Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Giving Thanks!

For those of us in the US and Canada, today is the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is a time to celebrate the harvest and the blessings of the past year. Americans traditionally model the festivities based on historical descriptions of a harvest feast shared by the pilgrims who settled in Plymouth and Wampanoag people who lived there before the pilgrims. I'm not sure if the pilgrims and Wampanoag people truly ate turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, and potatoes. 

Having lived in different regions of the US, I've discovered that what constitutes the Thanksgiving meal, aside from the turkey, varies considerably, handed down within families and then blended with other family traditions. But one thing stays the same. The idea of giving thanks. 

This year and last have been a stressful, not just here, but worldwide. A pandemic, weather systems that have broken records, massive fires, economic upheaval, and unrest. Yet, there are still things I'm thankful for: 

 *An increased emphasize on basic human kindness, supporting others, and respecting others 

 *The health and well-being of my family, friends, and colleagues, providing support and laughs as we all dealt with cabin fever 

 *As always, I give thanks to my fellow authors for their encouragement, and, of course, to my readers. What are you thankful for?
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Monday, November 15, 2021

Book Review - New Release: STYLED FOR MURDER (Bad Hair Day Mysteries #17) by Nancy J. Cohen

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Hairstylist Marla Vail flushes out a killer when murder disrupts her mother’s home renovation plans in this stylish cozy mystery. 

When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects. Which one of them wanted the foreman to pipe down about their shady dealings? 

Meanwhile, the lead investigator sets his sights on Marla’s stepfather, Reed, who’s keeping secrets from his family. Reed has a past connection to the victim and won’t come clean about what he knows. As Marla drills deeper, she’s showered with suspicions, but nobody’s willing to leak any information. She needs to hammer down the prospects, or time will drain away and the murderer will strike again. 

To flush out the culprit, Marla taps into her pipeline of resources. Can she assemble the clues and demolish the alibis to nail a killer? Or has someone designed the perfect murder? 

Recipes Included! 

Review

Marla Vail is back, now a new mother in addition to being step-mother to a teen and a business owner. No time for sleuthing - until her mother calls. The renovation of her bathroom is halted by the dead contractor and her mother's new husband, Reed, is hiding something. As much as Marla wants to believe in him, his withdrawal isn't helping the investigation. 

As always, Cohen provides a glimpse of the main character in her home, her business, and her community as she sleuths her way to the killer. A fan of this series, I was glad to see Marla manage to play it safe while working and sleuthing. Even Dalton seems to be hiding something, though he is the perfect father.

The pace is steady and the characters interesting. There are multiple suspects aside from Reed and no simple explanation fits the crime. It's not easy to guess at the killer and that kept me engaged. If you're a fan of this series, you will be surprised at Marla's ingenuity in fitting in baby, work, and sleuthing. New to this series? You can enjoy this book without having read the earlier books, though I always recommend you start at the beginning of a series. Regardless, if you enjoy cozy mystery, I'm sure you will like this one. Don't forget the recipes!

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 the Author

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers' Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. 

Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have also garnered numerous awards, including the FAPA President's Book Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World. Visit her at NancyJCohen.com

Monday, November 8, 2021

Blog Tour and Spotlight: MURDER SHE WROTE: DEBONAIR IN DEATH by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

 

About the Book

When a local art shop owner is murdered, Jessica Fletcher is surprised to once again be working alongside her old friend MI-6 agent Michael Haggerty to solve the case in the newest mystery in this USA Today bestselling series.

When Nelson Penzell, co-owner of a local art and treasure store in Cabot Cove, is murdered, the nail tech from Jessica Fletcher's favorite beauty parlor is the main suspect. After all, she's the one who ran out of the store screaming, covered in blood, and holding the murder weapon. Jessica is positive that despite the circumstances, Coreen can't possibly be guilty, and is determined to prove it.

When Michael Haggerty, handsome MI-6 agent and Jessica's old friend, is caught snooping around the victim’s home, it's quickly apparent to her that she was right. Nelson has always had a bit of a reputation for being a rake, but Haggerty is sure his sins go far beyond what anyone in town imagined. If she wants to clear Coreen's name, Jessica will have to work alongside Michael to find out who killed Nelson—and maybe help bust a crime ring in the process.

About the Authors

Terrie Farley Moran is co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the Murder, She Wrote series. Terrie is also the author of the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy novels, and is co-author of Laura Childs’ scrapbooking mysteries. Her short mystery fiction has been published in numerous venues. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards. 


Author Links



Sunday, November 7, 2021

Book Review: FALLEN STAR (Devine Devils #2) by R Weir

A change of pace, this is definitely NOT a cozy mystery.... 

About the Book

Megan Getz lived among Hollywood royalty, a Tinseltown celebrity of a long-running sitcom. She's being extorted because of an adult indiscretion and attempts to cover up her perilous life by hiring the team of Divine Devils.

Hoping they’ll free her from the blackmail bonds,  Hunter Divine and his crew go undercover in a Reno Casino, digging deep to reveal those running the scam. The simple case explodes all around them with drugs, prostitution, murder, and mayhem being the norm.

Dragging Hunter and his crew into a hotbed of danger, in a doomed attempt to rescue the pretentious fallen star, lead The Divine Devils down a lethal road they may not survive.

Hunter Divine and his team are willing to move heaven and hell to get results!!

