Saturday, July 29, 2023

Book Review: MURDER, MAYHEM & BLISS - Myrtle Grove Garden Club Mystery by Loulou Harrington

About the Book

Nothing much happens in Myrtle Grove, Oklahoma. 

So when prominent businessman Harry Kerr is discovered face down in his pool shortly after dawn, the breakfast crowd in Jesse Camden’s tearoom is buzzing. Recognizing the name, Jesse hurries to her friend Vivian Windsor, Myrtle Grove’s resident oil heiress. Vivian is the great-aunt to Bliss Kerr, widow of the deceased and soon-to-be prime suspect in his suspicious death. 

Clearing Bliss and finding the real murderer isn’t what Jesse means when she offers her assistance. And wrangling an eager band of helpers while chasing a tangle of leads across the countryside, tripping over deputies and evidence along the way, isn’t her first choice for her weekend. But here she is, and here she will be, hearing secrets no one should know, and discovering betrayals no one could live with, until Jesse finds her way through the maze of deceit to uncover the real killer. 

Review 
The center of the story is the Tea Room run by Jesse and her mother, and where the Garden Club congregates. Jesse doesn't intend to get involved in solving the murder, especially with the somewhat contentious relationship she has with the sheriff. Needless to say, that's not what happens. Jess discovers more than she ever wanted to know about the people of Myrtle Grove and uncovers the killer.

Merrill does an excellent jog of weaving information about characters, their history, and their personality. The characters and dialogue are realistic, though some of the clandestine activities may be out there. The story is well-plotted and it's hard to put down. Not only that, as a reader I didn't guess at the killer.   mystery itself is juicy... plenty of suspects... plot progresses logically. I don't post "stars" and rarely indicate a book as "5-stars" even when posting my reviews elsewhere. This one is the exception. It's the first in the series of seven, and I highly recommend it.




Sunday, July 23, 2023

New Release! BITTERNESS, BETRAYAL & MURDER (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #9) by Christa Nardi

It's Release Day! To celebrate the release of the 9th book in the Stacie Maroni Mystery series, it is special priced at 99cents for the next week. The 1st in the series, Prestige, Privilege & Murder, is also 99cents from 7/24-7/30/23. 

About the Book 

An urgent call from Stacie Maroni’s friend, Meredith, interrupts the sleuth’s New Year's Eve plans for a romantic evening. Instead, she and Detective Michael O'Hare rush to the country club only to find it is too late to help their friend. Not quite how they wanted to bring in the New Year. A fully booked event for the annual bash translates into an overabundance of suspects and a variety of motives. 

Never one to back away from a challenge, Stacie's sleuthing skills kick in. When a wannabe reporter blogs about the murder and implies that Stacie knows the killer’s identity, the investigation takes a dangerous turn. Stacie’s faced with secrets and memories, along with hints of organized crime lurking in the shadows. 

Bitterness, Betrayal & Murder is available in digital and print versions; audiobook is in production.


Prestige, Privilege & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #1) 
Foundations, Funny Business & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #2) 
Deception, Denial & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #3) 
Connections, Conflict & Murder ( A Stacie Maroni Mystery #4) 
Holidays, Hijinks & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #5) 
Temptation, Trouble & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #6) 
Keepsakes, Karma & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #7) 
Marriage, Malice & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #8) 
Bitterness, Betrayal & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery #9) 

About the Author 

Christa Nardi is an avid reader with her love of mysteries beginning with Nancy Drew and other teen mysteries. She’s shifted to more contemporary mystery, crime, and cozy mysteries over time. Christa supports animal rescue and other efforts to help others. She has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories to mystery series. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel and playing with her dogs and granddaughters.


Contact/Follow Christa 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Book Review: AND ALL THAT MADNESS - A Casie McKie Mystery by Joan Merill

About the Book 

When the New York Jazz Society acquires a fifty-year old letter from Georgia Valentine, questions arise over the legendary vocalist’s death. Did she give herself a fatal dose of heroin, as the original investigators ruled, or did someone kill her? And if it was murder, what was the motive? 

Casey moves her operation from San Francisco to New York to investigate the cold case, questioning Georgia’s musician friends, her widower, a drug dealer, a Broadway actress, a mafia boss and the authorities who declared the death a suicide. 

