Monday, January 30, 2023

Book Review: RACE INTO MURDER by Karen Black

About the Book (from Amazon)

Jeff Frazier is a racehorse trainer whose dream is about to come true. He has a thoroughbred with the talent and the ability to compete in some of the most prestigious races in the country. When the colt becomes the catalyst for murder, however, Jeff's dream becomes a nightmare. A well-known jockey is killed and an innocent man is arrested. 

The fate of three families depends on finding the truth but with the trial date closing in, the killer's identity remains a mystery. In the close-knit community, however, some believe they have the answer and decide to dispense their own form of justice. Although the horsemen's interference complicates the investigation, it uncovers those who will stop at nothing to win. Through all the chaos, the races continue.


Horse racing is its own world and Black portrays it well, while adding in the human side - the love Natalie has for her horse balanced again the costs involved and the potential monetary gain of selling versus racing. The tension between Jeff and Natalie is palpable. At the same time, someone is trying to get the prize horse at any cost. Murder, larceny, and betrayal make for an engaging mystery.

The story is well-written and characters are realistic and fallible. The tension is felt on many levels. Black does a commendable job of keeping the pace steady, the tension high, and the killer not obvious until the very end. This is my first read by Black, but it won't be my last.

About the Author (from Amazon)

With a passion for animals, a fascination with the supernatural, and a degree in Criminal Justice, the author combines imagination and experience to create dramatic stories that don’t end quite the way you would expect. A four legged character is included in most story lines, even if just a cameo appearance. 
Black lives in the United States with her husband, a variety of wildlife, and two aliens disguised as cats. One of the critters is rumored to be ET’s second cousin, but that has not been confirmed. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Book Review: STICKY INHERITANCE - Maple Syrup Mysteries by Emily James

About the Book (from Amazon)

Knowing the truth… …is sometimes worse than believing the lie. Especially when murder is involved. 

When Nicole’s uncle dies and she inherits his maple syrup farm, she thinks it’s time to leave her career as a criminal defense attorney behind for a life that allows her to stay far away from murderers and liars. For half a day at least. 

Her uncle’s suicide looks like it wasn’t a suicide at all. The local police chief doesn’t want to reopen the case. Murder’s bad for business in a tourist town, after all. The handsome county medical examiner—who’s exactly her type and all wrong for her—is willing to help. 

But that means returning to the world of justice that Nicole hoped to leave behind forever. When the truth’s a sticky thing, it’s hard to know what’s worth risking your life for.


Stanley Dawes disappointed the family when he gave up a lucrative career to run a maple syrup farm. Although many in the family would have nothing to do with him, he kept in touch with his niece Nikki (Nicole), a criminal defense attorney. He tells her how much happier he is, away from the criminal element and stress. When he's found dead, the family lets Nikki handle everything. He's left her the farm and the expectation is she will sell it and return to her law office in short order. 

Only Nikki doesn't think her uncle committed suicide. As she puts her criminal defense and investigative skills to work, she has to deal with the police who like the idea of suicide over homicide, and the very people who work on the maple syrup farm. Only she's in search for the killer and delays any plans to return "home" to the law office.  

This is well-written, with a few quirky characters and a likable main character in Nikki. The pace is good and the plot has the occasional red herrings and twists. It is the first in the series and my first read by Emily James. A clean, cozy mystery with a female sleuth to keep you interested. If you're a cozy mystery fan, you're sure to enjoy this one. I know I've just added a few books to my TBR list.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Emily James grew up watching TV shows like Matlock, Monk, and Murder She Wrote. (It's pure coincidence that they all begin with an M.) It was no surprise to anyone when she turned into a mystery writer. She writes books with quirky characters and a touch of romance. She keeps them clean because she wants her books to be the kind you could share with your teenager or your mother. 

If you'd like to know more about Emily or send her an email, check out her website:

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Book Review: DEATH IN A PALE HUE - An Art Center Mystery by Susan Van Kirk

About the Book (from Amazon)

Who knew going home could be deadly? 

I will show them success. Artist Jill Madison repeats this mantra when she returns to her small hometown to restart her life. Hired to manage a new community art center, she vows to make it successful so the people of her town will have what she did not have—an education in the arts. 

