Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: To Scotland with Love (Kilts and Quilts #1) by Patience Griffin

Welcome to the charming Scottish seaside town of Gandiegow—where two people have returned home for different reasons, but to find the same thing.…

Caitriona Macleod gave up her career as an investigative reporter for the role of perfect wife. But after her husband is found dead in his mistress’s bed, a devastated Cait leaves Chicago for the birthplace she hasn’t seen since she was a child. She’s hoping to heal and to reconnect with her gran. The last thing she expects to find in Gandiegow is the Sexiest Man Alive! She just may have stumbled on the ticket to reigniting her career—if her heart doesn’t get in the way.

Graham Buchanan is a movie star with many secrets. A Gandiegow native, he frequently hides out in his hometown between films. He also has a son he’ll do anything to protect. But Cait Macleod is too damn appealing—even if she is a journalist.

Quilting with her gran and the other women of the village brings Cait a peace she hasn’t known in years. But if she turns in the story about Graham, Gandiegow will never forgive her for betraying one of its own. Should she suffer the consequences to resurrect her career? Or listen to her battered and bruised heart and give love another chance?

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

Absolutely charming is exactly how I’d describe To Scotland With Love. Set in a beautifully picturesque Scottish seaside town, this story is the perfect setting for a heartwarming romance. And heartwarming, it most certainly is.

The heroine, Cait, begins the story as a scorned, heartbroken and bitter woman. But after meeting Graham, she begins to open up, her walls slowly crumbling, and a sweeter, kinder and more loving Cait surfaces. Her passion for life is breathtaking, and to watch her character grow is a beautiful treat. Graham, our hero, is nothing like what you’d expect out of a big time “actor.” He’s very private and determined to keep his personal life out of the limelight. So when he drops his guard and lets Cait in close, his vulnerability is simply adorable. He’s a very sweet character with so much depth.

The chemistry that Cait and Graham have is divine. It’s evident from the beginning that these two are meant for one another, but it’s their emotional struggle that makes their romance so poignantly beautiful. They deal with issues of trust and honesty, and the lengths that these two go to fight the inevitable, makes the HEA so much sweeter.

With a setting like coastal Scotland, and wonderful characters that are easy to fall in love with, this debut book is a must read this summer for any fan of a real, raw and charming romance.

Rating:  5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Review: Hot Fudge Frame-Up (A Fudge Shop Mystery #2) by Christine DeSmet

Candy shop owner Ava Oosterling mixes it up with a fudge judge with a grudge—who loses his life before he can pick a winner....

Ava is gearing up for the First Annual Arts Festival—a huge celebration that could draw national attention to her old-fashioned fudge shop in Door County, Wisconsin. She’s invited two celebrity chefs to go head-to-head with her in a fudge contest. Everyone is having a tasty time…until a judge for the festival is found dead.

To her shock, he’d been complaining around town that her Fairy Tale fudge flavors were…well, fudged. Now the sheriff is wondering if Ava fits the mold for a murder suspect. As Ava tries to square her reputation and find the real killer, she’s in for a whole batch of trouble….

Includes Delicious Recipes and Fudge-Making Tips!

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

This fantastic mystery has all of the elements I love in a cozy.  But the one thing that truly drew me in and kept my attention was the characters.  Ava and her grandfather, Gil, were wonderful!  I loved Ava's tenacity and ambition, and Gil provided the comic relief.  It was a great pairing with great chemistry and I very much enjoyed them. 

The mystery itself was clever and kept me guessing, and the setting was perfect!  And of course, who doesn't love anything and everything FUDGE?! :)  What a great theme!  My mouth was watering the entire time I read the book! 

I really like this young series.  Being only the second book in the series, it's a great place for readers to pick up both books.  They'll be so glad they did :)

Rating:  5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Review: Thread End (An Embroidery Mystery #7) by Amanda Lee

Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer is about to have the rug pulled out from under her....

Marcy can’t wait to see the new exhibit at the Tallulah Falls museum on antique tapestries and textiles, including beautiful kilim rugs. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to terror when, the day after the exhibition opens, she discovers a dead body behind her store, the Seven-Year Stitch, wrapped up in a most unusual fashion.