This quest takes Casey to New York’s most venerable jazz clubs, a Harlem nursing home, a mob-owned Italian restaurant, a lesbian bar and One Police Plaza, home of the NYPD. She joins forces with an attractive detective from the Organized Crime unit, and, as the case progresses, so does their relationship. 

With no shortage of suspects, Casey ultimately uncovers evidence revealing a surprising killer. 

Review 

San Francisco Detective and jazz enthusiast, Casey McKie, goes to New York to investigate a cold case - the murder of Georgia Valentine. Her quest includes a range of interesting characters and settings, with another twist around every corner. Add in a possible romance with the attractive detective to round out Casey's whirlwind experience as she finds the killer.

The story is well-written and the characters well-developed, though some are not likable. The jazz scene adds a unique and entertaining flavor to the story. Although this is part of a series featuring Casey McKie, it can be read as a stand alone mystery. This is my first in this series and won't be my last. If you like jazz and mystery, you'll enjoy this one.


The Casey McKie mystery series 
And All That Motive (2014
And All That Madness (2012)
 And All That Stalking (2011) 
And All That Sea (2010) 
And All That Murder (2009)



Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Book Review: A FAIRWAY TO ARMS IN HEMINGWAY HILLS - A Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery #4 by Anna Celeste Burke

About the Book  (from Amazon)

There's been a serious mishap on the golf course at the exclusive Hemingway Hills Country Club at the Blue Haven Resort & Spa. During a brazen heist, a cache of arms is stolen from the guards who patrol the private enclave. 

A man is found dead on the fairway, but it's not clear if he was in on the heist or not. The Grand Old Lady Detectives (G.O.L.D.) and Charly's Angels are on the case with help from Homicide Detective Hank Miller. 

Review 

It all starts with a frantic call, sirens, firetrucks, and smoke at Hemingway Hills golf course. Marty, one of the residents, ask the GOLD ladies as she's sure the fire was to cover up a theft and perhaps more.

As the GOLD ladies head in the direction of the fairway, Miriam comes across an 8-year-old, her nanny, and a dead man. The 8-year old has a letter the victim asked to be delivered to his friend. She and the dead man have been interacting on and off. Unfortunately for Miriam's friend, the 8-year-old isn't the only one with connections to the victim.

As the GOLD ladies try to clear the husband, they discover secrets about their neighbors and friends. While some may not appreciate a group of "women of a certain age" playing detective, the women show themselves to be quite capable.

Burke has combined good plotting and characters with good dialogue, banter, and Hemingway quotes. The pace is steady and the characters likable. A solid cozy mystery. This is the fourth in the series, but my first. Burke provides enough background, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. 
  



About the Author


Life is an extravaganza! figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had met in San Diego and married in Tijuana, I was nabbed by the police as a runaway. When the police let me go and the rock band broke up, my husband and I had to find another way to survive. Our next stop: Disney World where we trained to be chefs, courtesy of the Walt Disney World University. A GED for my husband and many more years of education landed us in academia at The Ohio State University. 

Retired now from my role as a professor in social work and behavioral science, I have picked up a long-time interest in writing fiction. I'm still married to the same sweet guy and live with him in the Palm Springs area. In addition to reading and writing fiction, I enjoy painting, hiking, hanging out with my handsome husband and tending to my Siamese kitties. 

An award-winning and bestselling author I enjoy snooping into life's mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style! I write books in five series: The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California, The Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery Series set on the American Riviera, just north of Santa Barbara, and The Calla Lily Mystery series set in Northern California's wine country.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Book Review: HOLIDAY LIGHTS OUT - A Small Town Cozy Mystery by L C. Turner

About the Book

All is not calm and bright this Christmas. 

Stella Cavanaugh is on a bus trip to Thief River Falls for a Christmastime getaway. But trouble is brewing on this tour bus and when they arrive at the cozy cabin hotel she finds that all is not well. 

One of her fellow vacationers is never getting off the bus because he’s dead as a doornail. 

Turns out, this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year in the peaceful town of Thief River Falls because there’s a murderer on the loose. Stella is determined to find the culprit so she can enjoy the festivities of the season. 

But can she figure out who the killer is before they cancel Christmas?

Review

Coming off a bad marriage, Stella decides to take a bus tour as a start to her new life. She didn't plan on getting involved in a murder. She starts of slowly with her sleuthing until she gets her bearings and her confidence. Now to find the killer.

