characters are interesting and the plot is well constructed with clues coming in pits and pieces. There are a few spirits who provide some interference for Fionna in unexplainable ways. I liked Fiona, Silja, and the detective and I hope to see more of them in future books. This was an enjoyable cozy, and I hadn't fully solved the murder before the end. Although there are some short stories associated with the Fionna Quinn Mysteries, this is a full length novel. 

As of this posting, Murder on Pointe is only 99cents! And is available in audio format (sample with listing in Amazon). 


About the Author (from Amazon)

C.S. McDonald taught dance and choreographed shows for twenty-six years. Nowadays, she resides with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister, on their Thoroughbred farm, Fly-by-Night Stables, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. George the Pony is a real pony who lives among the tall Thoroughbreds on their farm. 

In 2016, Ms. McDonald decided to write a cozy mystery series. The Fiona Quinn Mysteries are quick clean reads for anyone 10 to 110! You'll love Fiona and the quirky, but oh so charming, Detective Landry. Fiona is a kindergarten teacher and an unlikely sleuth from Pittsburgh. If you've never been to Pittsburgh, welcome to this wonderful city! If you live in Pittsburgh, you're sure to recognize many of the venues featured in the books. Ms. McDonald has even sprinkled a little Pittsburghese into her stories just for fun. Yinz will love it! Hey! Don't miss C.S. McDonald's new addition to Fiona Quinn Mysteries--Fiona Quinn QUICK Mysteries! What's that? Short Stories (about 30/40 pages) for a quick bedtime read or if you're stuck with a long wait in a doctor's office (we've all been there). Four shorts in all. Check them out! 

Okay, now for something seriously new--a new cozy mystery series, The Owl's Nest Mysteries--Meet Alexa Owl. She's returned home to Pittsburgh to start a new business, the Owl's Nest Couturier Shop. This series has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lotta cozy! Book #1 Back to the Burgh and Beyond has received great reviews! Book #2 MAXED OUT is slated for an April, 2021 release!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Blog Tour - Spotlight: THE WEDDING SOUP MURDER (An Italian Kitchen Mystery) by Rosie Genova


Synopsis

A wedding with all the trimmings—and death as an unexpected guest… 

Victoria Rienzi came home to the Jersey shore to research a new book and perfect her cooking skills at her family’s seaside restaurant, the Casa Lido. But when Vic’s exacting nonna puts her in charge of catering the soup course for a wedding at the exclusive Belmont Country Club, it’s not long before trouble is simmering in the kitchen. Three temperamental chefs are butting heads, their sous chefs are throwing punches, and the formidable club president, Elizabeth Merriman, antagonizes everyone around her. 

Elizabeth, aka “The Iron Lady,” has made her share of enemies, including the father of the bride, who was caught embezzling from the country club. She threatens to fire the famous pastry chef in charge of the wedding cake, who doesn’t bother to hide her hatred of Elizabeth. And who is the mystery man in dark glasses, who never leaves the older woman’s side? 

Though the wedding goes off without a hitch, by the time the happy couple and their guests depart, Elizabeth Merriman is missing. When her body is found on the beach the next morning, it appears that the country club president slipped from the top of the seawall, but Vic isn’t convinced. Did The Iron Lady finally push someone too far? And did that someone push her back—into the arms of death? 

About Rosie Genova

Bestselling and award-winning author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. The inspiration for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, comes from her deep appreciation for Italian food, her affinity for the New Jersey seaside, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. A former journalist and teacher, Rosie also writes women’s fiction and suspense. The proud mama of three grown sons, she still lives in her favorite state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy. 

Author Links 


Purchase Link





Sunday, October 10, 2021

Blog Tour and Book Review: MISTLETOE CAKE MURDER (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery #6) by Lena Gregory



Synopsis

’Tis the season for celebrating when Gia Morelli’s holidays include both a wedding and yuletide festivities. Until someone naughty delivers a most unwanted Christmas gift—murder. . . 

For a native New Yorker, palm trees and warm temperatures don’t equal winter, much less Christmastime. Nevertheless, Gia Morelli’s friends have decked the halls and trimmed the trees to truly welcome her into their “family” with an old-fashioned Boggy Creek, Florida holiday season. Even more joyous, Savannah Mills is getting married on Christmas Eve—the greatest gift Gia could ever wish for her best friend. 

