Thursday, May 19, 2022

Book Review: SWEET SIERA GULCH (A Paige MacKenzie Mystery) by Deborah Garner

Synopsis (from Amazon) 

Paige MacKenzie isn’t convinced there’s anything “sweet” about the small Gold Rush town of Sweet Sierra Gulch when she arrives in California to write an article for the Manhattan Post. But there’s plenty of history surrounding the gold fever that drew prospectors from afar in the mid-1800s, as well as the anticipation of romance when her favorite cowboy, Jake Norris, joins her later. 

Everything seems to be falling into place until the owner of the local cafe goes missing, a gruff guest checks into the hotel, and an odd humming sound prevents a peaceful night’s sleep. Determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious events, Paige begins to follow clues. Will her search uncover a dangerous secret in the town’s old mining tunnels, or will her curiosity land her in over her head? 


Sweet Sierra Gulch was once a hub in the midst of the Gold Rush, and now is a small town with only a couple of hundred people. Even Paige is wondering why she selected this small town as she checks into the only 'hotel.' Her plan is to decide if there's a story to write, write it, and then enjoy the wine country nearby with her cowboy, Jake. Only she senses some friction and not everyone is as welcoming and friendly as Jangle. Then he goes missing and everyone is upset. The AAA ladies let Paige know they're sure she can figure it out.  

 Sweet Sierra Gulch is populated by the three A sisters, older residents, and a few younger ones. Red is a business man with the most touristy spot and great chili, only his behavior of late is suspicious. As Paige tries to figure out what happens, more surprises await her. The pace is good, the backdrop of the gold rush, and the characters of Sweet Sierra Gulch have depth where needed. Jangle was by far my favorite character.

This is the 6th in the Paige MacKenzie series. Each is a story of some historical note that interests Paige and a mystery unfolds. They can be read as stand alone mysteries, but it's always best to start at the beginning. This story is well-written with enough tension to keep it going, even between Paige and Jake. Cozy mystery lovers will enjoy this read.

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About the Author

Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Book Review: POISONED IN PROVENCE (A Nina Brown Paranormal Cozy Mystery) by Cat Green


Provence: A magical start to bright new life… 

 …garnished with buttery croissants, café au lait, and a delectable French chef. 

But when murder is on the menu, will she be the next victim? 

Still reeling from a romantic betrayal, 22-year-old Nina travels to Provence, France to oversee her magazine’s chef competition. Kitchen heat sends her swooning into the arms of a scrumptious French contestant Jacques, a tasty Crème Brûlée of a chef she’d love to nibble. 

As Jacques gives Nina a tour of his family’s historic caves and magical gardens, secrets waft through the lilac-scented breeze. Secrets that come to light when the head judge shrieks “poison” during the competition’s climax. 

Can Jacques be the culprit? Will Nina prove her creamy cuisiner’s innocence and discover the real culprit before it’s too late? 

Poisoned in Provence is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny cozy mystery, packed with quirky characters, mouth-watering cuisine, and the adorable fashionista French Bulldog, Jasper. You'll devour this delicious, cozy romance. Because in the warmth of French Country kitchens, love magic blazes bright.


Nina and her good friend, Holly, travel to Provence for a chef competition. She's excited to replace her boss as a judge with hopes her article on the competition will move her career forward. Provence is a small town with a chef of its own - Jacque has the restaurant across from the hotel and attributes his success to the spices he collects from this grandmother's secret garden.

Nina immediately feels her life is going to change. Although she has suppressed her "gift," being in Provence she has visions once again. She has to keep her feelings under control, though, as one of the other two judges is poisoned, not once, but at each of the three events. Unfortunately, Jacques is the prime suspect.  

Nina, Holly, Jacque, and others all have unique personalities. Don't forget Jasper, the fashionista-driven dog. This was an enjoyable read. It is well paced. The paranormal aspect is subtle and fits when it appears. This is the first in the series, with the second, Silence in Salem, scheduled for an August 2022 release. 

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.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: BEAR WITNESS (An Alaska Untamed Mystery) by Lark O. Jensen


About the Book

Alaska tour boat guide Stacie Calder faces the deep freeze in this scenic cozy series debut perfect for fans of Paige Shelton.

No nine-to-five cubicle career will suit Stacie Calder—the naturalist much prefers working in the great outdoors. Specifically, the spacious and spectacular Alaskan wilderness, whose rugged charms she shares with sightseers on the top deck of the tour boat where she works. But one May afternoon, Stacie’s passengers see more than glittering glaciers, frolicking harbor seals, climbing bears and soaring seabirds…they also witness a man lying dead in the frigid Alaskan waters. And it seems likely that someone gave him a fatal push.