The victim appears to be a visiting art professor in town for the exhibit. Did someone decide to teach the professor a lesson, then attempt to sweep the evidence under the rug? Along with her boyfriend, Detective Ted Nash, Marcy must unravel an intricate tapestry of deception to find a desperate killer.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

As a fan of Amanda Lee's Embroidery Mystery Series, I was looking forward to Thread End.  I knew, from my past experiences with Ms. Lee, that the mystery would be phenomenal, the story would be beyond entertaining, and she'd further develop the characters that I've grown fond of. 
Amanda Lee is a wonderful writer.  She writes a murder mystery like Agatha Christie, making you believe that you know who the killer is until the very end, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath of you and steer you in a completely different direction.  It keeps the story exciting, and Thread End was one of my favorite Embroidery mysteries yet!  

I loved being able to revisit Marcy and crew in Tallulah Falls, and I love the creativity of the theme of this story.  So whether you're just looking for a good read, or you're already a fan like myself, this book is a great experience for any reader.  

Rating:  5 stars 

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Murder, Simply Stitched (An Amish Quilt Mystery #2) by Isabella Alan

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone....
Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

Includes Quilting Tips!

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

Isabella Alan (aka Amanda Flower) never ceases to amaze me.  She is an incredibly gifted author with a unique talent for all things Amish.  Her books are wonderful from cover to cover, full of life, color and a knowledge I never expected to have, but can appreciate more than she'll ever know.  I love reading her books because they're like taking a weekend road trip into a world that I've never known, yet feel so at home in.  

Murder, Simply Stitched brings us back to Rolling Brook, Ohio, with all of the characters from book one that we've grown to love.  Angela, the heroine, finds herself wrapped up in a new mystery that's centered around the Amish community and their many domestic talents (which, by the way, are fascinating!).  As she works with those around her to solve the urder of one of the townspeople, we're treated to more insight in to the lives of the Amish, as well as the ver exciting ladies of the town's quilting circle.  

This book is superb and more than lives up to the hype of a follow up book to this incredible series.  I'm thrilled to see what excitement comes to Rolling Brook in her next installment, and cannot wait to get my hands on it!  

Rating:  5 stars 

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Review: Engaged in Murder (A Perfect Proposals Mystery #1) by Nancy J. Parra

There’s no planning for murder…

Event planner Pepper Pomeroy is making the most of her current unemployment by arranging a surprise for her sister, Felicity. Warren, Felicity’s boyfriend, plans to lure his lovely lady into a private jet, propose, and whisk her away on a romantic vacation. He just needs Pepper to handle all the fine details in order to make it the perfect proposal—and it is. Everything goes so well when Warren pops the question that he suggests Pepper do this sort of thing professionally.

But before she can get her new business off the ground, there are some disturbing questions. Like who’s the dead guy Pepper finds in the ladies’ room of the jet hangar? Is it possible Felicity’s high-flying fiancé has been hiding more than the engagement ring? Pepper’s not married to the idea of having a criminal in the family, so in order to protect her sister, she takes off in pursuit of a killer.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

I love Nancy J. Parra.  She's such an incredible author with so much talent!  I couldn't wait to get my hands on this first book of a brand new series.  And after reading it, I cannot wait for whatever she has in store for us next :)  

This feel good, whimsically romantic whodunnit mystery was smart, fun and unique.  From start to finish, the characters were easy to love, the setting was cozy and the story itself was very well written.  I enjoyed the mystery, as it kept me guessing, and I absolutely loved Pepper.  She was quite the ambitious heroine!  

It's a very promising start to Ms. Parra's new series, and I'm eager to see what happens with Pepper and this cast of characters.  It's going to be an exciting ride! :) 

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Review: Deadly Forecast (A Psychic Eye Mystery #11) by Victoria Laurie

As her wedding day approaches, Abby Cooper has a disturbing premonition of her fiancé’s murder. Her husband-to-be, FBI agent Dutch Rivers, has been assigned to a suicide bombing case, and Abby’s spirit guides warn her of imminent danger. Abby vows to do everything in her power to keep Dutch safe and get him to the altar. But on the morning of the ceremony, she finds herself in a dire situation with time running out.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

Oh. My. Goodness!  I've been a fan of Victoria Laurie's Psychic Eye series for quite awhile, but Deadly Forecast was absolutely amazing!  From the moment I opened the cover, this heart pounding and intense mystery began with our heroine, Abby, in a precarious situation that could ultimately cause her demise - kidnapped and strapped with a suicide vest.  With time ticking, the author treats the reader to the events leading up to Abby's disappearance, and the despearte attempt to find her before it's too late.  

