Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: PUSHING UP DAISIES (The Dirty Business Mystery Series) by Rosemary Harris

Synopsis from GOODREADS

Meet Paula Holliday, a transplanted media exec who trades her stilettos for garden clogs when she makes the move from the big city to the suburbs to start a gardening business. Paula can handle deer, slugs, and the occasional human pest---but she’s not prepared for the mummified body she finds while restoring the gardens at Halcyon, a local landmark. Casual snooping turns serious when a body is impaled on a garden tool and one of Paula’s friends is arrested for the crime. Aided by the still-hot aging rocker who owns the neighborhood greasy spoon, a wise-cracking former colleague, and a sexy Mexican laborer with a few secrets of his own, Paula digs for the truth and unearths more dirty business the town has kept buried for years.

Paula is working hard to establish her gardening and landscaping restoration business and takes on the major chore of restoring the gardens at Halcyon. She tackles one section to start and uncovers the remains of a baby. That leads to a number of questions regarding the sisters who lived in the house and whose baby this might be.  While trying to get some answers, she discovers a girl went missing many years and has to wonder if the two are connected.  Paula, her friends Lucy and Babe, and Sergeant Mike O'Malley (who happens to cook) set to work to solve two forty-year-old mysteries, only to end up with another murder on their hands.  Unfortunately, Paula's landscaper is the prime suspect.  This only spurs on her involvement.  If you can ignore some of the inconsistencies and "poetic license", this is an interesting story and the major characters are likable and well developed. Those who enjoy gardening will enjoy the descriptions of the gardens.  

This is the first in the series and I hope that Paula, "MOM", and Lucy at least return in the THE BIG DIRT NAP (Dirty Business Mystery Series #2). The third in the series is DEAD HEAD, the fourth, SLUGFEST. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: ICY GRIP OF MURDER (A Lacy Steele Mystery #7) by Vanessa Gray Bartal

Synopsis (from AMAZON)

Lacy Steele will do anything to help a friend, even if it means defying her boyfriend's wishes to follow someone halfway across the country. Though she knows she's doing the right thing, she's unprepared for the harsh climate and sobering truths she's about to face. How can she be certain her friend isn't a murderer when everything she knows about him is a lie? 

And how can she be certain that she isn't the next to die? When an arctic blast begins to turn everything upside down, Lacy and someone close to her will change in ways she never imagined. As she deals with the strange new behavior, danger begins to mount. How can she prove her friend's innocence in light of so much evidence? And how can she keep the people she loves safe when everyone she meets has a motive for murder?


As a Lacy Steele fan, I was glad to see the 7th in the series available (and only $.99 on Amazon).  Lacy takes off for Minnesota against Jason's wishes to help her friend Michael prove himself innocent of murder.  In the meantime her sister Riley is about to give birth and Lacy's mother is of course on her case to be there for Riley and Tosh.  The story unwinds in true Lacy Steele fashion, with the usual hiccups, twists and turns along the way.  Minnesota has strange effects on Lacy, and equally as strange effects on Jason once he follows her to be sure she stays out of trouble.  This was distracting, but thankfully not permanent!  I'm hoping there is #8 in the future!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: IRREGARDLESS OF MURDER (Miss Prentice Cozy Mysteries) by E.E. Kennedy

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Amelia Prentice, a forty-something high school English teacher comfortable in her predictable routine, regains consciousness after tripping over the corpse of a former student in the safest of places, the public library. Returning to the classroom, she tries to pretend nothing happened. But when it becomes obvious that the victim’s death wasn’t an accident and she is now a murder suspect, she realizes that her cozy small-town life in New York’s Adirondack region will never be the same.

Crazy things begin to happen: The victim’s mother disappears. Amelia’s friend Lily is thrown overboard from the Lake Champlain ferryboat. A mysterious millionaire from Montreal seems determined to buy Amelia’s house. The school nurse is viciously attacked by a student. Amelia’s old beau Gil suddenly seems determined to rekindle their romance. Amelia is carjacked, and, of course, there’s the Lake Champlain Monster . . .

It will take all Amelia’s wisdom, humor, and faith to figure out what’s going on and embrace the new life that lies ahead. If she survives . . .

Amelia is your basic English teacher who hates when people say "irregardless". She lives in a quaint town and doesn't expect much excitement. Her life gets complicated from the time trips over Marguerite's body and is considered a suspect.  She has actively avoided interacting with an old beau from her early years and isn't interested in rekindling that relationship - Vern has other ideas. More importantly, who killed this young woman and why?  What is it that Marguerite's mother has for her?  Why did she disappear?  Who is this millionaire trying to buy her house?  What is the friction between Lily and Alec?  Is there a Lake Champlain monster? 

The characters are predominantly middle-aged adults, but the antics and conflicts are ageless.  The storyline includes mystery, a bit of suspense, and romance.  It is well written and a good read.  This is the first in the Miss Prentice Cozy Mysteries.  Others in the series include DEATH DANGLES A PARTICIPLE and MURDER IN THE PAST TENSE.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Convinced Chief Pfeiffe has it all wrong, Sheridan Hendley sets out to help solve Cold Creek's latest murder. Clive Johnson, the groundskeeper at Cold Creek College is an easy scapegoat for a police chief who seeks an easy solution. When Sheridan searches for information to prove Clive's innocence, she starts receiving threats. Just as her life is looking up personally, it looks like she might be the next victim.

This is the second in the Cold Creek Series with an anticipated release date of 9/15/2014.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blog Tour Highlights - MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE by Christa Nardi

Yesterday was the last day of the Blog Tour by Great Escapes Book Tours! Thank you so much to Lori Caswell and all the bloggers who participated! Here are the highlights of the reviews for Murder at Cold Creek College

Good story…
~Kaisy Daisy’s Corner

I was impressed with all the details or getting ready for school and subject for teaching. It came across like a lot of extra time put in the book. It made the Character of Sheridan Hendley come alive for me.

This was a charming novel that I really enjoyed reading.
~3 Partners in Shopping; Nana, Mommy, &; Sissy too!

The plot is intricate, but understandable. There is definitely substance to the work. It is academic without being stuffy. (I don’t know about you, but I appreciate that a lot.) The writing flows very well, making the story enjoyable.
~Back Porchervations

I enjoyed the romance aspect of this mystery. This is a great summer read.
~Deal Sharing Aunt

It’s a fast read that explores the sometimes tangled relationships that exist in academia.
~Cicero’s Children

This is a first in a new series and it was a fantastic read! I love reading a book that keeps you wanting more…
~Shelley’s Book Case

This cozy was a good one. In fact, it was great!
~The Book Junkie

I enjoyed it and didn’t want to stop reading.
~Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review: MURDER BY SYLLABUB (An Ellen McKenzie Mystery) by Kathleen Delaney


A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen McKenzie has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble? When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty—the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband—turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator. Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia. Murder by Syllabub is the fifth book of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series.

The story is set in Colonial Williamsburg in a plantation home.  Ellen and her Aunt Mary have arrived to the plantation at the request of Aunt Mary's old friend, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is afraid the house is haunted and there's some concern as to how well she is coping with her husband's death.  Then the "ghost" is found dead - by a serving of a traditional dish the Elizabeth had made for her arriving guests.  Ellen and Aunt Mary get bits and pieces of plantation history and family history and try to put together what someone is looking for among the secret tunnels that make up Elizabeth's home. Interesting characters, fast pace, and lots of secrets make this an interesting read.  Although part of a series, this book can be read as a stand-alone.