Stacie didn’t know the unfortunate victim, but he sure wanted to know a lot about her. He spent most of his final afternoon bombarding her with questions quite awkward to answer. And when he wasn’t in her hair, he was arguing incessantly with the boat’s beleaguered crew. Which makes for a suspect list about as long as the passenger manifest. Furthermore, as police helicopters relentlessly circle her boat in search of any clues, Stacie is shaken to find herself on that suspect list.

Before the tour boat reaches shore Stacie—accompanied by her beautiful blue-eyed husky, Sasha—must deduce just who sent the testy tourist tumbling into the turgid waters and have the authorities take custody. Because if she can’t, then the killer might aim a fatal ice-cold stare at Stacie.


Stacie Calder is a naturalist whose passion is learning more about nature and sharing that knowledge as the tour guide for a prominent Alaska tour company. She and her dog, Sasha, work with the same crew and captain all the time, and Stacie is very loyal to the captain and the company. Needless to say, when a man is questioning her and the company, she becomes uncomfortable and suspicious that he may try to ruin the company and searches for him. Only he's disappeared and now she's a suspect. 

She insinuates herself into the investigation and the primary investigator, Liam, ultimately gives her permission to keep sleuthing with the promise that she'll share what she finds out. Not all her coworkers are enthused with her questions, nor is the dead man's 'friend' who continues to take the tour day after day. 

Throughout the story, Jensen provides descriptions of scenery and wildlife, ice floes and glaciers calving, the birds, and other animals they encounter. The descriptions are rich and the reader can appreciate the experience. Having taken tours like that one, it's also very accurate. These are interwoven with the growing relationship between Stacie and Liam, the animosity of some of the crew, her sleuthing, and increased concern when one man is acting strangely. 

This is a great start to a new series. The pace is good, Stacie is a likable protagonist, there are multiple suspects, and it's very well-written. There's something for everyone in this great story.

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

Lark O. Jensen is the pseudonym of Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer. Lark has written Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed mystery for Crooked Lane. Linda has written the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series and the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink and the Pet Rescue Mysteries and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and her stories often involve dogs.

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Saturday, May 7, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: MARGARITAS, MAYHEM & MURDER (An Andi Anna Jones Mystery) by Mary Cunningham



Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent and amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father's widow and books a sixtieth birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will include the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby might be the main suspect. 

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with charming local sheriff, Manual Gonzales. An embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, can't quell her determination to clear the name of her ex-stepmother.
While gathering clues and interviewing witnesses, however, she suspects dear old step-mom isn't the only one in jeopardy.


Andi is not a fan of her step-mother, Ruby, or her sleezy lawyer, but she promised her dad she'd help Ruby. Now she sees Ruby as more than a bit dramatic and impulsive. When Ruby is arrested and held in a jail in Cancun, Andi flies down to straighten things out. The best thing she finds when she arrives is the local sheriff, Manuel Rodriquez. Ruby is another story, more concerned with the ugly orange jumpsuit than the murder charges.

Manuel takes her out for a bite to eat and Andi gets tipsy, but flirts past her embarrassment. Manuel shares the evidence against Ruby and arranges for Andi to board the cruise while it's in dock at its next stop. That in itself is an adventure with a series of twists and turns that necessitate Manuel coming on board and Andi having a harrowing time getting back to Cancun. 

With Ruby released to the hotel, but needing a babysitter, it's no surprise Andi decides her lawyer should be the one to remind Ruby she can't leave the hotel. Andi flies to Las Vegas to chase down a lead with a few more twists and turns. Murphy's Law seems to apply to everything Andi does.

This was a fun, light read and exactly what I needed after a stressful day. Mary Cunningham has created some quirky and interesting characters and uses humorous scenes to keep the story going. This is the first in this series, and I'm sure both Ruby and Manuel will return as Andi returns home. This is my first read by this author, but will not be my last. If you enjoy lighthearted cozy mysteries, you'll enjoy this one. 

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

Author, Mary Cunningham, grew up on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad's original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun "yarn."

Through the author's horrifying stint as a travel agent, Andi Anna Jones sprang to life. The adult/mystery series gives extra meaning to the phrase, "Write what you know." Cunningham has several books published, including Cynthia's Attic, a five-book middle-grade fantasy, women’s lifestyle/humor book, WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty, Ebooks, Christmas With Daisy and Ghost Light. A biography of an army brat, turned UConn and WNBA basketball player, will be published in the spring of 2022.

She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Sisters In Crime-Atlanta Chapter, International Thriller Writers, Inc., and the Carrollton Writers Guild.

When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, Mary enjoys golf, swimming, and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, furry daughter, Lucy.

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