Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blog Tour Review STUDY OF SECRETS A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery by Cynthia Kuhn


There could be nowhere more fitting for English professor Lila Maclean to spend her sabbatical than in a proper Victorian mansion. The whimsical Callahan House seems to have materialized from the pages of the mystery novels she is researching, with its enchanting towers, cozy nooks, and charming library. Unfortunately, it also features a body in the study.

Residents of Larkston have long believed that the Callahan family is cursed—the murder on the estate sets the town buzzing. Wild rumors are fueled by a gossipy blogger who delights in speculation, and further crimes only intensify the whispers and suspicions. A newly discovered manuscript, however, appears to expose startling facts beneath the fictions. When Lila steps in to sort the truth from the lies, it may cost her everything, as someone wants to make dead certain that their secrets stay hidden.


Larkston isn't Lila's home but she's been living there with Bibi, working on two books. The Victorian mansion is ideal for her writing goals. She's excited about her project on Bibi's writings (under a pseudonym) as she has loved these books and is surprised to find one additional book, never published. The literary analysis of the published books and Lila's own mystery will hopefully get her the needed tenure at Stonedale where she teaches.

Her visit is coming to an end and there is to be a great party, but first, one of Bibi's good friends, Margot, is killed and then the woman writing a gossip column. Bibi's friends, collectively called the Larks, are beside themselves and Bibi asks Lila to look into the murders and hopefully find the killer. Then Bibi's long missing sister, Ilse, reappears, and the chancellors of Callahan College and Stonedale are fighting over the Callahan house. 

This is a touching story of a group of friends who have weathered years and tragedy together, with many secrets, not the least of which involve the missing Ilse. There are class differences that come into play as well as competition and the need to preserve appearances. Lila has difficulty sorting it all out, even after reading Everwell, the book never published, with the secrets it holds. This is the 5th in the Lila Maclean series, but easily read as a stand alone book. A cozy mystery with friends that hamper the process, as well as a cousin and friend who aid Lila in her sleuthing in the end. Relationships and personalities are key and keep the story moving.

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 Cynthia Kuhn

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries: The Semester of Our Discontent, The Art of Vanishing, The Spirit in Question, The Subject of Malice, and The Study of Secrets. Honors for the series include an Agatha Award for best first novel and Lefty Award nominations for best humorous mystery. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Author Links

Website: cynthiakuhn.net
Twitter: @cynthiakuhn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cynthiakuhnwriter
Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-kuhn
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/cynthiakuhn
Blog: chicksonthecase.com
Newsletter: https://bit.ly/2MPiEMh

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May 25 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
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May 28 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 29 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

New Release: CONNECTIONS, CONFLICT & MURDER A Stacie Maroni Mystery #4 by Christa Nardi

I'm excited for the release of Connections, Conflict & Murder...


A walk in the park, online connections, and dangerous discoveries.

When the cybersecurity expert who checked out Stacie’s computer turns up dead, Stacie and her good friend and IT whiz, Trina, find themselves entangled in the ensuing murder investigation. Who killed Sam and why? Was the motive personal or was Sam silenced because he discovered potentially illegal activity as part of a client’s routine security audit? With Stacie at her side, Trina reaches out to other tech people who knew Sam in an effort to connect the dots and, in the process, places both women in the sights of a killer.

Read an excerpt:

abundance of people out and enjoying the pleasant spring weather made it hard to find a parking space at Beckman Park. Jasper bounced around, excited and eager to get out of the car. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a dog park here. There were a variety of paths and only some led to picnic areas or play areas for children. I locked up the car and hooked Jasper’s leash as I watched which paths the masses selected.
We came to the park often with Kevin and his dog, Shaq. And sometimes with my friend, Ronnie, and her little girl, Elle. Choosing to avoid the masses, I headed for the less trodden path, used most often for longer walks rather than to find a picnic area. The path was clear with only a few branches down after a recent storm. I tossed them into the woods as we walked. As dogs will do, Jasper had to stop every few yards and sniff and mark his territory. A squirrel scampered by and Jasper tried to take chase, surprising me as he pulled at the leash.
Overall, it was peaceful and nature at its best. Wild flowers added color and music piped into my ear buds. Walking and thinking go together in my mind. I had some decisions to make. With money I’d inherited when my husband was killed, my longtime dream of getting a graduate degree and more training in trauma care was within my reach. But I enjoyed my job as a human resource specialist at Foster’s Insurance group and it provided me with stability. More and more, I’d considered getting the additional training and not necessarily a degree.
A man and woman jogged past me with a “Great weather” and a smile for Jasper. A few other runners passed us. We walked some more and met up with a woman with a Labrador. We each kept to our own side of the path.
“Have a good day.” I shouted as we passed them.
She answered with a smile. “You, too.”
A few minutes later, what sounded like a gun shot shattered the peacefulness. Loud shrieks ensued. The path curved up ahead and I couldn’t see anything. I pulled Jasper to the side and dialed 9-1-1 as people ran by us, some screaming.
“Hi, this is Stacie Maroni. I’m at Beckman Park and there’s been a shooting. At least I heard a shot and people are running and screaming.”
“Is anyone injured?”
“I don’t know. Not that I can tell.”
“Stay back. Help is on the way.”
Jasper growled as people moved too fast, one of them colliding with me and knocking the phone out of my hand. I picked it up, however the call had disconnected. A few more stragglers passed by with furtive glances behind them. Then all was quiet. I took a few steps and Jasper pulled at his leash. We moved slowly, further down the path, almost to where it curved. As what started out as faint sirens grew louder, I assumed help was on the way.
I approached the curve and wished there was some way to let the police know my location in the park. My phone pinged but the message made no sense to me. Some app asking to track my location. Another ping and a text message from Rick Murdock, a Beckman Springs police officer.
“Near the shooting? Allow location on the app and we can find you.”
I activated the app and continued to walk forward, following Jasper’s lead. I spotted someone on the ground and took another step. Then I heard someone coming and, picking up a hissing Jasper, ducked behind a tree, glad I was wearing dark, boring clothes. Jasper shook and I tensed when a twig snapped nearby. Hidden, I whispered to Jasper to be quiet. More sirens and I heard another step, away from me this time. A minute or two later, someone called out my name.
“Stacie! Stacie!”
I recognized Rick’s voice and stepped out cautiously. I moved to the far side of the path opposite the body. Jasper stopped shaking and wanted down. He ran in circles and barked when he spotted Rick and Officer Lahomes coming toward us. They were partners. Officer Marina Napoli, Officer Reardon, and Bill came from the other direction. Marina and Reardon were partners. I wasn’t sure why Bill responded alone.
Turning to face Rick, I asked, “Did someone go past you just now?”
“A man ran by and yelled ‘Shooter. Shooter.’ Then he kept going.”
“I think he was coming in this direction until the second set of sirens. Jasper didn’t like him. And by now the shooter would be long gone.”
Bill nodded and took charge. To Rick and Lahomes he said, “Each of you write down what he looked like. He may be the shooter, doubling back to be sure this guy is dead.”
Turning to me, Bill asked, “Did you get close to the victim? Touch anything?”
I shook my head. “I called when I heard the shot. People were running past me and I waited to walk in this direction. I’d gotten this far, spotted the body ahead of me, and then heard someone coming. I ducked behind some trees and waited for you.”
Marina walked to the body, leaned over, and then came back to us. She shook her head. “He didn’t make it.”
Reardon put his hand to his ear. “Paramedics are here. I’ll walk out and bring them in.” Bill nodded and Reardon left.
“Lahomes, can you go back to the next intersection with the other paths and stop anyone coming this way? We need to get as many pictures as possible before we do anything else. Probably won’t be helpful, but eyes on the ground and the greenery for anything that doesn’t belong. Long shot, but maybe the killer left a calling card.”
Bill snorted and everyone grumbled. Lahomes nodded and walked back down the path.
“Stacie, I need you to tell me everything you can remember.”
“Afraid I can’t tell you much. Jasper and I were walking just like any other walk in the park. I like this path because it’s not as popular as some of the others. No picnic areas or benches until you get to the main part up ahead. Some people passed us before the shot. Runners. Then the shot rang out and ten, maybe fifteen, people barreled down the path. One woman picked up her baby and left the stroller. Everyone kept looking behind them and stuck to the tree line in case they needed to hide.”
“Saw the stroller. No one looked out of place? Jasper?”
It may seem silly for a police officer to ask about my dog, but Jasper’s reputation for sensing danger was well known. He had proved more than once he was a better judge of character than me.
I groaned inwardly as Rick picked up Jasper. “He gave a steady low growl from the time of the shot. Then he was a shaking, hissing mess when it sounded like someone was coming toward us.”
In Rick’s arms, Jasper curled up under his chin. Rick had bonded with Jasper when he investigated my husband’s murder. We’d dated for a while and then we broke up. Calling the police for anything was sometimes awkward as a result.