Review

Hunter Devine left the US Marshalls under not so great circumstances. Since then he has taken on jobs with an interesting crew, in this case including one FBI agent he was previously involved with. In this escapade, Hunter and his friends infiltrate a Reno Casino where a starlet engaged in some less than appropriate behavior and is being blackmailed. Each person has their job to do with Shen the most dangerous - infiltrating casino security to establish how the con worked and Athena as the potential mark. Only things go awry and they have to quickly shift their attention from Megan's folly to join forces to rescue their comrade.

Weir crafts interesting characters from different walks of life to form the Devine Devils, not to mention others he knew as a US Marshall or, in Athena's case, a prior relationship. They make for an entertaining tale, along with the drugs, prostitution, blackmail, murder, and general mayhem. There are twists and turns, a rogue FBI agent who's mad at Athena, and a bond that keeps the Devils in the game. 

This is the second in this new series by Weir, but easily read as a stand alone. As noted above, it is not "cozy" - if profanity and graphic scenes offend, this isn't one for you. On the other hand, if you like fast action and suspense, you'll like Weir's style.

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 the Author 

Award-winning Author 

R Weir lives in the Mile-High City with his family, where the Rocky Mountain High isn't always achieved with an herbal substance. When not glued to the computer, he relaxes by enjoying the outdoors and traveling in his motorhome. 

His writing delves into genres with gritty investigators exploring mystery, crime, suspense, and thrills, with involved plots and unexpected twists. Featuring former US Marshal Hunter Divine, a dire, determined man searching for salvation in his broken life. While private eye Jarvis Mann is tough and snarky, with as many faults as virtues. Characters exhibiting traces of his sense of humor, though he’s not nearly as tough and fearless. Though no evil stands a chance against his written word!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Blog Tour and Excerpt: IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico

 

Synopsis

 

Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .

Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.

Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .

Italian recipes included!

Enjoy an excerpt:

    Her cell rang again. Mia looked at it askance. She relaxed when she saw the caller wasn’t Kaitlyn. She didn’t recognize the number and decided to let it go to voicemail, in case the call was spam. Mia opened her internet browser and tapped in unique sweet sixteen themes. A list popped up that proved to be no help at all, being that she and Shane had already burned through most of them with Kaitlyn. She debated better wording and went with over-the-top sweet sixteen parties. Her cell rang again. The screen showed the same number as before. Whoever it is really wants to talk to me. Mia took the call. 

    “Mia, bella, hello. It’s Donny.” She sat up straight, the sweet sixteen forgotten. Donny was Donny Boldano, head of the Boldano crime family.  

    Her father Ravello had been a lieutenant in the organization, but now ran Belle View as a legitimate business for them, much to Mia’s relief, as well as her father’s, who had burned out on running the family’s illegal gambling enterprises. “Mr. B, hi. How are you?” 

    “Good. Good. I’m calling from a burner phone.” 

    “Yeah, I wondered. I didn’t recognize the number.” Mia’s heart thumped like a bass drum. Why was Donny Boldano calling her instead of Ravello? And from a burner phone? She panicked for a moment, thinking it might be bad news about her beloved father, but calmed down when she reminded herself that she’d seen him leave his office for the men’s room only ten minutes earlier. 

    He was still in the building. And probably still in the men’s room. Which made Donny’s call all the more curious. 

    “You’re probably wondering why I’m calling you. Especially from a burner phone.” 

    Donny wasn’t exactly reading her mind. These were obvious questions under the circumstances. “Yes. Exactly.” 

    “Uh . . .” There was a long pause. Whatever Donny had to say wasn’t coming easy. Mia’s heart thumped again. “Mrs. B and I would like to talk to you about something. Don’t worry, it’s not business,” he hastened to add. “Everything’s good with Belle View. You’re not in trouble.” 

    “Oh, thank God,” Mia couldn’t help saying. 

    “It’s . . . um . . . a personal matter. Do you happen to be free tonight?” 

    Mia, whose social life over the past few months had consisted of feeding her cat and bird, then falling asleep in front of the TV or her laptop screen, said, “Yes. I am free.” 

    “Wonderful. I don’t want you getting stuck in rush hour traffic, so let’s say eight. We’ll have cake and coffee. Oh, and sweetheart—please don’t mention this to Jamie.”

Excerpt from It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder. Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

 
About Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother's side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father's side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother's family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. 

DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She's a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Author Links – WebsiteChicks on the CaseFacebookTwitter 
Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo - IndieBound 



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Blog Tour and Spotlight: TROUBLE BREWING (A Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery) by Heather Day Gilbert


Synopsis

Convinced that the elderly lady in her care didn’t die of natural causes, Macy’s friend Della determines to look into the broken relationships surrounding the woman. She books a Halloween-themed getaway at a local inn and talks Macy into coming along with her to spy on her prime suspect. 

As they join a ghost tour of the candlelit town, Macy and Della feel their guide is a little too fanatical as he shares his spooky tales. He tells the story of the Greenbrier ghost, a newlywed who supposedly came back from the grave to tell her family that her husband murdered her. 

When a disturbing apparition makes its presence known, guests at the inn become apprehensive…and for good reason, because soon after, a young bride turns up dead. Although everything points to a copycat killer replicating the historical Greenbrier murder, Macy has her doubts. She’s discovered that the inn harbors secrets of its own, and when she pokes into one darkened corner too many, she might not stand a ghost of a chance. 

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes. 

The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order: 
Book 1: No Filter 
Book 2: Iced Over 
Book 3: Fair Trade 
Book 4: Spilled Milk 
Book 5: Trouble Brewing 

About the Author

Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters—no matter what century—feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginia gal can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels. 

Author Links 

Bookbub   

Purchase Link 




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.