All of my favorite characters are back in this installment, MJ and Gilley being my absolute favorites!  There's the always present humor, the great camaraderie with all of the characters, and of course, a wonderful mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.  There's the wedding we've all been waiting for, and naturally, all of the paranormal aspects to Abby and her life that we've grown to love.  

Whether you've read this series from the beginning, or want to start now, this book is a fantastic addition to Ms. Laurie's repertoire and a must-read for her biggest fans!   

Rating: 5 stars 

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Review: Night of the Living Thread (Threadville Mystery #4) by Janet Bolin

Zombies, killer dresses, and ancient curses prove that Halloween in Threadville can be sew spooky…

It’s early October, and hordes of visitors have descended on the tiny, celebrated village of Threadville, Pennsylvania, to attend a Halloween crafts fair, a zombie retreat, and the wedding of Edna Battersby—dear friend to Willow Vanderling, owner of the chic machine embroidery boutique, In Stitches.

As a friendly prank for Edna’s wedding, Willow and the rest of the Threadville gang have fashioned an overly extravagant hoopskirt, complete with lights and music. But in a bizarre turn of events, the garish gown is implicated in a mysterious lakeside murder.

Now Willow must follow a trail of glow-in-the-dark thread, delve into ancient Egyptian curses, and creep through a haunted graveyard to unearth a killer—before she becomes the next fashion victim.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

This delightful addition to the Threadville mysteries is creative and so much fun.  With a Halloween theme, the author is able to take more liberties with a spookier storyline, perfect for that time of year!  The heroine of the story, Willow, is a wonderful sleuth and her supporting cast rounds out the story beautifully.

I loved the quirkiness of this book.  From a Halloween themed craft fair, to a gathering of "zombies", Night of the Living Thread was simply unforgettable.  The mystery kept you guessing until the very end.  And the wedding we've all been waiting for was a perfect scenario for murder.  So brilliant, Ms. Bolin!

As a fan of this series, I will always recommend it to other readers.  So do yourselves a favor, and treat yourself to Night of the Living Thread.  You'll be so happy that you did!

Rating: 5 stars 

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Review: Independence Slay (Celebration Bay Mystery #3) by Shelley Freydont

On the Fourth of July, Old Glory is flying high in Celebration Bay—until someone raises a red flag…

With Independence Day fast approaching, Liv Montgomery is swamped coordinating one of the town’s biggest festivals. In addition to the traditional July fourth events, the town stages a spooky Revolutionary War reenactment that can’t be missed. Every year, the ghost of local war hero Henry Gallantine—played by his eccentric descendant of the same name—appears at the top of the family mansion, kicking off the night’s revelries.

But Henry’s annual cameo goes awry after the ghost signals SOS instead of his traditional cue. When Liv rushes to the rescue, she finds Henry missing and a real dead body instead of a fake haunt. Now she will have to hunt down both a murderer and a missing person quickly before unwanted political fireworks ignite and someone else winds up as local history.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~* 

It's always so much fun to visit Celebration Bay!  I love the historical feel of the place, and especially the residents.  They are exactly the kind of people that you'd expect to be living in a town such as this.  In the latest book of this series, Independence Slay invites the reader to help them celebrate the 4th of July - until one of it's residents appears to have been murdered at the hand of an unlikely suspect.  It's up to Liv, a tenaciously enjoyable heroine, to prove the culprit innocent and to nab the true killer before it's too late.

I absolutely adored this story.  I loved that the murder was historically symbolic.  I loved that Liv has such a kind heart that she was determined to prove the innocence of someone who simply could not have committed such a horrible crime.  And I loved the always impeccable comedic timing of the characters in the story.

As always, this series does not disappoint.  It's creative with a great mystery, has wonderful characters, and is very well written.  I cannot wait to see what's in store for Liv and the gang of Celebration Bay in the next installment of the series!  