Excerpt from Connections, Conflict & Murder. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

The Stacie Maroni Mysteries 
Prestige, Privilege & Murder
Foundations, Funny Business & Murder
Deception, Denial & Murder
Connections, Conflict & Murder 

New to the series? Get the backstory here.  Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: A DEADLY INSIDE SCOOP An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery by Abby Collette


This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop—with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…


Win (aka Bronwyn) is excited to be recreating her memories of the family creamery from when she was young. She has her MBA, a love of her grandmother's unique ice cream flavors, and dreams of her own flavors. And a dead body. One that somehow could involve a member of her family. 

It's hard not to root for Win as she pursues her dreams and the good memories. And if proving her father or mother didn't kill the man who took advantage, then she and her friends will do so. This was a fun read. I for one never had any trouble eating ice cream in the winter, though I tend to stick to the basic flavors. If you like cozy mystery, family owned businesses, and a bit of humor and romance, you'll enjoy this book.

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 Abby Collette

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Abby Collette loves a good mystery. Born and raised in Cleveland, it’s even a mystery to her why she has yet to move to a warmer place. Author of the two Southern cozy mystery series Logan Dickerson Mysteries featuring a second-generation archaeologist and a nonagenarian who is always digging up trouble, and the Romaine Wilder Mysteries, set in East Texas, it pairs a medical examiner and her feisty auntie who owns a funeral home and is always ready to solve a whodunnit. Abby spends her time writing, facilitating writing workshops at local libraries and spending time with her grandchildren, each of which are her favorite.

Author Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/authorabbyl.vandiver

Website – www.authorabby.com

Purchase Links  


May 12 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW
May 12 – The Layaway Dragon – REVIEW
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May 12 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 13 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Book Review: PERIL AT THE PELLICANO HOTEL Italian Village Mystery #4 by Adriana Licio


A group of wordsmiths, a remote hotel. Outside, the winds howl and the seas rage. But the real danger lurks within. 

When travel author and part-time sleuth, Giò Brando, joins a writers’ retreat in Maratea, her quaint sea town, the last thing her companions are expecting is for the spiteful author who ruined their previous meeting to turn up uninvited. And the last thing Giò is expecting is to find that same woman lying dead on the restaurant floor the following morning.

At first, it seems the author’s death was the result of a tragic accident, but Giò suspects there’s more to it than meets the eye. What happened to the manuscript the victim had been working on? What was the mysterious business deal she was in Maratea to close?

With her fellow writers all having reason to lie to the carabinieri, Giò desperately sifts their stories for clues. But could the key actually lie in a tragic tale from long ago?

Peril at the Pellicano Hotel is the fourth book in the An Italian Village Mystery series.

Fans of cosy mysteries everywhere are invited to help Giò solve her latest delightfully dramatic case, unfolding against the stunning backdrop of the southern Italian coastline. That is, if you dare.


Giò Brando is the newest member of a writer's group, set up in Maratea for writing sprints. Giò's project is a book recapping her travels to Scotland, while others are engaged in their own projects. She doesn't make much progress on her writing after the death of the not well-liked person, Margherita, who was kicked out of the group after the previous retreat. Then Mrs. Galli is found dead a few days later. Both deaths could be natural causes, but both involving wordsmiths at the same hotel, not to mention they knew each other? Giò's granny has some insights, not only on the deaths, but on Giò's growing feelings for Guido. Then there's Paolo who seeks out Giò for her insights and information not readily shared by with the carabinieri. Add in the adventures of Rolando as he woos his wife of many years.  

I decided to read this book because of my Italian roots. The description of the island and the village in Basilicata sets the stage for the activities in and out of the Pellicano Hotel. There is mystery and romance, Italian family, and likable characters. Guido has his faults, but his charm comes through and I couldn't help but like him, as did Giò. Giò's character has depth and humility. Her granny is everything you'd expect. This is the fourth in the Italian Village Mystery series, but my first. It can easily be read as a stand alone, though I wonder if there isn't some back story with Paolo.


Books in the Italian Village Mystery series:
Murder on the Road
A Fair Time for Death
A Mystery before Christmas
Peril at the Pellicano Hotel