But when Gia and Savannah stop by the caterer for a final tasting a week before the wedding, they overhear another bride arguing with her son about her husband-to-be. Moments later, the woman is sampling a piece of wedding cake—gorgeously decorated with mistletoe frosting—then suddenly dies. Now Gia’s caterer friends are the prime suspects in what appears to be murder by poisoning. To clear their names and ensure Savannah has a merry matrimony will require Gia to conjure up a Christmas miracle . . . Includes recipes from the All-Day Breakfast Café! 

Review

Getting ready for her best friend's wedding and Christmas with no family is hard enough for Gia, and then there's a murder. With the cake shop closed for the investigation, Gia finds an alternative location, determined not only to find the killer, but to ensure Savannah's fairy tale wedding. Savannah and Gia both help with the investigation, especially after a second murder, not totally supported by Hunt and Leo, both police in Boggy Station. Adding to the confusion, is the presence of ecology-minded people who disagree with decisions being made in the town. That adds to the list of suspects, along with someone trying to break into the cafe.

Like Gia and Savannah, as I read this, I came to appreciate the small town of Boggy Station and the close knit friendships of Gia and her friends. The story moves at a good pace, with tension, twists, and turns. The characters are wonderful, with a few exceptions, and the mystery unfolds to a logical conclusion and HEA wedding for Savannah and Leo. It is the 6th in the series, but can be read as a stand alone. Of course, then, like me, you might need to go back and read the earlier ones.

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

About Lena Gregory 

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full-time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime. 

Author Links 

Amazon  

Purchase Links  

Google Play  - GoodReads Link Includes recipes from the All-Day Breakfast Café!



Sunday, October 3, 2021

Book Review: CRIMINAL CONFECTIONS (A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery) by Colette London

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Hayden Mundy Moore is an expert on everything chocolate, helping clients develop new products and revamp recipes until they're irresistible. But sometimes, a dash of murder finds its way into the mix. . . 

Hayden Mundy Moore has bushwhacked through African jungles and haggled in exotic markets to find the finest cacao beans and the most flavorful blends. It's thrilling work but rarely dangerous--until a colleague turns up dead at the exclusive chocolate-themed Lemaître resort spa in San Francisco. 

Adrienne Dowling's heart attack is blamed on an accidental overdose of the secret ingredient used in Lemaître Chocolates' new line. Hayden can't believe that conscientious Adrienne would make that mistake. And between chocolate body scrubs, cocoa mud baths, and a non-stop frenzy of chocolate-based treats, Hayden starts to suspect that she, not Adrienne, was the intended target. Finding a killer among the rival chocolatiers and potential suspects won't just be satisfying--it might save her life. . . 

Review 

An interesting concept - someone who goes "undercover" to test out new varieties of chocolate or determine why some chocolate product isn't selling - all on the hush, hush. Hayden definitely has an interesting job (and apparently skill) and has spent some time at Lemaître evaluating their new creation that infused caffeine into chocolate. In the process she became close to Adrienne, who was spearheading its production. Also, she was invited to their chocolatier weekend celebration. She drags along her friend Danny as her plus one, only Danny has a colorful past.

Adrienne is killed, possibly an accidental overdose via her green smoothie, one she had shared with Hayden. Other than that the smoothie was the least appealing item in the story, Hayden's not sure if they knew which smoothie was Adrienne's. Both for her own safety and because of their friendship, Hayden needs to find the killer. Danny is in full agreement.

The book is filled with quirky characters, including Hayden, for sure. She's a character and interacts in ways that are not always appropriate, but add a bit of humor. There are many suspects from the elderly Bernie who started the company and his son, Christian, who took it over to the potentially failing and smarmy chocolatier, and others who work for Lemaître. A different writing style for sure, yet I enjoyed the book. As a chocolate lover myself, I loved the descriptions of the drinks and foods, not so much the chocolate body wrap. I'll be trying the recipe for chocolate mousse and reading others in the series.


About the Author

Colette London is the pseudonym of a best-selling novelist who's published more than three dozen books worldwide. Her Chocolate Whisperer series (featuring chocolate expert—and amateur sleuth!—Hayden Mundy Moore) kicked off with Criminal Confections and now includes Dangerously Dark, The Semisweet Hereafter, Dead and Ganache, and The Peppermint Mocha Murder, all from Kensington Books. 

Visit www.colettelondon.com today to find fantastic chocolate recipes, sign up for new-book reminder e-mails, and catch sneak previews of upcoming books in the Chocolate Whisperer series.