Rating: 4 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Review: Razing the Dead (Museum Mystery #5) by Sheila Connolly

Once again Nell Pratt has to dig into the past to solve a murder in the present...

Between the challenges of her position as president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia and of taking her relationship with FBI agent James Morrison to the next level, Nell Pratt has got her hands full. Nevertheless, when a powerful developer approaches the Society to make sure the old dairy farm he wants to level is not hiding any archaeological or historical surprises that could derail the project he’s planning, Nell decides to make time to personally accompany him to the proposed site.

But when they get to the property, they stumble upon a startling discovery—a body floating facedown in a pond. The dead man turns out to be an amateur history enthusiast, who may have uncovered secrets about the farm that got him killed. Now it’s up to Nell and James to get to the bottom of things before there are more deadly developments.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~* 

Sheila Connolly is an exquisite storyteller.  Her artistic talent of weaving together history with modern times is truly unique, and is elegantly showcased in her Museum Mystery series.  She has an incredible knack for bringing history to life through her well-rounded and intellectual characters.  Nell is the perfect heroine for this series, and is exactly how I'd picture Sheila herself.  Knowledgeable, determined and caring.

Razing the Dead is a smart, charming and fun mystery that brings the memories of the past to the future.  It's another great addition to a great series, and I look forward to Nell's next exciting adventure!

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Review: The Diva Wraps It Up (Domestic Diva Mystery #8) by Krista Davis

In the latest novel in the national bestselling Domestic Diva Mystery series, it’s beginning to look a lot like murder…

The holidays are domestic diva Sophie Winston’s favorite time of year. But this season, there seem to be more mishaps than mistletoe. First, Horace Scroggins tumbles from a balcony during his office Christmas party. Then, Sophie’s neighbor takes a fall from his ladder while decorating his roof with lights. But it’s the cookie swap that really starts her wondering who’s naughty or nice….

Sophie arrives at the annual event with high spirits and thirteen dozen chocolate-drizzled gingersnaps. But when an argument erupts and a murder ensues, it becomes clear that the recent string of events is anything but accidental. Now Sophie has to make a list of suspects…and check it twice!

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

There just isn't enough wonderful things to say about the Domestic Diva Mystery Series by Krista Davis.  It's smart, it's clever, incredibly creative, full of life, fun, educational... what more could you possibly want out of a book?!  I picked the first book in the series up a long time ago without any expectations or knowledge of the book itself.  From just the first few pages, I fell in love with Sophie Winston and her dysfunctional "family", as I would call it. So when I had the amazing opportunity to review The Diva Wraps It Up, I absolutely could not resist! 

This installment of the series picks up just as the rest have - with talk of a major event in which Sophie and Natasha will no doubt be butting heads.  And from the talk at the beginning, the story evolves in to another exciting mystery that follows the characters we've grown to know and love.  There's some wonderful bickering between Sophie and Natasha (because who doesn't know people like these two?! They're so entertaining!), a FEW great mysteries, and the always thrilling candidates in the love life of Ms. Sophie Winston.

From start to finish, this book was by far one of my favorites in the series.  Ms. Davis continues to surprise me - sustaining the lives of some of my favorite book characters with such elegant charm.  She is superbly talented, and I hope she has plans for so much more in this series.  Because she's got a huge fan here who will continue to read this series as long as she continues to write.

Rating:  5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.

Review: Tempest in a Teapot (Teapot Collector Series #1) by Amanda Cooper

Tucked away in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is the charming town of Gracious Grove, where time moves slowly, gossip spreads quickly, and the scones are to die for…

When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmother’s cozy shop, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Peterson’s upcoming bridal shower.

Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-be’s choice of venue—like Cissy’s grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissy’s fiancé’s mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list.

*~*~*~*~* Review *~*~*~*~*

What a great book!  The quaint little town of Gracious Grove was an absolute treat to visit!  I loved the picturesque quality, the homey feel of it, and the people.  The story was creative, the characters were very well written, and they made you feel as if you'd been life long friends.  I loved the mystery, and the teapot theme?  Brilliant!  I love that sharing a cup of tea is so inviting, and plays it's own little role in the story itself.

If you're looking for an amazingly written series by a very talented author, this is a series you'll definitely want to pick up! :) 

Rating:  5 stars 

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 
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