This is a short read, yet Turner manages to keep a steady pace without giving away the end. A perfect length for when you need a short respite for life with new friends, a possible romance, and a main character taking her life back. If you enjoy Christmas cozies and you're not looking for something long, you'll like the vacation tour with Stella.


Enjoy chilling in July with Christmas Cozies? Check out this selection with Christmas in July



Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Book Review: KILLER CRUISE - Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Book #1 by A. R. Winters

About the Book 

Surprise number one, wonderful: Her best friend Samantha has joined the cruise! 

Surprise number two, also quite good: the First Officer is rather handsome. 

Surprise number three, definitely not good: Samantha is suspected of murdering a VIP cruise passenger. 

Throw in a few more surprises—an over-the-top boss, a potentially homicidal chef, and a blast from Adrienne’s past—and this cruise might end up being Adrienne’s last. 

Join Adrienne, her new friend Cece, and First Officer Hot Stuff—er, First Officer Ethan Lee—as they try to uncover the truth before it’s too late… 

Review

Adrienne is on her job as staff for the cruise ship and very nervous. Her best friend Samantha joins her with some exaggeration on her resume. Everything is going as smoothly as possible when a VIP customer who had a run in with Samantha is found dead in his cabin. She's soon the main suspect and retained. Cece, another of the ship's staff, befriends Adrienne when she sees how upset Adrienne and helps (she has access to master cabin keys).

In the process, Adrienne tangles with several officers, upsets a few passengers, and ultimately helps prove Samantha's innocence. The plot is unpredictable in some ways with humorous happenings. This is a light, easy read with enough twists and turns to keep my interest. It's the first of three in the Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries. Going on a cruise? Take it along.




About the Author

To download two ★FREE★ books by A.R. Winters at https://bit.ly/freecozybooks Enjoy! 

A.R. Winters is a cozy mystery writer who loves writing about crazy characters and vibrant locations. And food, lots of delicious food! When not writing, A.R. Winters is usually busy eating too much cake. 
You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arwintersauthor

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Book Review: THE CHRISTMAS WALK CAPER ( Mac and Millie Mystery Book 1) by J B Michaels

About the Book (from Amazon)

Meet Mac, a retired hero cop with writer’s block and a penchant for trouble. What holiday hijinks will he get himself into? 

Probably a murder investigation.  

Meet Millie, a local banker and former college athlete who may have a trick or two up her sleeve. What Christmas conundrum will she be brought in to solve? 

Again, a murder mystery. 

In this delightful cozy mystery set in downtown Geneva, Illinois, our sarcastic and savvy sleuths will seek justice for the untimely death of the owner of the beloved and charming retail mansion: The Tiny Wanderer. 

It’s time to stroll on Third street. Immerse yourself in beautiful Christmas d├ęcor. Drink some hot chocolate and help solve the Christmas Walk Caper. 

Review 

This is my first read of a book by J B Michaels. It's not surprising that Mac, a cop forced to retire early, gets involved in a murder investigation. Millie, on the other hand, comes with a bit of mystery her own. Taken together, they ferret out the killer amidst all the holiday preparations. 

This cozy is well-written and the pace is steady. There are enough surprises and tensions to keep the reader engaged. It was a fun and light read. If you enjoy cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist, you'll enjoy this short read to break up your day. The Christmas Walk Caper is the first of five in the Mac and Millie Mysteries.  

The Valentine Dine or Die (Book 2) 
The Swedish Days Swindle (Book 3) 
Festivals of the Vine (Book 4) 
Raftery's Ghost (Book 5) 

About the Author (from Amazon)

JB Michaels has written stories since he was in fourth grade. He is a history teacher and department chair who loves his job. Married and with a son, Michaels has a great love of family. He has two sequels recounting the further adventures of the Tannenbaum Tailors.

It's Christmas in July and there are more Christmas cozies to read now - or save for later.



Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Book Review: STILL KNIFE PAINTING - Paint and Shine Mysteries Book 1 by Cheryl Hollon

About the Book

Miranda Trent has set up a sweet life in a scenic corner of Appalachia—until she stumbles across the trail of a killer . . . 