She no sooner accepts the job than a burglar makes off with an expensive sculpture and an uninvited corpse is discovered in the basement. Even worse, the body belongs to someone Jill knew…well. Investigating what happened places Jill right in the path of a murderer. 

How will she keep her job, run her first big event, and escape a killer who plans to paint her out of the picture permanently? 


Jill Madison is an artist, returning to her home town to develop an Art Center, named for her deceased artist mother. Only a burglary and the body of an old friend prove a rocky start. Not the most organized, Jill misplaces things and often is on the wrong side of board members. Still, she is persistent in her efforts to find out who killed her friend, especially when there’s a second murder.

This is the first in a new cozy mystery series, though not the first for Susan Van Kirk. Death in a Pale Hue was engaging and I enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially Jill. There are twists and turns, enough action to keep the story moving at a good pace, and an unexpected killer. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. If you like cozy mysteries and small town secrets and happenings, this is one you’ll enjoy. 

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 (from Amazon)

Susan Van Kirk taught thirty-four years at Monmouth High School (1968-2002) and another ten years at Monmouth College (2001-2011). Her first book was a creative nonfiction memoir with fifteen stories about her teaching life called "The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks)." The longest story is about a book challenge in her high school class to a Kurt Vonnegut book.  

Her mysteries began with her Endurance series, a cozy series about the small, Midwest town of Endurance and Grace Kimball, retired school teacher. This series includes "Three May Keep a Secret," "Marry in Haste," The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney," "Death Takes No Bribes," and "The Witch's Child." The entire series has been republished by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery. "A Death at Tippitt Pond" is a standalone mystery. 

Van Kirk's Art Center Mysteries begin with "Death in a Pale Hue," [2022] from Level Best Books, and will continue with "Death in a Bygone Hue," [2023] and "Death in a Ghostly Hue," [2024]. Van Kirk is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and is the president of the Guppy Chapter, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. 

She is represented by Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. You can visit her website at and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, January 2, 2023



Hello 2023! As I look back over the year, I can identify some goals reached and events of note. Most importantly, my family is in good health.  

What will 2023 bring? Looking back, my goals haven't changed very much:

  • Be kind. Do something nice for someone, pay it forward, make someone else smile.
  • Think positive. Find the silver lining no matter how hard it is to find one.
  • Stay in touch with people I care about even if it is easier not to make the effort. It is too easy to become isolated.
  • Finish the "hanger-on tasks" from work and truly retire! (Especially since I've taken on more tasks instead of less)
  • Do better at completing reviews and posting on my blog, keeping in communication with my readers and other authors.
  • Finish getting audiobooks up - only 4 of the back list are still not on Audible. Otherwise, as they release in kindle and print, the audiobook should be out within 2 months or so
  • Continue to work on weight, fitness, better eating habits, and all that I can do to stay healthy
  • Work on the "Travel Bucket List." In 2022, we cruised back to Alaska for our anniversary and then to the British Isles. We tried to take a cruise to the Panama Canal, only the cruise was cancelled on the 2nd day. We're trying again this year - wish us better luck. Other than that, lots of other places on the wish list. Possibly, a quick trip to Virginia to visit friends and family in May. Maybe Norway or the Amalfi coast after that. Definitely, San Diego for Bouchercon at the end of the summer. Are you doing any traveling now?
  • It's kind of amazing, but this year I released the newest series featuring Izzie Di Sante, reluctant restauranteur and passionate investigative reporter. Now I'm working on Book 3! I also published Book 8 of the Stacie Maroni series and Book 7 of the Sheridan Hendley series. More to come in 2023.
  • Continue to collaborate with other authors. Secrets and Storms, Another Murder is the 8th in the Sheridan Hendley series and available through Prolific Works as part of a huge promotion - 60 cozy mysteries for free! Twisty Tales and Cozy Crimes is on Facebook with frequent giveaways as well. 
For all of you, my husband and I wish you all the best for the coming year.  As you plan your reading for the next year, here are some ideas for you and a giveaway (keep scrolling for the Rafflecopter!):

Here's the link for the January Rafflecopter!