After inheriting her uncle’s Red River Gorge homestead in Eastern Kentucky—smack dab in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest—Miranda comes up with a perfect business plan for summer tourists: pairing outdoor painting classes with sips of local moonshine, followed by a mouthwatering sampler of the best in southern cooking. 

To Miranda’s delight, Paint & Shine is a total success—until someone kills the cook. As the town’s outsider, suspicion naturally falls on Miranda. Murdering the best biscuit baker of Red River Gorge is a high crime in these parts. Miranda will have to prove her innocence before she’s moved from farmhouse to jail cell faster than she can say “white lightning” . . . 

Review 

Miranda jumps into the close knit community, her uncle's home, and his moonshine. A new chapter in her life and she's making friends - she thinks - with the people who worked, and still work, on the grounds. Miranda's business plan includes hiring locals to cook and serve a traditional southern meal. She has a great plan and though several keeping asking if she's really staying, she's ready to settle in and find the secret to her uncle's moonshine. The murder of the cook threatens all she's started.

Red River Gorge is a delightful place, unless you're the outsider. Hollon brings the personalities and setting to life as the story unfolds. There are plenty of suspects and other characters. When Sheriff Larson has to call in help from Lexington, Miranda starts sleuthing on her own.

I'd read Book 3 previously and liked it enough to go back and read this one. I was not disappointed. Hollon brings the reader to rural Kentucky with lots of quirky characters. In addition to the murder, there are a few side plots and the promise of possible romance for Miranda. If you like cozy mysteries, even if you don't like moonshine, you'll enjoy this one. 



Draw and Order
Death A Sketch



Saturday, July 1, 2023

Book Review: GINGER SNAPPED TO DEATH by Catherine Bruns

It's hot outside and a touch of Christmas in July may just be what you need....

About the Book (from Amazon)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Unless you’re Sally Muccio. 

The full-time baker and sometime sleuth is ready to burst into song. She and her husband are expecting a bundle of joy, her sister’s wedding is just around the corner, and it’s Christmas, her favorite time of year. But when Sal’s the victim of a carjacking by Santa himself and a forgotten item links her to a murder, she doesn’t feel like ho-ho-hoing anymore. 

Damian Ruger was a drug user, womanizer and first-class jerk. And unfortunately for Sal, she once had a connection to him in high school. The dough really hits the fan when her bakery's gingerbread cookies are found next to his dead body, and Sal's cake server is used as a murder weapon. Someone is trying to frame the expectant mother, but why? Sal has no choice but to try to clear her name...before she and the baby are singing Christmas carols in prison! 

Review 

As with others in this series, this a fun read with a holiday theme featuring Sal (Sally) Muccio, a baker and part-time sleuth. There's a lot going on with her high school sweetheart murdered and evidence of Sal left with the body. While trying to figure out who the real killer is, she's busy preparing for the holidays and a baby. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing along the way.

Bruns managed to include all the things that make a mystery cozy - friends and family, small town, secrets, and something from the past. Although this is the 8th in the series, she provides enough background that it's easily read as a stand-alone. If you liked the others in this series, you're sure to enjoy this one. And, as always, she's included recipes!

Tastes Like Murder (book #1) 
Baked to Death (book #2) 
Burned to a Crisp (book #3) 
Frosted With Revenge (book #4) 
Silenced by Sugar (book #5) 
Crumbled to Pieces (book #6) 
Sprinkled in Malice (book #7) 
Icing on the Casket (book #9) 
Knee Deep in Dough (book #10)
Dessert is the Bomb (book #11)
Seasoned with Murder (book #12)
Bake, Batter, and Roll (book #13)

About the author (from Amazon)

Catherine is the USA Today bestselling author of the Cookies & Chance mysteries. She lives in New York with her very patient husband, three sons, and several spoiled pets. Catherine has a B.A. in English and is a former newspaper reporter and press release writer. She also writes the Italian Chef mysteries, Cindy York real estate and Carrie Jorgenson (Aloha Lagoon) culinary series. Her book, For Sale by Killer, won the 2019 Daphne du Maurier award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense. 

Get a free ebook when you sign up for Catherine's newsletter at https://www.catherinebruns.net/contact 
Please feel free to connect with her on social media as well: https://facebook.com/Catherine-Bruns-Books-218522341685434 https://twitter.com/@writesmystery

Looking for more Christmas in July Cozy Mysteries?